Wiki album- an idea whose time has come?

At the MusicThoughts mailing list, jam band guitarist/poet Clifton Johnston shared an interesting idea about the concept of a ‘wiki album.’ Since he expressed it so well, it’s worth quoting him in full and pondering his thoughts.

Watching WebOfDistress‘s Serial Dreams album unfold and posting “work-in-progress” albums of my own have really got me thinking about an interesting phenomenon that is coming about thanks to the wonder of modern technology we call the internet.

It is more and more common it seems to see works-in-progress posted on Fuzz and other such sites. For artists that move wholly to releasing albums in the digital realm, there opens a possibility for perpetual revision of material over time, or the birth of a true “wiki-album.”

Some folks have mentioned that I may want to go back and re-visit some of my works once I’m finished with the madness of pumping out 50 Zen Junk albums this year (if I just don’t keep making them forever). In this new paradigm, one could easily go back and revise, extend, remix and remaster at any time. The album becomes something that is no longer static, but fluid, dynamic, interactive even.

There are unlimited possibilities really:

– The greatest hits album that is always dynamically updating itself as tastes change and new music is released

– A fan-interactive album where the album is modified over time through fan feedback, submission of remixes, alternative album covers, etc

– An archive album that continually grows including everything from original demos, to the “finished” songs, to remixes and live performances

Will there soon come a time when fans don’t purchase an album as much as they subscribe to it? Where they pay their initial fee (or in the free music world, they add it to their library) and then receive automatic updates when a new version, remix, video, live recording, etc is added?

I’d love to hear what other folks think of this.

The future is a cool place, man. I can’t wait to get there 😉