Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will be composing music for the upcoming Watchmen HBO series.
Aside from this flirtation with the devil, he and Ross describe it as a reflection on Trump’s America. “It feels like things are coming unhinged, socially and culturally,” says Reznor. “The rise of Trumpism, of tribalism; the celebration of stupidity. I’m ashamed, on a world stage, at what we must look like as a culture. It’s seeing life through the eyes of having four small kids – what are they coming into? And who am I in this world where it feels like every day the furniture got moved a bit while I slept?”
I was bummed out by the result. It took the wind out of my sails as far as thinking of direct-to-customer as a sustainable business for a musician. In a way, that experience gave me a preemptive look at music today. You’re not making money from albums; instead they’re a vessel for making people aware of you. That’s what led me to thinking that a singular subscription service clearly is the only way this problem is going to be solved. If we can convert as many music fans as possible to the value of that, in a post-ownership world, it would be the best way to go.
What has crept in is that everyone’s a commentator now. The internet is giving voice to everybody thinking that someone gives a shit what they have to say and they have the right. I think, in general, that has created a toxic environment for artists and led to some very safe music. Artists are trying to make music to please the tastemakers that tell the sheep what to like. It’s a vicious cycle and I think it’s unhealthy. I don’t see any Princes emerging on the scene today. I see a lot of people making formulaic, made to please, vegan restaurant patron-type shit. And I think it creates an environment where people are too fuckin’ worried about what other people have to say. And people who have never made anything think it’s OK to talk shit about stuff they have no right to talk about. You got a Facebook account? Nobody gives a fuck. You haven’t achieved anything.
I’m not sure how he really feels about this.
“The Vietnam War,” which premieres in September on PBS, will ultimately feature more than two cumulative hours of original music from Mr. Reznor and Mr. Ross, along with reworked bits from Nine Inch Nails songs and their scores for “The Social Network” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble also contributed music to the documentary, while era-defining hits from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and more will be used as well.
Trent Reznor, speaking with Billboard, blasted YouTube for their stance on copyrighted material:
“Personally, I find YouTube’s business to be very disingenuous,” said Reznor. “It is built on the backs of free, stolen content and that’s how they got that big. I think any free-tiered service is not fair. It’s making their numbers and getting them a big IPO and it is built on the back of my work and that of my peers. That’s how I feel about it. Strongly. We’re trying to build a platform that provides an alternative — where you can get paid and an artist can control where their [content] goes.”
YouTube has responded:
The overwhelming majority of labels and publishers have licensing agreements in place with YouTube to leave fan videos up on the platform and earn revenue from them. Today the revenue from fan uploaded content accounts for roughly 50 percent of the music industry’s YouTube revenue. Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false. To date, we have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry–and that number is growing year on year.
I get what YouTube is saying, but I can go there right now and type in virtually any song and find dozens of “copyright not intended” videos uploaded.