Nine Inch Nails Tell a Transmedia Story

Monsters and Critics has what seems to be a nice write up about Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails’ “Internet scavenger hunt,” or what folks like Christie Dena would call transmedia storytelling (she writes about the NIN thing here), in the promotion of their forthcoming record:

‘Year Zero’ came to life in early February when Web-savvy fans discovered that highlighted letters inside words on a NIN tour T-shirt spelled out “I am trying to believe.” Savvy fans added a “.com” to the five words and, voila, located a thought-provoking, eerie Web site. Other associated sites created by 42 Entertainment were soon discovered, including, and, where a dark future reigns supreme.

And if dayglo tshirts tied to mysterious (and well-done) websites weren’t enough, there were even drives planted in bathrooms:

According to one post, a male fan, allegedly by happenstance, found a USB drive in a bathroom stall during a NIN concert at the Coliseum in Lisbon, Portugal. This flash drive (yes, Reznor`s idea) contained an MP3 of album track “My Violent Heart.” Additional USB drives were purportedly found in Barcelona and Manchester, England; they included MP3s of album tracks “Me, I`m Not” and “In This Twilight,” respectively.

And the real beauty of this story is that the RIAA promptly demonstrated just how massively clueless they really are:

Excited fans then began swapping and sharing these music files online. Another Web posting alleged that all this activity resulted in entertainment blog Idolator and other sites receiving e-mail from the RIAA, demanding that they remove the MP3s from their sites.

An RIAA representative confirms this, a move that boggles the minds of many. “These . . . idiots are going after a campaign that the label signed off on,” the source says.

The article claims that only songs meant to be leaked through the campaign have actually leaked. There is more and more of this going on (Boston LiteBrites anyone) in television promotion, but I think this is the first time it’s been done to this extent in music. Please right me if I’m wrong on that.

Rolling Stone piece about this, with loads of thoughtful comments, is here.

Update: Billboard‘s original story about this (from which Monsters & Critics seems to have taken the quotes) is here.

NIN fans, if you’re paying attention, comments about this are welcome!

Comments (2) to “Nine Inch Nails Tell a Transmedia Story”

  1. You beat me to the punch! I’m so glad that you picked up on this. Now I have to work on my own post. As a Nine Inch Nails fan, can say that Trent Reznor’s recent focus (and sobriety) has only sharpened his satiric edge — the music has always felt like a weapon in his hands, but this time it’s properly pointed.

  2. … and Madeline fills in the blanks by recapping the transmedia story being told on her blog here