Friday, August 24, 2012

Embracing the Age of the Amateur: Beck's Song Reader and Neil Young's Americana

Beck's next album isn't going to be pressed onto CDs or vinyl, or even digitally recorded and distributed on mp3. Instead, he's publishing a song folio with sheet music for 20 songs:
In the wake of Modern Guilt and The Information, Beck’s latest project comes in an almost-forgotten form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case, Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012—an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together. From the pre-order page.
Readers are encouraged to perform and record the songs, which will be featured on the accompanying web site. As an ardent evangelist for the Age of the Amateur, I'm in love with this concept. Instead of inviting his audience to merely listen to another one of his albums, he invites us to collaborate by interpreting, performing, recording and sharing our own versions of the songs. I'm looking forward to taking him up on the offer.

Neil Young has also been taking interesting approach to audience collaboration. After recording fresh versions of eleven folk songs for his new release, Americana, he sponsored a contest for his fans to interpret and submit cover versions of their own. Listening to submissions on the accompanying site reminded me of Crap's 100 Word Stories podcast and our Single Frames Stories site.  It's amazing and inspiring to hear so many interpretations on a single theme.

Here's one of my favorites:

No comments: