Thursday, September 24, 2009

trent reznor interview - the 'lost questions'

Here are a few questions that didn't quite make the editorial cut over on my Joystiq published Trent Reznor interview. Enjoy!

You made headlines when you quit Twitter. Seeing as the service is coming to the Xbox 360 this Fall, will you be Tweeting again?

Trent: I can tell you exactly why I left Twitter. When Nine Inch Nails became free from a record label and we went on our own, we decided not to go indie. Why? Because it's the same structure. They have the same agenda, which is to sell plastic. That's not what we want to do. So, we decided to go completely independent and directly market to our fans and interact directly with them. What labels used to hold over your head was distribution, where we needed them to get into stores physically.

For us, we went online and so Rob and I spent a lot of time realizing our store front and our portal, which is the Nine Inch Nails website. We asked ourselves: how do we make a site that really engages fans and not in just a cursory way. We decided to actually read the comments and interact with people to see what they think, because we're trying to solve a riddle that's hard to solve: how do you make a living selling something that people want to be free? Something they're going to get free whether you like it or not, because all music is free. A person can get any piece of music ever recorded for free, instantly, and nobody is going to take you to jail for that. Yet, how do you sell your stuff to these people and how do you interact with them?

Then we spent time on social networks and spent time thinking about how to correctly orchestrate and build Nine Inch Nails as a portal. We took to heart lessons on how people steal music, watched how people steal music and interacted with people who steal and learned why people steal music. People aren't stealing music to make money. They steal because they love music. They want it as soon as it's out and that's a good thing. It isn't like people are boot-legging the music and making lots of money off your record, they just want it.

This all led to us getting very much involved and listening to the community, so that's why we released our recent records for free. That's why we came up with the pricing tiers that we did, giving people something that had value for their money if they wanted it. But we gave it away for those who aren't going to pay anyway and figured that maybe we can at least get their email address and let them know when our next record is coming out. Or, maybe, we can let them know when our next concert is coming up.

Rob turned me onto Twitter as it was kind of a curiosity of mine, to see what would happen. Unexpectedly, I let more of my personality out than I normally do. The reason that I normally don't do that is because, coming from the era I came from when I was a kid, you didn't know what the band you liked even looked like. There was no MTV and no websites. You might see a picture of that band, but there was a mystery involved where you wanted to seek that information out. You might catch them on a once-a-week Late Night show, but you weren't bombarded by info. Pink Floyd was one of my favorite bands, but I didn't care what they looked like, I just wanted to read between the lines. I wasn't seeing them in commercials or videos or other bullshit. You found out band info on the actual album or listened to the music a million times.

There's a lesson to be learned in having a degree of mystique in a band like Nine Inch Nails, where the less people know about me, the more the core audience wants to know. I'm not on the cover with my chick and I'm not hanging out at Hollywood premiers doing whatever you're supposed to do. Well, okay ... I went to one. It was Star Trek, but you would have gone too [laughs].

The point is, with Twitter and knowing I was going to shut down Nine Inch Nails, I just started being myself and that's being a smart ass. Then it caught on in some ways, where it bummed a lot of people out and suddenly I got a lot of followers. A lot more people than were following me on NIN.com and it kind of crept out in a mainstream way. A few of my snarky comments made headlines and I realized Twitter was a powerful marketing tool. Then, I came across someone who needed help with their health and figured we could raise money for him. We raised a million dollars in a couple weeks in an attempt to save someone's life and that made headlines.

Soon, I learned that Twitter and really everywhere on the internet the power of being anonymous. The boldness and coward in people comes out, where they say things that they'd never say to someone's face. Under that mask of the persona they create online, it allows people to start talking shit. There was a particularly grotesque camp that decided they were going to attack. They came up with the rudest, meanest shit you could possibly come up with and blasted away. If they got their Twitter account thrown out, they'd just start a new one. Twitter doesn't give a shit, they just want numbers. Being a person of fame, a person who is being watched, I discovered a lot of people read those replies on Twitter, because they want it to feel like a bulletin board and feel like they're seeing what other people are saying. All I was doing was providing a platform for some of these assholes to get their opinions out there and there is no way I can stop them. I can block them myself so I don't see their posts, but you and everyone else sees it.

