There was a time, not so very long ago, when you had to listen to the radio to hear new music (new music that met the radio station/music industry management’s ideals) or have a cool friend (usually with an older hip sibling) to teach you about the latest underground music. If you were really lucky, you’d have access to an indie zine (on actual, real paper) or have an indie local radio station that could play whatever they wanted (ever so rare, even now). It was nearly impossible for a band to make it without a label to promote them and in order to get on said label, that band would have to be at least reasonably commercially viable leading to the myriad of mass produced manufactured pop musicians. Those days are long gone thanks be to the internets and I don’t think the music industry is all that pleased.
Now that music is within the reach of anyone with a halfway decent computer and internet connection, the traditional music industry needs to rethink both its purpose and marketing techniques. Berklee College of Music just had a conference on this quandary called “Rethink Music” during which Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, and Neil Gaiman ran an experiment. They got together with the goal of writing, recording, and releasing 8 songs in 8 hours. Neil Gaiman explains the project here. They asked their twitter followers to throw out ideas for inspiration and streamed the collaboration online for fans to watch. They ended up with 6 songs in 12 hours, released as “Nighty Night” by 8in8 and available to listen to for free or to download for $1 or more as you, the consumer, see fit.
Then, they asked fans to show off their creative skills and put together videos for the songs:
@amandapalmer Amanda Palmer
many suggested SUPERFAST videos should made for the #8in8 songs. the songs are under a @creativecommonslicense, so you can. GO!!! MAKE!!!
@amandapalmer Amanda Palmer
…and i personally challenge you to finish your video by the end of the weekend. best & fastest wins. go! go! go!http://bit.ly/get8in8
Here’s an amusing video that came out of this call for creativity:
So, without consulting a record company and wading through bureaucratic red tape, this small group of relatively well known artists were able to get together, write some music, and then record and release that music immediately. The public is able to download the album right away and use the music for their own imaginative ventures thanks to the creative commons license thus inspiring even more artistic ingenuity.
If this is the future of music, I’m all in. Imagine the possibilities for regular old normal people who happen to play a musical instrument rather well or have the ability to carry a catchy tune. Now they can put their music out there for any random person to discover. Likewise, imagine the possibilities for established musicians who now can put their industry unapproved pet project up on bandcamp with relative ease for their fans and not-yet-fans to (hopefully) enjoy. This new and uncharted world is full of promise and I, for one, love it.