Digg Dialogg with Trent Reznor | 7 April 2009

Transcript of the digg dialogg with Trent Reznor on 7 April 2009.

For streaming video and download links, go to Digg.com.

Additional discussion: on Digg / on forum.nin.com

Kevin Rose: Hey everyone, welcome to our fourth digg dialogg. My name is Kevin Rose and I’m founder and site architect of digg.com and it is my honor today to meet with Trent Reznor, frontman and founder of Nine Inch Nails. Trent, thanks for coming on the show.

Trent Reznor: Glad to be here.

KR: So we went out and basically what we do on digg.com is we submitted the idea that you were going to be on this and people submitted all their questions and they could vote up their favorite questions. So there’s been a little over 5,000 questions, which is our biggest dialogg ever, with 20-30-40,000 votes up. So what I’m going to be asking you today is the most popular questions as voted up by the community. Are you cool with that?

TR: Um … okay (laugh) … yeah.

KR: So let’s get started off with Question #1. This was submitted by a digg user by the name of Kethinov with 710 people digging this up. He asks: “You’ve embraced the Creative Commons in file sharing but your business mondel still primarily involves selling music either digitally or physically. Why haven’t you embraced advertising as a business model? Example: placing ads on your torrent tracker. Why let Pirate Bay take all the ad revenue you deserve? Furthermore, why aren’t you building a brand-new record label based on a modern business model?”

TR:  Hmmm. One I don’t get asked that often. That’s good. First, I think his assessment is a little bit off because our business model as I see it is not so much selling digital and digital goods anymore. I believe that since we’ve been independent and off record labels everything’s now in one pot. So there’s records, concert tickets, merchandise, publishing, licensing the music—all of that now becomes the brand of Nine Inch Nails. It’s not split up between the record label used to participate in this chunk, X & and Z—so the way I see it is that now that everything is kind of now in the same pot things can support each other a little bit better. And regarding his—so for example I can give you free music and in my opinion that may contribute to more people showing up to a show. And when I say I give you free music, it’s not really up me to give you free music: it’s free anyway, for anybody that wants to admit it. Pretty much any piece of music you want is free on the Internet anyway. So we’re trying to amass goodwill and do what we think is right and bring you to our—and I hate to talk in these terms—the “brand” of Nine Inch Nails—and then it might get monetized and like I said, they have concert tickets, a t-shirt purchase, a deluxe physical product of some sort. And as far as the advertising thing, I hadn’t really—we haven’t needed to rely on that and maybe we could make a few bucks plastering ads on nin.com but don’t you see enough ads?

KR: Yeah, you’d rather just keep it like a clean experience on the Web site.

TR: Well at this point. We have actually just talked with our Web designers about—they came to use about different monetization of ad models. And I said, “Show me some numbers and what that means,” because there will be a time coming up when Nine Inch Nails goes away for a while, that I’d like to keep funneling money into the R&D and the development of the site and with nothing coming in it would be nice if I could get it to self-sustenate in some way. But it really would be a matter of feeling out what feels right. I mean there’s lots of opportunities, I think, to make money but it shouldn’t always be about just making money.

KR: Yeah. So as far as applying this to other—your own kind of methodology for making money, could this be applied to other bands, or do you think that’s something they could fall in your footsteps?

