Trent Reznor, Academy Award-winning composer and former leader of the band Nine Inch Nails, has signed a deal with Columbia Records for his band How To Destroy Angels.
He said this as part of the announcement on his Facebook page:
"Regarding our decision to sign with Columbia, we've really spent a long time thinking about things and it makes sense for a lot of reasons, including a chance to work with our old friend Mark Williams. There's a much more granular and rambling answer I could give (and likely will in an interview someplace) but it really comes down to us experimenting and trying new things to see what best serves our needs. Complete independent releasing has its great points but also comes with shortcomings.
I’ve read comments that make it sound as if he's akin to Judas Iscariot by abandoning the DIY musician movement.
A better analysis might simply be that he was able to negotiate a deal that made sense for him and the project.
Major labels are highly specialized companies that focus on finding specific types of artists or projects, and then use their scale and mass-marketing techniques to entice consumers to purchase their products.
This approach doesn’t work for every artist or project. That’s okay. Reznor’s news doesn't prove that DIY has failed; only that the record business is still evolving. Part of that evolution is driven by the experimentation he’s conducting.
While the democratization wrought on the music business, and in particular the record business, has made things much more difficult for some, it’s also made things much easier for others. That ease represents an incredibly important shift, as artists now have the tools and flexibility to experiment in ways they could not previously. It is through that experimentation that new models will be found.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out.