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      CommentAuthorroque
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2009
     (6348.21)
    um, I'll try, although it's more of a summation than a point: I'd prefer to publish in a more traditional style rather than focus on free distribution.
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      CommentAuthorrazrangel
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2009
     (6348.22)
    I've been considering an enterprise where I self publish and find a way to maintain a series of Web sites that tie in to the content of the book. Only, only an idea now, and a few handwritten notes but I intend to sit down with some Web-creative-smartypants who might be able to help the idea germinate (and perhaps help me with the small matter of monetizing everything).

    The funny thing about the idea that Trent Reznor and Amanda Palmer and Josh Freese are pursuing - get income from one-off items, t-shirts, personal items, signed stuff, etc is that I personally have a knee jerk reaction to empowering people's acquisitiveness. I have too damn many t-shirts, I don't need more tchotchkes and paying for the personal thing an artist might give me because we have that cool bond of entertainer & fan? *twitch* I want to pay for the thing itself. I don't want it to get mixed up that that's what I'm handing over my $$ for.

    I fully understand that's my own personal hangup. I don't see Trent Reznor putting out a tip jar at NIN shows the way Amanda Palmer does at her shows, but I'd happily tip him whenever I could in lieu of saying "thanks for rocking my soul for all these years!" But I don't need another t-shirt, without a turntable vinyl copies of an album are just more items that don't fit on my shelves and will collect dust somewhere.... It's not the money for goods and services that I'm against, it's all the merchandising...and feeling like a mooch if I don't buy any.

    As an artist...good God, I don't know. I'll blow up that bridge when I get there.
    • CommentAuthorjeff
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.23)
    I have too damn many t-shirts

    I want to pay for the thing itself.

    I completely agree with you here. I want to buy a great record, not a decent record and a warehouse full of shitty promotional items.

    I hope that the music business eventually grows away from selling t-shirts and merch. It cheaps the craft of being a musician and diverts your focus. How many people join a band intending to make most of their money by selling a line of guitar straps at Hot Topic? Then again, I actually remember when it was frowned on to sell your music for someone to use in a commercial. I'll try to restrain myself from making a snide comment about corporate "indie" bands.

    Better quality players don't have to hawk cheap shit. You'll never see Oz Noy or Steve Smith selling pins or t-shirts because they're such great musicians that they don't need to bother with that bullshit. Musicians with their level of talent exist just fine without all that, and they have seen the least changes in their business practices in the last decade or so since the internet changed the music industry. Only pop artists need to market themselves as some sort of walking brand.

    I see it all as an issue of supply and demand. The supply of bands has gone up quite a bit since the advent of high quality in-home digitial recording. The ever-growing number of 16 year olds churning out some permutation of a Led Zepplin riff and calling it their new single (*cough* Wolfmother *cough*) means that the demand for real musicianship has gone up. Basically, you'd better have a good plan and actual musical talent before you even consider a career in music right now. Or you need to be the next Justin Timberlake/Lady Gaga/whatever other piece of genetic dirt I can't think of right now and get hooked into a major label marketing machine as Trent Reznor suggests.
    • CommentAuthorWinther
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.24)
    @roque

    Oh, I'm certainly not arguing that online free-ness is the route everyone needs to, or should, take now. I was really just responding to the assumption that such an approach was necessarily detrimental to later success and publishing prospects.
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      CommentAuthorVaehling
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009 edited
     (6348.25)
    Some publishers will frown at the idea, some will encourage it.

    I like what J.C. Hutchins did with his new book. It comes with a lot of extras (admission papers of the psych ward patient the book is about, photographs, cards, all kinds of stuff), and there are hints in the book for websites you can check that contribute to the experience. Oh, and a podcast prequel. If his publisher had been okay with it, he'd have podcast the whole book for free as well, but they weren't. Anyway, the book itself is just part of a bigger media package, but an essential one, tieing it all together. Plus, a gorgeous physical object.

    I don't think this is the way to go for everybody, but it's one way of adapting what already happens in music (extras, bonus tracks, special web offers) to literature.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009 edited
     (6348.26)
    How many people join a band intending to make most of their money by selling a line of guitar straps at Hot Topic?
    I think this is the primary problem: people join bands and just assume money will come falling from the sky. There's still this idea of being a musician is not work, and so long as you're good at playing/writing/singing, you're going to be shitting out hundred-dollar bills. Promotion, marketing, god forbid an actual business plan, they're all required to succeed. If you don't have the tenacity and the flexibility to figure out a way to make money in an environment where it's hard to do so, you're going to get some hard reality at some point.

    The interesting thing is that this is essentially the model most monetarily successful webcomics have used for years. Brian Clevinger (writer for 8-Bit Theater and Atomic Robo) said pretty much that exact same thing to me in an interview, and echoed it again on Twitter the day Trent's post went live. Figure out something that people want that is an ancillary artifact to your actual creative product. T-shirts are cheap and popular. Posters, stickers, whatever. Some people actually prefer CDs or vinyl (such as myself) or, in the case of webcomics, a printed book.

    Is Freakangels cheapened by having messenger bags? Is NIN's Ghosts cheapened by having a bunch of extra stuff at a severely inflated markup? For all the people that say yes, there are enough people that disagree that making such products is (generally) feasible and (generally) profitable.

    As a final point, musicians existed long before the music industry. The industry as it is/has been is only about 70 years old, and it didn't turn into the multi-billion-dollar industry it is now until about the 60s. The industry as it is has long been tied to the technology available at the time for marketing, sales, and actual creation (electric guitars, synths, computers, etc), and those that haven't embraced at least some of the new principles when said principles were new eventually fell by the wayside. The old way of getting a record deal, getting nurtured and supported by the label, and eventually becoming a huge sensation are long over. Hell, they were over 15 years ago.

