Friday, January 02, 2009

The Rentals - Songs About Time

Matt Sharp's band The Rentals started off the new year right by announcing an ambitious three part project in music, film and photography.

"Photographs About Days" is an online photo diary in which the band will post an image each day. In addition, they're going to shoot one roll of 35mm film every day and leave it undeveloped. The first 365 people to purchase the Songs About Time box set will receive one of these mystery rolls of film.

"Films About Weeks" will be black and white shorts that debut online every Tuesday. Though the films will be about the making of Songs About Time, they're going to be scored with different, original music that will not be available anywhere else.

And then finally, "Songs About Time" will be released as three chapters, so to speak, every three months. The first one comes out in April. But if you sign up for The Rentals e-mail list now, you'll get one of the initial songs sent to you for free.

I think the trick to having this succeed will be two things: the quality of the stuff they're putting out there, and the way in which they keep people engaged throughout the year. For the first part, they not only need the music to be good, but they're relying on the photos and films to make people pay attention throughout the year. I think they should be posting them in a blog format so that people can subscribe, which they currently aren't doing. The photos and films better be really good if they think people are going to go back and visit their website once a week.

And the second part is, how are they going to keep me interested? Again, since I can't subscribe to their site, I assume they're going to rely on MySpace or send me constant emails. There's a fine line they're going to have to walk between being informative and annoying. However, the idea is really interesting - creating something daily to attract people to your band, versus hiring a label to try and get a lot of people all at once right before your record comes out.

What do you guys think about this? Original creative endeavor, or a gimmick to shake up record sales?

The Rentals' Website

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say it's pure gimmick, although obviously the end-game here is to sell records. I think more bands need to explore these different avenues and methods of distribution, as the "album" format is potentially on the way out and there really is no clear path ahead for how to successfully sell your music in the digital realm yet. I know there's iTunes and Amazon, which I use, but I still think these stores are entrenched in the old model and may not be the final answer here. I applaud artists like Radiohead, The Rentals, NIN and Girl Talk for trying out things like this, whether or not they are phenomenally successful. I agree it will be hard to keep the momentum up for a full year, and I don't have a solution for that. Luckily Weezer fans are rabidly loyal, and that loyalty extends to the entire Weezer universe (The Rentals, That Dog, Ozma, Matt Sharp, etc.). Worst case scenario, all the =rwa= folks will still buy it. After that, Sharp should just cross his fingers that the bloggers keep talking about it.

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