Nine Inch Nails proclaims itself more open than Radiohead

The music industry closely mirrors the software industry....

Trent Reznor, the mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, is not a fan of Radiohead's digital release of In Rainbows. Radiohead made waves with its stick-in-the-eye approach to the music labels by giving away its album on a pay-what-you-like basis.

For Reznor, that's not enough because of how Radiohead opted to release the album:

What [Radiohead] did was a cool thing; I think the way they parlayed it into a marketing gimmick has certainly been shrewd. But if you look at what they did, though, it was very much a bait and switch to get you to pay for a MySpace-quality stream as a way to promote a very traditional record sale.

There's nothing wrong with that - but I don't see that as a big revolution [that] they're kinda getting credit for.

There's an apt corollary here to the popular hybrid model of open source. Releasing a feature-weak community version and then upselling to a version with the proprietary bits that are actually needed is a bit like releasing the "MySpace-quality stream as a way to promote a very traditional [software] sale."

There's nothing wrong with this. It's just perhaps not deserving of the full open-source accolades that are sometimes given.

As another interesting analogy, NIN made a lot more money on its release than Radiohead. Perhaps there's more money in "purity?" Red Hat would certainly argue that the answer is "Yes." My own experience is the same, and I talk with a lot of open-source companies to glean data on how much people are selling.

But there's certainly one area in which there's an inverse corollary between the two: Reznor goes on to say that only established musicians can hope to make money on this "give it away" model. In the open-source world, the established vendors have taken baby steps into open source while it's a clear winning strategy for disruptive startups.

But the established vendors will learn. Give them time.

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Galleries from CNET
    Nissan gives new Murano bold style (pictures)
    Top great space moments in 2014 (pictures)
    This is it: The Audiophiliac's top in-ear headphones of 2014 (pictures)
    ZTE's wallet-friendly Grand X (pictures)
    Lenovo reprises clever design for the Yoga Tablet 2 (Pictures)
    Top-rated reviews of the week (pictures)