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On Snuggies and Business Models
May 26, 2011 3:29 PM   Subscribe

"Now is a better time to be a musician, or a fan of music, than any other time in all of human history." Last Friday, the NPR Planet Money podcast featured musician Jonathan Coulton, whose online success prompted one host to compare the man (or his brand) to the blanket-with-arms Snuggie, i.e. "we didn't know we wanted it, and then all of a sudden we did." Coulton responds with his own thoughts on new business models for musicians in the Internet/file-sharing age.
posted by mrgrimm (48 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I listened to this on the way in this morning. The "horribly embarrassing revenue number that I can’t even comfortably mention here" is Coulton's 2010 revenue: $500K.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:36 PM on May 26, 2011


Coulton's 2010 revenue: $500K.

I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS

goddammit I couldn't resist
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:41 PM on May 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


A friend and fellow musician (and JoCo fan), Eric Oehler of indie electronic outfit Null Device, made a thoughtful response here (entitled "Code Monkey Make Blog Post"), also including another thoughtful response from another musician friend (whew!).

What the talent and hard work really get you more than anything is the ability to notice the opportunity when it arrives and take advantage of it at that moment. That’s all. Does that kind of suck? Well, sure. Then again if the only reason you’re putting your talents out there as an artist is to just achieve some ill-defined rock-star paragon of success, ur doin it rong.

posted by Madamina at 3:44 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought he seemed kind of defensive in that posting. I thought the Planet Money analogy was not exactly flattering but pretty accurate. As for him making $500K that's great, but unless that's pure net he probably has a lot of expenses like any business. For an indie musician he's probably in the top 1% of income earners, but as a business $500K annual revenue is merely decent.
posted by GuyZero at 3:51 PM on May 26, 2011


I like Planet Money and listen to it often, but the episode on Coulton (whose music I'm not an especially big fan of) was awful and disrespectful and generally missed the point. It makes me think less of the podcast.
posted by buriedpaul at 3:55 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


In 1980 it would have required thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of searching to assemble the collection of Led Zeppelin bootlegs that I accumulated over a few weeks and virtually for free.

This is in fact the greatest time to be a music fan in all of history.
posted by Trurl at 4:01 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought he seemed kind of defensive in that posting. I thought the Planet Money analogy was not exactly flattering but pretty accurate. As for him making $500K that's great, but unless that's pure net he probably has a lot of expenses like any business. For an indie musician he's probably in the top 1% of income earners, but as a business $500K annual revenue is merely decent.

He addresses that in his post - his outgoings are tiny, because he is a guy with a guitar, a Mac Mini and a cheap mic (though SM57's, like hobbits, bow to noone). That's all he needs.

And 'as a business $500k annual revenue is merely decent' is an impressively meaningless statement.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:12 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now's a fantastic time to be a consumer of musical recordings.

I'm not convinced that this is the best time for fans who wish to see their favorite artists (alive and) in concert.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:12 PM on May 26, 2011


as a business $500K annual revenue is merely decent.

Is that what you think? For one guy, doing what he absolutely loves doing, where he has extemely low overheads, almost no capital investment, and receives 100% of the profits? What metrics are you using?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:16 PM on May 26, 2011


Bandcamp is just about the only place I spend money on music, anymore.
posted by Drexen at 4:17 PM on May 26, 2011


The woman really missed the point spelled out by Steve Albini long ago: nobody makes money as a musician.
posted by whuppy at 4:19 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like Coulton is a minor victim of NPR's Planet Money looking for an example of internet-driven music success coming up against NPR Music's inability to unclench and admit that there are many possible models of artistic success. Is he Justin Bieber? No, but he doesn't need to be either. He does enough to have a comfortable life, and not be immediately beholden to the corporate music machine.

It reminds me of many other stories of artistic and business success where the conventional models have that individuals seeking success need to jump through hoops to reach conventional milestones, while others follow unconventional models to first reach self-defined levels of success, before crossing over to conventional models.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:21 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm oddly irked at how little JoCoCo makes, if his turnover is $500,000. Weirdly, I think it annoys me slightly on his behalf - in the sense that it feels like he's doing so much stuff right - patiently building a community over years, releasing music for free, touring, selling the T-shirts, getting the credible commissions (this was a triumph) - and is probably at the height of the earning curve for a musician who is doing it all right. Meanwhile, 50 Cent made $150 million in 2007 - although his earnings have gone down since then, and a lot of that was unrelated to music.

