“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in…”
I’ll save you the epic backstory and just say that when I walked away from the music industry in the late 90’s one of the many reasons I chose to do so was because, frankly, it had gotten boring. People (and bands) were just running through the motions. They were executing a prescribed set of actions because that’s just what you do. I missed the days of people doing things because they loved them. Because they thought they were awesome. Because they wanted to be proud of what they were doing. Doing the same thing that you’ve already done, that everyone else has already done, over and over again, isn’t at all fulfilling or interesting to me.
So I left the music world and went to work at this exciting new place, the internet. The music industry had a lot of perks, but it never had lolcats. In the years since then I’ve helped a few friends out with the occasional music project here and there, but I’ve always kept things at arms length because on some level it was the same old thing. It’s was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
These frustrations were echoed in a conversation I had with a few friends last year. We went on to ask ourselves, what does success mean, or even look like if it’s not just living up to someone else’s metric? Obviously if we were going to spend time working on something we want it to be successful, but maybe more importantly we talked about how we wanted it to be something we were proud of working on. If the absolute worst case scenario is that we spend some time working on something we think is awesome, how bad is that? And anything above and beyond that is even better. So, thinking about a music project from that perspective, what would we want to address? What would we want to do differently?
Turns out, a lot.
Discovery – I wrote a little about this earlier this year but how people find music now is very different than it used to be. We wanted to make that part fun and exciting again.
Tangible – in a world of MP3s and all digital releases, we wanted to give people something to touch, but not just a CD or something – more than that, something to interact with.
Wonder – Everyone is so happy to dump every bit of information on your doorstep, we wanted to hold some things back, make them less obvious and encourage people to find them. We wanted this project to be fun. And awesome. For everyone who comes into contact with it.
All that is on top of the fact that the music had to be amazing to begin with.
So we decided to give it a shot.
We built boxes and put them up on the streets in cities all around the world. These boxes contained songs that you could listen to by physically plugging your own headphones into them. These boxes didn’t contain any info, save for a cryptic logo. We watched people plug in and actually try googling lyrics as they listened to try and find out what they had just discovered. We saw people excited to tell anyone and everyone about these discoveries. We saw people leave, then come back later with their friends to experience it again. For almost 6 months random people in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Vienna, London and New York have become a part of this project without even knowing it. They were excited. We were excited. It has been awesome.
We started documenting some of these situations as well as leaking bits and pieces at cmhhtd.com. Some people started connecting the dots. This was awesome as well. We gave songs to some friends – filmmakers – and invited them to create companion pieces. Those will start to pop up online soon. Maybe some of them already are out there, waiting to be found.
Today we took another big step and released a single for our song ‘Miracles’ with AlphaPup Records. You can grab it from any number of online retailers, or if you are lucky you might find a box where you can listen it.
We’re working on building more physical objects, manifestations that we’ll be debuting at an art gallery in Los Angeles later this year. There are more songs coming your way soon too, the question is where will you find them? I’ve only begun to scratch the surface here, what I haven’t mentioned far outweighs what I have but that’s kind of the point. What fun would it be if gave it all away right up front?
I’m really excited about this project. It’s been fun. It’s been awesome. It’s been everything I hoped it would be. And it’s just be beginning. We’ll see what happens next, but I hope you’ll come along for the ride. I promise you it won’t be average.