In the two months since it was released -- available by download only -- the album has sold 28,322 copies, not far short of the 33,897 copies Williams's last album has sold in three years. And this was achieved even though, according to Reznor, "not one cent was spent on marketing" the new album. The album has generated nearly $150,000 in revenue, and Reznor says no one's getting rich from it (which is what you say when you've made some good money but don't want people getting the impression you're rolling in cash).
On top of that, the album was downloaded 154,449 times from the official site and this seems to be the number that Reznor has focussed on. He's says it's "disheartening" that just 18.3% of downloaders paid for the album -- which he describes as doing "the right thing."
I was one of them, and to me, this was a success. Not a home run by any means, but still a success. Williams has won many new listeners, the project was profitable, even with a marketing budget of zero and no one had to kowtow to a record label along the way.
Looking at it as doing the right thing vs, presumably, doing the wrong thing, isn't very helpful. From a business perspective, the objective is to make money and build a customer base, both of which seemed to have happened here.
(And I thought it was a good record -- definitely $5 well spent.)