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.
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