edited March 2009 in JoCo Fame
I'm surprised there's been no discussion of JoCo's blogpost from today. It's such an interesting post, in many ways. I think the most surprising thing to me were the relatively small numbers... The song has been out for a week, and only about 1500 downloads, and he's made less than $200. It makes all the more amazing/impressive that he manages to make a good living, keeping us entertained. Also it's kind of sobering... if Internet Superstar JoCo makes a couple hundred bucks posting a new song, that shows how tough and competitive the game is.

On the other hand, it shows how a little bit of savvy and a little bit of talent (or a lot of both, in Coulton's case) can make small numbers pay off big, in the brave new world of the internet.

In any event, it's all the more reason to go buy a monkey or banana, or something else from the store. After all, when he feeds us music, we need to reward him with lots of poop! Or something like that.....

ETA: Here's an interesting post about Jonathan's post....


  • edited March 2009
    I'd always assumed the numbers were bigger. Although, as Jonathan said, most of his income is not from song downloads. I suspect it is from concerts, as we know the mark up on merchandise is insignificant. <Insert link to one of my interview youtube videos here.....not having youtube at work makes things so much harder>

    I always feel guilty that I'm not paying him money more often. I was happier when I was paying a dollar a week and getting a song in I miss those days. Even if it wasn't one I liked (like a mashup....yeah just the mashups really), I didn't mind, as I knew he deserved more than a dollar for some of the other songs.

    I wish there were someway we could convince Jonathan to write a song a month.
  • I bought the "full" set of FLACs a while back: everything except The Aftermath (such as it was at the time) and the Ze Frank tracks. I'm waiting for The Aftermath to come out as a CD before I buy the FLACs. In the meantime, I've attended several shows and bought a huge pile of merch (lots of t-shirts, kid's clothing, coffee mug, the works), and I bought a monkey when his son was born, so I don't really feel bad about paying as I go.

    He still seems to be catching up with working his older material into live performances, which may be a factor in his reduced song-writing output. There's a world of difference between being able to put together a studio recording and being able to perform that same song fairly reliably live with minimal backing. Maybe the prospect of writing more songs is daunting because it just increases the number of songs he's expected to work into his live shows? Of course, "Blue Sunny Day" premiered live.
  • Of course, "Blue Sunny Day" premiered live.
    It does make you wonder, how long ago he finished it, since he was clearly well practiced at playing it the first time.
  • I don't know how significant this is to his overall cashflow, but it seems significant given the low numbers he put in his post -- revenue he gets from the ad views on my videos is a couple hundred bucks per month, which will only go up as I add more videos. That's the Internet's long tail right there -- he makes a song, someone (me) turns it into a video, and then the song continues to make revenue in some completely other stream with no more effort from him. Nice.
  • revenue he gets from the ad views on my videos is a couple hundred bucks per month
    Wow, your videos make a fair bit of money....I shouldn't be surprised really.
    You do take a share too I hope.
  • If only someone I knew would do that with MY songs...

    Like... say.. my LARP album which is tailor MADE for someone who could do ... say... WoW Machinima....

    If only....

    ;' ))))
  • I am really impressed and grateful that JoCo published those figures - I don't think I have yet seen anybody else who provided hard numbers like those. Yep, it's certainly food for thought, and like Jmonkee I was quite surprised how low the interest in Blue Sunny Day is. Perhaps it's just a symptom of the polarising nature of our hype-driven online world; nobody can keep the hype up for that long unless there are serious commercial interests behind them. JoCo seems to have managed to find a place of reasonable sanity where he can keep himself going by his own rules, and that counts for a lot. If we wait it out, I'm sure that some of the Aftermath songs will become standards like his other output.

    On a related note, my friend MoShang (he who ended up with "my Laura" in ninth grade) just got a song chosen for inclusion in the Examples/ folder in Ubuntu 9.04. I am looking forward to hearing what impact that has on him - if a tiny percentage of the people who install that version find and listen to his song, and of those a tiny percentage investigate his other music out of interest, that's a handful of people he wouldn't otherwise have reached. So far the measure of his financial success in music is that the generated income actually pays for his music habit, and that is a lot more than I can say. As a next step up, paying the rent would be a triumph!
  • edited March 2009
    Cov -- I'd be happy to make a video for one of your songs, if one clicks with me. Send me an email ([email protected]) with a link to your stuff, and I'll give it a listen to see if anything sparks my creative mojo. If you have any that you think are particularly good candidates, be sure to point those out. But if it turns out that I don't get any good ideas for any of your songs, don't be disappointed. There are still lots of JoCo songs which are great songs, but which I'll never make into a video for one reason or another.

