Ghosts I-IV Is Digital Downloads Done Right

No, I won’t talk about how much Trent has made so far.

There’s been a lot of discussion about how much NiN has brought in based on the Ghosts I-IV Super Awesome Deluxe edition alone, but rather than talk about the business model I’d like to write about the actual package. There doesn’t seem to be much discussion about what YOU get as a music fan.

Sure, we’ve been downloading music from iTunes for years now. The difference is that if you download music from most digital services you only get the music. But you get so much more in Ghosts I-IV. It’s actually the first time I’ve downloaded music and felt like I received a complete product.

I hope that Ghosts I-IV is the model that artists and record labels use as we continue the transition from physical to digital distribution. For too long there’s been a debate about what the recorded music industrty should do to make up for the features that digital music lacks. Anyone involved in that debate should be taking notes right now.

The Music

Download instructions for Ghosts I-IV

If you grab Ghosts directly from ghosts.nin.com you have the option to download it as 320kbps MP3, FLAC, or Apple Lossless files. Any concerns about sonic quality are gone.

I grabbed the Apple Lossless version and what struck me is how well the actual FILES are thought out.

The Metadata in Ghosts I-IV is tagged in detail

Each file is meticulously tagged about the music (ok, minus the discs fields). Buy an album from Amazon’s MP3 store and you’ll see a song ID in the comments field. With Ghosts I-IV, if there’s a comment it’s about the music. Even the BPM field is populated. Genre is not filled out, but maybe that’s because it’s not supposed to stick to an actual genre since genres exist primarily to organize music in a store.

Plus, there’s the artwork. Listeners with big displays or an iPhone, iPod Touch, or Zune will be in for a real treat. Every track, all 36 of them, have their own artwork that corresponds with the high quality PDF pamphlet.

Extras

The PDF of Ghosts I-IV

Ghosts I-IV comes with a 12 meg PDF.

I think it’s important to mention the file size because it indicates how high quality of a product it is. It’s 40 pages of beautiful artwork and liner notes. If you wanted to you could probably get this professionally printed and bound and it would look great.

The Ghosts Extras in Leopard's Coverflow view

The other extras include 11 wallpapers, in both standard and widescreen ratios, and 22 other avatars and banner graphics to put on your site or whatever. The widescreen wallpapers are 1900×1200 and should look great on most displays.

They didn’t have to include the extras, but the fact that they did will help in promoting the project – and the costs in producing them are negligible based on how well it compliments and spreads the word about Ghosts I-IV.

The Future of Digital Downloads

One of the largest criticisms of digital music distribution has been the lack of artwork included with the downloads. NiN has shown that this is easily resolved.

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p>My vision of the future of digital liner notes includes a standard, open-source, multi-platform media framework that allows some sort of interactivity with the music while listening on a mobile device or media center. My hope is that in the future these sorts of extras will become standard. We aren’t there yet, but Ghosts I-IV is the best we’ve gotten so far. I haven’t heard Ghosts I-IV yet, but I like what I see.

In fact, the only thing I disliked about my order was that it costs another $7 for shipping the digipak. WTF?

7 dollars to ship this to me? Come on.

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