Trent Reznor's Survey: Analysis & Discovery
October 7, 2008
Chris Carlson in Trent Reznor, advice, marketing, music marketing

I am not a Nine Inch Nails fan.

I would have never known about Trent Reznor’s survey to his fans if Bob Lefsetz and Bruce Houghton hadn’t posted about it both here and here respectfully.

In this survey, TR asks for:
1) Personal Information
2) Interaction with NIN’s recorded music
3) Interaction with NIN’s live music
4) Music Discovery & Online Hangouts
In order to connect with your fans, all you need is their email. Knowing their sex, age, and location will help further that connection. For example, your fans that live in Iowa will appreciate not hearing about your show next week in New York City. If they do get that email from you they say, “hey! don’t they know I don’t live anywhere near there!” and then they stop caring about you because you sent them one too many irrelevant emails.
Here’s where TR gets really smart. Not only does he ask if you’ve bought any of his album’s digitally, but he asks from where? If only 2% of his music is being bought on iTunes (which he’ll know as a result of this survey) then he’ll know to waste no money on advertising there. Conversely, if a huge portion of NIN fans are getting their music from Napster, having ads set up there in the future might be beneficial. If you’re not familiar with any of the online stores he mentions (iTunes,, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, Zune Marketplace, MusicNet, SonyConnect, GroupieTunes, LALA, ShockHound, Amie Street) check them out.
TR has built a rapport with his fans so he can ask them about their participation with “non-retail download services”. Ever think an artist on a major label could get their fans to be honest about that!? Again, if you’re not familiar with these, check them out: Kazaa, Limewire, eMule, Soulseek, The Pirate Bay, Mininova, YouSendIt, Megashare, RapidShare, USENET.
Favorite live song? How many shows have you been to? How did you first hear about a show? Where did you get your tickets? If you haven’t attended a show recently, why not? I think Trent could have asked a few more questions here: “what’s your favorite part of the show?”, “do you buy merchandise at the show and if so, how much? if not, how come?” Still, this is good information he is getting here. If everyone has the same favorite live song, it won’t be left out of another set list. If everyone hears about live shows via word of mouth, TR can stop spending money on advertising them.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to become familiar with all the places I am linking here. If I am not familiar with all the places music is being discovered and talked about how am I ever going to help shape the future? In this section of the survey, TR is finding out the information that every major label needs desperately, but are too stubborn to even realize this is the information they need. 1) Where do you interact with the band online? 2) What are you a member of online? 3) What websites do you visit frequently? 4) Where do you go to find out about shows? 5) Where do you watch videos online? 6) Where do you discover new music?
(no repeats here; some show up 3 times in questionnaire though)
1), MySpace, Facebook, iLike, Flickr, YouTube, RSS Feeds,
2) imeem, LiveJournal, Gmail,, Digg, Reddit,, hi5, DeviantArt, Twitter, Stumbleupon
3) MTV, Rollingstone, Yahoo Music, Pitchfork, AOL Music, Fuse, Google News
4) Ticketmaster, LiveNation, Stubhub, Pollstar, Eventful, Jambase, Tour Tracker
5) Pitchfork TV, Vimeo, Pluggedin
6) Sirius, XM, Buzznet, Mystrands, Purevolume, Mog, fintune, ijigg, Bebo, Orkut, Friendster, xanga
This should be a good indicator of your internet music savvy. If you know a lot of these places already, you’re on top of your game. If you don’t know any, pick a few and start reading; better yet, start using them. Example: if you’ve always been skeptical of music subscription services or always have questions about them (should I put my music there as well as iTunes?) join one!
I’d love to see the results of this survey. I commend Trent Reznor for everything he has done and continues to do both as an artist and a businessman. I look forward to his next big idea; if I participate in it, perhaps I can have my own big idea some day, too.

Chris Carlson is a current student at The Berklee College of Music. He is studying Music Production & Engineering and regularly blogs here.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
See website for complete article licensing information.