I called this out to Twitter's attention, but they're just trying to keep their servers plugged in. They aren't too concerned about a meaningful, truly collaborative experience. They got that adrenaline rush going to their head where they're the biggest thing since the last internet craze. It's an interesting means of people sharing information, but the way I was using it became flawed. I'm not going to empower these fucking cowards to be able to slander me and the people I love around me, because they're exploiting a hole through Twitter's security. So, I just said "fuck you" and that's that.

What does the future hold for NIN Access?


Rob: We have a million ideas and we can't develop fast enough to do what we want to do. We've hit some road blocks where we reached this version and now it's "X" amount more money and time to do the next version. But now that the tour has settled down, we just need to re-group and figure out where we're going to take it from here. More importantly, figure out how it can expand out beyond just a NIN iPhone app. There are bigger ideas there, where it's more than just Nine Inch Nails and just the iPhone and we have to figure out how to make the most of that.

Trent: What we run up against, without a label, is that every penny comes out of our pocket, including our website. What we're particularly proud of is the effort we put into the backbone of the website and it being very open and modular. We tried to address the issues that one would run into when going independently, things like bandwidth and housing lots of data. So, rather than trying to build a good video player or audio player, we just API'ed it out and use Youtube, Vimeo, whatever. We made our place, the whole user database and all the essential information, then just meta-tagged and funneled everything out. So, if you want to come to NIN.com you can see every video on YouTube, because we tagged them properly. For our insanely completest fans, we made sure there's a way it's navigable and usable versus going to YouTube and dealing with that clusterfuck.

The iPhone thing was mainly a way to extend that NIN experience into your pocket and also, because it's location aware, we made the app something that's a cool tool for communicating. It's reaching beyond what I think Nine Inch Nails fans need and what we're facing right now is whether we want to invest more money into these new ideas and super-serve our little community or find a way to branch it out to offer other people. To other bands or other communities, because I think there's a big opportunity there.

And all these development plans are based solely on the iPhone?


Trent: We used the iPhone, because it has a good developer kit, its hardware makes sense and it's just one product. That versus what we tried doing on the Blackberry where it was a nightmare for a number of reason. The libraries suck, the hardware isn't consistent from model to model, they aren't that helpful and from a programming prospective, it isn't nearly where the iPhone is. As far as Android, it has no permeation in the market.

To make a long story short, we are going to expand the service and hopefully take it out of just Nine Inch Nails and offer the technology to others.

Now that you've gone through the iPhone app approval process with NIN Access, what's your honest opinion of it?

Rob: It's a mess right now. I don't know if from their prospective it exploded bigger than they could have ever imagined and if they are still playing catchup. Our submission process was a pain, was very hypocritical and very inconsistent. You even hear about them just pulling apps because of arbitrary decisions, like the Google Voice apps that people made. It's a problem when the message to the developers is: put all this time, effort and money into something and get it out there, but then we can yank it at anytime. That's just a bad message to some of the people out there who are investing a whole lot into creating these programs and it's just not a very good way to treat developers.

I get the sense that someone over there at Apple realizes this and I think they're trying. If you're going to have a closed system, then that's your thing, do what you want with it. But if that's the way you're going to run it, do it in a way that's respectful to the people who are making you money and are making that iPhone worth having. 90% of the iPhone being worth having is because of the apps, so you need to treat those people with a lot of respect and be consistent with the decisions being made. They just really need to get their whole system together.

