Wired: When you finally got your hands on a computer in the 1950s, what did you do with it?
Brooks: In our first year of graduate school, a friend and I wrote a program to compose tunes. The only large sample of tunes we had access to was hymns, so we started generating common-meter hymns. They were good enough that we could have palmed them off to any choir.” —Fred Brooks, of The Mythical Man-Month fame, on what must be some of the earliest computer-generated music.
The second band I started managing, called “Zero,” recorded some stuff, and we didn’t really know what to do. We weren’t going to go to a label, because it didn’t make sense. So we sat and burned about two hundred CDs. And I think at some point we realized that it would be much easier if people just burned it themselves and gave it to other people, rather than us sitting and doing this. It was really boring.
So on the other side of the CD we had instructions about how to burn it. All of that was pretty new here back then [India, c. 2000]. So we explained this is what you do: get a CD writer, find a friend, buy a blank CD for just 20 rupees, and give it away. Just make sure that they burn another copy and give it to someone else.
We took a lot of pride in that. And the more we asked people to do that, the more people ended up buying the album, which was really strange. We did the first two hundred albums like that, but we were actually mass-printing albums after that. We did about eight to ten thousand copies by the end of the year.” —Fantastic interview with TED Fellow Vijay Nair on the emergent independent (and non-Bollywood) music industry in India. Don’t miss the killer final paragraph.