Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave) has been dabbling in some very interesting music distribution methods through her non-profit organization, CASH Music.

CASH Music was envisioned as a subscription model, where fans could support their favorite musicians directly. Since, they have been experimenting with other models.

Her latest album, Crooked, has been released as a book. The book contains photographs, lyrics, and essays, plus a link to a website where the songs can be downloaded in a variety of formats, including FLAC. The album can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon MP3 as well. There is a physical CD available in the Throwing Music webstore, but it does not appear to be available from the usual places.

Kristin released work-in-progress versions of the songs under a Creative Commons license (non-commercial share-alike) on CASH Music. She collected donations from fans who supported her work on the album. She undoubtedly got good feedback from her fans in the process, as well.

The book version downloads include some bonus tracks and a commentary track for the main album. The commentary track is not original – Paul And Storm did commentary tracks for their album Opening Band five years ago – but depending on the artist, it can be a cool way to listen to an album.

The sticker on the book says that the downloads include recording stems that could be used to remix the album. I have yet to find these, but perhaps they’ll show up.

I like listening to “source” files of music. I’ve heard bootleg recordings of The Beatles and Beach Boys vocals takes, and the occasional remix contest, but the first artist I know of that releses the source of all his songs is Brad Sucks.

It is very instructive and encouraging to hear the components that were used to make great music. In so many cases, the individual elements don’t sound perfect or even particularly good, but it all works just fine when it’s all put together.

It becomes easy to focus too much on perfecting each and every element when it may well be good enough. Listening to other people’s work is a good reminder not to let prefect be the enemy of good.

I admire musicians who release their source. Writing music is difficult. Playing it for others, exposing it to criticism, is hard. Showing your work, including all the imperfections and mistakes that get worked out in the mix, can be terrifying, particularly when it involves real-time performances like singing or playing guitar.

I released the source for Binary Bebop, available in the Bangsplat Download Store. And I started preparing source files for Music For The Robots, but I got distracted. I need to go back and finish that up.

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