The Flaming Lips aren’t exactly known for being conventional, which is why their new strategy for creating and disseminating music – while innovative – comes as no surprise to fans. Despite the fact that the Lips have been making music together since the early 1980s, they’re far from becoming obsolete: as frontman Wayne Coyne explains in a recent interview with Mashable, the band has embraced the changes that have troubled members of the music industry and are using social media, smartphone apps, and other new technologies to release their latest album as it’s built, one song at a time.
Coyne points out in the interview that yes, the Internet has made it virtually impossible for artists to prevent their music from being distributed widely and free of charge, a reality that has been a constant source of conflict since the days of Napster and P2P filesharing – but he also encourages musicians to use this to their advantage. The Lips’ recent release of a new single did just that: the song, which is split into twelve different YouTube videos meant to be played simultaneously, is meant to utilize multiple devices and thus encourages collective experience in a way that’s antithetical to the negative spin the music industry has always put on the term “filesharing.”
In addition to using social media, the Flaming Lips will make three upcoming songs tangible by putting them onto promotional flash drives that will be embedded in the gummi brains of some custom-made, 7-lb. gummi skulls. The promotional flash drives can only be accessed by chowing down on the sugary skulls, which will likely result in a huge tummyache that I assume will immobilize listeners by the time they get to the music itself.
While Wayne Coyne might not be entirely accurate in his assumption that “most people have some version of the iPhone,” technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of our lives and how we experience music and art. The Flaming Lips’ use of everything from Twitpics to YouTube and promotional flash drives shows that they recognize the importance of technology in both creating and marketing their music. With such creative takes on music and the media through which it’s distributed, it’s no wonder the Lips are still a powerful force on the rock scene almost 30 years after first coming together.
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