tomorrow i’m heading into the studio with ben folds, damian kulash, and neil gaiman to do the “8 songs in 8 hours” experiment for the ReThink music conference (read the blog about it HERE: http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/4704361831/rethink-music-im-making-a-ninja-record-w-ben-folds)
the project has been getting some flak…starting with grumblings on the message board (http://www.theshadowbox.net/forum/index.php?topic=16623.0) that this undertaking requires “zero effort”, is “a joke” and is “not exciting at all”. (1. not true 2. not true 3. your call).
to those people, i can only shrug. this album may be terrible, it may be great, it’ll probably be a combination, and that’s the POINT. it’s a crapshoot and that’s why it’s exciting to us.once we’re done, if you happen to like it, or a single song from it, i’ll be very, very happy. if it’s awful, you’re under no obligation to listen to it. hooray!
i’ve come to expect that level of criticism from the fan community, since it’s been like that from day one: i’ve often felt i’m either damned for putting out too much (or/and the “wrong kind of”) material, or damned for holding out on the fans for not releasing enough material.
catch 22: every artist and musician has to deal with this paradox of “demands” from different folks and the only answer has always been (in my humble opinion) to stick to your OWN personal schedule, make what YOU feel like making WHEN you feel like making it and let everyone sort out their own shit.
you’re NEVER, ever ever going to make everybody (or anybody) else truly happy. you can try. it’ll bite you in the ass.at the end of the day, you only really answer to yourself.
outside the fan community, though, there have been further grumblings, and these are the ones i want to directly address, because i think our press release might have been misleading.
hypebot.com wrote, in a piece about our project they called “the tyranny of novelty” (http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/04/the-tyranny-of-novelty.html):
“We have succumbed to the tyranny of novelty, and music will take a beating until we wake up from this collective trance in which we’re all only chasing the newest, “nowest” thing, in which the only values we can agree upon are buzz generation and viral success. In this environment, a unique real-time experience is worth paying for simply because it is a unique real-time experience.
We hear it over and over again (even though it is not yet precisely true): people don’t want to pay for recorded music. And what is recorded music? Music that has been thoughtfully written and crafted into a purposefully created finished form over the course of weeks or months.
What will people pay for? They will apparently pay for the output of celebrity musicians thrown together to complete the reality-show-like task of writing a song an hour over the course of one afternoon and evening.”
“From Folds to Gaiman, everyone here is a veteran in his or her field. In fact, a lot of the musicians who are tapping into the web to create buzz (at least in a big way) are established: from Weezer to Arcade Fire to Trent Reznor to Radiohead. (Even though OK Go may have split from the majors, it’s not as if being on EMI in the past had no effect on the band’s current fame.)
Yes, there are a ton of bands out there who — although unsigned and flying solo — have made a way for themselves, but this experiment is not exactly supporting that theory.”
here is where i need to clarify:
there’s a bit in the general press release that states we’re going to “show how record companies are becoming superfluous to building buzz and distributing music” .to be straight: none of the musicians involved wrote the release. but we all did sign off on it, and in retrospect one of us should have been thorough enough to catch that line and pull it.while the sentiment in itself is inherently true (yes, record companies are indeed becoming superfluous to building buzz), it’s not the point of THIS project.
we’re doing this for one main reason: because we’re all going to be in the same place at the same time and we couldn’t bear the thought of just sitting at a panel table, discussing the internet and not actually taking advantage of the time and the resources to MAKE SOMETHING. we, all four of us, are artists who LIKE MAKING SHIT.
we could have met up the night before our panel, caught a few of the other talks, got drinks together, attended the speakers dinner at the conference, chatted about our careers, had a nice leisurely dinner with each other, and said goodnight-i’ll see-you-at-the-panel-in-the-morning.
that would have easily taken 8 hours.
instead, we’re doing none of that and we’re going to lock ourselves in a studio and make something together. WE decided to do this, nobody asked us to.
now: YOU tell me how and why that is a bad idea.
under the circumstances, i’m pretty proud we’re all the sorts of people who would rather make an 8-hour experimental record than hang out and eat thai food.
to be clear: there is not one of us who is exclaiming that THIS IS THE WAY FORWARD and that artists should stop spending time making music and carefully crafting.are you shitting me? who killed amanda palmer, the album that ben and i made together, took A FUCKING YEAR TO PERFECT. a YEAR. i was so anal about the damn thing that i remixed some of the songs over two dozen times with four different engineers.
damian is apparently the same way. total perfectionist in the studio, spends eons on things.
this is different.
this is FUN.
we are allowed to have fun.
to the critics: you don’t have to listen. and further, we’re putting the shit up FOR A DOLLAR*, you clowns.
this line: “They will apparently pay for the output of celebrity musicians thrown together to complete the reality-show-like task of writing a song an hour….” missed the point of the experiment completely.
people will pay for WHAT THEY BELIEVE HAS VALUE.
this, and ONLY this, is the way forward.
nobody’s trying to take anybody for a ride here.
that’s the whole point of the way i’ve been releasing music lately.
let PEOPLE DECIDE what is valuable FOR THEMSELVES.let people DIRECTLY support artists when and where they feel touched and called to action.
it’s coming down to artists & listeners, and a direct relationship.the “music business” (whatever that is) and the critics (whoever they are) have absolutely no bearing on that relationship.
and THAT, in a nutshell, is progress. it’s where we’re heading whether anyone likes it or not.
and in general: when i go out for thai food and marathon drinks with three other artists, i don’t usually see a rash of people complaining that we aren’t making a record instead.
i mean….i’d love that.
the next time me and a couple of artists are hanging out for drinks and twittering about how much we like each other, why don’t you take it upon yourselves to yell at me:
THIS IS BULLSHIT. YOU’VE BEEN HANGING OUT FOR LIKE FIVE HOURS. THIS IS A RIP-OFF. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU EATING THAI FOOD? BOOK A STUDIO AND START WRITING, BITCH. TIME IS WASTING.
i hope you can see my point here.
this actually brings up something that bothers me at a deeper level.
in the age of total connection with the audience, the audience really does get very bossy.
i have some news for you: it doesn’t work.
you don’t EVER have to buy an album you don’t like, and you don’t EVER have to blindly support an artist.
no artist is your bitch. no artist owes you anything.
there’s a long, rich, inevitable history of people wanting The Expected and artists turning around and feeding them Something Different.not just different and unexpected content, but unexpected delivery systems, media formats, colors, lengths, tones, the whole nine yards.
but this is what artists DO.
if artists simply played it safe and repeated themselves to please their fans, musicians would still be banging a couple of rocks together to the collective grunting approval of the crowd.
but let artists do what they feel like, let them follow their bizarre (and often totally incomprehensible) muse and the results are often pretty phenomenal. not all the time, not every time, but enough of the time.
enough to keep the heart of humanity running on something other than practicality and survival.
and now i’ve said what i got to have said.
p.s. we start webcasting at 4 pm, here:
follow the twitter to help title the band and songs and get updates on other stuff going on: @amandapalmer.
see you in space.
* this originally said “for free” but since we’re donating the initial proceeds to charity, we wanted to nudge listeners to throw a buck into the hat for a download.