Music Business

New Idea: Give Fans Your Phone Number

Every so often, a ballplayer or musician will accidentally post their private phone number on Twitter, or perhaps a social-media-savvy celeb like Charlie Sheen will tweet out a buddy's digits as a prank. Hilarity ensues, usually in the form of thousands of text messages, and that person is usually soon the proud owner of a new number.

Aaron Freeman, better known as Gene Ween, did something a little different. When his solo album under his non-Ween name, Marvelous Clouds, came out last week, he posted a phone number on the Internet and invited fans to text him their feedback. More than 2,000 people did.

This seems like a good idea for someone like Gene Ween, who has a relatively small but passionate fan base. Here is a small sampling of the outpouring of love Freeman received:

  • "I think my brain just had an orgasm! <3 marvelous clouds!"
  • "The new album is amazing. This is truly on par with Nilsson Sings Newman. Beautiful interpretations. Thank you."
  • "Great album! Reminds me of a clockwork orange for some reason. Completely enthralling and captivating. Puts me in a better place. Thank you!"
  • "I believe this to be one of the greatest things to happen to music in a very long time."

We're just going to assume the number Freeman posted -- 609-542-0751; text him yourself -- is not the same number he uses when he calls his wife to bring home a gallon of milk. (Or some chocolate and cheese, perhaps.)

But what if a more controversial pop star's number ended up on the Internet? Could you imagine the kind of mayhem that would happen if Kanye West did that? Or maybe Scott Stapp of Creed? We'd like to read some of those comments.

Even someone whose thumbs already seem glued to their Twitter accounts, like Nicki Minaj, would probably have all they can handle.

The branch of the media that loves eccentric pop singer-songwriters (Spin, Paste, Stereogum) is already tripping itself to lavish praise on Marvelous Clouds. Except now they have to get in line.

The album, meanwhile, is a tribute to one of Freeman's heroes, Rod McKuen, the poet, songwriter and composer whose songs were recorded by Perry Como and Frank Sinatra (and a lot more), and whose score for the 1969 Maggie Smith film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was nominated for an Oscar.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray