Nine Inch Nails releases another online album--this one's free

Band's last album cost $5 online; this one, as a thank-you to fans, doesn't cost a cent.

Declaring digital sales a success, rock veterans Nine Inch Nails have released another online album, The Slip. Unlike their last album, this one is totally free, and, according to front man Trent Reznor, is a thank-you to the band's fans.

The Slip is available from Nine Inch Nails' Web site in a number of DRM-free formats: MP3, FLAC, M4A, and WAVE. The band is also streaming the album on music social network iLike.

In March, no longer affiliated with a record label, Nine Inch Nails released its album Ghosts I-IV on its Web site. An assortment of payment options were offered: free for the first nine tracks, $5 for the whole digital album, $10-$300 for disc sets. Ghosts, according to Reznor, netted $1.6 million in just over a week.

In the wake of Radiohead's album In Rainbows , offered for a limited time as a digital download for which fans could literally name their own prices, a number of high-profile artists have distanced themselves from the flagging music industry and experimented with nontraditional distribution or digital giveaways. Nine Inch Nails' Reznor has been a vocal supporter of digital sales, collaborating with musician Saul Williams to release an album for free online.

But Reznor has been critical of Radiohead's pioneering effort, eventually calling the pay-what-you-want release of In Rainbows a " marketing gimmick " to promote the traditional album .

With his band's latest release, he hopes to be light years ahead in "openness." Not only is The Slip free, it's been released under a Creative Commons license , specifically the "attribution noncommercial share alike license." Fans are encouraged to share the music, blog it, " remix " it, and use it in audio and video projects.

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About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.


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