I’ll get back to the things I learned from the Dutch shortly. Some things are just interesting, and deserve your attention. This turned up in my email inbox this evening…
I’m a big fan of your New Music Strategies and I wanted to tell you about a website that I’m running.
It’s called Calendar Songs. It all started when, after I’d written a few demos of songs, I kept ending up at the awkward stage of nearly-done but not-finished-yet.
So I started thinking about making a website for my songs (some people won’t see any romance left in the anonymity granted by going online and giving yourself a new name and a specific realm to inhabit, but for me it was a very simple escape from this weird teenage crisis my songwriting had hit).
Once I’d made the decision to do something online I knew I should write original material for it. I wanted a scaffolding and a framework for this music to live on, so I decided to write a song a month, produced to my demo standard of minimal production and very simple backing tracks.
Then I thought to give the songs a bit of a difference I would only write songs inspired by the month they’d been written in: “a calendarsong is not just a song I wrote this month”.
I wrote some rules for the project, like a manifesto. Then I saw the best way of attracting listeners would be to open the songs up for remix, further adaptation and production.
I’d put the remixes up against the originals for listeners to browse and compare. Then, as 12 songs make an album, I announced at the start of the project that at the end of one year I’d release 12 remixes as the calendarsongs record.
I’m now writing the last calendarsong for the year and there are over 150 remixes. It has been a great discipline for me as a songwriter, and as a listener I am constantly surprised and delighted by the way my songs have been mutated and interpreted.
I’m planning the release of the record and to add some value to the project will re-record my originals, so the calendarsongs record will be a double album. Then there will be some gigs, playing some of the remixes live with the remixers.
I am going to do a gig at the end of CMJ at Pianos on October 21st. If you are still in the city and want to come along that would be great. I know you must get a lot of people pestering you to check out their web-savvy-music ideas, and of course you might not fancy the music at all, but I’d love to know what you reckon to the project as a whole.
Tamara – Calendar Girl
Huh… shades of Sufjan Stevens’s song-per-state project, only attainable.
Personally, I’m really impressed. The ‘gimmick’ actually works really well as a central theme for a coherent and curated body of an artist’s work, and provides one of the best arguments against the ‘death of the album’ I’ve heard in ages.
And check out some of those remixes: The Incoherent Mumble Train take on ‘January’ is just gorgeous.
This is smart, well-informed stuff that leverages Creative Commons licencing, genuinely understands the online environment and is pretty great all round. I keep worrying that I’ve fallen prey to a really savvy marketeer in the employ of a major corporate, but actually, I kind of wouldn’t mind if that was the case. This is just really clever.
And like all the best creative online marketing ideas, it’s non-replicable. You can’t go out and do your own calendar songs… nobody would care. You have to have your own idea of that calibre, and be the only one doing it for this sort of thing to work.
‘Calendar Girl’ Tamara’s also a member of Freeform Five, who I ended up checking out, and also decided I like (video here).
What do you think of the concept? Unnecessarily programmatic? All style, no substance? Or a great way to engage an audience, build promotion into the product itself and generate buzz through participation?