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ReThink Music (I’M MAKING A NINJA-RECORD w/ BEN FOLDS, DAMIAN KULASH, and NEIL)

hello my dear comrades!!!!

i’ve been bouncing around NYC and boston but mostly buried under a death cough that lasted for 12 days.
neil finally came to town and after i kept him up all night hacking and splorching death-phlegm into a wad of toilet paper by the bed, he told me I probably had bronchitis, took me to a doctor and got some antibiotics and a codeine cough mixture to help me sleep.
i’m sad about the antibiotics…between the staph infection and the chest infection i got in australia, i’m feeling over antibiotic’ed,
so if any of you health care professionals out there can dispense any wise advice about how to care for an over antibiotic’ed body – other than taking probiotics and eating copious amounts of yoghurt – hit me (leave a comment, below).

neil, a dedicated New Scientist reader, as been very excited to share and proselytize the information with the world that CHOCOLATE is apparently a powerful cough suppressant: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6699-persistent-coughs-melt-away-with-chocolate.html

ah, sometimes the world is just a bounty of good news.

onto the extreme good new of the day: i’ve got INFO up the WAZZOO about my upcoming project with ben folds, damian kulash (from OK Go), and neil gaiman (the writer).

so you know how this whole madness came about:
after i did my talk at harvard about the world of online music moving towards a patronage system (it’s here on youtube), i was approached by a guy amar ashar, who works for the harvard-housed Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and he asked if i’d get involved in helping them plan a boston-based conference about new music & the internet.

now it’s about to happen. it’s called the ReThink Music conference, and it’s being presented by the berkman guys, MIDEM, and the berklee school of music.

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the cost to actually attend the three-day conference is about $900 (though you can get a discount here by using the coupon code “amanda”). the high ticket price means it’s mostly geared not towards music fans but towards music business people, music lawyers, and other craaaazy digital media and internet professionals. however, if you are not one of the above willing to spend a grand on three days of internet/music education, do not despair. read on.

me, the berkman folks, and a bunch of other unnamable high-rankers in the music/digital law/internet biz had a little meeting in the fall, during my run of cabaret, and we talked about the shape of the conference and who the special musical guests would be.

i used my evil powers for good and managed to rope in my pal ben folds (who i know well, having made a damn record with him) and i also convinced them that damian kulash was a must-have….
as the front-man for OK Go, the dude knows a thing or two about the collision of music and the internet. so you know: damian and i met last spring at a weird experimental webcast/contest/show put on at the campus of ex’pression/college for digital arts in emeryville, CA. and neil was looking for tasty excuses to be in boston anyway. i’d invited him to be a part of the conference since he might have attended if he was in town visiting His Wife…as i pointed out to a journalist on the phone yesterday, neil inadvertently does more to promote the advancement of digital music than most musicians. (He Who Crashed Websites with a Single Tweet.)

so it was decided: the four of us – Ben, Damian, moi, Neil – would speak on a panel about music, the internet and…stuff.

but being me, i couldn’t stand that idea.
it just seemed lame to get these four amazing people together and not….DO something more amazing than just sit around and chat about how awesome the internet is….
it seemed much for fitting to the spirit of the “ReThink Music” CONCEPT that we actually RETHINK something and do something nobody had ever technically done before.
i threw out a few suggestions, but ben nailed it.
we would – the four of us – do a studio lock-on for 8 hours and CREATE AN ENTIRE 8-SONG ALBUM FROM SCRATCH, taking song title ideas from twitter…then upload it effectively immediately on bandcamp.

and that’s what we’re doing.

we all had to email some press quotes to the guys running the conference.
i’d like to share some of the fallout from those email exchanges…

damian writes:
I’d like to let people tweet in my quote for me. or you could just use this:
My god! I’ve been waiting for the bus to go @ChikFil-A for so long! LOL!
or this:
It’s exciting to push ideas to their limits.  Can the album cycle actually be reduced to a single day?  If the recording industry is supposed to be a means of connecting musicians to music-listeners, well then here it is, spontaneous and circular.  They send us ideas, and a day later we have an album, a show, and some semblance of a documentary.  And then the next day (we hope): a big public flameout and a battle over rights and the release of competing slanderous autobiographies.

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neil writes: I’m excited and nervous both because there is so much room for things to go wrong, and because it shows people how art is actually made. Or would actually be made if you locked three songwriter performers and an author in a box for a day and forced them to collaborate with Twitter to craft and record songs. Which now I write it down and look at it looks even more unlikely than it did in my head.

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then ben writes:
Yay for digital music technology!
Digital music technology allows singers who can’t sing and musicians who look better than they play to sing and play in tune and in time. It allows us to junk up hundreds of tracks and put off every important choice until the last minute. It provides the kind of safety net that can take all sense of event out of a recording.

At the same time it empowers the musician to distribute music without a middle man and directly to an audience within moments of its creation. It even allows two way communication during the process so that the audience might collaborate to some extent or be present in some way – like live music. The more things change, the more they stay the same… or something like that.

A song that’s 3 minutes long can be, in theory, written and recorded in 3 minutes and distributed immediately. Of course, chances are that would be a pretty shitty song… or would it? We all know of 3 minute songs that took 3 months that are shitty in another way. So how close to writing and recording a 3 minute song in 3 minutes is actually possible? On April 25 in Boston three musicians and a writer/tambourine player are going to do our best to find out.

