Nine Inch Nails' "Ghosts" Tops Amazon MP3 Sales Chart

January 7, 2009 4:15 PM ET

Despite being partially offered as a free download in March 2008, Nine Inch Nails' instrumental Ghosts I-IV still became the Amazon MP3 Store's Bestselling Album of 2008, beating out Coldplay's Viva La Vida and Death Cub for Cutie's Narrow Stairs. The achievement is symbolic on two fronts: First, it proves — along with Radiohead's chart-topping success of the physical release of In Rainbows — that music fans are willing to support artists even if their music is offered up at no cost. Second, it's more evidence that Nine Inch Nails truly has one of the most rabid fanbases on the planet. (In Rainbows, for what it's worth, ranked Number 11 on the Amazon chart.)

Even though it was available for free, Ghosts I-IV was a good value even when sold on Amazon: the 36-track album went for $5. Multiple purchasing options were available when Trent Reznor first announced the record's self-release, and after only a week Reznor revealed he made already made $1.6 million from the album. Ghosts was the first LP Reznor released after his exile from Interscope Records after a long, tumultuous relationship.

Of course, Reznor constantly rewards his fanbase for their support: He practically gave away The Slip in May, and he's currently promising fans on his Website that "a gift" is on the way. Ghosts was released under a Creative Commons license, which allows fans to remix and share the songs as long as it was for non-commercial use and they credited the original authors of the work.

Related Stories:
Nine Inch Nails Surprise Fans by Web-Releasing New "Ghosts" Album
Nine Inch Nails' "Ghosts I-IV" Makes Trent Reznor an Instant Millionaire
Nine Inch Nails Release New Album "The Slip" for Free

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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