The vinyl album summary
We all interact with music at a primal level. I have long been concerned with the idea that the digitization of music removes a great deal of the feeling that we respond to when we hear great music. Nothing can compare to being at a live music concert, listening to a band with hundreds or thousands of other people that share the same empathetic feeling as you. I will argue though, that the analog sound of a vinyl record captures that feeling way better than a CD or MP3 file can.
At it's heart, this project is not about a return to vinyl or a move away from the ease of use of digital music, it's simply about a passion for the vinyl record album and the hope that musicians will keep releasing vinyl recordings of their work and that people like yourself will continue to buy and collect them.
The album will represent an analog version of my solo recordings. Recordings made beyond the time I spent recording and playing with Gang of Four and Shriekback. In all I will press 19 songs to vinyl and also make available previously unreleased material as MP3s.
The book summary
For many years now I've been scratching away in digital form, writing essays and reviews and posting them to my various websites. The music side of my thinking gets posted at Pampelmoose and the digital thinking gets posted at I Am Dave Allen and my work as a digital strategist gets posted at NORTH. I'm not only passionate about vinyl records, I am passionate about books too, so it seemed only fitting that I gather together a mixture of essays about music and digital strategy and get a book printed. Here's a sample music essay and a sample digital essay. Consider the book a companion piece to the album.
An education: Digital to analog
This project is not just about me. I teach a Digital Brand Strategy class at the University of Oregon, and from my work and learnings with the students the idea for this project was born. I spend time with students who were "born digital," that is, they grew up surrounded by digital devices and technology. When it comes to music they have known only digitized files in the CD and MP3 formats. I realized that I wanted them to build something that isn't digital, that exists as a tactile piece to be enjoyed, to be held and, in this case, to be listened to. A vinyl double album!
In other words, we will use the digital web to help create a non-digital artifact.
What's in it for them?
As most of these students will be graduating this summer I felt it would be beneficial to have something in their resumé that shows that they actually built something. The class was organized into teams - videographers, narrative copywriters, project managers and account managers, book researchers and record pressing researchers. It gives them a real-world example of how to work together to produce and design a tactile object.
I see it as an opportunity for them to bring something into the world in a format that other people are passionate about and supportive of. It becomes passion feeding on passion. The students came up with a Twitter hashtag - #buildshit and one of them built a website to track that hashtag..
In the end it also comes down to you, the music lover, the supporter of vinyl albums, of independent record stores and analog music - what I term "Slow music" rather like the Slow Food Movement.
On the right you will see the specific pledge rewards, but here's a preview of what I want to offer everyone:
Please remember, each package that is mailed out will include a free surprise item. Keep checking back here for updates.
The double vinyl album and the book of essays will be numbered, limited editions. I will manufacture only the amount of records and books to match the number of people who pledge for them.
The vinyl albums will comprise of 19 songs from my solo CD albums The Clutter of Pop and The Elastic Purejoy, pressed to 180 gramme vinyl and delivered in a high-quality gatefold sleeve.
A perfect-bound book of essays that explore music, digital strategy and popular culture.
Some of the pledge rewards for the vinyl albums and the book of essays will include your name printed on them.
Some of the pledge reward packages include a physical CD.
Some of the pledge reward packages include autographed items.
High-quality MP3s of both albums plus a selection of unreleased MP3s.
One pledge includes a very limited edition 7" Gang of Four single with remixes by Tommie Sunshine and The Blood Brothers with a sleeve designed by Shepard Fairey.
The most expensive pledge gets one person a pair of custom, Clutter of Pop, art kicks designed and produced by Cam Giblin. Check his website for examples.
Here's a pair:
The covers of the new vinyl album and the book
Album and book cover images by David Ewald. Design by Cam Giblin.
The original CD covers
Cover art by Ophelia Chong.
The Shepard Fairey designed 7" vinyl single cover
Where's this money going? The bulk of the money will be used for the manufacturing of the vinyl albums and the record sleeves, as well as printing the book. Shipping costs will have to be taken into account too. Depending on demand, the hosting and delivery of the MP3 files will have a cost too. I'm also looking in to making the book of essays available as a digital edition, an e-book, so that people who prefer to read on their iPads and Kindles can have access too. I may need to pay for professional help in creating an e-book.