The Nine Inch Nails Open Core Business Model is not new, in fact it’s been well documented. So why is it that few are using the model? As I have stated here over and over again, the future of business is not a bunch of steps, a list to execute, or a set of action items, it’s how you and I think about business, how we provide what customers and follower’s want. Our view of business in the world must change, we can’t keep applying old rules to a new model. Here is a short snippet of Trent Reznor’s Open Core Business Model.

The band (NIN) merely saw something better than the record labels channels of distribution, and more importantly, it’s control over the bands music. So here’s Trent Reznor’s Business Model:

CwF + RtB = $$$$

Do you get it? Probably not, unless you have already read the case study.

This is the Open & Free Business Model working, this is really a precursor to the future of music, so what does the equation stand for or mean.

CwF is Connect With Fans, simple enough right? RtB stands for Reason To Buy. So how did they do it?

After NIN left their record label, released 36 tracks on the Internet, they were put under the Creative Commons License, and then made the first 9 tracks of those 36 available to fans, FREE! How did that help them make money, stay with me.

Nine Inch Nails – Trent Reznor, packaged their music along with other great things you couldn’t get anywhere else, that couldn’t be copied. They made two packages giving you the fans an experience to be relived over and over again, one a deluxe package at $75 and another Ultra Deluxe Package at $300, the difference between the two, the $75 package was made unlimited, the $300 package was a limited set of only 2,500. Oh, these larger packages were personally signed by Trent Reznor as well.

So what happened, well, the $300 package sold out in 30 hours, so…2,500 packages x $300 = $750,000!!!

All without the controlling record label, they did it by giving the fans something they really wanted…hot tip there. Is this starting to take shape in your mind, are starting see your business doing something your customers truly want?

Now, not all of us has the following or resources of an already successful band. That’s not what I’m try to show you. The way they looked at the record business, how they were willing to risk everything but trusting the fans, are you willing to do business by trusting the people formerly known as consumers?

This business model, the future of business has many shapes and sizes, the hard part is stepping away far enough from your own business to see how to leverage this Open & Free Business Model.

Mike Masnick shares the entire story of this business model and some of the other great things Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails did:


I will be speaking at The World Futurist Society Conference July 8th – 10th in Vancouver, British Columbia on The Future Of Business – Open & Free Business Model. Specifically I am schedule Saturday July 9th at 8:30AM to share, it would great to meet you there.

Change the way you think about the future of business and explore what could be, I would be honored to help you.

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  


  1. […] côté de son contenu musical en accès libre,  Nine Inch Nails a proposé à la vente, entre autres, des coffrets à plus haute valeur ajoutée, en nombre […]

  2. Harrison Welshimer on January 19, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Thanks Owen! I completely agree with you. We must be willing to change the way we perceive the value of music. If we provide value to our fans, even if that means giving away music for free, we stand to profit immensely by creating stronger relationships.