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Trent Reznor’s Business Model – Connect With Fans!

Connecting with Your Fans- The Trent Reznor Case Study

Michael Masnick talked at MIDEM about Trent Reznor and his business ideas, saying that Reznor and Nine Inch Nails represent the future of the Music Business. Apparently Reznor has found the “secret” of a successful Business Model.  It all starts with CwF, which stands for Connect with Fans. Once you have connected with these fans you create what is called the RtB, which stands for Reason to Buy. Thus, these two things together and you have the business model. Which seems simple, however it has been amazingly difficult for other mainstream artists to do what Reznor has done.  Reznor was even using this Business Model when he was signed with a Major Record Label.

In 2007, Just before Trent Reznor released his album Year Zero. Before the album was launched, Reznor set up a scavenger hunt, which started with the back of a t-shirt from the concert tour that started in 2007. On the back of this t-shirt some of the letters in some of the cities were highlighted. They spelled “I am Trying to Believe”. Some people managed to put it together and added .com to the end.  This then got these people sucked into an alternative reality game. Which was intensely fun. This was a new way to connect with the fans beyond the music. It create interest in the fans and new listeners, however it upset his record label. Another thing Reznor did to upset his record label is he would take USB drives, upload his unheard new music onto them and ‘accidentally’ leave them in the bathrooms of various concert locations he was playing at. This again excited fans! However, RIAA enforced laws and demanded Reznor stop distributing these songs. So basically what Reznor did, was continually give people a reason to connect with him which led to new fans and music sales. Even when it came to the release of the album, Reznor made it so that when the disk player heated up the CD, the CD itself changed colors. A reason to buy their CD when downloading was rampant. Innovation, creativity, experimentation.

Once Reznor was no longer signed with the Major Record Label, he went out on his own. This wasn’t a problem, because he had a business model. He gave fans options, and reasons to support him.

The price of an album is definitely not the issue. Fans will still be willing to buy, but an artist definitely has to earn it. As long as you can connect with fans, they have a reason to buy and there is money to be made in this industry!

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