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The New Nine Inch Nails’ “Physical Component” Caused a Huge Mess, While Pissing Off Fans…

Nine Inch Nails, which is now both Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, ended 2016 with a bang when they not only released a new EP, Not the Actual Events, but also all of their albums on vinyl.

One of the items for sale, however, was “a unique limited edition digital and physical component version” of Not the Actual Events. It was $12. Looking at the product page, one would assume that the physical component would be a CD, although it doesn’t actually specify that in the description.

Said physical component begun arriving to fans across the world yesterday afternoon, and many were none too happy. As suggested in the description, the envelope did not contain a CD, but instead a bunch of art covered in black dust, which many have described as “printer toner”. Many users on reddit were so angry that they’re giving away their purchase as they just wanted a physical copy of the album.

The argument pursuant with this publicity stunt is that Reznor didn’t want to release just another CD that would become a NIN fan’s coaster, but instead wanted to release a one-of-a-kind piece of art that none of his fans would ever forget (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t forget paying $12 to be “glitter bombed” by Trent Reznor).

Being that the new Nine Inch Nails EP was immediately made available on platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify, is it fair that Reznor charged fans $12 for some soot and images that arrived month after the fact? How do you guys feel about this experimental release?



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COMMENTS

29 Comments
  • Micah Unice

    …but the heroes we deserve.

    • TheHornedLynx

      …the zeros we deserve?

  • Jada Maes

    What astounds me most is that Nine Inch Nails is still a thing.

    • Tiger Quinn

      You mean a band that makes their own music and is still popular? Oh, you meant that because YOU don’t know them they must be irrelevant. That’s adorable. And will never, ever happen when you get older.

      • Jada Maes

        Not that they’re irrelevant, that they’re still musicking (relevancy is a beast that’s hard to define. Are we talking personal relevance, or relevance to current pop culture? But I digress). Don’t worry, I’m only 28 and already my teenage music has been confined to the bin 🙂

  • huntermc

    I never assumed that the “physical component” would be a CD. They have CDs for sale, so it if was a CD, then it would have specified it as that. I had always figured that the physical component would simply be a booklet of liner notes, and it looks like I was right.

    • Carlton Fisher

      Not a booklet of liner notes. These are way too big to fit into any CD case, so it’s not like it could even work as a “professionally produced” booklet for a home burned CD. Plus you wouldn’t want it anywhere near your CD, because the black crap would get all over it.

  • jhonn0

    Especially knowing Reznor and seeing such specific and deliberately mysterious wording like “physical component,” you’d be daft to just blindly assume it would just be some CD showing up in the mail. You have the download, you can already burn it to a CD if you want. And very few people want those anyway.

    I say he gets credit for doing something original and giving out some fairly unique artwork… the black powder thing is obviously a part of the finished aesthetic, and definitely a bit subversive. As it should be!
    He’s probably one of the few people out there who seems to mind the details these days and cares enough to do something a little different. The music may not as good, but as far as artistic merit goes, he’s got it in spades.

    Also, why bash a band simply for longevity?? He’s been able to maintain a living as an artist for almost 30 years… what’s so bad about that?

    • Carlton Fisher

      I think it’s a fairly safe bet to assume when you buy a download with a “physical component” (which is generally understood to be a physical version of the media you’re buying in collecting circles) from a site that has a “mission statement” at the very top of it that waxes ecstatic about the value of having physical media, that you’re buying an actual piece of physical media that will contain the music you purchased. Yes, I suppose you could argue that a flash drive or a cassette could fill that requirement, but an envelope covered in black shit with poorly designed “art cards” inside of it does NOT fit the bill. And it sure as hell is not worth twelve bucks.

      I don’t do downloads. I don’t care how much I like a band, if they release something as “download only,” it just doesn’t exist for me. If you’re selling physical music from a website that extols the virtues of physical media for listening to music, then the buyer, I would venture, has a reasonable justification for expecting that what he’s paying for is music on physical media when he buys a “physical component.” If I’d known the only music I was going to get was from a download (that I never even bothered with, because I was waiting for the disc, which was also supposed to be delivered in January, not March), I would not have paid for it. I will (and have) paid a premium for limited release physical copies of albums that were otherwise only available as downloads, which was what i assumed was the case with this release (which isn’t even without precedent, since Reznor has done limited release physical copies in the past before they went into wider release).

      12 bucks is pricey for an EP on disc, unless you’re paying for a limited release. 12 bucks for a download EP is stupid. And the fucking envelope just feels like a bad practical joke that Trent is the only one laughing at.

      • SmithDoc

        lol “physical component” – if he meant cd, i’m sure that’s exactly what it would’ve said.

        • Carlton Fisher

          Then why does the description for it say, “THE INTENTION OF THIS RECORD IS FOR IT TO EXIST IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD, JUST LIKE YOU. CHOOSING THIS PACKAGE GETS YOU THE DIGITAL FILES AND WE WILL SHIP THE
          PROPER PHYSICAL COMPONENT TO YOUR HOUSE FOR YOU TO DEAL WITH, WHILE VERY
          LIMITED SUPPLIES LAST.” Sure as hell sounds to me like, at the very least, the “physical component” is supposed to contain “the record.” Since it’s available separately from the vinyl, I think it would be safe to assume it’s not an LP. Yes, a cassette or a flash drive would have worked as well, I suppose, but an envelope covered in black crap does not constitute the record “existing in the physical world.”