    Making a record and selling that record simply doesn't make money. And I think that's the point Trent was trying to (and did) make. If a band goes into the industry without respecting the difficulty in making an actual living wage, they're going to fall apart. And if they think they're going to make money by just playing guitar for two hours a day, they're probably wrong. And really, even if you do everything right, following either path (or some new one), there's still a good possibility of failure. And people don't prepare for that.

    As a corollary to Trent's idea, I present Zoe Keating talking about being a touring musician: link.
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      CommentAuthorSpider
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.27)
    • CommentAuthorjeff
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.28)
    @rickiep00h - my point is that it is all about money for bands these days, which makes it easy for them to justify selling their music for commercials, etc. My point is, it's profitable but is it right? Is it right to do anything that's profitable these days just because money is so hard to come by? Obviously not, but more and more people these days would say that it is.

    Is Freakangels cheapened by having messenger bags? Is NIN's Ghosts cheapened by having a bunch of extra stuff at a severely inflated markup?

    Freakangels is not music related, so it's not relevant to the discussion. NIN's ghosts packages give you more of the actual product and its accompanying artwork in different formats, which is exactly what I think bands should do. Now if Trent Reznor packaged a personally signed photo of himself with it, I would question whether or not he's lost his grip on reality.

    My point is simple: you don't need to merchandise yourself to be successful if you can come up with original ideas executed with flawless musicianship. Both Primus and Nine Inch Nails are good examples. If you fall short of that, and most do, work on improving the quality of your product not your marketing strategy.
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.29)
    @jeff - I don't think you read my post.

    That's about the most succinct answer I have.
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      CommentAuthorKernowdrunk
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009 edited
     (6348.30)
    If you're a new musician who is desperate to make some money , you'd better have some kind of workable business plan and work out where you stand on issues such as merchandising , relationship with record labels , production costs and distribution. If you aren't bothered about the money ,or can function relatively independently without spending lots of money , you have a little more room for ignorance can merely concentrate on making stuff.

    However , there have been Kemper Norton dolls produced and may be again.
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      CommentAuthorjoe.distort
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009 edited
     (6348.31)
    so, was trents advice along the lines of "get really huge just as modern alternative radio was breaking, complain that you cant get out of contracts, stay under contract, benefit from all of the major label things you "hate", then finally, you will have a large enough established fanbase to do whatever you want and still make money whilst giving away downloads for free" ?

    because thats what i assumed, so i didnt read it.
    (for the record, i think he is a great artist who i respect and clearly knows what he is doing, but being involved on the diy side of things its kinda hard to see the point of getting advice from trent reznor. get advice from the band that lives off their music and tours 10 months out of the year and stops in your town. it will be a lot more applicable to your life in specifics ((even though it will most likely be very similar in tone))) [unless you got into music to get rich. in which case, i dont even know if i have any ideas for you except WAY TO GO!]
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      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009 edited
     (6348.32)
    @joe.distort - Not really, no.

    If you have the patience to sit through 31 minutes of explanation, I suggest watching this.
    The exact argument you have is brought up.

    edited for link
  1.  (6348.33)
    word, ill check it out when im not at work.
    • CommentAuthordot_xom
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.34)
    A little off-topic: anyone else see the latest entry of NIN's photoblog? It's Trent with none other than Grant Morrison.

    Right, end tangent. Back to the original discussion now.
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      CommentAuthorkrista
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.35)
    I think this is the primary problem: people join bands and just assume money will come falling from the sky.


    A very good point, and I agree with the rest of what you've said about the misconception of how skill and ability translates into a career. For whatever reason, this misconception hasn't translated as broadly to writing or visual art, but both have their own success myths. If anything, the most prevalent success myth for writing and visual arts is that you have to pick one style or field and become incredibly famous from that alone. In my experience the truth is the reverse: by keeping your eyes open to as many diverse opportunities as you can, you will have a greater chance of getting regular work.

    Trent has given several good examples of ways in which musicians can market themselves in today's world, where we have so much access to such a diverse range of creative product that the old mass-marketing models aren't working as well anymore. And the essence of what he is saying does apply to writing and visual art.

    Any creative person interested in quitting their day job, who isn't going to pin their hopes on the one-in-a-million, right-place-right-time chance of getting discovered and whisked into the mainstream spotlight, needs to be aware that they will have to market themselves and their product in order to make enough money to live.

    Yes, he is talking about making money off your art. If that doesn't appeal to you, or you're quite happy to work your regular day job/live in a cardboard box as you continue to create for no money, then kudos to you. No, it isn't romantic and yes, it involves dealing with people you may or may not like personally. But this delusion that you can create freely and live off the funds of your creation without ever marketing your art or dealing with people who will do so for you is simply insane.

    Should you choose to let others do it for you, you may have to relinquish a lot of control over your art. Should you do it yourself, you will have to be creative, tough, resilient, clever and innovative. You will have to get exposure to your potential audience, and you will need to maintain that exposure. Trent's suggestion of capturing an audience with free product in exchange for direct contact with them in the form of a mailing list is a smart marketing option, not throwing away your art.
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      CommentAuthorroque
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.36)
    @Winther-- good thing I didn't make that assumption, then! :) (more like an opinion/hypothesis, open to new information, which I thank you for offering.)
    • CommentAuthorjeff
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2009
     (6348.37)
    @rickiep00h - I did read your post, but I was responding to the only parts of it I didn't agree with (and I agreed with most of it except for a few small points).
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      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2009
     (6348.38)
    It's Trent with none other than Grant Morrison.


    WOAH. Awesome. End tangent again.