Bob Lefsetz wrote a very interesting post about Jonathan Coulton today. I am not a big fan of Coulton, but I was very intrigued by his ability to build a career completely online and that his fans have followed, grown and participated in specific promotions & events through online clues.
He is a good example of the interactive life and reliance of one creator.
You can see Bob Lefsetz’s post at www.lefsetz.com once he puts it up there (probably tomorrow) as well as reprinted below from his email delivery. Enjoy.
From: Bob Lefsetz [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 3:54 PM
Subject: Jonathan Coulton At Largo
Somewhere in the last decade, “geek” went from
pejorative to badge of honor. Those not
good-looking enough, not hip enough, not cool enough, took “geek”
back, the same way African-Americans reclaimed “nigger”.
The mainstream music industry has been focused on hip and
cool forever. The key is to build an act
that sits above the audience, that listeners (or watchers!) can aspire to. If only I had plastic surgery and looked
like… Oops, they did a show on that on
MTV…or was it VH1? I don’t need any
talent, I just need to show my tits and get some hotshot producer to auto-tune
me to success! I’m gonna be number one
and go to all those clubs on Hollywood Boulevard. Perez will know my name, I’ll be featured on
“Entertainment Tonight”, I’ll be FAMOUS!
Then there are those who will NEVER be famous. They were never Prom King. They didn’t get hooked on heroin. They were not the high school slut. They came home from school and studied, to
get good grades, to get into a good college to…
Where is the music for all these people? Laughed at and ignored by those driving
Bentleys and eating at Spago?
Jonathan Coulton was on my radar. You see geeks support each other. And geeks are kings of media, so the word has
been spread. Coulton famously gave up
his job coding to go on the road. His
office was Starbucks, that’s where he interacted with fans on his Mac. At least that’s what I remember from the tons
of stories NPR and other highbrow outlets wrote about him, that were forwarded
to me. Furthermore, Coulton didn’t
separate himself from his fans, he was a man of the people! On his blog he gave the details of free
downloading. In an era where the majors
won’t even tell their charges how many copies they sell, Coulton was revealing
an exhaustive version of his inside statistics (http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2009/03/24/payday/)
But I was not prepared for the live experience.
LARGO WAS SOLD OUT!
They said they’d hold seats. Yeah, like that would be necessary. Every time I’ve gone there there’s been a sea
of empty seats.
But not last night.
Not only was every seat filled, there were girls in
wheelchairs… One of whom rolled to the
front of the stage to throw her panties!
Okay, now you’re having trouble understanding.
I’ll explain it.
Or, better yet, I’ll let the opening act, Paul &
Storm, explain it.
Listen to their song: “Opening Band”, here:
You know how to find terms on a Web page, don’t you?
Since you’re on a Mac, and every geek is, I’ll hip you,
if you’re not in the know.
You load Safari.
And then you hit Command F (sure, you can use the menu,
but who’s got time for that?)
Then a window pops up, that you type your words into
(it’s in the upper right-hand corner…yes, there it is!)
And then you keep hitting Command G to get to the
iteration you want, which in this case is the sixth one.
You’re not Web-savvy?
Then you weren’t at Largo last night.
Introduction was done by Wil Wheaton, the Twitter
king. He presented Jonathan Coulton with
a multi-sided die…from Dungeons & Dragons, RIGHT?
Let me be clear, at my age I MISSED some of these pop
culture references. And with no social
life, these kids all had time at home to explore their inner minds…
So, Paul & Storm come out and sing “Opening
Band” (click the triangle, to hear it for FREE!)
And girls rush the stage with their panties, and the
aforementioned handicapped female rolls up too, and wins a prize, a DVD from
the cheapie bin at Blockbuster.
Paul & Storm were SO good, they could be on late
night TV IMMEDIATELY! It was very east
coast college, but that’s what rules on Conan O’Brien.
But Paul & Storm also explained what was going
on. They spoke of being in an online
songwriting competition with Coulton, imitating his style, including aliens
I thought this was a joke, but it wasn’t. That’s what Coulton sings about. Every other song involves zombies or outer
Meanwhile, Paul & Storm are circulating clipboards
for e-mail list signups. Telling the
audience not to use that Hotmail address they never check and that they’re
going to give a random prize to two of the listees.
Which they do.
After referencing iPhone apps and Wikis and getting the audience to hold
up their virtual lighters.
Do you spend all day online? Then this was the show FOR YOU!
As for Coulton…
He’s a superstar to these people.
They knew every lyric. He didn’t
speak down to them, it was like a talent show in a garage, we were all in it
Is Coulton gonna break big?
No. BUT HE DOESN’T
This is completely indie music. No label, no radio, just tons of NET!
If you don’t think you can build a career online, you’re
reading the wrong press. That’s exactly
what Jonathan Coulton has done. He’s
turned the business upside down. He’s
releasing more music, not less! He’s
revealing all of his warts, not holding back.
He’s not sucking someone’s dick to get on the radio, he’s already where
the action is, ONLINE!
Jonathan Coulton is the mainstream music business’ worst
nightmare. Because he doesn’t need the
old farts, the SYSTEM, to make his way.
Rather than eliminate the rough edges, he INCLUDES THEM! His followers spread the word. He makes them feel good, he gives them
something to live for, they’re involved…AND ISN’T THAT WHAT FANDOM IS ALL
Paul & Storm (audio is bad, but STICK WITH IT):
If the audio is too bad for you, just check out the Randy
Newman “If” here: http://tinyurl.com/r9rtvd
Jonathan Coulton “Your Brains”:
Jonathan Coulton “Code Monkey”:
She participated too. Her song
about Lisa Nowack was HILARIOUS!: http://tinyurl.com/3b8cf6
Molly’s video channel is here: http://tinyurl.com/5336dz