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Trent Reznor talks Twitter, Beats by Dre, and finding use for the music labels

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Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor

Few music artists have as much tech cred as Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. When he offers his opinions on topics like streaming music, the impacts of social networks on the music biz and whether music labels have a place in the digital era, it's worth a listen. A wide-ranging interview with Reznor appears in this month's Spin magazine. About Twitter, Reznor says he enjoyed it at first, but now calls his Twitter interactions a mistake. "Oversharing feels vulgar to me now," Reznor told the magazine. "We've been fooled into thinking it's okay to show dick pics and that the Kardashians' behavior is normal, but it's not. I've tuned out in the last couple years."

"Oversharing feels vulgar to me now."

Reznor was one of the first top artists to test the internet as a marketing and distribution tool. In 2007, Reznor left his record label at about the same time do-it-yourself music was catching on. Reznor rolled up his sleeves and began experimenting with different business models, including a pay-what-you-want offer that was similar to Radiohead's famous In Rainbows campaign. This year, much was made about Reznor's decision to partner again with a major label. Columbia Records, which helped Nine Inch Nails' release the album Hesitation Marks. The singer-songwriter suggested that musicians are better served thinking more about music than the business of music. "Market research is not a sexy thing to think about," Reznor said. "More than that, when you're self-releasing, you have this walled garden of people that are interested in what you do, and to everyone else you're invisible." He also noted his deal with Columbia is not long term.

"You have this walled garden of people that are interested in what you do, and to everyone else you're invisible." Because of that hands-on experience, it was no surprise that Beats by Dre, the headphone maker, teamed with Reznor on its upcoming subscription music service. Reznor said this about Beats' competitor to Spotify: "The fact that our music may or may not be in the air now and people seem eager for it, and that I'm working on something with Beats that's a marriage of humanity and technology, which is sort of what my music has always been about, and I'm doing this after years of working on my own trying to figure out how best to get music to the people who want to hear it — you can't plan for those things. It's just the way the world works."