Apple Music executives are no strangers to public interviews and now, Trent Reznor has sat down with Vulture for a wide-ranging discussion. The conversation jumped between Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails life, his work at Apple Music and Beats, and more. Nine Inch Nails this week released a new EP called ‘Add Violence.’
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Asked about whether his work with Beats and Apple had convinced him that “tech entrepreneurs are the new rock stars,” Reznor quickly put that idea to bed.
What a load of bullshit that is. Music or film or writing or journalism — things that inspire emotional connections are so much more important to me than things that only have utilitarian ends.
I’m glad someone figured out a food-delivery service. That’s made my life a little bit better. But that’s not that interesting to me. A good song can become part of my soul. So this whole nonsense about tech rock stars is farce.
Reznor went on to explain that he’s learned a lot working at Beats and subsequently at Apple, but he’s not necessarily “yearning to be a tech guy.” Reznor explained that the economics of music aren’t what they should be in the era of streaming music:
I’ve learned a hell of a lot from working at Beats and Apple. Now, and I’m not talking about Apple here: I’m not yearning to be a tech guy.
Being in that world has made me realize the true value of being an artist. The economics of music aren’t what they should be, and the culture isn’t giving the arts its fair due, but humans are always going to respond to emotion and storytelling. I believe that as much as I ever did. More, even.
He went on to suggest that people tend to value albums more when they pay for them, but at the same time he sees the benefits of accessing the more obscure stuff:
A lot of the music I ended up really loving was because I spent nine bucks on an album and that meant I had to listen to it and figure it out.
I’m not saying there aren’t a million great things about streaming music. Being able to have access to every obscure Frank Zappa album is good; but I don’t think I’m being a crank if I suggest that maybe there’s some drawbacks to the all-access, all-free world we’re living in.
Ultimately, Reznor said that it was the release of his “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!” album that showed him the benefits of streaming music. He explained that artists aren’t making money from albums, but rather trying to make people aware of you.
In a way, that experience gave me a preemptive look at music today. You’re not making money from albums; instead they’re a vessel for making people aware of you. That’s what led me to thinking that a singular subscription service clearly is the only way this problem is going to be solved. If we can convert as many music fans as possible to the value of that, in a post-ownership world, it would be the best way to go.
Do you feel like you’ve been successful with Beats and Apple Music as far as working on subscription streaming?
Without going into detail, I’ll say it’s been an education. I’ve been on the other side of artists bitching about payments and free music, and I agree with those arguments, but you can sit and bitch about the way things are, or you can try to affect some change. Working under the Apple umbrella, I have a unique opportunity to work on a streaming service from the inside. I thought I could help set a precedent where artists could actually be paid and the fans could feel like they were dealing with a service run by people who actually care about music.
The full interview is definitely worth a read and can be found here.
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