TR: Well I think some of the business models that we’ve narrowed down—we started off, my first foray into this was really with the Saul Williams project where we had a record I really believed in and I had funded that we couldn’t find a label to put out and we decided let’s just put it out on our own. And I had a kind of naïve approach, thinking that if you gave people the option to pay or not pay but give it away free knowing that that money goes right into the pocket of the people that made it, they would pay for it. I would. But we found out 18% of people would do that. It was a bit—I got quoted in the press as whining about that and it was a bit I guess heartbreaking in a way because I thought, there was this naïve part of me that thought that given the opportunity to do that that’d be a higher number. Because that wasn’t a mainstream front page MySpace way that that permeated down. It was from nin.com, it was from people that would be aware of that then. The end result is he sold more records and made more money than he would have on a normal label but we fine-tuned that business model over time with the release of Ghosts, where we introduced scarce goods, different price points; and with The Slip, which was another probably I think the most successful in my opinion—just give it away, charge for a limited-edition CD, and print a limited amount of them. We knew how much we needed to make and it worked out. We didn’t get rich off of it but we covered our costs and we made some profit and it felt like everybody was happy and we got that message out a lot of people. There wasn’t any hurdle to get you to get that record: here it is, it’s easy to give to your friends, give it to everybody. And as an artist there’s a part of me that wants as many people to hear what I do as possible, without the hurdle of having to pay for it. Now as far as it being a business model to others, you know I tried to have a record label in the 90s. Interscope gave me my own umbrella of a label, Nothing Records. We most notably signed Marilyn Manson and a few other acts and licensed a lot of work product from the UK in the States. And I learned that I really don’t want to be in control of and held accountable for other acts because you’re always to blame for what’s good and bad, mostly what’s bad. And so what I thought we’d do now is try to be as transparent as possible in the stuff we’ve learned from the things we’ve tried, make that data transparent to others, learn from it, let’s improve upon it as a community. And I’ve thought about and been talking to some people about the idea of building an infrastructure that other musicians could share in, that doesn’t take percentages of what they make, and it’s in its infancy right now the right way. So at the moment I’m really just trying to share data: see if we can come up with something. Because we’re in between business models. The old record labels are dead, the new thing hasn’t really come out yet, so I’m hoping that whatever gets established puts a lot more power in the hands of the artist, and revenue.

KR: You think it’s going to be a lot more trial and error then? I mean you think there’s still a lot of learning to be done?

TR: Let’s say that the major labels got to a point where they were willing to come up with a subscription model that would allow you to download anything you want anytime you want and maybe some broadband component that pumps it streaming to whatever you want as well, and it’s X amount per month, and it’s a reasonable fee, and they’re willing to figure out a way to split those revenues. That could render what I’m doing obsolete because it would be the thing you’d want to get. And we have to inevitably go in along with it because we don’t want a Nine Inch Nails subscription model and then the “rest of the world” subscription model. So if something happened where they finally woke up and realized what the consumer wants, that could be a big paradigm shift. Now in lieu of that happening, which doesn’t seem anytime close, because I know the people running these labels and they don’t know what’s going on and they’re still clinging to their corporate jets and their lifestyle—

KR: —They’re still suing people.

TR: Yeah. So I don’t see that happening at any short time. So in the meantime, just trying to look at the climate out there and do what we think is the most reasonable and respectful treatment of the fan and the artist.

KR: Excellent. Next question, let’s move on to something a little bit more fun. Lindbergrm with 571 diggs asks the question, “What is your most embarrassing song on your iPod?”

TR: Ahhh…

KR: (laugh)

TR: I’ll have to think about that one … what’s going through my head right now is, do I tell the truth at the risk of (laugh) a career-ending statement about to come out of my mouth? What we started doing backstage before we go on stage is, there’s usually a security guy, a couple people backstage near us and we have a pretty loud stereo in our room so we’d start to find the most absurd music possible real loud so they’d think, “What are those guys doing???” Or we’d take cool indie bands out on tour with us and they’d hear Pump Up The Jam coming real loud. But one of the songs we started playing was Cece Peniston, “Finally”—you remember that song? If you don’t I recommend you check it out but—[breaks into singing Finally it’s happened–-]

KR: (laugh) Oh god I know that song now.

TR: Well it’s actually, I realized, I really like that song. It does kind of, it gets you going.

KR: That’s not your ringtone on your iPhone, is it?

TR: No no. But that might not be a bad idea.

KR: That would be a pretty bad idea.

TR: So I’d have to say, Cece Peniston, and we also have “Poison,” Bel Biv Devoe was another one, that’s another… not my favorite but—OK I’ve said enough on that topic.

KR: One last little follow-up to that, are there other genres of music that you really enjoy?

TR: I think I keep a pretty open mind generally. So how’s that for a non-answer?

KR: That’s good. Let’s move on to Question #3 from chris4404 with 463 people digging it, “What advice do you have for up-and-coming bands who choose the Internet for distribution over traditional channels?” So they’re not signed, they want to do it online.

