It was just two months ago that Nine Inch Nails released its album Ghosts I-IV in multiple formats, from free nine-song download all the way up to a deluxe LP/CD/Blu-ray set. Today, the band started taking orders for free downloads of its next album, The Slip; like Radiohead did with In Rainbows, the band will subsequently release the album on CD and LP format.
Everybody's interested in the business model--has free-then-fee already gotten old?--but when's the last time you saw a band release two albums in two months? Sure, Trent's interested in making a living, but he's also got lots to say and he wants you to hear it.
And over here in the other corner, we have Beck rumored to be following the Raconteurs and planning to "surprise" release his next album within the next four to six weeks--no advance copies to reviewers, no pre-release radio single, no preparatory wave of marketing hype. Across the pond, The Cure plans to release 13 singles over the next 13 months leading up to its next album release--and some of the B-sides won't appear on any albums.
This all sounds a lot like what the Beatles and other pop musicians and labels used to do in the 1960s--quick-release tons of music, mostly singles, and let the fans decide which sink or swim. Sure, there was a earload of marketing back then as well, but the ratio of hype to music was a lot lower. Perhaps the new model's going to be the same as the old model?