Trent: I agree with what he's saying. In an unpopular position, some of the service being closed is good by not allowing things that break the system. Being closed allows the phone to work properly and allows their user interface decision to be set in stone. We released a few songs in garage band format, where all you have to do is click and they load up. Before you even upload the file, someone has to convert them into MP3 and I've got to put them into fruity-loops and I have to make sure ... well just wait a fucking second! Watch how it's supposed to work before you fucking break it.

I know that is not the same thing, but I see why they're sticklers about some of that shit. I think where our NIN Access app fell into danger was because it gets content from the internet, so that content might be bad words, pictures of dicks or whatever. So, our app had to be rated NC-17 or whatever it is. Tell the developer the rules and don't leave it a surprise where we ask ourselves "why haven't we heard from them yet, it has been two months?" Tell us clearly and define what the policy is, then let developers know what the restrictions are.

The argument I could easily make, and did make, is the fact that I can look at that same cock on Safari and that comes on my iPhone. Why is it any different if one of my fans' cock shows up on the app versus Rob's cock that I saw on Safari?

Rob: Because theirs would be bigger. [Laughs]

Umm, to be clear, you guys don't really look up cocks for leisure ... do you?

Trent: Well, I'm not saying that I ...

Rob: Yeah, I do.

Trent: [Laughing] Yeah, Rob does!

43 comments:

james said...

wooo!!!! first comment.
is that lame to say?

dierythmus said...

I've been reading X3F since the beginning. TR is my hero. Totally jealous over here.

superklye said...

hahaha...awesome read and the very end was fantastic. It's so great to see Trent's sense of humor. :)

Anonymous said...

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perspective

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/prospective

BAMBOOZLED said...

I don’t believe a thing Trent Reznor says. How do we know Trent banked 1million + for his self released Ghost’s 1-4? No one saw the accounting statement. No one did any fact-checking on that 1 million. What a great way to create buzz and enter into the business model debate and to become a public authority on the issue. Reznor lies about everything including his business model for music distribution. Talk about HYPE.

Raymond said...

good read :0)

Raymond said...

and OBVIOUSLY "bamboozled" has no clue. just another hater

Jeff said...

This was a great interview - I really enjoyed reading what was posted both here and on Joystiq.

I'd like to let you know about a game I recently developed that uses music and artwork from the last two Nine Inch Nails albums. More information, screenshots, and a link to the free download can all be found on my blog.

I'd love for Trent Reznor to see it somehow, but that's probably a long shot. :) Any fans of challenging puzzle games should definitely check it out, though.

Taylor Wright said...

I just read both parts of your interview. This is really compelling stuff and I appreciate the questions you were asking. I'm a huge fan of TR's work and the prospect of him crossing over to other mediums makes me excited to see what his camp comes up with. It's also great to hear an "outside" view on the game industry. Thanks!

-D said...

Hey.. I've got a suggestion, how about an idea for a new video game? Complete with a myriad of confusing mazes, and the player is capable of meeting people along their journey who could either A) give you the completely wrong advice to lead you astray or B) Keep changing their minds (this of course would depend on their status-a player by player basis you see).. playing could feel like an utter waste of time- but the determination to reach top level is there- just to see if the trouble was worth it in the end. Maybe the game could be called 'How To Become A Hypocrite' ?

TomCo said...

Trent if you're reading this, freaking hire me! I'm a painfully unemployed programming graduate with a BSc and a entertainment related MSc. Come on mang, I even have Cell Processor programming experience!

Jesus Christ Im broke.

David Boni said...

Thanks for this interview! Very entertaining, very inspiring, et cetera, et cetera. What's particularly eye-opening is the commentary and revelation about stealing music—it's true. I like these king-turned-space-explorer stories... where Mr. Reznor, like artists before him, is pioneering new expansive and unknown territory.

Trent is a smart man. Wish I could discuss art direction and all of that with Rob.

Kristie said...