TR: I could go off on a tangent here, so reel me in when the tape’s about to run out. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. When I started out, there was a set—this would be like ’88 or so—I knew I wanted to write music and express myself as what would become Nine Inch Nails. And I was living in Cleveland, I didn’t have any connections to the music business, and I really started thinking about where I wanted to see myself in a few years from now. And at that time the only way to get to that point was to get signed to a label. That was the ticket to be able to participate. So I thought about, “How do I get signed to a label?” and I asked somebody, the local rep of some label—“have a demo tape with three strong songs, have a promo picture, be ready to follow it up with three more strong songs, make sure your contact info”—basic common sense things. So I started working on that and long story short, it essentially worked. I strategically contacted the kind of label that I thought might be interested in a project like mine and I didn’t go into this thinking that we were gonna be U2. The bands that I was emulating and inspired by at that time capped at about a hundred thousand records and had an alternative edge to it and that’s where I’d hoped to maybe see myself. So jump ahead to the present and what my strongest advice would be right now because it is a weird time is try to identify what it is you’re trying to do. How do you see yourself? And if you see yourself as a Justin Timberlake-esque American Idol-esque mainstream superstar then I don’t have much advice for you because I don’t know how that works but it seems like you need to be on a record label to pull that off. You need their bank account, you need their marketing, you need their permutation, permeation, into the market. And so I would do what I did before, find the right way to appeal to those entities, groom yourself to be like what they want, and I look at that kind of artist as a more careerist-based type of thing. If you are trying to change the world and you play music because that’s your life and it’s your soundtrack to your life and what you’re saying is unusual and unique and innovative and you don’t sound like what’s on the radio and you have nothing in common with American Idol and you don’t want to be the Pussycat Dolls then you really don’t want to be on certainly a major record label, because all they want is to make money. It’s common sense. But they’re not interested in you as an artist; they’re interested in you as a means to make revenue. And you’ll be faced at every fork in the road—that will be what’s put first. Not your longevity, not your vision—“How can we make money from you?”—so let’s say that you’re the latter and you are trying to change the world, then I would look at the strengths of what you have now that we didn’t have in 1988, the huge barrier of distribution, which used to be that Major Label had the trucks that drove the product to the stores that had the accounts with the stores—the only way you could get the music out was through physical distribution. Now, everybody’s a broadcaster and a blogger and a publicist. And my advice to you would be, “Hone your craft first and foremost. Make the best coolest thing you can. And then present it in a way that exploits it the best.” I use the word “exploit” delicately but I mean “Play up your strengths and present them. Make sure you have a Web site or a MySpace page at least.” Cool videos can virally spread wherever. If you have to rely on stunting to do that, realize it’s a stunt, maybe it gets attention for a minute but have something to follow it up with. There’s a lot more bands out there, there’s a lot more clutter. I don’t go on MySpace and when I do it seems like I can’t begin to sort things out. My second advice would be think of the filters that is where you find your music. It used to be there was MTV—one big channel that cut across the whole country in the States—there were one basic format of radio station that was your type of music, one program director plays it, every station like that plays it because they all want to make money and they’re afraid to take chances. So you had radio, MTV, that were big broadcasters to everybody and if you could on them, suddenly—we saw it with Nine Inch Nails—we went from 500 people a show to 5,000a show because we had a video on MTV. Wow OK. We could have toured forever and never got up that high but with that one big thing broadcasting out, that worked. Print media used to be a big thing: get the cover of Rolling Stone, it was a big deal. Now, all three of those things are gone or completely irrelevant. MTV doesn’t play music. Radio has been kneecapped in terms of its—certainly in the world I’m in it has—I’m sure in the Christina Aguillera world it’s still a powerful thing. Alternative radio is essentially meaningless at this point in terms of permutation, or permeation. And print media has been killed off by the Internet and the speed of it. So I think about where I find music and it’s usually blogs or word-of-mouth from friends. Figure out where the blog is that appeals to your splintered aesthetic and contact them.

KR: So let’s say they get the word out there, they’re starting to see a lot of downloads, they obviously want a way to be able to fund bigger and better things, future things for them, can you make money on iTunes?

