... with a little help from their friends

California Wives' "Purple" video used fan art to embellish the visuals.

California Wives just released a splashy video for their latest single, "Purple," and it's got fandom written all over it. Or drawn all over it - listeners could submit their artwork via a Sharpie promotion, and the Wives would feature the best in the background.

They're one of dozens of bands that are turning to the proletariat for contributions. (And we're not even talking direct financial contributions via Kickstarter, like Amanda Palmer's uber-successful fan-driven campaign.) Here are a few notable instances in which musicians looked toward their public for help in the creative process.


Weezer write a sawng with fans

In the past few years, the dudes in =W= have gone from kinda standoffish to fully embracing the fan culture, welcoming enthusiasts onstage to play instruments for a hootenanny to hosting a cruise. (Closed quarters with Brian Bell? Yes, please.) But the ultimate breaking of the fourth wall occurred in 2008 when front man Rivers Cuomo encouraged all to write a song over the 'net with him. The head-bobbing result, Turning Up the Radio, eventually appeared on Weezer's rarities record Death to False Metal (Geffen) in 2010.

30 Seconds to Mars - the Echelon

For an artist with an equally respected career in film (a realm in which the performers are kept multiple tiers away from the common people), Jared Leto defies all unspoken rules of celebrity. He and his band mates, brother Shannon on drums and virtuoso Tomo Milicevic on guitar, not only revere the fans but consider them a family. They compile yearbooks of concertgoers' best photos. They invite devotees to sing backup on their albums, creating an aural army for This Is War (Virgin). Together, the band and their legion slice through the red tape of the industry.

Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

Does music ever transport you to a different world? Nine Inch Nails in 2007 took this idea to epic proportions and created the Year Zero alternate reality game. Tied in with the cryptic album of the same name, Trent Reznor and 42 Entertainment created an elaborate online narrative like the great dystopian novels. Participants had to find Easter eggs on varying websites to progress to the next stage of the story, ultimately leading to free secret concerts put on by NIN that got raided by fictional SWAT teams. Reznor's been trying to develop a TV series based on the project for some time now. Hopefully it'll see the light of day before 2022 - the real Year Zero.

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