The web site says “I’ve been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn’t have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective – dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I’m very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of Ghosts.”
Did you notice the ‘present it directly to you without interference’? This seems to be out with any record publishing contact, and is being released under a Creative Commons license (permitting sharing, distribution, remixing and any noncommercial reuse of the material) and without any DRM. They are specifically encouraging this material to be remixed into new works. There are 36 tracks in total, the first 9 (presumably GHOST I) is a free, but still high quality, download or you can download all 36 tracks for $5, or order them on 2CDs for $10 – which is all extremely cheap! There are also some more complicated packages for $75 or $300 (presumably for hard core fans).
The first 9 tracks (I haven’t decided yet if I want more) I would describe as ‘interesting’ and ‘experimental’. They are perhaps more artistic expressions or soundscapes than music you would be used to and not something I would sit back and relax to : BTW you can also listen online before downloading anything.
But rather than an issue of whether this is a gimmick or if the music is any good or not, I find it fascinating and exciting that artists will give away their creative material for other artists to make use of. In a similar way to the Mobygratis site I posted about previously (which was specifically for filmmakers) some of these NIN tracks are ideal for soundtracks to visuals. Also, as all the video work I do is non-commercial and not-for-profit it is totally legal.
There is a real problem about trying to use music legally, I have used MCPS before to get legal use of chart music but it isn’t easy or cheap even for non-profit or charitable use. There is also ongoing (I think, although I’ve not heard anything for a while) pressure to change the copyright legislation to apply for more than 50 years, so that artists will still get paid for their work created more than 50 years ago. I feel split because a worker should be paid a fair wage but at the same time it is virtually impossible to get legal use of music at a reasonable price.