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Art is a Conversation

When Kristin Hersh released her latest solo album in January 2007, some critics and fans took its title, Learn to Sing Like a Star, as ironic. Turns out she may have really meant it.

This artist, who has had a hand in shaping alternative rock for more than 20 years, is now trying to redefine the recording industry. Earlier this week Hersh launched CASH Music, an acronym that stands for Coalition of Artists and Stake Holders. Through this venture, she has committed to writing and recording a new song each month for digital release. A donation is asked for but not required. However, the prospect of cheap or free good music is not the project's most exciting part.

Hersh sees music, both its makers and listeners, as a community with equal shares at stake. Therefore, she's releasing her music files openly under a Creative Commons license. I'll let her tell the best part.

Art is by nature a conversation. I'd like us to make it a community. Think about what you have to offer. Read-only culture is not enough anymore. We'd like you to treat this stuff as read-write. I'd also like to hear your comments on the songs I post each month. I'll read them all and reply too.

What does read-write mean? Maybe as you're listening to "Slippershell", you're inspired to DO something: paint a picture, write an essay, make a video, remix, or even re-record the song. Please do so. And share your work with me and the rest of the CASH community by uploading it somewhere and sending me a link. I'm offering my Pro Tools mix stems to make it easy to work with my recorded material. We will review all the links submitted, I promise. At some point, I'll release the songs I post here in the form of a CD. It's my intention that the CD release should also include lots of the stuff you send me. I think that would be incredible.

What we're doing today is just the beginning. It is in the nature of a share and share alike community to grow. Gradually, over the next weeks and months CASH Music will be revealing it's "real" self. Other artists will be involved, the final and fully-capable site will be launched and new features will be added—all incorporating your input and creativity. CASH is a community that in the end will be defined by itself.
Check out the rest of her statement here—it's worth reading.

She gets a little Web 2.0 with the read-write rhetoric, but the most important—the most beautiful—part of her statement is "Art is by nature a conversation." That is what makes this venture so human and, consequently, so sustainable. CASH Music is a great example of how technology used well can put control back where it matters. It's about people, not product. It's about community, not consumption.

Congratulations on your vision, Kristin. And the rest of you take her up on her offer: download, donate, create, and share.

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