Trent Reznor slams streaming services, claiming they have “mortally wounded a whole tier of artists”

The Nine Inch Nails frontman makes his stance on Spotify and Apple Music streaming services clear: they’re damaging the music industry.

Trent Reznor performing live

Credit: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

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Just four days after Spotify’s royalty system revision, a GQ interview has revealed Trent Reznor’s thoughts on streaming services.

While not directly in response to Spotify’s new policy to payout only when a track surpasses 1,000 streams, Reznor’s critique is aptly timed. After a stint working alongside Apple to create a new streaming service, Reznor quickly realised something: streaming isn’t about the artist. Streaming is entirely about how much revenue a corporation can generate.

While the Nine Inch Nails frontman thought working with Apple could allow him to change streaming for the better, he found it impossible. “It was a unique opportunity to work at the biggest company in the world at a high level,” the Reznor says. “I thought maybe at Apple there could be influence to pay in a more fair or significant way, because a lot of these services are just a rounding error compared to what comes in elsewhere, unlike Spotify where their whole business is that… [but] everyone’s trying to hold onto their little piece of the pie and it is what it is.”

The current streaming client is damaging for creatives, in Reznor’s eyes. “I think the terrible payout of streaming services has mortally wounded a whole tier of artists that make being an artist unsustainable,” the asserts. “It’s great if you’re Drake, and it’s not great if you’re Grizzly Bear… We’ve had enough time for the whole ‘All the boats rise’ argument to see they don’t all rise. Those boats rise. These boats don’t. They can’t make money in any means. And I think that’s bad for art.”

“I think [corporations] just want to turn the faucet on and have music come in,” Reznor adds. “They’re not really concerned about all the romantic shit I thought mattered.”

Thankfully for Nine Inch Nails fans, Reznor’s experience with the Apple engineering team allowed him some clarity. “It made me realise how much I want to be an artist first and foremost,” he explains.

And Reznor is truly flexing his artistic muscle as of late. With his and NIN partner Atticus Ross’ film scoring career flourishing, Reznor admits he’s feeling more inspired than ever. “[Scoring films has] managed to make Nine Inch Nails feel way more exciting than it had been in the past few years,” Reznor tells GQ. Ross adds: “I do feel excited about starting on the next record – I think we’re in a place now where we kind of have an idea.”

The duo also have a joint company in the works, With Teeth. The venture is set to tackle film production, fashion, its own a music festival, and even work with Epic Games.

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