    Kerrin, I do take a share of the proceeds. It's not a ton of money, but it's more than nothing, and it is fun and validating to actually be paid for something you created just for fun. :)
  • It does make you wonder, how long ago he finished it, since he was clearly well practiced at playing it the first time.
    It also makes me wonder to what degree that live performance was an experimental injection of a tracer token into his fanbase. Has he done that before with an original song? Perhaps the experiment was to see if the official song release generates more interest after the inevitable YouTube videos have already done the rounds a bit.
  • So I guess JoCo doesn't have golden submarines and manservant flossers yet.

    Anyway, the only thing I have bought JoCo related is Thing A Week. That was at a show, and that was cause I felt guilty for stealing his stuff.
  • That was at a show, and that was cause I felt guilty for stealing his stuff.
    Well people that enjoy his music, download it, and never give a penny should feel guilty. If you can afford an internet connection, you can afford to pay something.
  • I disagree. You should maybe feel obliged to repay his kindness, but not guilty. I don't feel guilty when somebody gives me a gift, because I didn't do anything wrong. But I do feel as though I should give something back.

    Even if he (I presume jokingly) writes 'already stole it?' on his donate button, you are not stealing his stuff. He gave it to you. Unless you actually did steal his guitar or something during the show. Then you were right to feel guilty.
  • edited March 2009
    I tend towards Kerrin's view here, but it depends on how you interpret the "gift" of the music. JoCo is pretty relaxed about it, but when other content creators explicitly state that they expect payment in return for their work, it is theft when you decide you have the right to reinterpret their wishes. Most of us are used to working for a fixed wage, and we'd certainly question and fight our employers if they unilaterally decide not to pay us - on an emotional level, any content creator has a similar right (within known risk boundaries) to expect remuneration, and to feel hurt when their content is just taken.
  • Does he explicitly state that he expects payment? Sure, for the non-smiley-face tracks which he doesn't explicitly link to in a blog post saying 'download it free, or buy it', if you go to the trouble of working out the URL and downloading it anyway, you should probably feel guilty (though not if a friend gave you the same track, because they have explicit permission to do so, and you didn't step past any signs saying 'this is one of the tracks that are slightly harder to get directly from JoCo's website without paying'.) JoCo has the right to expect remuneration, but he chooses not to expect or demand remuneration from everybody. This causes some people to accept the gift and give nothing in return, and other people to see how nice he is, give a whole lot in return, and share his work with others so that 13.4% of them will also give him money. I'm encouraged to give JoCo's music to friends so he gets more fans. But if they should then feel guilty for not paying for the music, then I should feel bad about deliberately making my friends feel guilty. And that kind of goes against the spirit of the thing.

    Sure, if you take content from some other content creator who otherwise only shares that content under traditional copyright and expects payment for it, you should feel guilty. But if you download a song by clicking a link right underneath a blog post where the artist himself explicitly says 'download it free' then you should not feel guilty. You should feel grateful. You may or may not feel grateful enough to give that artist some mon[k]ey.
  • I don't feel guilty when somebody gives me a gift, because I didn't do anything wrong. But I do feel as though I should give something back.
    Ah, but is that not guilt making you feel you should give something back?

    My point was more, if you become a fan of the music, and listen to it often, and still don't give he anything, or at least intend to at some point, they you should feel guilty. That is completely different from someone listening to the music to see if they like it, and deciding they either don't like it, or don't care enough about it to have paid for it under the old system, but still having it on their mp3 player, which is no different in some way to hearing it on the radio.
  • edited March 2009
    Ah, but is that not guilt making you feel you should give something back?
    Not necessarily. It could be motivated, for example, by love, altruism, or even duty. None of which entail the shame implicit with guilt.
  • Ah, but is that not guilt making you feel you should give something back?
    I don't think that's the same as guilt, that's just wanting to repay somebody's generosity. It's similar to guilt, I guess driven by the same feelings of social obligation, but it's not exactly the same thing... with guilt you're in the negatives (in terms of good-person-ness) and want to get back to zero, with this you're at zero and want to get to 10. :) It's similar to the difference between the Christmas truce and a miracle.
  • Songs he offers for free I freely take (and if they're like a Song Fu the same applies). Songs he wants payment for I pay for, whether it be via drect pruchases, Amazon, or my eMusic subscription (through which I am slowly cherry-picking what I like from TAW tracks). I went and saw a show and hope to see one again sometime. I'm not his BEST customer, but I've easily spent $75-100 on tickets and music thus far with more stuff in the future to come. If I paid not a dime for anything he's done I'd wonder how I really contribute towards his (deserved) success and would (and should) feel gulity, but grabbing BSD for free didn't make me feel too bad. I would have liked to pay for it, but I figure if I find myself in phenomenal financial status some time down the road I'd love to make a larger donation then.
  • Whether or not anyone on here has or has not *paid* for anything is irrelevant in this debate...
    Bottom line: How can it be *stealing*, if JoCo puts 'instructions' how to get everything off his site for free?
  • edited March 2009
    i think of it like the guy at a piano in a coffee shop with a tip jar. he's just giving the music away, but if you want him to keep doing it, you have to occasionally put a bill or two in the jar or else he'll get evicted and turn to the drugs. and since the internet is the largest (and also smuttiest, but that's neither here nor there) coffee shop in the world, and one needn't even get off one's fat, lazy ass to put money in his tip jar, he's getting by.
  • Good analogy three08
    ...I would have thought everyone has given SOMETHING, though ??
  • edited March 2009
    Well I've been to a show, going to a show tomorrow, and bought Thing A Week and pimped his music to many people who have never heard of him (30 blank faces in my English class today, by the way, at a mention of what I'd be doing tomorrow). But I also just ripped the mp3s from his store page. If I wanted to do the work, I could go to each blog post for thing a week and just direct download it from there, which is what he wanted back then. And since he hasn't gone back and destroyed all those posts, I assume the rule still applies.

