Mike Doughty on the Logic Behind a $543.09 Song

Photo courtesy of Mike Doughty/Facebook

Mike Doughty might be irreverent, but as we learned earlier this year when we spoke to him about his memoir The Book of Drugs, he’s hardly ever joking. The former Soul Coughing frontman’s new project — recording personalized versions of his new song “Dogs/Demons” onto a tape recorder — is totally serious, if not ingenious. To get their hands on the piece of art, fans will need to cough up a cool $543.09 to order it on his website. They’ll then need to choose which chord they want the song recorded in — C, D or D-sharp — and pay an additional $267.18 if they’d like it to have a bridge. Mike will say the “date, time, location, the series number (e.g. “this is recording number 444″), and the full first, middle, and last name of the person who orders it,” he wrote. “The recorder will be signed, and numbered” by him. Is this the future of musicians making a living? Hardly. Still, we got in touch with Doughty to get the backstory about the $543.09 song.

First things first, is this a joke? It’s hard to imagine that someone would plop down nearly $500 for one song … or is it?

It’s an art prank, for sure, but it’s real. The song is never going to be on an album, never going to be played live. The only way to get it is to buy a voice-memo recorder onto which I’ve played the tune. It’ll be an absolutely unique performance.

So have you had any takers since launching the project?

Yes, I’m happy to say. I have a fantastic audience, who enjoy this kind of oddball stuff.

How did you come up with the price point? Was any research involved?

I asked some painters how much they’d charge for a very small painting. They said $1,500, which I thought was too much. I would’ve just charged $500, which I think is a fair price for something that will only happen once on the planet — but I wanted it to be a ridiculously specific number.

Listen to a sample of “Dogs/Demons” below:

Embedded from w.soundcloud.com.