Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman to Write, Record Eight Songs in Eight Hours

By 
Nick Balkin
April 7, 2011
Amanda Palmer
Ben Folds
Damian Kulash
Neil Gaiman

Ben Folds, Damian Kulash (OK Go), Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls, solo), and author Neil Gaiman will write and record eight songs in eight hours (4:00 p.m. to midnight) at Berklee College of Music, Monday, April 25, and release them 10 hours later during Rethink Music, in Boston. Like Radiohead did recently, this group will show how recording and release schedules are no longer bound by distribution challenges. 

The historic collaboration will be broadcast live from the recording studio at rethink-music.com. The album will be released through Bandcamp.com; proceeds from the first week of downloads will benefit Berklee City Music, which provides free music education to underserved teens. 

Tuesday, April 26, Folds, Kulash, Palmer, and Gaiman will give a presentation on the recording project at 10:40 a.m. at Rethink Music, and perform a private concert for conference registrants at 8:00 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC). The concert also features Basia Bulat and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. Additional performances to be held in conjunction with Rethink will take place on Monday, April 25: Metric will perform a private acoustic show at the Memorial Church at Harvard; and Wayne Shorter will perform with Berklee students and faculty at the BPC. All events are free for conference registrants. Rethink Music: Creativity, Commerce and Policy in the 21st Century is presented by Berklee and MIDEM, in association with Harvard University's Berkman Center and Business School, in Boston, April 25-27, 2011. For the complete Rethink Music program, visit rethink-music.com.

"Can the album cycle actually be reduced to a single day?" asks Kulash. "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 comments, "The four of us are creative internet addicts with our own huge Twitter circles," says Palmer. "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."

"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," says Gaiman. "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." 

"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," notes Folds. "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."

International creators, industry experts, policymakers, and academics seeking and developing solutions for the unpredictable trajectory of the music industry will convene for high-level deliberation at Rethink Music: Creativity, Commerce and Policy in the 21st Century. Discussion will include a range of topics such as business and rights challenges and promoting the creation and distribution of new music in the digital era. At one forum, entrepreneurs will present their concepts in 10-minute intervals. $50,000 will be awarded to the winner of a business model competition managed by Berklee and Harvard Business School, and the winner from the Berkman Center's call for public policy papers will present at the conference. 

To see the complete and final conference program at Rethink Music, visit rethink-music.com

Register online: rethink-music.com/en/Registration

Press registration: rethink-music.com/en/Press/Press-Registration-Form