    This is supposed to be about music and fun. We shouldn't feel like we owe each other anything. I shouldn't feel bad for using what he has offered. He makes music that I like and pirated and also bought because I respect what he is doing as an online entrepeneur.
  • I use JoCo's own words as my guidance here:

    "...Lots of (my music) is freely available depending on how technical you are - you can get all of it for free if you really try. But please remember I do make a living this way, so you like what you hear I’d certainly appreciate you throwing a little payment or donation my way. If you can’t afford it, for goodness sake please send copies of everything to all of your friends."

    His intentions seem pretty clear to me. He'd like you to pay for it, but he'd rather you take it for free than not take it at all. Just spread it around, and he knows eventually money (poop?) will come back to him. I've given him money for music & concert tickets, but I always sort of feel like I haven't given him nearly enough to cover all the entertainment he's provided me. I do "promote" him by giving people CD's, sending youtube links, talking about his music to anyone who'll listen, etc.....
  • edited March 2009
    Jmonkey, I totally agree, and the quote from Jonathan is what I was trying to say.

    People should donate/pay what they feel the music deserves, and if you can't afford to pay money, it is ok to pay in your time and effort in spreading the word of how awesome this music is.
    I don't think that's the same as guilt, that's just wanting to repay somebody's generosity
    I actually disagree, and probably technically I am wrong at that, but I still think of it as guilt, and guilt isn't always a negative feeling, but a feeling of imbalance in the world in your favour, that you can (and probably should) correct. It may not always be your fault.
  • What if Paul McCartney made his whole catalog available to download for free?
    Would still feel like you were stealing?
  • I would never feel like I was stealing if an artist made their music available for free download and I downloaded it for free. I don't see why it would make any difference whether it was Paul McCartney or Jonathan Coulton.
  • I think Paul McCartney is more well off than JoCo. We should feel even better about stealing his music. Not to mind the fact that I have all these Beatles albums that I bought.
  • Not that it really matters, but just wanted to point out that McCartney is (far) more well off *now*, but he was actually quite screwed over during his actual Beatles years. Brian Epstein negotiated one of the worst contracts in history for them, and it took years, millions and multiple lawyers to straighten out the mess. The irony of it all is that Paul gave Michael Jackson the speech about owning catalogs of music as a proper investment, telling him about the trouble he had ... and Jackson turned around and bought the Northern Songs catalog (Lennon-McCartney's stuff from '62 to '66) right out from under Paul's nose.
  • I heard the the story goes that Jackson *thought Paul would be pleased as it was he 'bought them to prove how much he loved their music'*
  • Yeah that's probably part of Jackson's justification for doing it ... but reportedly McCartney was EXTREMELY unhappy with him for it.
  • Well Micheal doesn't own it anymore.

    If Paul gave his music away, I would actually be more inclined to pay him money, I don't like his music enough to pay the full price, but I might pay something.
  • Michael doesn't own much of anything anymore. :p
  • Michael doesn't own much of anything anymore. :p
    Yeah, I heard he's lost his marbles....
  • @kerrin, you don't like Beatles? What?

    Or do you just mean Paul McCartney and Wings? Cause no one cares about that.
  • @kerrin, you don't like Beatles? What?
    I could take it or leave it mostly.
  • well it's official, guys. vampires can use the forums because you have no soul
  • We're talking about the Beatles, not James Brown.
  • No, not soul like "I'm a soul man"
  • edited April 2009
    That comment got me thinking of undead individuals eating, you know, instead of being a (chicken) breast or a leg man, this would be one who prefers eating souls to brains or blood.

    ETA: And then there would be a scat man, ew.
  • Mmm, soul food.
  • "...Ladyfingers... they taste just like Ladyfingers..."
  • JoCo said it just "works", and you know, it does. The post made me remember I wanted the SCM shirt, I added it to my Amazon Wishlist, and BAM, not a week later my mom bought it for me.
  • "Payday" finally provoked my flabby, lazy self into writing about jocular JoCo at Catching The Waves, the net's most amateurish and sporadically updated free music blog. End of plug.
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