Trent Reznor, the front man for legendary industrial band Nine Inch Nails and the Academy Award-winning film composer who has never had the best things to say about record labels’ corporate influence on musicians like himself, is taking another stab at entrenched elements of the music industry.
Speaking to the New Yorker magazine for a long profile that came out this week, Reznor revealed that he is working with Interscope Records and Dr. Dre-branded audio equipment business Beats by Dre to develop a new music-streaming service. Currently known as Daisy, the new service is set to launch early next year.
Reznor said that the service "uses mathematics to offer suggestions to the listener,” but will also “present choices based partly on suggestions made by connoisseurs, making it a platform in which the machine and the human would collide more intimately."
Historically, Reznor has long been supportive of using disruptive means of distribution to release his music separately from what he calls the “creative meddling” and “criminal business practices” of the record industry. In 2008, he released the Nine Inch Nails record “The Slip” online with a pay-what-you-want model under a creative commons license, criticizing fellow musicians from Radiohead for only sharing a low-quality version of their album “In Rainbows” under a similar model.
LA Weekly wrote at the time that the record was “Reznor’s solution -- however temporary -- to the problem of how a top-tier artist ought to release his art: not just free of charge but free of copyright chains.” Now, it seems that Reznor may have found a more permanent solution.
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Yet, this is not the first time that a rock star has gotten behind music streaming services, or even the first time a historically contentious musician has reconciled with corporate interests to help such a service. Just last week, the metal band Metallica ended their longstanding feud with Sean Parker over digital distribution of licensed content and made their full catalog available on Spotify.
But Reznor was quick to dismiss any similarities between Daisy and Spotify, criticizing the popular music service’s handling of its massive library.
"Here's sixteen million licensed pieces of music,’ they’ve said, but you’re not stumbling into anything,” Reznor said. “What's missing is a service that adds a layer of intelligent curation."
"That first wave of music presentation which felt magical, the one where the songs are chosen by algorithms that know who you listened to,” Reznor said, has now “begun to feel synthetic."
Instead, he described Daisy as being "like having your own guy when you go into the record store, who knows what you like but can also point you down some paths you wouldn't necessarily have encountered."
Spotify announced its own updates in its discovery and recommendation features last week at the same press conference settling its differences with Metallica.