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It began with a tweet from Trent Reznor:

trent_reznor I’ve been busy. Brand new FULL LENGTH NIN record available now. http://bit.ly/QtDzR

To download NIN’s new full-length album Strobe Light, PRODUCED BY TIMBALAND, enter a valid email address in the fields below. A download link will be sent to you immediately. Your credit card will be charged $18.98 plus a $10 digital delivery convenience fee. Your files will arrive as windows media files playable on quite a few players with your name embedded all over them just in case you lose them. You will also receive an exclusive photo and a free email account with our partner Google’s Gmail service.

Above this was a heading that said “Free Download Available Now!” Notice that the “Free” is crossed out.

I was oh-so-ready to give Mr. Reznor a piece of my mind over the cheesy bait-and-switch “Free” heading (shouldn’t have been there at all if the album was for sale), and that $10 “digital delivery convenience fee.” For a guy who’s been all about getting the middle-man record companies out of the picture because of price gouging and excess control, I thought Reznor’s pricing, including that fee, was disingenuous. What was that fee being used for anyway? Proprietary NIN software? A NIN server farm? A new NIN iPhone app? If digital delivery of music is supposed to be so inexpensive, why was the total cost of this album weighing in at double the cost of a CD? WTF?

Oh, yeah. I was totally itching for a tweet-style bitch fest, or at the very least a “Young man, you have some explaining to do.” Thankfully, I was too busy helping Hubby work through a college paper (on Psycho, no less) to start firing rounds on Twitter.

You see, if I’d been paying more attention and the sound had been up on my computer when I was on the Strobe Light site, I would have understood what this was all about. Several items should have tipped me off, for one, this line following the main paragraph on pricing:

Your email will be kept confidential and will not be used for spam, unless we can make some money selling it.

The performers on the track list and the producer, Timbaland, should have also dinged a few bells in my head, and truly, I did question some of these, but who am I to know who Reznor pals around with in his off hours?

track list:

  1. intro skit
  2. everybody’s doing it (featuring chris martin, jay-z AND bono)
  3. black t-shirt
  4. pussygrinder (featuring sheryl crow)
  5. coffin on the dancefloor
  6. this rhythm is infected
  7. slide to the dark side
  8. even closer (featuring justin timberlake and maynard james keenan)
  9. on the list (she’s not)
  10. clap trap crack slap
  11. laid, paid and played (featuring fergie of the black eyed peas and al jourgensen)
  12. feel like being dead again
  13. still hurts (featuring alicia keys)
  14. outro skit

The questionable ones on the list for me, aside from Bono & Justin Timberlake, are the women. You see, I’ve noticed that Reznor doesn’t seem to have worked with any female musicians, so this struck me as odd. Why would he suddenly have 3 women listed on a NIN album? It’s totally out of character. And why these women in particular? (I’ve been working on an FtTP, imagining female musicians who might work well with NIN, and none of the women listed above are on that list. Their chosen styles don’t seem to be a good fit, but who am I to judge?)

As for the sound, I didn’t realize there is an annoying drum-beat on a loop that plays when the site is up and THERE’S NO WAY TO SHUT IT OFF!!!!  Because the sound was turned off on the computer when I first saw the site, this clue escaped me.

The other thing I should’ve picked up on is that the site asks for an email address, but not credit card info. It’s a small thing, but sending me a link for a product via email without first asking for credit card info is a) dumb on the part of the seller and b) not the usual order of business when purchasing stuff online. And I, the potential customer, was an idiot for not thinking this one through, somehow believing NIN would hunt me down for payment through my email address. As if! Still, I didn’t bite and I didn’t enter my email address. If I would have, this entire Strobe Light episode would have been cleared up instantly.

After I figured out what was going on (the turning point was another Reznor tweet), I entered my email address and hit the “Submit” button. I was promptly taken to a browser window that looked like the Blue Screen of Death. At the top was a gray box with the following message: “Aprl_Fls”. Here’s the direct link: http://www.nin.com/strobelight/error.html.

I was gotten good.

(Digital Delivery Convenience Fee! Ha!)

(And I completely missed the Kanye reference.)