Though some haven't received the memo (looking at you, iPad magazine publishers), digital distribution is changing the conventions of how content can be released to customers. It's no longer necessary to save up enough material to release at the same time simply for cost efficiencies. This is good for a number of reasons: it allows creators more flexibility in the work they create, customers more flexibility in what they steal…er…download, and also enables people to expand what they create beyond the narrow limitations that were necessary in the time when distribution depended on huge organizations with lots of cash.
You know all of this.
But I was excited to see that the Flaming Lips are fully embracing this new freedom by planning to record and release one song a month, rather than recording and releasing an entire album at once.
"We'll start in late January, though I'm not sure if we'll get together exactly by then," Coyne says, adding that the band will convene in Oklahoma with longtime producer Dave Fridmann. "With this new thing, we're going to spend a lot of time recording at our houses or wherever we are at. We'll try to release a song a month and document the song in the making, whether it takes us three or five days or a week. It's gonna be, 'We're working on a song and it's gonna be up by Friday.' We just want to [release material] some other way."
"Not that I think the old way was boring, but to spend another two years with the same 13 songs, it's just like fuck," Coyne says. "I think we're going to just start to do things and put it out. Once we get 11 or 12 songs together, maybe we'll do something else with it. We want to try to live through our music as we create it instead of it being a collection of the last couple years of our lives."
They're also totally rethinking the conventions of how music is released and what constitutes the product:
"The dilemma is whether we're going to release it on vinyl, cereal boxes or some of it on toys that we make," Coyne says, explaining that the band is planning on offering additional items to fans at the same time as downloads. "Sometimes, the music is the simplest part of any of these things. We'll be making these little videos that connect in the end to a bigger movie we'll be making next year as well. It sounds like a bunch of fuckin' work, but it's different way of thinking about songs than just holing up."
I'm excited to see how this goes, as I think it could eventually make music back into a personal, natural, flowing thing, instead of the overly polished and packaged consumer good that it's become. I love the notion of living through their music as they create it. Experiment, see what works, grow as artists, push the definition of what modern music is and will eventually become. Make the music experience better for people who love music and open the doors creatively for those who make music…that sort of thing.