Indie band Barenaked Ladies has a new album and a clever, new marketing ploy. They're letting their fans make the videos, design the concert T-shirts, even remix the songs.
On the Barenaked Ladies Web site, fans could download and remix new songs months before the CD Barenaked Ladies Are Me was released. The tracks are like Legos you can snap together. If you have an audio-software program like Garageband, and some time to kill, you can make your own version of a song using pieces of the original.
Barenaked Ladies singer Steve Page says it's just one way to get music out into an ether that's choked with podcasts, youtube videos, mashups and myspace pages.
"There is an expectation from the audience of interaction," Page says. "And the biggest things online have been things that people can actually make valuable contributions to, or graffiti-ize as much as they wanted to and tear apart."
Dozens of remixes are posted on the band's Web site, and the Barenaked Ladies are definitely listening.
Page and guitarist Ed Robertson really liked a "Wind It Up" remix from a 22-year-old engineering student in northern Illinois that uses Robertson's vocals and adds all new instruments.
"It totally rocked me," Robertson says.
"It seems like someone knows what they're doing and has taken the time to make their own musical contributions," Page says.
There are other exceptional remixes, although not all of them are exceptional for the same reasons.
Another remix of the song "Wind It Up" features a drummer on speed, and a munchkin lead singer who's had a little too much angel dust. The catastrophic remix inspires a debate among the musicians.
"We had a big argument about this," Page starts, "because Jim, our bass player, I think just decided that this person was a genius and had done this on purpose. And had..."
"...deconstructed the music and presented it in a way that was, in an intellectual way, nonmusical," Roberston finishes.
"Jim can be absolutely infuriating sometimes," Page points out.
The band says that if there are enough good remixes, they'll release a CD and donate the proceeds to charity. But a word of caution to all you closet re-mixers out there. If you're secretly hoping that this brave, new, digital world might get you a paying gig remixing Barenaked Ladies songs... you might want to keep your day jobs.
"Why hire them when we can get their work for free?" Page says, adding, "We're getting you back, fans..."