TR: Not that I’ve seen personally, no. If I were starting out and I had a little bit of buzz where I broke out with something I’ve done that people were noticing it, I would probably go to a company like Topspin, set up my own account there, set my own realistic—Topspin is basically a digital delivery service that provides the infrastructure that in our case we built—they’ve kind of built it and they’re offering it to other people. Get yourself a presence there and determine some sort of monetization scheme, which they leave open to you. You can have a subscription service for X amount per year on everything you put out, you can sell/charge whatever you want for whatever unit type of thing, video, audio, etc. Do something realistic and just—if you’re a rock band I would open for anybody that would have you and just start working. And try to spread—I mean a band like, say, Arcade Fire comes to mind, that kind of felt like organically you just started hearing about them. And then if you did see them they’re amazing.

KR: Yeah. Their live shows are nuts.

TR: That’s the kid of thing I think that resonates much much more powerful than a—that’s a bottom-up grassroots-style marketing versus a Coldplay top-down shotgun blast everywhere you look, Coldplay toilet paper—you know, “OKAY I’ll buy it, just quit bugging me.”

KR: (laugh) Right. So let’s move on to the next question , #4, this one I actually feel like a dumbass because I submitted it myself and then I was told by the other digg employees that I’m not allowed to submit questions to our own Digg Dialogg, so this one’s actually from me with 448 diggs, “What tech gadgets, hardware, software, can you not live without?”

KR: Because I know you’re a little bit of a geek.

TR: It’s been reported, yes. Really it’s not that exotic or nothing. Anything—the things I find myself using mostly—iPhone—I can’t tell you how many times that we’ve traveling the last few years pretty intensely and yuou’re either at dinner or you’re doing something and someone asks a question and you don’t know the answer to it, and then “wait a minute, I dcan find out right now what that is.” And that’s not specific to the iPhone but just the accessibility of a browser, mobile, I think is a huge huge change. As we’ve been working on our own apps for that and really thinking of it as a tool, having the GPS ability—I think there’s a lot of potential of human interaction changing in a way, having a computer in your pocket that’s viable. I’m preaching to the choir here but—that’s been a pretty big one.

KR: Can you talk about your app at all?

TR: We have an app that’s coming out and may be out any minute that’s essentially a mobile version of the Web site but it adds the ability to talk people geographically that are close to you or however distance you’d want. So the idea would be, at a show for example, you can find anybody else that has that app that’s a member of nin.com, that’s free, see who’s there, have communication with them—but what’s exciting to me about it is it’s also meant for the people that don’t have an app that are sitting at home. They can tune in to on our Web site, there’s a Google Earth plugin that shows in real time messages popping up, and they can zoom in to whatever location they want and can watch the people in that area. So I’m imagining what would probably happen based around a tour is you can actually see the show kind of unfolding and live-blogging by people at the show with photos and whatnot. And it may turn out to be just a way for people to hook up, I don’t know.

KR: That’s cool though. Nice. Alright, next question by halofourteen with 389 diggs, “Have the plans to release a Year Zero miniseries on HBO fallen through? Or can we still look forward to a video representation of the album”

TR: Yeah the Year Zero TV series that I prematurely blabbed about due to my over-eagerness (laugh) a while ago. I’ve learned that when you’re working on things there’s a part of you that’s so excited about it you want to just talk about what you’re doing and I think I got caught—well I know I kind of spoke ahead of turn about that because I’m excited about it. But the master plan with Year Zero was and still is to take the record and the accompanying ARG campaign we had around it—that was all meant to be basically an elaborate set dressing. The record was only snapshots of situations in that world. The ARG kind of gave you a pretty detailed page of a newspaper from that world to get an idea of what’s happening, which was set in the year 2022. And the master plan has been to introduce a narrative and an element of storytelling in that world where all these things support each other. Ad we discussed it being a graphic novel or a film, and we wound up really thinking that serialized television would be the best way to do it; because I think there’s some really excellent things coming out in that medium now. So we—several months ago we had a pitch at HBO and it was well received but we didn’t get green-lit at the time. And something last week just happened that was pretty positive so things feel like, without getting into any details, it could be a reality. And if it is then sometime in the next couple years this thing would emerge. And I’m not in it, I’m just overseeing and creating, and it’s not about Nine Inch Nails, it’s a dramatic unraveling of the end of the world, basically.

KR: Right. That seems like—I mean if you didn’t go with HBO would you consider having it like a graphic novel?

TR: Yeah we’re not ruling out anything. I’ve got a few things, irons in the fire right now but again, I’m trying not to “tell you everything.” (laugh)

KR: I do that all the time with digg features and people get pissed because I’d leak them early.