I realize that Fiddy's wealth does not make Jonathon Coulton any poorer, and that $500K is by no means chump change. It's just odd. Still, as his thoughts were red thoughts says, it's a pretty good stipend for a job you love.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:22 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point is that there's no reason to be embarrassed about running a $500K business because it's not that huge a deal.
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on May 26, 2011


I got to see Jonathan Coulton open for They Might Be Giants in Atlanta a year or so ago. It was awesome. That is all.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:23 PM on May 26, 2011


"we didn't know we wanted it, and then all of a sudden we did."

Uh... That's not some newfangled internet phenomenon, is it? Seems to me it's how things have always worked re: knowing things, wanting things.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:46 PM on May 26, 2011


My point is that there's no reason to be embarrassed about running a $500K business because it's not that huge a deal.

Yes and no. I imagine he was comparing himself to other working musicians, for whom it would be a pretty big deal.

And even as a small business, depending on his business costs, even after expenses he's doing better than most.

All the while having a good time.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:12 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point is that there's no reason to be embarrassed about running a $500K business because it's not that huge a deal.

I take your point. However, I think he's embarassed because *he* feels like he's making a massive amount of money. It's all about perspective. Some people just don't like talking about money.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:50 PM on May 26, 2011


Weirdly, I think it annoys me slightly on his behalf - in the sense that it feels like he's doing so much stuff right - patiently building a community over years, releasing music for free, touring, selling the T-shirts, getting the credible commissions (this was a triumph) - and is probably at the height of the earning curve for a musician who is doing it all right. Meanwhile, 50 Cent made $150 million in 2007 - although his earnings have gone down since then, and a lot of that was unrelated to music

(IMO) Coulton is a far better musician than 50 Cent, but his music has a much narrower appeal.

50 Cent reaches out to a larger audience. So then he becomes more valuable for advertising and marketing purposes, and makes more money off that. And he's with a label, that pushes his music and seeks out cross promotion. If there was no benefit for an artist to being with a label, no one would be with them.

What Coulton is demonstrating is that there are alternative methods of achieving exposure and success, as opposed to the traditional path of [get noticed by a label, get a contract]. Those paths may be better for niche markets than mass, mainstream appeal. The niche markets are much more unified and coherent, more community based, now that the internet is around. That make it easier to reach out to them. But that doesn't make them more profitable than mainsteam appeal.

But yeah, Coulton's model means that he's not likely to get massive windfalls for product place in songs, or large fees for the use of his music in advertising or film...etc. For example, I think that Outkast got about $300,000 for mentioning Polaroid in "Heya". But then again, he's not done yet. Who knows what he might achieve?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:01 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


For example, I think that Outkast got about $300,000 for mentioning Polaroid in "Heya".

Really? How does that work? Polaroid say to Outkast, "Hey, we'll pay you $300,000 to write a song including our brand name" and Outkast say "OK"? Or in reverse, Outkast pitch the idea to Polaroid? Or Outkast do it independently and later Polaroid just send the money as a gesture of thanks? I tried googling this but found no answers.
posted by No-sword at 6:09 PM on May 26, 2011


I thought polaroid was upset because your aren't suppose to shake polaroid pictures.
posted by TheJoven at 6:19 PM on May 26, 2011


I think there's a lot of focus on the "making money as a musician" side in his article, and not enough on the "better time to be a fan of music" which goes hand in hand with the former.

Maybe there's no Beethoven or Mozart alive today, but as far as I can tell we really do live in THE golden age of music: the prevalence of sites like pandora and bandcamp among so many others means that finding and listening to brand new music- peer/stranger recommended, or algorithmically determined- is easier than ever, and more music is being made than perhaps ever before in human history. We can and are be surrounded by music almost our entire waking lives, in our earbuds, our cars, our offices, our gyms. We can develop eclectic musical tastes that literally span the globe with a single click of the |>|> button, and share our music effortlessly with other people.

And the fun part, the magic part, is musicians can do all these things too! Everyone, and I mean everyone, has it in their means to make music if the talent is there. A few months at even a relatively low paying job and you could buy the commodity hardware and software to do multi-track home studio work that would make a sound engineer from 15 years ago green with envy. And since musicians derive inspiration from their influences, we live in a time when we are effectively brute-force distributed computing the "problem" of new musical fusions. With hundreds of thousands of people creating new music constantly, and that music all a mere click away, it's a given that someone, somewhere, has had that exposure to the diverse mix of Eastern European throat singing, South American rhythms, and vocal/trance/electronic synth with baroque influences (or whatever other quiltwork musical palette) to make something new, interesting, and fresh- something no one had thought to combine before. With music being so easy to find and make, we have an unimaginably vast array of choices and experiences that we can go from cradle to grave and never hear the same song twice- yet be constantly delighted, if we so choose.

And from an economic perspective, it looks like it took a 100 years but the music "industry" may successfully toss of the "industry" part, and return to a time when people can make a living making music and developing an intimate relation with their fans without the interference of "suits" and middle-men. Coulton is essentially just restating the "1,000 true fans" theory, and the internet makes that theory work- and it works by delivering types of music that are new and amazing, every single goddamn day. When I hear people deride modern music as "not being good" I can't help but think "You must stuff cotton in your ears- you are awash with virtually limitless choices!". Even if your music is niche, avant garde, or just plain unapproachable for most people, the fact that only 1 in a 1,000 people would consider your music to be worth hearing doesn't make you a commercial failure: it means you can be a self-made musician with a loyal audience of tens of thousands who'll see your shows when you travel, buy your records and merchandise, and support you in your artistic endeavours. It blows my mind that this is something completely new to the way artists have made money throughout human history, the "long tail" of reach and influence.

Hell, we live in a musical age so Golden, a sarcastic commenter living on the eastern coast of the US can make an idle joke in a Metafilter thread, followed by an impromptu lyricist from an entirely different continent whipping up some amusing lyrics not 30 minutes later, and capped off with a donut-gobbling savant churning out a catch multi-track demo of those lyrics set to music.

Holy hell, we live in amazing times!
posted by hincandenza at 6:31 PM on May 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


I thought polaroid was upset because your aren't suppose to shake polaroid pictures.

Yeah, their proposed fix was "lay it, lay it, lay it carefully on a table or other flat surface for five minutes like a Polaroid(-registered-trademark)-brand photographic image."
posted by No-sword at 6:33 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy hell, we live in amazing times!

Hincadenza, I just favourited you so hard i think i sprained my finger.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:34 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, this is the greatest time in history if you love listening to recorded music.

As a time for seeing live shows, there are good parts and bad parts. Technically you're getting the best sound ever and even low-budget places can afford a PA far better than the crappy ones we played on on the 80s (did I really play in bands in the 80s?! gah!).

And technically, you're seeing some amazing music. I am constantly seeing obscure bands in some basement in Brooklyn and thinking that if this band had appeared in 1980 they would have blown everyone away with their musical technique and complexity and maturity of material. Heck, I think that about my playing, there's no question if I showed up with my electronic wind instrument and live processing in 1980 I'd blow away the scene, but today... the technology has trickled down but also the musical techniques.

Those are the good parts. The bad parts are that the industry is completely corrupt, that the recording industry has been slowly collapsing for a decade and that's not going to change, that it's much more difficult for a musician to make a living than at any time in my knowledge of American musical history, that literally none of the top artists of the day is a brilliant singer or instrumentalist (Lady Gaga is a perfectly competent singer and musician, which puts her miles ahead of much of the competition, but not brilliant), that the top grossing performers are without exception artists who were also at the top of the industry decades before, that the large venues are complete sewed up by an evil monopoly named Ticketmaster and an evil syndicate named ClearChannel, that all those talented musicians I talked about are people I see once, twice and then never come back again because they simply cannot live that way.

