Deadmau5 collaborating with a fan is exactly what the internet is for.
On March 18th, 2012, Deadmau5 had just finished a 22-hour live streaming session. He’d come up with an instrumental track he liked, and posted it on Soundcloud for his fans.
What happened next is a case study in how the internet is changing the creative process.
One particular fan, Chris James, quickly wrote and recorded a vocal part, based on the Ray Bradbury story the track was named after. He uploaded his version to Soundcloud and tweeted Deadmau5 to let him know:
Like any celebrity-aimed tweet, this could easily have sunk to the bottom of Deadmau5's notifications tab. But, as luck would have it, it didn’t. Deadmau5 saw the tweet — and was filming himself as he first listened to Chris’ vocal line.
He liked the line so much that he instantly decided he wanted it to become part of the official track. He got in touch with Chris and outlined his position:
A month later, the official version of the song was released — with Chris’ vocal line included.
This whole process is mind-blowing on two levels.
First, it shows the power of the internet to facilitate collaboration — and, in particular, collaboration between famous artists and hitherto-unknowns. Music, like anything, benefits hugely when people work together — other people bring new ideas the original artist would never have thought of. Now, for the first time in history, a fan can hear a song, imagine how it could be better, and have their vision heard by the song’s author — all in the space of 24 hours. What this means for the future of collaboration is massively exciting.
Second, we’re seeing the actual moment of inspiration behind a work of art. Thanks to Deadmau5 having the foresight to have his webcam on, we’re granted a window into the creative process — we can watch, again and again, the eureka moment that defined this song. And that’s an amazing thing to be party to. Imagine if we could see the look on Paul McCartney’s face the first time he played Yesterday — or see how Noel Gallagher reacted when he first stumbled on the opening chords of Wonderwall. We’re fascinated by that moment of inspiration, and here it is, stamped forever on YouTube’s servers.
It’s a great song on its own merits. But the way it was collaborated on, and the fact that the process is available on social media for all to see, makes it more than a great song — it makes it a template for the future of creativity.