Imagine a website set up for musicians to collaborate over long distances. You could record musical ideas, upload them and share them with everyone in some public web space. Complete strangers will take your idea, add to it and put it back on the public space. In this way, musicians can collaborate very rapidly. Songs can be written in no time.
Imagine writing a guitar riff. Upload it. Instantly, everyone out there starts to add to it: drums, bass, melody. As the originator of the song, you can chose which pieces you want to keep or reject. With everyone collaborating, the song takes shape rapidly. Even the outtakes are saved somewhere and can be spun-off into new songs.
This website would look sort of like the love child of a music sequencer and a social networking site (like MySpace). Your personal profile would function to give you ownership over your creations, as well as put you in contact with like-minded musicians, and enhance your status.
Iterations on this theme
- Leader-Contributor Style: This is like what I described first. There's more of a band leader who accepts/rejects ideas and orchestrates them. All contributors get credited on their profiles.
- Band Style: Actual bands will form among far-away people who may never meet in real life. They might not even speak the same language.
- Scavenger Style: Since everyone's contributions will be floating freely in the open forum, you will be able to scavenge for material. You'll be able to assemble a song without writing a note yourself.
- Sound Art Stream Style: This is the weirdest iteration, and probably the one I'm most excited about. You are given a section, say 8 measures, and instructed to provide the bass or drums or melody. You hear the lead-in to your section so you have a starting place. There will probably be a click track. You can work at it as long as you want until you hit "submit." No contribution is rejected. The result will be a totally stream-of-consciousness music album written by hundreds of collaborators who don't know each other.
- MIDI type-in keyboard: For any of the above-mentioned styles, there will be various ways to actually create the music. Obviously, there will be people with home recording equipment. Those people will use guitars, microphones etc. But for everyone else, I'm really excited about this option: I want the user to be able to actually type in using their computer keyboard like a MIDI controller. Just like in MIDI, you can assign any instrument to your typed-in jam.
- Any user will be able to contribute, not just those with special equipment
- MIDI will tighten things up
- Contributions could be automatically quantized (made to snap to the rhythm)
- All pieces could be meta-adjusted easily (i.e., tempo could be sped up)
- This would be a perfect compliment to the "Sound Art Stream Style" because
- It would ensure all pieces would fit together rhythmically.
- It would force users to choose an instrument sound appropriate for their piece (i.e. if they are assigned to bass, for example, they are only given bass options to choose from)
Why this invention is relevant now
- The idea of forming a band is so last century. It's not worth the effort to get musicians physically together to write songs and rehearse. Furthermore —— I'm not the expert on this, but —— it's not easy to be a successful band. Nor is it artistically rewarding. Record labels, promoters, blah blah blah. It's all business, not art. And that's because it's controlled from the suits at the top and not the artists at the bottom. What needs to happen is for the bottom to come up.
- There are plenty of vocalists who just need a track to sing over. Similarly, there are plenty of beat-makers who just need someone to rap over their beat. A program like this would pair them up instantly. Furthermore, since the people don't know each other in person, there would be no hurt feelings if someone's contribution is rejected.
- If you haven't noticed, the music industry is totally irrelevant already. So is the entertainment industry almost. What's replacing it? Bottom-up media like YouTube.
- Everyone is a wannabe musician. Probably more people spend money on music equipment and home studio equipment than they do buying music.
- In general, things are becoming more open-source. Collaboration is in. Sharing is in. Not in? Centralized currency, monopolies, corporations.
- With that said, it's not like we couldn't make money off this idea. Think of how much YouTube or MySpace makes off ads alone. Jesse mentioned that since this music is being made on "our" site, the site could be set up so that we retain the rights to the content. Then we could go through and cull the most popular songs and try to make a buck off them. However, I don't really think that's necessary. We can make plenty of bank without taking contributors' actual work. In fact, to generate allegiance to this site, users need to know that their work belongs to them.