Instead of going into a store and buying a CD from a bin, you can help shape the creation of a new recording with an artist you’ve admired for years.
That may sound like a fanciful concept. But it’s a reality. In fact, it has been a reality for several years now.
The founder of the ArtistShare label, Brian Camelio, now may be considered visionary for perceiving the direction that the distribution of musical recordings was headed in 2001. Just within the past year, the impact of the Internet on many industries and on the way that people live has accelerated, including the use of e-mail (rather than posting letters), searching for news stories of interest (rather than reading newspapers), dispersed medical diagnosis (rather than looking at chemical X-rays against a light), and the accessing of favored musical recordings (rather than going to a retailer).
However, Camelio took his concept a step further than marketing recordings solely online (and none of ArtistShare’s recordings are available in stores). In addition, Camelio foresaw the opportunity for artist/listener interactivity, not just with e-mailed discussions, but with the formation of a project itself. Not only can jazz enthusiasts help fund recordings of their own liking, rather than relying on entertainment companies to do that, but also they can suggest cover artwork, song themes or sidemen to be included in the project.
Camelio’s business model was validated in a big way when Maria Schneider’s Concert in the Garden won a Grammy. It was the first album of any musical genre available exclusively online to win a Grammy. Now, ArtistShare is adding even more top-notch jazz musicians to its roster, including Danilo Perez, Jim Hall, Bob Brookmeyer, Brian Lynch, Kenny Werner, Chris Potter and Bill Frisell.
Typical of ArtistShare’s innovative ways, the label is offering several opportunities for jazz listeners to interact with artists in contributing toward the completion of several albums in the near future. These include:
Singer Kate Schutt invites fans to share their ideas, including poems, stories and titles for songs. The songs she writes for her new CD, The Telephone Game, will result from the input. In addition, Schutt will respond to every suggestion.
Guitarists Jim Hall and Bill Frisell will release a duo CD in September 2008, and they ask fans to submit artwork for the CD cover or to help select material for the release. Listeners who participate at higher levels can attend the mastering sessions in New York City or receive an iPod containing some of Hall’s unreleased performances.
Composer Patrick Williams is suggesting that fans choose a featured soloist for his new album that will be recorded in commemoration of his 1973 big-band recording, Threshold. That soloist would be a fan who records over one of the album’s tracks and submit the solo to him. In addition, enthusiasts can follow the progress of the recording through streaming video, photo journals and artist interviews.
For pianist Edward Simon’s and singer/percussionist Leonardo Granados’ new CD, The Bolero Project, listeners can submit stories of their significant lifetime experiences for consideration. The stories that Simon and Granados choose will be converted into a bolero that will be recorded on the CD.
And these are just immediately upcoming projects.
As ArtistShare continues to promote artist/listener interactivity, it will be leading the way in the changing environment of providing music. The music remains, as it always has, influential and ever-lasting. Only the methods of distribution change. As more listeners access music through digital means, ArtistShare will make sure that the jazz that everyone has always enjoyed remains available and as always deeply affecting.