TR: “When’s it coming out?!” Ahhhh … it’s just … I started thinking about it about an hour ago …

KR: Yep. So Question #6 is by Jchrichton with 335 diggs, “What is your favorite thing you have seen done with your music by a fan of Nine Inch Nails”?

TR: It’s tough, hmmm … right off the top of my head nothing, there’s no clear winner in that category but I will say that it’s very interesting and flattering to me to visit the Remix portion of our Web site. For those of you that don’t know, we spent the last few records, the last few full-length albums starting with With Teeth, we’ve put up multitracks so people have the ability to go and remix and do whatever they want with the actual components of the song. It’s been cool to see people utterly destroy and sometimes create some pretty interesting things I would have never come up with and mash up some things like that, and that’s cool. The Ghosts—we did a video contest that I never finished—I need to do that so—

KR: Was that all the—I remember hearing something about you releasing all this raw uncompressed video footage or something like that on bittorrent?

TR: Separate thing.

KR: Okay.

TR: When we did the Ghosts record, which was a long 2 hours’ worth of instrumental music, we had kind of a what we’re calling a film festival scenario where people would make their own video accompaniments, because that record was meant to be like soundtracks for whatever. And so many of them came in and we started right into a tour that it fell into the Things I’ll Get To department, but there’s a YouTube channel that has them in there that—it’s pretty—there’s some pretty—there’s some terrible stuff but there’s some pretty great things too and that’s been cool. The thing you mentioned was we tried to put out—the last Lights In The Sky Tour, we tried to film it properly and ran into a bureaucratic barrier, so we just filmed it on prosumer HD cameras and put up the last several nights of the tour, five or six cameras, sheets (?), we put all the data up on a torrent to let people do whatever they want with it. And now we’re seeing the results of that coming in from various sources and one guy that edited the whole thing together is having an actual showing in a theatre, and asked us about it and I said, “Yeah as long as you don’t charge for it, yeah sure.”

KR: That’s cool.

TR: Yeah so it’s very flattering to kind of throw that stuff out and see people using it to be creative with, and also I look at it through the eyes of—hey man if I was—if I could do that, I’d be into that, if I could get access—if I had had Queen’s multitracks stuff when I was a kid I would have lost my mind. Of course I’d also need computers that didn’t exist at that time, you know, but—

KR: Alright, next question, Question #7, from Christo—- we have the craziest user names—287 diggs, he says “Huge fan of Quake, love the sound effects and music, I’ve heard you play Doom too and enjoy it, what are some of you other favorite video games?”

TR: I’ve always been interested in video games—I was there at the beginning, from the arcade with Pong in it to 2600, that was the coolest thing, it made friends, it had other cartridges you could swap to where it went, and I think when I came across Wolfenstein it forced me to go out and buy a PC because I couldn’t believe how cool that was.

KR: You’re talking about Wolf 3D? [unintelligible] I love that game.

TR: Yeah Wolf 3D, totally. I remember getting a 286 or something around there and I just couldn’t believe how cool that was. And then I remember we were on tour and Doom came out. And it seemed like the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. I couldn’t believe how politically incorrect it was and technologically it was so far ahead of everything. Somehow we made contact with them just to say we’re fans and that let to inevitably—well that led to me doing the sound effects and music for Quake. But meeting those guys and John Carmack and id Software was like incredible. To see guys who are that smart and ahead of the game and into it—it was very inspiring. I feel that an alternate route my life could have taken was the route of the programmer and I think that’s every bit an art form as music is, to be able to make a machine do something like that is incredibly impressive to me.

KR: Do you play around with any modern-day games like Xbox360 stuff?

TR: Yeah I keep up with things. I have to say I think a lot of the big publishers have gone the route of record labels and movie companies, where it costs so much to make a game and they’re so obsessed with this idea that games have to be cinematic experience that lots of money gets spent on the marketing and the rendering and not a lot of money gets put into anything that’s innovative or interesting. Rob Sheridan and I pitched a game a couple years ago and sat down with a few big publishers and we heard the same thing from everybody, which was “Well it costs so much to make a game; we’re really only interested in sequels or movie tie-ins,” because the movie company can then pay for half the marketing. And I think a lot of titles I get now feel like I’ve played that before. It looks nicer—it’s the same game mechanism but I think with WiiWare and the Xbox Live Arcade some of the coolest things I think are coming out of that world, from Geometry Wars to—

KR: Dude I love Geometry Wars. You could add me as a friend on Xbox Live.

