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'Underground' Musician Buries Music Underground (Literally) For Fans To Find

from the go-dig dept

We’ve talked about plenty of examples of musicians doing creative things to connect with fans. One example was Trent Reznor hiding concert tickets in random places around LA, and then mentioning the coordinates on his website, leading fans to scramble and find them. It appears that “underground” musician Emperor X (aka Chad Matheny) is doing something similar, and fitting with his underground status. Ross Pruden points us to the news that Matheny has been recording early versions of new songs he’s working on to cassette tapes and then burying them in random places. He’ll later reveal the GPS coordinates, and if people can find the tapes (apparently it’s not always so easy), they get not just the tape with the music, but also “a secret code that will unlock more music on his website for the rest of the world to hear.” In other words, people have incentive to find the tapes not just for themselves, but for other fans as well.

Some will (of course) mock this as a “gimmick,” and even Matheny flat-out admits that it’s a gimmick — but it’s a “gimmick” that works. It gets his fans excited, it gets some more folks interested in his music, and it makes the whole thing fun. As the article notes, it’s sort of a way to bring back the old experience people used to have of trying to track down works from a more obscure artist:

“He’s creating an experience that really fits his music, and what it is is that he’s an underground musician,” Dahlen says. “Back in the day, there’d always be that artist that you were in love with. You had to find all their albums, but they were really unknown, and you would go to used record store after used record store trying to track them down. And then, finally, you find one of their albums in the bin, and you love it more because of all the effort you put into it. You have a stake in this musician now. And that was the wonderful experience about finding people who are off the mainstream. I think it fits perfectly with what he’s doing. I think it’s kind of brilliant.”

This highlights, once again, that the idea behind these actions aren’t that everyone should do it this way, but that each artist needs to come up with ideas that really fit with the type of artist they are. Something like this really appears to fit with Matheny and the fans of Emperor X, so it works for him. Other artists need to figure out what works for them as well.

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Comments on “'Underground' Musician Buries Music Underground (Literally) For Fans To Find”

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Jacob John McCarter (profile) says:

Re: Requires stupid fans with time to waste.

No one is forcing him to do this just as no one is forcing you to read techdirt and post a response. With your logic you must also realize that you are ‘stupid’ in ‘wasting’ your time in responding to an article about ‘stupid’ time ‘wasting’. If you didn’t care I doubt you would be here commenting.

I also create music in addition to DJing and adore the idea of copyleft. Even as I could apply it to you. If you can find my music I encourage you to copy it, give it to everyone and tell them how much I suck. Sell the music if you like and I wouldn’t want any of the profit. Matheny seems to be making music for the same reason I do. This reason is (brace yourself) I LIKE DOING IT.

I have made my peace. Please respond in kind.

Big Al says:

Re: Re: Requires stupid fans with time to waste.

How DARE you promote lies like this!
Everyone knows that no-one would create without a gazillion dollar contract and full control of their art for at least 9,999 years!

Except maybe Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Virgil, Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare…

Damn – I can’t find the sarc-mark on this keyboard!

This comment copyright until hell freezes over.

Karl (profile) says:


You know, this is kind of brilliant, actually.

About five years ago, I too was one of the “MP3 haters.” It wasn’t the crappy fidelity (which was still better than cassettes), and it was only partially the glut of horrible recordings that people released for free because they could.

Mostly, it was the fact that actually putting effort into hunting down worthwhile music made it that much more valuable (in the non-economic sense). It got you more invested in the music.

This is the perfect melding of effort, reward, and freedom (by releasing the music, once found, to the public at large). I wish I’d thought of it.

…Though, if he was actually trying to replicate the record-hunting expeditions of the past, he would have just buried his recordings and not told anyone. That’s the way it usually worked out.

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