They Might Be Giants are returning to their roots and are re-activating their "Dial-A-Song" service, albeit in a slightly revised form, from January 2015. They intend to deliver one new song every week for 52 weeks.
For those unaware of the "Dial A Song" concept, in 1984, after a theft of musical equipment from their Brooklyn apartment, the two Johns in TMBG decided to buy an answering machine and record their music onto the device. There was usually only one line in, so only one person could listen at a time, and it was NOT a free call. It was a charged at standard rates (a local call for Brooklyn residents, long distance elsewhere, international rates for overseas callers). I'm not sure how much money they made from it, if any, but it had a massive effect on their lifestyle and their songwriting technique.
It had an effect on their lives because the phone would ring at all hours of the day or night relentlessly.
It affected their songwriting because the habits of the callers would tell an interesting tale. The music had to be short and to the point, or people would hang up. It had to be extremely catchy. The intros had to be short, otherwise callers would hang up before hearing the end of the song. Instrumental solos had to be kept to a minimum, because callers would hang up. Certain keyboard notes had to be avoided otherwise the machine would think it is the "end of message" tone and stop the recording before the band had finished performing!
All of these factors went into shaping the sound of They Might Be Giants as we know and love them today. The slogan "Always Busy, Often Broken" was apt, as the service was highly unreliable. But the project gave the band ample songs for the track-heavy albums, which frequently had 20 or more short songs on them. Some estimates claim that the phone service delivered more than 500 unique recordings to callers before being officially retired in 2008.
This is also not the first time TMBG has tried the online, web-based Dial-A-Song either, but this one will be different as it will offer a premium, subscription based model where you can download all the songs to keep as well as a free version where you can just stream them all. The band will also be issuing the saongs via YouTube as well
Either way, it is still a fascinating initiative that would be great to be part of. Find out more here at theymightbegiants.Com