So it's a great time for listening to recordings; it's a disappointing time for live music but there's still some good there; it's a fantastic time to be a music hobbyist because you have everything you ever wanted; it's an awful, terrible, no-good time for professional musicians except for a small number, mostly dinosaurs.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:35 PM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Really? How does that work? Polaroid say to Outkast, "Hey, we'll pay you $300,000 to write a song including our brand name" and Outkast say "OK"?

I remember hearing the figure at the time, when the song was a hit. The story was that the marketing mavens for Polaroid approached Outkast. Can't find a reference for it now though, so perhaps it was just a rumour.

The same marketing people now say that it was happenstance that Outkast used the lyric, but that they took advatage of the hit song to kickstart a massive promotional campaign worth $40 million (a lot of which would have gone to Outkast). See here.

It's irrelevant in any case. The point is, being with a big label gives you the opportunity to enter into the big money arena of advertising and endorsements.

Being a niche musical comedian is probably not going get you those fat endorsement deals. Coulton's written an awesome song about Ikea. But I doubt Ikea would use it - there would be no benefit unless there was widespead recogition of the song, and positive associations that they could trade off of.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:46 PM on May 26, 2011


Really? How does that work? Polaroid say to Outkast, "Hey, we'll pay you $300,000 to write a song including our brand name" and Outkast say "OK"?

Actually, it may be worth looking into the Kluger Agency, that apparently specialises in just that. Here's the wiki link.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:54 PM on May 26, 2011


hincandenza: there's certainly a lot of new music, yes! I'm seeing more very good music. What I'm seeing less of is amazing music. I'm reasonably sure that it's not that I'm a burn out, but simply the reasons I've described above that make it hard for people to become full-time musicians.

While I love and value music that people do as a hobby, I do so myself seriously enough that I quit my job to do more of it, the fact is that there is a level of achievement you can get to if you are working full time that you simply cannot attain in a few hours a week after your day job.

I had an interesting experience the other day - I saw the Led Zeppelin concert film "The Song Remains The Same" on Netflix with my wife. I'd seen this not long after it came out and thought it a little silly, though I'm a big Zeppelin fan... so I was surprised to see the strong effect it had on my wife, who's quite a bit younger than I am and seems to have decent and varied tastes in music. But I realized when talking to her, she literally hadn't been exposed to virtuoso musicians in full anger - all the Volcano Choir or Animal Collective albums in the world, while having virtue, don't really... well, :-( even though I like 'em, they get good play on the radio station (quick plug for my radio station if you like new music or strange music or etc.), they aren't really that exciting, much as it pains me to say.

I hasten to add that this isn't about any specific arts, not an absolute thing at all, there is tons of good stuff out there and I'm a very very happy musical man overall (right now I'm listening to Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin and oh it is so sweet...) because of the access to recorded music.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:57 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, it may be worth looking into the Kluger Agency, that apparently specialises in just that. Here's the wiki link.

So they're the ones who hook Kesha up with dating sites and cheap liquor! Ugh, I can't believe I sullied my MacBook with that information. Can anyone who definitely isn't a sock puppet of mine recommend a refreshing beverage and/or mint to take the horrible taste out of my mouth?

It's irrelevant in any case. The point is, being with a big label gives you the opportunity to enter into the big money arena of advertising and endorsements.

Right, I get your overarching point; I was just surprised to hear it about "Hey Ya" in particular as I (perhaps naiively) had always assumed that was Polaroid lucking out when a songwriter hit on their brand as a cultural phenomenon to reference, a la Kodak and Paul Simon's "Kodachrome," rather than a mercenary business collaboration.

posted by No-sword at 7:21 PM on May 26, 2011


It's weird how many of the artists I listen to are 'flukes.'
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:32 PM on May 26, 2011


And from an economic perspective, it looks like it took a 100 years but the music "industry" may successfully toss of the "industry" part, and return to a time when people can make a living making music and developing an intimate relation with their fans without the interference of "suits" and middle-men.

Or it may toss off the industry part and return to a time when next to no one made a living making music, and music is made, sporadically and occasionally, by people in their houses, after work.
posted by escabeche at 7:34 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or it may toss off the industry part and return to a time when next to no one made a living making music, and music is made, sporadically and occasionally, by people in their houses, after work.

