Waking Ideas Publishing - Culture & Critics Corner
Written By Danny Nicolas
Last year, Jonathan Coulton wrote about how the new business model for musicians and anyone trying to break into the music industry is no different than what it used to be, but also about how the details have changed.
That said, leaving aside the pejorative nature of the comparison, I think it’s accurate in some respects, in that a Snuggie is a new thing that somebody invented and marketed and sold to enormous success. Do you know who else is a Snuggie? Nirvana, Ben Folds, Madonna, and the Grateful Dead. You have to do something new and unique and valuable in order to get anyone’s attention in this business, in fact that’s sort of the point. Just because I did it with “nerds on the Internet” instead of “teenagers in Seattle” or “hippies at ren faires” or “13-year-old girls on YouTube” is incidental, and beside the point. Similarly, Jacob Ganz says in the podcast that I “won the internet lottery,” which is like saying the Beatles won the British Invasion lottery. It’s accurate but unhelpful, because it fails to draw a meaningful distinction between me and anyone else who has had success in this business. It has always been about winning the lottery, and it has always been about being a Snuggie.
Here are some things I do differently from some other artists: I own all my music 100%, which means I have complete control over how I sell it (or not). I can give it away, I can bundle it on a USB key or in a zip file, I can allow people to make and post music videos, and I don’t have to deal with lawyers or labels to do any of that. I also get all the profits. During Thing a Week I released every single weekly song that I wrote for free, whether they were good or not, without worrying about whether people would buy them (though I hoped they would). I am extremely public about my creative process, hopes and fears, victories and failures. I communicate directly with fans as often as I can without letting it become my full-time job. I’ve never made a music video. I have extremely low overhead. Most of my sales are digital, which means there are almost no distribution costs. I have never spent any money on marketing and rely completely on blogs, podcasts and social networks to spread the word. I tour solo with an acoustic guitar (used to anyway), and I only play in cities where I have already ascertained there is going to be an audience. I record by myself at home (again, used to!) using equipment that is not very expensive, and that I don’t know how to use very well.
Published on Friday, June 29th, 2012 at 6:45 am | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.