Kristen Hersh and CASH Music

Cover of Slippershell from Kristen Hersh

Radiohead have received a lot of media attention recently regarding the "pay what you want" release of their newest album. But other artists have also been exploring alternative ways for fans and listeners to help support creative endeavor.

Kristen Hersh, whom you may know as a member of Throwing Muses, is one of the founding members of an initiative called CASH Music, a Coalition of Artists and Stake Holders:

The community we hope to foster at CASH Music is participatory, supportive, and beneficial to listeners and artists alike. Via CASH Music you’re asked to interact with this output, assess it, be inspired by it, enhancing it’s value. Once that value is perceived you are asked to contribute accordingly — your money, your ideas, your effort, or all of the above.

You and the CASH artist are stake holders in common. You want the art to continue. The artist wants to continue creating. Your support keeps this flow moving, a read-write culture where all parties to the artistic experience enrich the experience. CASH Music supports artists, their audiences — and perhaps most importantly — this vital and emerging read-write culture.

CASH is intended to be more than a revenue-generator for musicians. It’s a framework for collaboration. Here’s what Hersch posted about this:

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.

The first tricky part of this, I think, is raising awareness. People need first to know that it exists, that artists want to hear and see responses to their work. But even if people know about it, will they respond? From the reactions I’ve heard and seen to my own little creative projects (NaNoWriMo, DrawMo, etc.), many people rarely think about creating anything. It seems to be outside their frame of reference.

I suppose that’s why a venture like this one is importance. If everyday people start creating, rather than just continue consuming, maybe this will change their perceptions of art and of life.

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