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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.