Amazon recently published a list of its 100 best-selling albums of 2008, and guess which one is on top? It's the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I-IV, which band front man Trent Reznor personally uploaded to the Pirate Bay and the private music tracker What.cd earlier last year. Reznor also offered a free download of the album from the band's website and licensed it under a Creative Commons license.

pic of amazon 2008 charts

It was pretty clear early on that those free releases didn't harm the commercial success of Ghosts I-IV. Fans paid more than 1.6 million dollars for downloads and deluxe edition physical releases of the album in the first week after its release alone. The album also got nominated for a Grammy award just a few weeks ago, and Reznor followed up Ghosts I-IV with another album that got released via the band's own Bittorrent tracker.

NIN's use of torrent sites and Creative Commons licenses often gets compared to Radiohead's online experiments. Radiohead had offered is album "In Rainbows" as a free download, but asked its fans to donate. The band also teamed up with a traditional label to release In Rainbows in stores.

Reznor however criticized Radiohead's efforts as an "insincere" marketing ploy, because the downloads were only available for a limited time and clearly aimed at drumming up the publicity for the album's physical release. I guess Reznor might feel pretty good about the fact that at least on Amazon, Ghosts I-IV outsold In Rainbows. Radiohead's album, which has been available as a MP3 download on the online retailer's website for about a year, ended up on spot number 11 of Amazon's 2008 besteller list.

(via Creative Commons)

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