Well Now I Feel Bad

July 25th, 2005

I seem to have touched a nerve – all you lurkers got busy with the comment button. Thank you all for your thoughtful suggestions and purchases and oaths of fealty. Obviously guilt works. Just a few hours after my last post, I got some donations from a few people. It was not my intent to generate cash through sympathy (although I am certainly not going to return those donations). I was just venting. In public. On the internet. So distasteful. Sorry about that. But it’s funny how it works, some months really hum along, and then sometimes it just seems to dry up for no reason. I never really push myself out there, I mostly just wait hopefully for a HamsterDance-like wave of instant fame, so it’s no surprise that there’s a little ebb and flow.

As my last post makes clear, this music-on-the-internet thing still confuses me. I am certain that you can’t stop people from sharing mp3s. I’m pretty sure that DRM is a waste of time. There’s no question that the way we all buy and think about music has changed and is still changing. And I do have faith that musicians will continue to be able to make money by making music. But I don’t know how exactly. Thinking about this the past few days has made it clearer to me just what I think I’m doing when I give all this stuff away. In a way I’m testing the theory that it’s OK to have lots of freeloaders as long as some people donate or purchase enough to make up for them.

So the question is, how’s it going? Who knows! I’ve never run the numbers. I can tell you that I can’t currently make a living doing this alone. But it should be easy to figure out the possibilities – add up all the money that comes in, divide that by the number of downloads, and that will give me the effective $$ per download ratio. This is going to be a small number, but that’s fine if it stays consistent when the volume gets bigger – one million half-pennies is a pretty big number, maybe almost a hundred dollars.

I’m going to crank up the old Excel spreadsheet-o-matic and see what comes out. If it’s not too embarassing I will post the ratio here, and then we can all figure out how to increase my traffic by 10,000%. In the meantime, please enjoy this real-life smoking monkey brought to my attention by commenter Ryan.

9 Responses to “Well Now I Feel Bad”

  1. Sean Carman says:

    I love your work, and it’s great that you offer stuff for free, and I sent some love your way, but if your goal is to make money from your work, which is a perfectly fine and respectable goal, you should probably not be giving it away. Give away one song per album and make us buy the album if we want to hear the other songs. Or give us snippets but make us pay a buck for the whole song. I’m sure you’ll see more income that way, and it’s a fair trade. Don’t feel bad for charging us. We SHOULD have to pay for your stuff. It’s worth it. Art has value, etc. etc.

    These are just my thoughts. I’m sure all will work out splendidly for you in any case. If, that is, “splendidly” is actually a word. If not, things will work out in some other way that bears the same substantive meaning as would “splendidly” if “splendidly” were in fact a word.

    Whatever you do, keep making music! Your stuff is really, really good.

  2. Sean Carman says:

    Or, I suppose, try this out for one album and see how it goes. In cany case, rock on.

  3. jpez says:

    I bet firing up some forums would draw some visitors in…

  4. Glenn says:

    I have already purchased your albums through CDBaby, and continue to inculcate my friends. My next plans are buying a bunch of t-shirts, and developing an army of atomic lemurs to conquer a small nation to be renamed in your honor. Any preference?

  5. Amis says:

    I agree with Sean. The leechers should be paying for your work. Also, I agree with him in that you should change the way in which the content is made available. The current tracks that are offered for full download is the right amount, in my opinion. However, you also offer full streams (at a nice quality) of all of the other tracks. Someone could easily use Audio Hijack (on Mac anyways) to essentially rip the song from the stream. Perhaps, as Sean pointed out, previews may be more appropriate for gathering a little more cash. But, then again, some may say that being heard will draw more to buy. Well, I’m sure your evil genius will think of something.

    Either way, I think we, as your minions of faith, can work on increasing attention to this place here that is nestled in the bowels of the internet. Perhaps we could use Dawkins’ Theory of Meme to take over the internet with your presence whilst you continue furthering your plans for world domination? Everyone, behold the greatest (maybe) image to be linked to this site in the universe!

    http://www.vanillasoap.com/forumimages/jcdominate.png

    (Someone of real artistic talent please create something much better then my “copy/paste/resize/add-text” job)

  6. JC says:

    Sean brings up a good point: free music, fine, but why so much? Keep in mind, I rarely play live, which means that word-of-mouth (the internet kind) is the main way for me to get new listeners. Without the bloggers and emailed links I’d probably sell one CD a year. My theory is, more free music = more links. But what do I know. You’re probably right that the number is a bit high at the moment.

    Glen: I would like you to take over Canada – the border is not very well guarded, and I know the lemurs would like the climate. Let me know when this is taken care of.

    Jpez: Forums is smart. You are all very smart. I think Jpez actually has a JC forum somewheres, n’est-ce pas?

    Amis: That is the correct logo. Terrifying, yet confusing. They won’t know what hit them. And you’re right, the streams can be stolen pretty easily, but probably not by the average bear. I’d rather that everyone be able to listen to the whole song than protect against the small percentage of industrious hacker types, who will eventually defeat me anyway.

  7. Glenn says:

    Alack! Jonathan has fallen into the typographically-challenged clutches of my evil and misspelled twin!

    The atomic lemurs will not be happy about this, oh no.

    I have contacts in Canada, we may be able to ship them lemurs disguised as glass-fused radioactive waste. Hmm.

  8. JC says:

    Oops, sorry Glenn. I should know better.

    -Johnathon

  9. Riverbelle says:

    Some interesting ideas. Is it possible to get notified of future updates from your blog?

    Cheers,

    Wayne