Sunday April 12, 2009

Trent Reznor speaks to The Observer about iPhone app and more

iPhone apps are changing the world of software and the way we work and play

An excerpt:

Now Trent Reznor, lead singer in a band at the vanguard of bringing technology into the music industry, plans to take things a step further, creating an app that will transform the experience of being a Nine Inch Nails fan.

NIN: Access, which is awaiting approval from Apple, could be one way forward for a music industry decimated by downloading in recent years. The application, which will be downloadable free, will let users start multiple conversations with strangers at gigs, locate other NIN fans in their vicinity, stream music, download photos and upload their own remixes. It will create an NIN community orchestrated by the band itself - not by any record company and not via any of the many social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook.

"People are going to steal your music whether you like it or not; it's out there, it's free," said Reznor in an interview with the Observer. "You're never going to make a lot of money selling records like you used to, that's a fact. It's over."

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The concept took shape for Nine Inch Nails one night last summer when Reznor was "fooling around" with his phone backstage before a gig and noticed fans queuing to get in were already uploading pictures of the scene. "So we then communicated with them and said, 'We're backstage' and that freaked them out," explained Reznor. "But that got the wheels turning and we thought, 'How can we develop that?' "

The fact that NIN are not tied to a record label frees them to experiment with such new ideas. "Record labels do not know how to deal with the new media environment that they're confronted with," he added. "They've made their fortunes selling plastic discs and now no one wants to buy plastic discs - they're just trying to get their fingers in every other pie, but they're so greedy and ignorant they're not prepared to do what they have to do." The key to success, argued Reznor, is not to see the apps primarily as a way to make money: "All we're trying to do is make something cool. Something that as a fan you'd say, 'Hey, I want to have that'. If we can monetise it, then that's fine, no problem."

The notion of thousands of fans talking at a concert via their iPhone may sound hellish to old-fashioned gig goers. "On a personal level, I do find that kind of silly," agreed Reznor. "I tend to not take cameras on vacation any more as I want to experience that moment as a human, not as a documenter. At a concert, it's up to them, I can't tell them how to experience a concert. If that makes you feel like you had a better time, holding a phone up the whole time, then OK."