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TRENT REZNOR Says Streaming Services Aren't Paying Artists Enough: "The Terrible Payout Has Wounded A Whole Tier Of Artists"

"It's great if you're Drake, and it's not great if you're Grizzly Bear. That makes being an artist unsustainable"

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In a recent interview with GQ Magazine, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor didn't hold back on his criticism of music streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music. His words resonate deeply with the struggles faced by many artists in an industry increasingly dominated by digital platforms.

Reznor's frustration stems from the meager payouts these services offer to artists, which he believes have dealt a severe blow to musicians trying to make a sustainable living. He points out the glaring disparity between top-tier artists like Drake, who reap the benefits, and smaller acts like Grizzly Bear, who struggle to stay afloat in the current ecosystem.

The "all boats rise" argument, which suggests that streaming benefits everyone in the industry, is challenged by Reznor. He argues that for many artists, there's simply not enough income generated through streaming to survive.

"I think the terrible payout of streaming services has mortally wounded a whole tier of artists that make being an artist unsustainable. And it's great if you're Drake, and it's not great if you're Grizzly Bear. And the reality is: Take a look around. 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 by any means. And I think that's bad for art."

The industrial rock pioneer's disappointment extends to his expectations from Apple, hoping for a more equitable approach to artist compensation. However, Reznor acknowledged the complex web of political and label issues that hinder substantial change in the industry. He also touched upon the convenience factor for listeners who "want to turn the faucet on and have music come in," but argued this mentality undervalues the creative effort behind the music.

"I thought maybe at Apple there could be an 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 that's tied to a lot of other political things and label issues, and everyone's trying to hold onto their little piece of the pie and it is what it is. I also realize I think that people just want to turn the faucet on and have music come in. They're not really concerned about all the romantic shit I thought mattered."

The interview also touched on Nine Inch Nails' recent hiatus from live performances. Reznor explained he wasn't sure what the band had to say creatively and felt uninspired to tour.

"For the first time in a long time, I wasn't sure: What's the tour going to say? What do I have to say right now? We can still play those songs really good. Maybe we can come up with a new production. But it wasn't screaming at me: This is what to do right now."

However, his work composing soundtracks with frequent collaborator Atticus Ross has rekindled his passion: "It managed to make Nine Inch Nails feel way more exciting than it had been in the past few years. I'd kind of let it atrophy a bit in my mind for a variety of reasons."

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