At half a million bucks per year, I'd be OK with that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:50 PM on May 26, 2011


So they're the ones who hook Kesha up with dating sites and cheap liquor! Ugh, I can't believe I sullied my MacBook with that information.

Sullied? Apple is one of the biggest product placement culprits.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:51 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that joke might have flown over your head like a Frisbee®-brand recreational disc. (Too subtle?!)
posted by No-sword at 8:00 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe there's no Beethoven or Mozart alive today

Given how many more people are alive now than ever before, just statistically, you would expect there to be a dozen Beethovens and Mozarts alive today.
posted by straight at 8:09 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, as inspirations to me, I would add Billy Joel who I listened to almost exclusively when I was growing up

From this interview with Coulton (sorry, lost track of who linked it). Suck it, Billy Joel haters.
posted by straight at 8:12 PM on May 26, 2011


> Or it may toss off the industry part and return to a time when next to no one made a living making music,

When was that!? Back when the only way to get good music was to have a good musician play it for you, musician was a perfectly good trade to have. Vienna was just over 200,000 people in Mozart's day and supported multiple symphony orchestras and opera companies, not to mention countless music halls and individual musicians.

I tried but I couldn't name a single renowned musician or composer who didn't do it as their full-time job before Charles Ives (b. 1874).
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:33 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vienna was just over 200,000 people in Mozart's day and supported multiple symphony orchestras and opera companies, not to mention countless music halls and individual musicians.

Aside from the superstars like Mozart, how many of those symphony members earned something we'd recognize as a descent wage? Vienna supported a whole bunch of household servants in Mozart's day as well. That doesn't mean you can expect to earn a good living that way in 21st century America.

I tried but I couldn't name a single renowned musician or composer who didn't do it as their full-time job before Charles Ives (b. 1874).

Yeah, the handful of musicians whose names will be remembered 150 years from now can probably make a living from their music. The question is how many other musicians can do it.
posted by straight at 9:12 PM on May 26, 2011


Vienna and Mozart was just an example, but certainly from reading about that time it seems like musician was a pretty middle-class or better sort of occupation back there and then and many people appeared to make a good living.

The point is that there was no time in the past when "next to no one made a living making music" that we can go back to.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:20 PM on May 26, 2011


I think that joke might have flown over your head like a Frisbee®-brand recreational disc. (Too subtle?!)

Maybe. Can you work it into a chorus?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:44 PM on May 26, 2011


Given how many more people are alive now than ever before, just statistically, you would expect there to be a dozen Beethovens and Mozarts alive today.

There likely are. It does take a while to do the whole wheat/chaff thing, though.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:53 PM on May 26, 2011


The Snuggie metaphor that Planet Money used (I too have been a long-time fan of both Coulton's and Planet Money's) was really odd. At first glance, it sounds really insulting and it makes the mistake of assuming all JoCo is doing is making novelty music. But even at second glance, the "we didn't know we want it theory" really doesn't hold up well. Male acoustic guitar singer-songwriters have been around and in demand for a long time. Plenty of bands have written on geeky subjects, or written mostly story songs, or written funny / sad songs like Coulton does.

If Coulton can be distinguished in any broad strokes, it's that the characters in his songs tend to be a little more pensive than most characters in pop music. They're not always confident. They don't always win. If that's the element Planet Money thinks people didn't know they wanted, I'd posit they talked to the wrong people.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:43 AM on May 27, 2011


I would imagine that there are more than a few Mozarts and Beethovens around today, but without the benefit of wealthy arts patrons, they're working at Starbucks to pay the bills and thus will never have a chance to sit down long enough to pen their magnum opus.
posted by sonascope at 6:36 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was annoyed by the two music industry defenders, who seemed willfully to reject the idea that "find a niche and cater to it" is a model that other people could emulate.

They kept repeating that not everyone could just, you know, go online and find a community and make music for that audience. But isn't the whole thing about the Internet (which Coulton pointed out) that, for the first time in history, every person can find a community for their special interest? and doesn't that suggest a huge number of very narrow, very deep audiences to play to?

