Are we in the '60s again?

NIN releases two records in two months, Beck plans to release his next album with no advance marketing hype, and the Cure will release 13 singles in 13 months.

Matt Rosoff
Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.
Matt Rosoff
2 min read

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.

The download era may see a return to the kind of prolific output we saw from The Beatles and other artists in the 1960s.

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?