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then neil writes to ben:
I saw what you did there.

then amanda writes:
he’s smart, that neil gaiman.

then damian writes:
Wait, scratch my last quote.  I hadn’t seen ben’s yet.  Now I want mine to be:
I don’t care what happens as long as all of our songs are 4 minutes.  God, how I hate songs that are 3 minutes.

to which i respond:

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…and you don’t want to read the thread where we try to cut damian out of his share of the song royalties.

we’ve enlisted the producer-help of sean slade, who helmed the dresden dolls second album “yes, virginia” (and has worked with a laundry list of legendary bands like the pixies, radiohead, etc etc). ben plays pretty much veery instrument known to man including drums, bass, guitar, and piano (duh), damian can program drums and play a plethora of instruments as well, and i can clearly SLAY on piano and ukulele.

neil, obviously, will play tambourine.

ok, ok, and write lyrics.

well, we’re probably ALL going to write lyrics. and sing. neil’s actually a great singer. he just won’t admit it.
and honestly….we have actually no idea how we’re going to divide up the songwriting duties.
i think we’re going to figure that out sunday night, over dinner.

to record the historicness of this process, we’ve also grabbed hold of michael pope, legendary AFP/dolls go-to filmmaker, and he’s bringin’ a camera.

we’re going to use a recording studio right here in boston, and from 4 PM TIL MIDNIGHT on MONDAY. APRIL 25th, we are going to WEBCAST this entire shitshow.
live. all of us. on camera. for 8 hours. youtube’s providing us with the tools to do it (like the duran duran/david lynch webcast a few weeks back, and coachella last night) and per usual you’ll find the stream (and more) at partyontheinternet.com

we’ll have a team onboard to field the chatroom and the twitter feed. we’re going to come up with shit we haven’t come up with yet, no doubt.

also, i’ve asked my friend (and housemate) painter cassandra long to create some album/project artwork while we record…hopefully with an easel set up somewhere nearby (like in the recording studio kitchen to PICK UP THE INTENSE ROCK VIBES). and if all works well, while ben, damian, neil and i are simply staring at the ceiling trying to come up with rhymes for “orange” and the webcast has gotten FRIGHTFULLY boring, pope can simply throw up his hands (well, not literally, he’d break the camera if he did that) and film the exciting world of impulsively-created album artwork in the other room.

ok?

go.

this project DOESN’T HAVE A NAME, since we’re planning on NAMING THE BAND when we kick off the recording session, and we’re going to be taking submissions for band names, AND song titles, strictly over twitter. many have pointed out that our names for the unfortunate acronym B.A.N.D. (ben, amanda, neil, damian).

neil suggested that we go full-on eighties and call our makeshift band B*A*N*D. we will not do this.
you’ll just have to tune in to find out. we might create  a twitter hashtag on sunday night that we’ll change the minute we get an official submission on monday that we love.

regarding the ACTUAL release of the FINISHED PRODUCT, expect it to be released on BANDCAMP sometime the next day, the day after at the screaming latest.
i’ll blog and tweet the minute it’s up.
the first few weeks of PROFITS from the recording will go to Berklee City Music Boston. they’re one of a few like-minded music programs in cities all over the country (DC, LA, New Orleans, and Seattle), providing kids with every opportunity to see their musical potential. this includes teaching and mentoring by Berklee graduates who live in their city, and access to PULSE. awesome.

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………………………………….

in summary:
this is going to be RADPANTS.

it’s actual art-making reality TV as you’ve always wanted to see it.
what will become of neil and amanda’s precious relationship as they are forced to work side by side writing stupid songs for eight hours?
will damian kill amanda palmer, beginning years of off-color jokes that circulate throughout the indie rock circuit?
will neil ever forgive ben folds for supergluing his hand to that tambourine???

TO FIND OUT YOU WILL HAVE TO WATCH THE WEBCAST. get jammies, get popcorn, make plans with your friends, (and make sure you have a getglue account if you don’t already – more on that soon). we will try not to disappoint.
also, don’t forget…we’re counting on YOU, our VIEWERS, to retweet, share facebook, realtime blog, and generally joyfully spread the word while this is all going down.
ain’t no network TV covering this shit. they haven’t even gotten the memo, they’re too busy catching up on the latest charlie sheen fiasco.
this is all us, people.

tune in, make art, drop out:
so, in addition to the 8-hour-supergroup (4pm-midnight on april 25th), we’re doing a panel discussion on the internet and the-future-of-label-free-artistry (on the 26th 10:40AM, which will also be webcast).

last but not least….
that night (the 26th), we’ll all be appearing ON STAGE at berklee perofrmance center for a multi-artist concert featuring the four of us, plus the wonderful young talent Tristan Allen, Basia Bulat, and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. (sound like something you’d like to attend and you can get yourself to boston for it? in addition to the slots left for sale – to the whole conference – we’re going to have a FEW tickets to give away. again, get yourself a getglue account. we’ll fill you in on more about that SOON but consider this your last warning.)

history is now.

love
AFP

p.s. if you can, take a second and look at their full conference schedule (here). whether you’re coming in real life or not, there are a lot of incredible minds from the music & internet business who’re gonna be there chatting, including mike mills from R.E.M, the awesome band metric, and more. catch what you can, surely it’ll be great.

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