Trent Reznor – marketer of the year

Matt Mason has a great post today noting that Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV was Amazon’s best-selling album of 2008 – despite also being available as a free download.

Sampling has long been a valid marketing tactic, but giving the whole thing away and still expecting to sell it? And it working?? It’s a cracking anecdote and sparks some great talking points:

  • should companies with copyable products (including books, magazines and tv programmes) routinely offer a free option?
  • Is the trick to lure people in with the basic product free, then upsell them to an added-value version?
  • do people prefer to pay for things they value?
  • would this work as well (or better?) for products in less glamorous sectors?
  • Is the success of this promotional tactic repeatable or will it only work while a novelty?

In my mind it shows yet again that successful responses to market disruption are not always obvious or comfortable.

[update] NIN’s latest contrary tactic is to use bit torrent (usually the scourge of the music industry) to distribute acres of HD concert footage for fans to remix. Again – great engagement marketing

2 replies on “Trent Reznor – marketer of the year”

This tactic had similar success when Radiohead released ‘In Rainbows’ at the end of 2007. The hype surrounding a free album download where users used an ‘honesty box’ payment scheme resulted in huge downloads, many paid for, wiith the resulting physical format release still acheiving huge commercial sales.

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