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Reznor to NIN fans: Help us know what you'll buy

The Nine Inch Nails front man has an intriguing way of figuring out what the group's fans will pay for: ask them.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (NIN) has been blazing trails in the music industry, but apparently he wants to take it one step further. Where, however, is not yet clear.

In fact, that may be the point to a step taken recently by the band. In an e-mail sent out to fans, Reznor asked his fans to fill out a survey to help NIN better serve the fans:

As we've moved from the familiar world of record labels and BS into the unknown world of doing everything yourself, we've realized it would benefit us and our ability to interact with you if we knew more about what you want, what you like, what you look like naked, etc. I know it's a pain...but we'd truly appreciate it if you'd take a minute and help us out.

As an incentive, everyone who completes the survey will be able to download a video of live performance from this most recent tour (and I know what's going through your little minds right now: "I'll just grab this off a torrent site and not have to fill out the survey!!!" and guess what? You will be able to do just that and BEAT THE SYSTEM!!!! NIN=pwn3d!!!)

BUT What if we were to select some of those that DO complete the survey and provide them with something really cool? I'm not saying we'll ever get around to it, but if we did maybe something like signed stuff, flying someone to a show somewhere in the world, a magic amulet that makes you invisible, a date with Jeordie White..., you know - something cool. See, you'd miss that opportunity AND be a cheater. Do the right thing - help us out. You'll feel better.

Thank you and I've had too much caffeine this morning, Trent

The survey is remarkably candid about how NIN fans find and purchase (or don't) NIN's music, and is clearly probing for ways for NIN to fit into its fans' world rather than ways to force the fans into the traditional music industry's models for revenue generation.

How refreshing. While I doubt most open-source software companies would get away with a line like, "If you buy the Enterprise version instead of using the Community version, we might give you something cool like an invisibility cloak," I like the idea of figuring out what your "fans" want and trying to fit into those expectations. Force-feeding the old world probably won't work.