This summer Tara Hunt of HorsePigCow interviewed Jonathan Coulton. As a fan of both, I downloaded the podcast for later listening and then forgot all about. Finally got around to that “to listen to later” folder this morning, and would encourage you to check it out.
If you’re not familiar with Coulton, two quick gems. First, Code Monkey:
Second, his great cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back:
In the interview (transcript here if you prefer reading to listening – I’m quoting from the transcript), Coulton talks about his use of social media to create direct relationships with his audience, and why some approaches have been more effective than others:
Facebook and Myspace are essentially duplications of my blog and my email which I already have a blog and email so you know, I donâ€™t, I sort of donâ€™t understand why bands use something like Myspace unless the answer is they canâ€™t, they donâ€™t know how to make their own website
Guess it helped that Coulton was originally a software developer. More to the point, Coulton identifies the risk of closed social networks and cloud platforms:
I was always suspicious of Myspace because for the very simple reason that you donâ€™t have direct access to your network, you only have it through Myspace. If Myspace ever goes away your network winks out of existence, you donâ€™t have your emails you donâ€™t have any way of getting in touch with them. You are completely dependent on Myspace.
And you know you look at what happened with Friendster you know, guess what social networks rise and fall pretty quickly. That what happened with Friendster and itâ€™s sort of whatâ€™s happening with Myspace I guess and no matter how great and eternal you think a social network platform is itâ€™s an illusion itâ€™s going to go away. And so to spend all your time building up this Myspace network is I think has the potential to turn out not so well.
Well put. I also really liked his point about creative commons licensing, which he leveraged very effectively early in his (recent) career and continues to use:
. . . you know it was kind of a scary thing but I really just rationalised the thing, well letâ€™s just get the attention now and worry about making the money later, and you know, if the worst thing that happens is a million people get one of my songs for free, like you know, thatâ€™s okay, that something I can build on. And I would rather have that happen than make $15 from my friends who buy it and nobody else can hear it, you know.
The interview also touches on Eventful, rickrolling, Wil Wheaton, Ze Frank, podcasting in general, YouTube, and (of course) Twitter.
Well worth a listen, especially but not exclusively if you’re and independent musician or wanna-be independent musician.