Artist autonomy in a digital era: the case of Nine Inch Nails

Steven Caldwell Brown

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A 2009 presentation by Michael Masnick (CEO and founder of insight company Floor64) entitled ‘How Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails represent the Future of the Music Business’ brought the success of the business models employed by Reznor in distributing Nine Inch Nails’ music into the spotlight. The present review provides a comprehensive timeline of the band circa 2005-2010, evaluating the success of the distribution methods employed in accordance with Masnick’s (2009) proposed business model of connecting with fans and providing them with a reason to buy. The model is conceptualised in the wider context in which Reznor’s distribution methods take place (including a brief consideration of Radiohead’s much cited pay-what-you want model), addressing the perceived gaps in the model by exploring the involvement of musical preferences; age and consumer purchasing behavior and fan worship. Implications are discussed concerning the applicability of the model for new and emerging bands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-213
Number of pages16
JournalEmpirical Musicology Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • music distribution
  • marketing
  • piracy
  • musical preferences
  • digital marketing


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