Kristin Hersh releases her new album, “Crooked”, as a book.
Being a Boston boy, I’ve spent a good part of my musical life with Kristin Hersh. Her ground breaking band, Throwing Muses – which she fronted as a teenager with her step-sister Tanya Donelly – was a huge part of the Boston scene back in the 80s (technicaly, they were from Providence, RI). Later, she went on her own, eventually retreating to the California desert with her family and recorded some amazing albums like “Hips and Makers” and 1998’s “Strange Angels”. Her music and her life has always connected with me in an unusual way. I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan of hers. I don’t own but a couple of her albums, but the way she lives her life in public, on the web with her blogs, homepage, and tweets, make her profoundly accessible to her legions.
She still records, either on her own or with her part-time band “50FOOTWAVE”, a very LOUD rock band. Her writing – always peppered by a curious turn of a phrase, a double-entendre, or her understated humor – is her strength, and she’s authored several books (many kids books) and will be publishing “Rat Girl”, her memoirs from her younger days in August 2010. She also founded a non-profit, Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders (CASH Music) which helps explore resources, funding, and economic models for musicians.
I think the part that I find most interesting about her, though, is her approach to using the new media and the web to market her music. You can get her music through most of the conventional outlets, but she also offers her fans – called the “Strange Angels” – the opportunity to become stakeholders in her work by purchasing levels of committment to her artistry. For instance, $30/quarter will get you on the guestlist at any of her shows as well as copies of her new CDs before they are released. For $500 you’ll get invited to a recording sessions among other perks. At other levels you can get listed on the CD as a “featured sponsor” or even as the “executive producer”. This may not be earth shaking news nowadays but when you consider she’s been offering these perks for almost 10 years, you gotta admit that the lady has got some business savvy when it comes to marketing on the web.
This Thursday, July 8, Kristin releases her new album, “Crooked” – as a book. There is no CD or memory stick with MP3s in the package, just a book. But with the book you get (according to her publisher, HarperCollins)…,
“full colour artwork, lyrics and an exclusive essay by Kristin on each song. It will also feature the opening chapters of her forthcoming memoir, Paradoxical Undressing. Each copy will come with a digital code which unlocks a treasure trove of online content including:
– The full Crooked album.
– Full recording stems for every track allowing fan remixes.
– Track by track audio commentary by Kristin.
– Exclusive video content.
– A forum enabling fans to interract with Kristin, ask questions, live web chats etc. ”
Kind of sounds like her version of a Director’s Cut of a DVD, doesn’t it?
That’s pretty darn innovative, pretty darn impressive. I can’t think of any music ever being released like this before – not to this degree anyway. It proves that it’s possible for independent musicians to survive and even thrive in the digital world. The book will ship from the U.K. initially (USA release date is Sept 10, 2010) but I’ve included a link where it can be purchased today with free shipping. I’m gonna buy it. I guess that makes me a Strange Angel.