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*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



NIN - "1000000"

I want you to consider something. Something relating to TV, trust me. But there's some background I need to relate first, so bear with me.

Now, I'm a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails. It doesn't really matter if you are or not, just digest and consider. If you're knowledgeable about Reznor's recent goings on, skip down to the paragraph that begins with "Shortly after.."

Trent Reznor, who essentially is NIN, is on a roll of forward thinkingness. It started just before his contract with Interscope Records finally lapsed. His last album with that label was a concept album. Two words that scare the shit out of me. Year Zero was essentially fragments of a militarized post-Bush future in which rights are something people used to have. There is an uprising and there is something coming down from the sky. My fear was unfounded.

In addition, there was an alternate reality game which spread so far as to have some players actually get sorta kidnapped, taken to an actual NIN concert and have the show raided by Year Zero soldiers. This ARG just won a Webby award. Deservedly so. Here's a rundown on the whole monster. It's crossover in the actual and physical, with mysterious USB drives and white vans is fascinating.

From there, released the multitracks of all the songs on Year Zero (essentially making the album available for free.) and set up a remix website where fans can post their NIN remixes and creations with just a few basic restrictions. Fans like me. It was launched when he released a CD of Year Zero remixes by people like Ladytron and members of New Order, oh and a fan who went by Pirate Robot Midget. Yeah, a fan.

Then there was the album he produced and performed on for his bud, Saul Williams, kinda of a pseudo-rap, beat poet kinda dude. It was called The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust. Reznor and Williams released it as a pay-what-you-want download. The results were a little disappointing, but then before doing it, very few people knew who Saul Williams was. Now he's on a Nike ad. BTW, it's not free anymore. It's five bones. Worth it, though.

Then there was Ghosts. In which Reznor released 36 instrumental tracks, like this one (the guitar at the end makes me think of urban cop shows). Very experimental. Zero commercial value, right. Certainly not getting on the radio. He released a chunk for free and took preorders on CDs, in varying editions. In the first two days, he cleared a million dollars. When it hit the stores a month later, it debuted at #14 on Billboard. An experimental album.

The tracks are also released under a creative commons license, so you can use them for your own non-commercial videos and what-not. And there's the Ghosts Film Festival on YouTube. And there's remixable multitracks.

About a month later, he like..BAM new album. It's called The Slip and it appears to have been conceived and recorded in maybe a month or two and immediately, last Monday, released as a free download. Free. CD's out later on. They will sell. And, yeah, multitracks to remix.

Here's the TV part.

Shortly after Year Zero came out, Reznor spoke about taking to concept that drove the album and the ARG and porting it to TV. Recently, he was asked about it again...
Though crippled by the writers' strike, a proposed TV series based on the Year Zero concept is ‘‘still churning along''.
This is what I want you to think about. If Reznor, having done all this stuff I just described, got his fingers into TV, what would happen? Free day and date downloads, in addition to DVD sets? Webisodes, sure. Other series have done that, but how about expanded or alternate cuts episodes online? Soundtrack albums that actually affect the story?

How about format busting? Instead of say, an hour once a week, how about a half-hour every three-four days? It's worked before, you know.

Remixable TV shows. Re-edit episodes. Shoot your own footage and cut it in and upload it. Sturgeon's Law will apply, but it's about that ten percent, you know.

Or how about fans shoot their own footage, upload it and episodes get written around selected clips. Stories of the future freedom fighters. Just like a one minute or two minute thing and the staff writers find a way to craft something around it, if not as a basis for a story, at least utilizing it in service of a larger or different story. This is something I'd like to see done somewhere, if not on a Year Zero series.

I hope this gets off the ground and is allowed to do whatever it can. The line begins to blur.

And Trent, the email is m at redrighthand dot net.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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