Name that Tune: Crowdsourcing and Music

The role of the artist is a constantly evolving paradigm and, as we know, “artist” is a word that covers an ever-broadening variety of sins and sinners. A few of my posts have touched on how crowdsourcing has contributed to that evolution, but I got a kick out of an artist’s latest quest for support from his fans.

Last month, Stephen Malkmus reached out to his fans to find a radio-friendly word for oral sex that would fit into his live radio performance of the song “Senator” from the latest Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks album. I’m not sure what word they ended up with, but I started looking into other compositions that have been generated by the crowd.

Last year, in May, Wired magazine launched an innovative new contest on Indaba asking musicians to collaborate on creating a new song based on bass, guitar, and drum tracks laid out by the original musicians. Many of the artists teamed up and formed super songs – the chosen leader based on a survey of the crowd was Bungalow Bill’s “I Can Hear Music.” You can hear it here.

With contests like that generating so much participation, the age of virtual artistic collaboration is definitely in full swing. The musicians in the commercial world are also hard at work on the latest Nokia crowdsourcing music contest. Nokia is looking for a fresh version of their Nokia tune to be used in their product portfolio. All composers are competing for a $10,000 prize that goes to the top tune. So far there are over 4,500 entrants with five more days left in the contest. Vote for your favorite – mine’s the tango Nokia remix.

What does it mean to create music in this new collaborative, crowdsourced world? What does our music tell us about our mood?

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