Tonight’s blog is a complete change of pace. I have started to collect opinions and comments from established artists to add to this blog. For the moment I am creating the questions and topics and deciding which artists to ask to comment. In the future I hope that some of the questions and topics will come from you, the reader…
Tonight’s blog which is just an interlude between longer postings about the inner workings of a recording contract, introduces the changing face of copyrights in the age of the web. Anyone with some sense of vision sees that the universal distribution of knowledge, music, art, writing, all of the various elements of the web, will bring about a complete redefinition of the artist’s relationship to the commercial exploitation of his art.
Certainly the question isn’t if change is coming, rather it is where will these changes take us?
I asked Jonathan Coulton to discuss his progressive attitude towards controlling his recordings on the web. For those of you who haven’t heard of Jonathon yet he is one of the more interesting Post Guided by Voices , Lo Fi musicians breaking through the inertia of Nirvana and programmed pop. His songwriting combined with a generous and healthy attitude about giving everyone access to his music helped him break out and create some purely web driven hits like “Code Monkey” and “Still Alive” (A song released as the final dirge on the underground hit video game Portal). In short Jonathan is a talented songwriter that is comfortable with the changes that the web has offered and has altered his approach to line up his personal musical strengths with the power of the web.
I asked Jonathan a question via email while a little bit altered and completely exhausted. As a result his reply is much better than my question. Thank god for catching a break some days……….
Jonathan – your music has spread through the web, first through association with gaming programs and then through peer to peer trading. You have been a vocal advocate of “Fair Use” copyrights, rather then the “I own it and you gotta buy it model” – how has this helped you succeed and how might it help others to build connections with fans? (I intended to ask about Creative Commons copyright. Like I said I was under the influence of stupidity that night)
“I’d actually say that it went the other direction, first my music spread across the web through word of mouth, and that led to my association with Valve and the song for Portal. And I think that’s a really important point – for a musician who is just starting out there is nothing more important than exposure. That’s why I released my music with a Creative Commons license that allowed people to share the music freely, and to create new works using the music, as long as those things happened in the non-commercial realm. My plan was to let the music speak for itself, to let it find my fans for me, and then figure out how to monetize whatever success I had in that effort.