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Trent Reznor Working on 'Challenging' Music Delivery Project at Apple

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who serves as Chief Creative Officer of Beats Music, became an Apple employee alongside Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre when Apple acquired Beats back in May.

In a new interview with Billboard, Reznor revealed that he joined the company because Apple was "interested in tapping his creative energy" and that he's currently working on designing a product related to music delivery for Apple. According to Reznor, no one has hit "the right formula" when it comes to streaming music.

trentreznorjimmyiovine

Beats Music co-founder Jimmy Iovine with Trent Reznor, image courtesy of USA Today
"I am on the side of streaming music, and I think the right streaming service could solve everybody's problems," says Reznor, who along with Ross will participate in a keynote Q&A at the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference being held at Universal City's Globe Theater on Nov. 5. "Ownership is waning. Everybody is comfortable with the cloud -- your documents, who knows where they are? They are there when you need them. That idea that I've got my records on the shelf doesn't feel as important even to me as it used to. I just think we haven't quite hit the right formula yet."
Reznor says his role at Apple is an evolution of his Beats role and that Apple has him designing products for the company. While he declined to go into detail, he did say that he's doing "very creative work that's not directly making music," but is instead related to music delivery. His work, he says, is "challenging" and "could have a big enough impact that it's worth the effort."
Beats was bought by Apple, and they expressed direct interest in me designing some products with them. I can't go into details, but I feel like I'm in a unique position where I could be of benefit to them. That does mean some compromises in terms of how much brain power goes toward music and creating. This is very creative work that's not directly making music, but it's around music.
Rumors have suggested that Apple plans to completely revamp Beats Music, possibly rolling it into iTunes. A rebranding is planned, and new features and a lower price could be part of the Beats Music redesign. It's possible that Reznor, who says he's working on the streaming music side of things, is helping decide on the direction Apple's streaming music service will take. Apple may be planning to unveil its revamped music subscription service and new branding as early as February, ahead of the 2015 Grammy Awards.

Reznor's full interview, which also includes tidbits on his early life, his interest in movies, his work on Gone Girl, comments on U2's "Songs of Innocence" iTunes release, and more, can be read at Billboard.



Top Rated Comments

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56 months ago
Reznor is a super talent, that is for sure.
Rating: 22 Votes
56 months ago

Reznor is there for window dressing. What the hell does he know about how to stream music? He's suddenly a programmer?


Reznor is not there to create the latest streaming algorithm, he's there to find new CONCEPTS of how streaming can work. For example, should we download the next 3 songs to your device while listening to the previous one? How should we organize stations? Should there be stations at all? Should music change based on your mood? Not HOW to CODE it, but the IDEA of it. Throwing hundreds or thousands of ideas at a wall, and then going back and back and narrowing down to the right ones takes a LOT of time and thought.
Rating: 17 Votes
56 months ago

Could you name a good piece of music he has been involved with so I can take a listen please?


Watch the movie Social Network. He did the soundtrack.

According to wikipedia: "The score won nine major awards, including the 2010 Golden Globe award for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, and the Academy Award for Best Original Score at the 83rd Academy Awards."
Rating: 16 Votes
56 months ago
Apple, throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Classic Eddie Cue.

:apple:
Rating: 11 Votes
56 months ago
I had no idea Reznor was with Beats. Interesting - definitely a good scoop by Beats.
Rating: 9 Votes
56 months ago

Reznor is there for window dressing. What the hell does he know about how to stream music? He's suddenly a programmer?


Actually, Reznor knows a lot about programming. He has written some of his own music software that he uses to make music. He also has a team of very talented individuals that help program equipment NIN uses for live shows. Including custom applications that control PC Kinect cameras for live shows, lighting, and displays.

I remember back in '97 or '98 when he had a Mac Server farm and created a live orchestra/marching band completely from a synthesizer using 12 Mac Pro towers. It was later deconstructed and remixed for the album The Fragile.

You'd be surprised but musicians tend to know technology & electronics better than you think
Rating: 9 Votes
56 months ago

no one has hit "the right formula" when it comes to streaming music

I guess he hasn't used Spotify then.
Rating: 9 Votes
56 months ago

Reznor is a super talent, that is for sure.


Could you name a good piece of music he has been involved with so I can take a listen please?
Rating: 8 Votes
56 months ago
I don't know about his thinking here. The cloud and streaming is just another cut of rent vs. own. Someone can pile up a lot of reasons to rent something (hassles of ownership, responsibilities of ownership, upkeep, etc). Someone else can pile up a lot of reasons to own something (long-term costs, no residual value, no re-sale value, stop paying and you lose access, etc).

I think a big part of the "problem" is that digital files don't decay. Vinyl and cassettes would wear out. You had to buy them again. Rip a music collection to disk from a CD and it sounds as good today as it sounded 10 or 20 years ago. The time decay driver to rebuy that same music is gone.

Similarly, the kiddies grow up in households with music collections. When they fly the nest, Daddy & Mommy wouldn't let them take the vinyl or cassette collection with them. So they had to rebuy if they wanted any of that collection. Now they likely have a pristine copy of Daddy & Mommy's whole collection of music. Now they can fly the nest and it both stays behind AND goes with them.

Third, digital creates a huge used market. Someone buys a CD then sells the CD. Someone else can buy that CD. Now 2 owners have pristine copies of the music. Used vinyl or cassettes used to come with used flaws (like scratches). Used CDs can change hands 50 times and each owner can end up with files that are as good as buyer #1.

Fourth, the used market tends to just kill the digital version pricing. Sometimes you can get a whole CD for about the price of 1 or 2 tracks via digital download. I used to buy a lot of new CDs. I don't think I've bought a new CD in 5 or more years now.

Fifth, the model used to be to stick 1 or 2 great songs on a CD with a bunch of filler and the only way to get the 1-2 you wanted was to still buy the whole CD. Now you can just buy the 1-2 great songs. It's like the artists of the present need to roll out a new bundle of "greatest hits" in every album to drive whole album sales... or settle for the lessor revenue from the 1-2 good songs. Relative to how things were for many years, that's almost an unfair burden to put on modern artists but that's where things have gone. Full circle. The single rules the business again... make every song a great one or don't expect to sell the filler very well.

I still think the fundamental "problem" is the need for great new, must-have music. The industry has lost much of it's ability to go back (and resell) the old (great) stuff. Streaming it vs. owning it, internet radio vs. FM, and all that seems to be redirecting away from the real "problem" (IMO). Make some great new music we all must have and we'll buy it.

A relatively popular band with a lot of hits just tried to give away their latest album for free. And even at the ultimate price of FREE, lots of people rebelled or refused it. Imagine if The Beatles wanted to give away Abbey Road for free back in the day. Therein lies today's biggest problem (IMO).
Rating: 8 Votes
56 months ago
Just glad to see an apple music story without bonos face!
Rating: 7 Votes

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