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Eight Songs in Eight Hours From Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, Amanda Palmer, and Neil Gaiman

Daniel Ahrendt / April 7, 2011

Top: Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman (Photo by Kyle Cassidy)
Lower Left: Ben Folds (Photo courtesy of Ben Folds)
Lower Right: Damian Kulash of OK Go (Photo by Patrick McMullan)

On April 5th, culture giants Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, renowned author Neil Gaiman, OK Go‘s Damian Kulash, and Ben Folds will write and record eight collaborative songs in as many hours. The project is to take place at and benefit the Berklee College of Music and will occur between 4pm and midnight. The songs will be released ten hours later at the Rethink Music conference in Boston. The aim of the project is to “show how record companies are becoming superfluous to building buzz and distributing music.”

The album will be released on and proceeds from the first week of downloads will go straight to Berklee College’s effort to supply free music education to teens who haven’t the finances to engage music on such a level. Not only will the whole writing and recording process be streamed live on the Rethink Music website, but the creators will give a presentation on the process on the 26th at the conference at 10:40am. This will be followed that evening by a private concert for conference registrants at 8:00pm, featuring Basia Bulat and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears.

This looks to be quite the tour de force in popular music experimentation. Keep your eyes and ears open for the results when the end of the month rolls around. Below are some comments from the four artists involved.

Damian Kulash: “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.”

Amanda Palmer: “The four of us are creative internet addicts with our own huge Twitter circles. This project is exciting as it will give us the opportunity to collide our circles. I think the Rethink Music conference is going to be a groundbreaking event, and I’m hoping to engage in a dialogue about things that are very close to my heart, namely the importance of audiences and artists creating a new society of patronage and virtual busking.”

Neil Gaiman: “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. When I write it down and look at it, it looks even more unlikely than it did in my head.”

Ben Folds: “Digital technology allows singers who can’t sing and musicians who look better than they play to sing and play in tune and in time. 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.”

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