If Trent knew that his fans liked the mystique of Nine Inch Nails and never wanted to see his private life or him at premieres then he has no one to blame but himself. I, for one, as a long time fan, think it is sad to see the horrible backlash and the loss of so many previously dedicated fans. Sometimes if you are the Wizard of Oz, it is better to stay behind the curtain, especially if the man can't live up to the myth.

Kristie said...

Oh, and if this Rob person is the one that turned him onto Twitter. Fire the man. He flushed more than twenty years of an outstanding career down the toilet.

syn said...

kristie, you call yourself a long time fan but have no clue who rob sheridan is? try again.

Elisabeth Carnell said...

Great interview! I'm excited by the possibilities, can't wait! (as both a real long-time TR/NIN fan and long time gamer - what is up with these haters/whiners?)

And dude, Trent's character?: Light Cycle.
Zoom.

Anonymous said...

Kristie, get back on the short bus you retard.

Bamboozled, why do you care how much money he made releasing ghosts? Why dont you back up that claim that Trent Reznor lies about everything with some facts.

warrenEBB said...

Wow, awesome read! Many thanks for pursuing this, Dustin, and posting these extra questions.

I love how Reznor summarizes issues. He really cuts to the chase.

- Hope he/nin returns to Twitter, with a different approach (perhaps more focused on "maximizing the mystery". ARG style.). If YouTube "made everyone a filmmaker" then Twitter "made everyone's trivial life details into headline feed". In the long run, twitter hopes to collate the world's pulse right? So it's not really a good tool for already famous individuals. Better to abuse it.?

- i bought an iphone earlier this week, and the NINaccess app was definitely one of the reasons.

- Why no questions about the Quake soundtrack he made, or where he currently stands with id? Is this a sore subject? Wasn't he working with them on a dynamic sound playback AI (kind of like what ended up in L4d) that was dropped? didn't they dump his work on Doom3? Anyone know what the deal is? I'm guessing they burned him and he doesn't want to strike back. but. who knows?

Paulogy said...

Great piece.

It's especially interesting to hear that they like the idea of a website being more of a complete media experience. That's something I toyed with six years ago with beautyinchaos.com, but never took it as far as I would have liked to.

With TR's drive (and resources) I'm anxious to see what they can come up with...

-Paul

The Box Drone said...

BAMBOOZLED:

You should google things before you shoot your mouth off, it would save you from looking like a doofus on public forums.

http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=amb_link_7866952_18?ie=UTF8&node=1240544011

#1 downloaded album on Amazon in 2008 - Add that to all the payed downloads and physical purchases from itunes, NIN.com etc (and keeping in mind that there are no label bosses, distributers, etc. getting disproportionately large slices of the pie) I daresay $1 Million is actually a pretty conservative sum.

Ungsjimm said...

Kristie: If hearing Trent whine or whatever he did on Twitter sullied the NIN experience for you, then it couldn't have really been about the music at all in the first place, could it?

Anonymous said...

kristie just had a self-inflicted image of trent in her brain, and when she saw a glimpse of reality it destroyed her dream world version of trent. it amazes me when people are surprised that musicians and actors eat, shit and sleep just like the rest of us. they are victims to the same whims as us. yes people, they are human too. i'm glad trent came out and said hi to his fans...and i don't blame him one bit for leaving as quickly as possible. these people ARE crazy! ;)

Kyle Shelby said...

I also think it is funny how he hates on Madden/Halo then jumps right on Nintendo's dick. I am pretty sure Nintendo invented franchise exploitation.

I think the thing that most people forget is 99.9% of indie stuff is total shit. Sure some gems pop up now and again but most of it just sucks.

NIN went downhill after the fragile.

Anonymous said...

No kyle, you went downhill after The Fragile...but at least you still have your opinions.

Lara said...

