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Recently, Trent Reznor spoke with Techdirt about the decision to sign How To Destroy Angels to Columbia. The interview helped to clarify some misconceptions about words he shared in a recent interview regarding the music industry.
We already have received a great deal of explanation from Reznor on this topic but apparently some critics interpreted those words to mean that he felt you needed a major label to succeed. One thing that Reznor emphasized this time was that the decision to sign with Columbia was made as a group. The idea was to make decisions that were best for the band as a whole to give themselves the best chance to reach as many people as possible without simply relying on Reznor’s brand and fan base. He explained:
The main reason I do what I do is I want to do something that matters. I want to be able to create art that reaches the maximum amount of people on my terms…. That was a key component… That was why we wound up considering, and ultimately going with, a label, and not just a label, but a major label, for How to Destroy Angels. Because it came down to us — us being the band now — sitting around and identifying what our goals were. And the top priority wasn’t to make money. It was to try to reach the most amount of people, and try to reach the most amount of people effectively, that doesn’t feel like it’s coming completely from my backyard. Because I don’t want this project, ultimately, to just be dismissed as “side project” or… (*loud sigh*) “patronizing affair with Trent and his wife.” Sounds terrible, you know?
The interview also included How To Destroy Angel’s manager, Jim Guerinot. Speaking about this decision from a manager’s position, Guerinot explained:
My experience as a manager who works with a label is that, what’s happened with major labels over the past six years, with the attrition of business, and the lopping off of the top end of the business, and the bringing in a lot of younger people… we’re just dealing with a lot of people with enthusiasm and excitement and ideas. It seems that the next wave of personnel that has come through these doors, does not have a sense of entitlement and position and stature. They feel like they have to justify their existence. And I’ve just been really excited working with them.
Some skeptics may wonder why if the choice was to use a label rather than release independently it had to be a major one. However, Trent Reznor’s very simple, reasonable response to that was:
It didn’t need to be a major label, but we have a good relationship with Mark Williams, who’s our A&R guy at Columbia…
In the end, Reznor has a great deal of experience releasing records independently but his general message seems to be that each and every band, artist, etc., needs to make decisions that best represent the vision of that project. For How To Destroy Angels, that vision matched with signing to a label that gives the group an opportunity to be more complete rather than merely being something Trent Reznor is associated with.
As far as the music industry today, tomorrow and his own future plans, Reznor said:
My advice today, to established acts and new-coming acts, is the same advice I’d give to myself: pause for a minute, and really think about ‘what is your goal? where do you see yourself?’ … It all comes down to what is it that you want to do? I think indie self-publishing and do it yourself is great. I will certainly do it again. But it will be in the context of what I feel is right for me.
Hopefully, this can put an end to this debate and we can all get on to enjoying the band’s first official release on November 13.