          • Mark Jones

            im pretty sure the bringing it to the physical world was a way for you to feel the grunge and atmosphere while traversing that art that was sent, and that quote from the website i would of honestly not assumed it was a physical copy, also knowing how much of an artist he is, whether his music is good or not, its what he intended it to be.

  • C. Thomas Haldol

    NIN were better when they were ripping off Skinny Puppy and Ministry.

  • Carlton Fisher

    You mean I paid 12 bucks and I’m not getting a fucking CD???? I have ZERO use for fucking MP3s. I paid money, because I was expecting a CD. While I am rarely the kind of person who decides “fuck this artist” based on some weird promotional decision, if all I’m getting is some shitty printer paper, then fuck NIN. This is bullshit.

    • jhonn0

      Burn a CD?

      • Carlton Fisher

        Crap, clipped, compressed files burned to a disc are still crap, clipped, compressed files. A proper, mastered, factory-pressed CD has much better sound than anything you can download and burn yourself, and the disc itself is more durable than a home-burned job.

        • Pretty positive you could download FLAC files. Shame it didn’t have a CD, but to be fair, it said digital download and physical component. Most people guessed a cassette. No one saw a messy envelope coming!

          • Carlton Fisher

            Typically, in collecting circles, “physical component” is understood to mean, at the very least, a physical version of the media–especially when you’re buying from a website that has a mission statement at the top of it celebrating the importance of “physical media.”. I can’t help but feel that this was deliberate misdirection. The dirty envelope of crap definitely isn’t worth twelve bucks.

  • Since he stopped taking drugs, Reznor is just a big fucking cunt.

    • Max Miller

      go fuck yourself

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    wtf

  • zombie84_41

    to be honest hes out of his prime the new album is garbage. He was good in the 90s. Stay in the 90’s as for his stunt thats a dick move bro. At least tell people what it was. I would of been pissed too I would of sent it back with a letter saying FUCK OFF. with some dog shit smear on it.

  • Remy Carreiro

    It is art, fucking whiny ungrateful people have become the norm. I’ll buy this off any of you for 12 bucks if you feel robbed.
    Just means you are in the lower IQ bracket, real talk.

  • Max Miller

    The physical component is awesome, if anyone read the description on the NIN store page, they’d know that this would be something, well, different. I never expected a CD.

    I sat down with this, put the album on, and opened it/read along with the lyrics/got messy while listening through the EP. It was a pretty awesome experience and I ended up covered in soot listening through other NIN records in my room for hours. I didn’t use my computer at all as I didn’t want to get it covered in this stuff, so there were no distractions between me and the music. It’s a really cool idea.

    • Max Miller

      Also I love that even in opening it, you have to destroy it. The envelope is pretty well sealed, and the sticker is weak. I had wanted to preserve the sticker – I suppose I could have figured out a way, but eventually it just was easier to tear it open. Actions have consequences.

  • Just got mine in the post and I had no idea what the hell it was… thought it was some bloody scam package. Realised it was from NIN and excitedly opened without reading the label.

    What a bloody mess. Toner (assume that is what it is) everywhere … washed my hands about 10 times to get rid of that toxic crap off my hands.

    Nice pics but yer … would’ve preferred a CD personally. None too chuffed about the black pixie dust mind.

  • I can’t feel sorry for people that don’t read product descriptions: “CHOOSING THIS PACKAGE GETS YOU THE DIGITAL FILES AND WE WILL SHIP THE PROPER PHYSICAL COMPONENT TO YOUR HOUSE FOR YOU TO DEAL WITH”.
    Nowhere does it say you are getting a CD…that is the creation of the imagination of “pissed off fans”. If nothing else, it seems to be an ominous warning to me.

    And then when the product arrives, it sates clear as day, in red ink, on a large seal that must be broken to open the package, “AND THIS IS IMPORTANT…This will make a mess.” “Actions have consequences!”

    Pissed-off automatons, unaware of their surroundings? Nope, I can’t feel sorry for them.

  • Kent N

    I read the label, but could not imagine what it could mean. I figured at first that it was the envelope that was “painting” everything black, but soon found out that the content inside was much worse. There was black powder everywhere. I put the envelope down on the sofa, which was a mistake. I think I managed to clean it all up, though… I got a newspaper as a coaster, went through the artwork and was surprised that there was no CD. Then I remembered the warning label and the mentioned disappointment.

    After I put the artwork back into the envelope, sealed it nicely in the envelope that it was shipped in, cleaned everything and washed my hands, I sat down, thought about it and smiled. This messy artwork, with the disappointment of no CD (which it never said that it would contain) actuallt brought a smile to my lips. “Well played, NIN, well played.”

    That was a nice piece of art. Audience participation, a sort of conceptual art from a distance.

  • Drew Ciccotelli

    I ordered it but it never came. I have a receipt and the MP3 but the physical part never mailed. Im not sure how to contact them because of the archaic delivery system.

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