TR: Tell me what your thing is, man.

KR: I will. (laugh) Do you play Geometry Wars 2? That one’s badass.

TR: Yeah I know, it’s driving me crazy right now. (laugh) But I think that—because my favorite game of all time is Robotron and I highly recommend getting—pay two hundred bucks and get the arcade version of that, the real one. It’ll make you crazy. It’s a good way to just avoid—well anyway … but to answer the question on games, my favorites were always Tempest, Robotron, the classics: simple game design with very much depth.

KR: Yeah that’s what I like about the arcade bringing back all those old-school titles that you can just download and play. It’s a lot of fun. Alright next question, Question #8 by metalchik with 251 diggs, “Will any of the records of your side project Tapeworm, with Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, ever be released and do you have any intentions of working with him again in the future?”

TR: Um … the question that won’t go away. Another one of those things that I had mentioned (laugh) years ago. Tapeworm, to set the record straight, was—this would be, I forget even when it was, but I know that what I was trying to do was waste time because I was afraid to write a Nine Inch Nails record so I was taking on other projects while I lived in New Orleans to kind of feel busy but not have the pressure of doing it all myself. Maynard and I had become friends over the years and we were trying to do this project that was Danny Lohner, Maynard, myself, and Atticus Ross, as a kind of democracy, see what happens putting forces together. And as we both, Maynard and I, were fitting it in around our respective day jobs—Tool and Nine Inch Nails—the end result was kind of just mediocre, to be honest with you. I think through lack of focus, and quite frankly there was another factor which was commerce coming into play, where not from any one of us in particular but the climate at that time—forgive me for going off the tracks here but—there was a real element, this would be late 90s, of pressure from record labels to make money, perform. Kind of what I was hinting at earlier. And if you get a record on the radio suddenly you have lots of opportunities that you wouldn’t have if your record isn’t on the radio. And not just monetary ideas but things open up. Whether they tell you or not, there’s always a pressure to try to make something that appeals to the most people. And I thought that the music we were doing under the guise of Tapeworm never got that far. It just kind of felt if you’re going to combine Tool and Nine Inch Nails it has to be 10 out of 10. Not 7 out of 10. And it felt like it was landing in the seven range and I kind of put a stop to it. So there really isn’t anything that’s great to be mined from that. And I love Maynard and he’s a good friend and I’m certain we’re going to do something together that will be 10 out of 10.

KR: Cool. Two more questions, Question #9 from jacobo with 251 diggs, “Since you are a tech artist, are you planning an online concert and what do you think about people who are willing to pay a few bucks to see concerts/live performances online?”

TR: That’s a good question. I was just thinking out loud the answer of that—I was talking with James Cameron a couple years ago when we were still on Interscope, and Cameron—that sounds very name-droppy of me and that’s not normal life for me but—he wanted to meet because he’s trying to get people to make as much 3D content as possible. To incent—to get theatres to put in the projectors they need to do that, because he also has Avatar opening up, he wants a big 3D opening. So he partnered with Jimmy Iovine from Interscope and they were then talking to musicians about what content there might be and the technology and he showed me a lot of stuff he’d been filming with his proprietary camera setup that he has and it’s pretty impressive. One of the things that he discussed was that the technology exists now, and then, that you could have a concert somewhere and in real time it’s broadcast in 3D to other theaters. On paper that sounds like a pretty cool idea. I’m sure it would technically be a nightmare but the idea—I would go see a band I didn’t even like if could see a concert live in 3D just to see what it’s like, in a cool theater and it sounds good , maybe that would be cool, I don’t know. So if we could pull off something like that it would be interesting to me. But getting into the idea of trying to charge people to watch something on the Internet—I haven’t thought this through but it feels like it gets into that same territory of you’re selling people snake oil basically. You’ll get it anyway because every fan can’t wait to upload it and put it in the right format for whatever they’re watching it on, that—I don’t know, we just had a little battle with Live Nation about—if you buy a ticket you can get your EP free with the ticket, download. And I see from the idea—from the mind of a marketing guy—why that would seem like a good idea. But that guy obviously has never spent time on the Internet or been around how fans interact because the reality of that is, the first second anyone gets one it’s gonna be up everywhere for people to have. And nobody is going to buy a ticket because they might get a free—it’s not-no one’s going to buy a ticket for that. I wouldn’t. Spend fifty bucks on a ticket to get—it’s stupid. And it’s out there anyway. And I said why don’t we just blast it everywhere and maybe some of those people will buy a ticket then? That seems a lot more logical to me. But you’re dealing with people—and I’m not singling out Live Nation; the whole record industry and I think TV industry and film industry is still in that world of they made money doing it this way and they’re going to suppress and ignore what’s very obvious: where it’s going or where it is right now because that doesn’t fit in their understanding of how they can make money from it. If we do—we’ve just been talking about ways to maybe stream shows live for free, in a low-fi kind of way that doesn’t burden us with the cost of some giant broadband upload thing. Then it gets in—at the end of the day I have to talk to a manager and say, “Here’s what I want to do. This cool thing that’s gonna cost me this much—‘and how much are you gonna make from it?‘—“Nothing.” (resigned/exasperated expression) You know?