I heard he's making a new video game called Bipolar Breakdown. Imagine this- you're an aging rock star in your 40s whose career is dying and you need to stay relevant. You get points as stars for getting as much media attention as possible. 5 points for posting on twitter and shadow boxing with ghosts, random people. 5 points for hooking up with an STD laden slut with a big mouth. 5 points for every day you can put up with her annoying twat mouth and stop her from cheating on you. 5 points for adding hangers on and being able to keep them as a distance. 5 points for scoring an album with a guy who had one hit in the 1980s.

Gene Simmons said...

Gene Simmons here, the so-called "dopey clown" by Trent Reiner. Wanted to let everyone know that we are promoting a new tour this winter and have a new album coming out. Wanted to mention soemthing about Trent Reisner- oh, that's right, he's quit touring and is now leading an unremarkalbe life. If you ever need help witha comeback tour-contact my agent

Anonymous said...

Lara,
How about Trent gets 50 points for hooking up with a beautiful musician/model, 100 points for laughing at crazed obsessed online sluts, 50 points for making a collaboraton with Gary Numan, another 100 points for still laughing at crazed online obsessed whore?? Cool game!

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous who just posted:
You are calling Lara an online slut? How's that for projection? I don't see pictures all over the internet of Lara with various men, women, and animals she's screwed and then puts a picture of Trent and her with the word "husband." No one asked to see the picture of mariqueen getting a blowjob from someone or having to hear about his sex life

Elisabeth Carnell said...

Could the anonymous/pseudoanonymous jackasses please STFU? Kthxbai. The way you're illustrating his point about Twitter is interesting and all... (wait, it's not. nvrmnd).

If he does cool shit in the future & you like it, buy it. If you don't, put your cash into My Little Pony futures or Coldplay merch or whatever makes your bits tingle... But for the love of All His Noodly Appendages **STFU** already.

If you can't grow the fck up, shut the fck up.

Anonymous said...

If you can call someone a whore, you should be strong enough to be called a whore yourself. She had sex with someone in the past, so have you. If she's a whore, you're a whore. She may not have the same guilt that you do when it comes to sex, but if you pass judgement, be prepared to be judged.

Anonymous said...

Elisabeth,
Do you think saying "STFU" adds intelligence to the conversation? I personally think it does! These annonymous posts are written by a bunch of asses! Thank the gods for someone with insight!

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous above-
Somne guilt trip you are doing by calling people you don't even know whores. The whore is mariqueef, not me. I was in a relationship with the same person for 3 years. No, I would never post any pictures of us online because he's a rock star, and I never would betray his trust. As for who you are calling a whore, let the diseases mariqueen has speak for themselves. She screwed Carson Daly for sakes, the ultimate tool.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
Yeah everyone has had sex in the past, but not as many as the hundreds of people mariqueen has posted about it with. Someone needs to call in the STD squad wearing gas masks and jumpsuits. They could make a remake of the movie Outbreak with just Mariqueen as the animal spreading the disease. I wouldn't go any further as to why she looks like the original animal in the movie

guilty_ said...

People are still posting comments on this article ?!?! &^%% Boss, I have to admit it to you that the Horrors,Mew, and Carre Calloway all suck. Your musicial taste has really gone downhill. If you do make that video game, don't include them on the soundtrack. Do you really want to become an unremarkable person with an unremarkable life like you called people? Because that is what will happen to you as your career flushed down the toliet.ANyways, boss, back to my job as a moderator at nin.com things have been pretty dead since the tour ended.

Lara said...

I see that TR himself has responded to my original post. Probably since he has hardly any fans left. Rationalize it any way you want, mariqueen maandig is a whore. It will be great if he marries her, we'll have plenty of more tweets and ugly pictures to laugh at. Remember when you've lost all your money to her, there's only one solution. Cutter's tip for my friend at the blog. Be sure to cut lengthwise along the vein. Bigger payoff. Sound familiar

Anonymous said...

it just further proves that trent is a big coward. he leaves twitter as a coward-there are plenty of celebrities STILL on twitter with more followers than trent had, and they are STILL on twitter. he makes up anonymous accounts on twitter to attack the same people he pretends he's railing against. he ends NIN because he's a coward and can't take the fact that he's becoming an irrelevant artists. he can't deal with getting older. he can bulk up like the Incredible Hulk, but he'll still be Wimpy on the inside.