In the 1960s, in Cambridge, Mass., the coffeehouse Passim found a high enough density of people who had the money to support a place for folkies, poets, and jazz artists to play their music. This music, BTW, wasn't capable of filling stadiums across the country, but it worked there. (And it still does: my friend's uncle played there some years ago.) The success of Passim conceivably be repeated in other cities, but not on a scale that would appeal to the two shills on the podcast. And now, of course, the folkies, jazz cats, and poets can all have their own, separate places when they meet online -- and so can every other type of enthusaists.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:11 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the fun part, the magic part, is musicians can do all these things too!

That's really the thing for me, and why I support an "information is free" philosophy. It's first and foremost a class issue for me. Everyone deserves knowledge. (Even though that wasn't really your argument ...)

without the benefit of wealthy arts patrons, they're working at Starbucks to pay the bills

... on the flip side, they have access to 1,000,000x more source material than Mozart or Beethoven ever got.

that literally none of the top artists of the day is a brilliant singer or instrumentalist

Jonny Greenwood springs to mind. Radiohead is the No. 1 band in the world by some measures. (perhaps temporarily No. 2 this week). I suppose it depends how you define "brilliant" ...

it's a disappointing time for live music but there's still some good there

I'd say it's worse perhaps for arena-size or large (3,000+) venues, but for smaller venues it's a fucking AMAZING time to see live music ... depending on where you live, I suppose.

Here's the weekend in San Francisco, per SF Station:

Tonight - The Undertones, Allo Darlin', The Mantles, & The Smittens @ Rickshaw Stop - $15; BetatraXx and Lucky Date @ 330 Ritch ($15); The Dwarves, The Radishes, The Pleasure Kills @ Bottom of the Hill - $15; Noah And The Whale w/ Bahamas @ The Independent - $18; Sex With No Hands, Super Adventure Club @ Cafe du Nord - $10; Killing Joke, The Crying Spell, The Indicator Dogs @ Great American - $25

Tomorrow - Lydia Pense & Coldblood, The Bingtones, Tribal Blues Band @ Great American - $20; 14 Iced Bears, Phil Wilson (of The June Brides), The Art Museums, et al (Slumberland Records showcase) @ Rickshaw Stop - $15; Assembly of Dust @ The Independent - $15; Jessica Johnson @ Biscuits & Blues - $10; The Nicholas Payton XXX @ Yoshi's - $22; Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Jug Band - 50 Mason Social House; Guitar Wolf, Cheap Time, The RockTigers @ BOTH - $15.

I cannot complain. And those are the artists from the genres of music that I generally listen to. There's a whole world of other music out there. If I had the time and money ($100 per week), I could literally see a great musical performance every single night.

The only problem is the same problem that sports have - overcommitted and wealthy fans are willing to spend too much money for access, so you get shit like $10,000 tickets for Elton John and shit. It seems like the "brilliance" is spread fairly equally from the top stars down to the $2 Tuesday performers (I saw Built to Spill at a $2 Tuesday (with $1 Miller Lites!)). Likewise, minor-league baseball games are just as fun as MLB games (though sports are much more meritocratic than the music business.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:57 AM on May 27, 2011


I was annoyed by the two music industry defenders, who seemed willfully to reject the idea that "find a niche and cater to it" is a model that other people could emulate.

There are lots and lots of people trying to do that right now. I don't think it's unreasonable for them to ask why Coulton has been so much more successful than so many other artists on the internet trying to do the same thing.

Is he just that much more talented? Is his niche more lucrative than other niches? Did he just win the lottery with "Code Monkey" getting noted on Slashdot and "Still Alive" being used in Portal?

I'm inclined to say it's at least partly stellar talent. Anyone might have won the "Write a song for Portal" lottery, but it's hard to imagine anyone hitting that pitch out of the park as hard as he did.
posted by straight at 10:58 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that there are more than a few Mozarts and Beethovens around today, but without the benefit of wealthy arts patrons, they're working at Starbucks to pay the bills and thus will never have a chance to sit down long enough to pen their magnum opus.

What? One of my favorite artists was working at a pizza joint when I first came across him.

This is the first time that you can turn your off hours into a world wide fan base. Of course, you still need to be some kind of good.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:25 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm…Guy who is having success thinks the system is working great. Isn’t that the Republican Party?
posted by bongo_x at 2:54 PM on May 27, 2011


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