KR: That was going to be my follow-up question; there’s so many more phones now doing live streaming. How do you feel about fans actually doing that for you, just like holding up a camera while they’re there at the show?

TR: On this tour, I said something on Twitter about I’m trying to get an open camera policy and open recording policy if I can work it out. What I have to work out is there may be some technical issue with venues where they may charge more, some bullshit antiquated thing that they’re milking money. But I also have to consider that there’s two other bands on the bill that I have to respect what they want too. I’m not pointing fingers that they wouldn’t want it, but in the instance of Nine Inch Nails we’re going away for a while. We’re not filming this and trying to monetize it by making a DVD, and I want everyone to experience it whether you’re at the concert or not. I personally think it’s better being at the concert than it is watching it on YouTube, but if we’re not coming to where you are and you’re not going to be there, I’d rather you watch it on YouTube than not know what happened. So for me I don’t see any downside to it because I’m not giving anything away that—I want you to see it. But I have to consider those other factors and I don’t want to get into a thing where “You can film us but put your cameras when they go on,” you know, it’s—(shakes head).

KR: Yeah, alright last question, this one is Question #10 from YourMomsAnAnon with 222 diggs, it says “Last year Rob Sheridan photographed people en masse protesting the Church of Scientology. Your current bassist JMJ is a Scientologist. I’m curious if there has been any tension between the two as a result of Rob’s coverage of the protest?”

TR: Ahhh … (laugh) Well not that I know of, no, and I’ll use this as a platform I guess to say—when we were looking for a bass player Justin’s name popped up and he was interested and I’ve always heard he was a great bass player and a nice guy. And after a small amount of research Scientology gets associated with him. And in my own experience I hadn’t really ever met or been around anybody, a Scientologist, I’m not a Scientologist, I’m also not religious in any way. And we auditioned him and he seemed like a cool guy and a nice guy and he’s a great bass player and we decided to move ahead. And shortly thereafter being in a band we had a very frank talk where we were—at some point in the initial stages he and I sat down and we just had a frank talk about respect and do I feel there’s a problem that he’s a Scientologist and I said “I don’t have a problem with that,” but most of what I know about it is through a biased media that portrays things as—you know, crazy stories—but yet I meet a guy who’s completely together and nice and not brainwashed and a smart and likeable what’s become a good friend and he said, “All I’m looking for is a respectful situation to work,” and I said, “So am I.” And I’m trying to help provide that. “I’m a recovering addict; is that a problem for you?” You know? Alright. And I haven’t—there hasn’t been any kind of issue like that and I think it’s just a matter of having common sense and tolerance and it’s no—if you want to get into it, if you want to put Christianity on one hand and Scientology on the other, what’s created more problems in the world? That’s not an argument I think a Christian would want to get into. So all of that’s irrelevant—we all—in the band for the first time really I feel like we are all friends and respect each other and the crew and everybody likes each other and it’s finally adults going out and trying to change the world.


Unofficial transcript by me, punctuation and editing mine. Watch the video.

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