I don't really like dogs all that much, and I'm pretty sure they're not music fans, so when I heard someone had made an album specifically for our furry friends, I was pretty nonplussed. The record contains frequencies that only dogs can hear - which, presumably, they will enjoy and bicker about with their friends in online music forums.
The album, which is called Inaudible Women, has been created by veteran singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked. She's trying to use the project as a springboard to discuss the state of the music industry; naming song titles after high-ranking media executives like David Drummond from YouTube. She thinks they're oligarchs, stealing musicians money, and wants to prove how stupid people are by coercing them into getting an album full of songs you can't hear. You can't stream the album - but if you want to buy it for your dog (and let's face it, who will?) you can get it from CD Baby for $9.99. The idea behind the project reminded me of Vulfpeck - the band that cheated Spotify into giving them money -except this was more explicit about who it was going after and perhaps a bit more cynical in trying to get people to physically purchase a CD of silence.
Wanting to find out whether this album was going to save the music industry or be another notch in the lesser achievements of the great rock 'n' roll swindles of our time, I called up Michelle and found she really had a lot to say.
YNTHT: Hey Michelle, why would you want to make music for dogs?
Michelle: Dogs are not only man’s best friend but they’ve been darn nice to gals too.
In what particular situation do you think the dogs will enjoy the record?
I think for the most part dogs may appreciate what their owners will miss. Not only do dogs have a keener sense of hearing than humans, but they will also recognise when something smells fishy.
I personally hate dogs, what would I as a human get from the album?
Uh, if you’re more a cat person you may appreciate an album that your cat will have no reaction to at all. That’s because cats hearing is actually inferior to humans. You call a cat and it may not hear you. I’m not a dog person myself and had to borrow my friend’s dog for the video.
Where do the track titles come from?
They come from our internet sponsors that are bringing music to us, in such a way that they’re threatening to take over the domain of music.
But specifically they are the names of high ranking media executives.
Yeah, there are oligarchs who run things behind the scenes, the government just ends up being a puppet, they are the man behind the curtain claiming to be the Wizard of Oz.
What did you think of Vulpeck's original idea?
Genius, clever, a really inspired idea and a call to artists to say that if we don’t address this challenge creatively then we’ll really have no role in the conversation. It’s creative solutions like Vulfpeck’s that really inspire imaginations and me personally I took it as an invitation not to copycat but as my Spartacus moment to be counted. Call it copycat if it pleases you but I want to stand at the frontlines with them.
But, what are you doing differently from their project?
Well as you know [Vulfpeck's] was a silent album, the most silent album ever made. My album is completely different, it’s ultrasonic .
So, they’re different levels of silence?
No, I don’t think a dog would argue that it’s silent. I don’t think a dog can argue.
Let’s be honest, this is a protest album and I trust we can get beyond what type of protest it is and get to the substance of why there is a protest. A protest of musicians in droves boycotting the musical ecosystem.
So, why are they boycotting the system?
It’s unethical, it’s unsustainable, it’s destroying creativity. I wish you could hear the album but ask a dog - they’ll be able to tell you that.
I really don’t think I’ll be able to talk to a dog.
Stranger things have happened.
So do you really think people will really buy a CD of silence?
Well, they’ve bought the streaming services model of destroying creativity. I don’t see why they wouldn’t buy a CD of silence. They have bought the gospel of free and the sharing economy, if they’re daft enough to buy that then they’re daft enough to buy a silent CD.
How much money are you hoping to make from it?
Well Vulfpeck made $20,000, it’s one thing to make the money and it’s another to get paid, right?
Look, I know we’re playing a game here. I’m nowhere near as clever as Vulfpeck but I’m compelling you to look at the digital streaming model that musicians are being given.
Is there an alternative to the streaming model though?
Do you really believe that or are you just being lazy? Yeah I believe that, apart from a dedicated following buying physical music, what else is there?
Let’s go back to fair trade, executives are raking in millions and musicians are content. It’s a little bit like there is no future for musicians. Well… Thanks Michelle!
Follow Dan on Twitter: @KeenDang