Lena said...

Listen. All of you. Stop being judgemental. Try walking in his shoes.

Rose34 said...

wow TR I am lost of words with all these comments I think its wonderful your walking away and quieting down you been on the road for awhile and need to move on to more adventures that await but I do have to laugh at that one comment wow poor mariqueen all the bashing I wouldnt take some of the comments to deeply either you know who you are and what is inside your heart there...

Anonymous said...

Trent is a poser, hypocrite, suburbanite, fat neck.
Marithing has slept with half of LA, drinks too much, smokes to much weed, does drugs. You really think that now b/c they have a son it will last long? She is a self centered bitch so it won't be long before she takes him to the cleaners. He never could pick good women...i.e. Courtney Love.

Oh, don't believe me? Check out her youtube. www.youtube.com/neeuqiram

Anonymous said...

I have lost great respect for Reznor. I have never really liked his music ok just the dub album before the major release(Purest Feelings/PHM and his last great effort in the crescent city The fragile(PS Trent should of stayed in Nawlins. His music was better there. There is always great music and people there. LA is for phonies, which is what he has become. But most of his work, same, same, same!) Anyways I felt I had to speak after reading his treatment towards women and yes some of them being his fans. When you yourself aren't the attractive young 20 something you once were and have the body of a manatee and when your wife/concubine too isn't perfect looking(please we all know it is Photoshopped) and has to rely on pounds and pounds of whore paint and whore like antics, which I doubt are even real. Much like their love, just used for press to build herself into something, you shouldn't call out to others with weight problems. That is the cheapest trick any guy could ever poll. And just plain mean given that those so called fatties helped you earn your empire of dirt. I, in his own words from the Fragile, can not believe you could sink so low(although he has always been an ass, rude, and hateful towards women, just listen to his lyrics). That alone should make him unwanted and God forbid his wife earns an extra lbs with his son(if he does in fact exist). He is and will always be a hateful man who isn't worth the time or your dime. And shame too on Mariqueen for joining in on the hate when she herself should be more understanding. These two and twitter and whatever else can have each other. And no I am not a fat girl myself. Actually I am a guy. A guy who can tell when another male is so empty on the inside he has to bring down the world around him on the outside just to make himself feel better. That is cute when you are like 25. When you are past 40 though and you still act so pathetic, it is just down right sad. Ladies out there. Stop loving such a hateful man. Stop giving yourself to his every word. He has proved time and time again he isn't worth it. Have someone who lifts you up and cherishes you, the way an artist should cherish his fans. Not someone like this. Shame on you Trent. Your fans are too good for you.

Anonymous said...

I really don`t understand why do you hate her so much...maybe because trent choosed her and not any of you...I`m just happy for him...it was about time he could be happy and start his family...think he deserves it. He may choose whoever the fuck he wants...deal with it!!! And honestly, I think you would think the same about any other women he would have choose. Mady.

FurtherThanYou said...

There's nothing quite as pathetic, hypocritical, and deserving of abortion than the judgmental fuckwads attacking Trent and his wife. OMG, she had sex! AND there's pics online? WHAT?!? she talked about it? and did drugs? BIG FUCKING DEAL. She'd have to sink 50 levels lower than shit to get to the level you useless sad asshats live on.
So before you rant and shriek like a little BITCH about "the empty man past his prime, blah blah blah" , just recognize YOU are the waste of skin that deserves every ounce of jealousy and pain you're projecting. We've grown tired of laughing at you, now it's more repulsive than funny. You're the Teabagger version of NIN trolls. Congrats, I bet your dead whore mother is proud. ;)

Anonymous said...

She banged an animal? That's rough...

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