By JoCo March 24, 2009

People often ask me for stats about how much free downloading there is vs. actual sales. I’m sure they are very frustrated when I explain to them, in excruciating detail, how impossible it is to know such a thing. I used to track stats like crazy back when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make a living this way. And it was often depressing – songs like Baby Got Back or Code Monkey would get huge traffic and few sales, and the performance of less successful songs like Drive or Resolutions are best left undiscussed. But somewhere along the way the bottom line started improving, and I became less obsessed with tracking every little thing. Now I sort of think of the whole engine as a special genetically engineered cow who eats music and poops money – I have no idea what’s going on in its gut, and I have the luxury of not really caring that much about the particulars.

But because it’s interesting, since I posted Blue Sunny Day here is what happened (according to Google Analytics):

I posted it to the blog on 3/16, and twittered about it with a link to the blog post on 3/17. I have about 5,000 blog subscribers and about 23,000 Twitter followers.

On 3/16 the blog post received 740 unique views, on 3/17 it received 1,942.

As of today, the original blog post has received 4,313 unique views: 2,518 direct, 1,721 from twitter, 788 from google, 209 from facebook, and then some more smaller sources.

The link to the free mp3 has received 1,544 unique views. The way things are set up I have no way of knowing how many of these were downloads and how many of them were just people clicking on the link to listen in their browser. Though I can tell you for certain that none of those views come from people clicking on the blue playtagger play button, because Google Analytics doesn’t track those clicks.

The mp3 has been sold 179 times and earned $196. Some people bought it several times, not sure whether that was a shopping cart mistake or just people deciding to pay me more than a dollar for the song (if you made a mistake and would like your $$$ back, let me know).

The FLAC version has been sold 11 times for $11. Yay FLAC!

Worst case scenario (every unique view = one free download), the ratio of paying customers to freeloaders comes to about 13.4% if you count dollars instead of purchases. That’s actually pretty good in my opinion. And maybe I just have my rosy glasses on this morning, but I’d guess that some of the people who bought Blue Sunny Day were tipped over into buying other stuff.

So how does this work? I put out a new song and make $200? Obviously it’s a lot more complicated than that, because I’m making a pretty good living considering my recent output is about 2 songs per year. Even not considering that – I’m not getting rich exactly, but I make more money now than I did when I wrote software.

So here are some of the questions I can’t easily answer:

How many free downloads were actually “lost sales?”
How many people downloaded/listened and then donated instead of purchasing? (Full disclosure, probably not many – donations are generally a teeny tiny fraction of my income.)
How many free downloads happened in other places (P2P networks, emails, etc.)?
How much increased buying of tickets, CDs, Tshirts, mp3s happened as a result of this song and news of its release bouncing around the internet?
Who is currently making a movie about a suicidal vampire and is planning on paying me a million dollars to use this song for the final tragic scene? (Seriously, who is it? Call me…)

The eight-day period since the song was first posted boasts a 40% uptick in digital sales in my store compared with the eight days prior to that, though I just did a show and a bunch of press at SXSWi last week, so that could account for the uptick as well. And of course there are ancillary benefits of all kinds that come from the simple fact that for once there was some new content on my site – more traffic is always good.

So then extrapolate what happened with this song across my entire catalog, across all the things sold that make up my income, across the past and present and future, across all the internet radio stations and file sharing networks and Facebook pages and Twitter posts and the whole wild and wooly internet – you will never know HOW it works, but I can tell you that for me it does. The state of the industry makes a lot more sense when you think of it this way, all these new business models rising and falling, internet radio choking on insanely high performance royalties, Radiohead and NIN giving stuff away and making a killing. This is the thing about the new landscape that drives everyone crazy: you can’t see inside the cow; you can only build one, feed it music, and wait for it to poop.


Joran says

Very interesting blog post. I'll share what I do.

As a fan, I have not bought any songs from the website. I have freeloaded the songs that are listed as free and I did download Blue Sunny Day when it first came out. I have not donated any money.

I have however been to 4 shows in the DC Metro area, bringing steadily more people each time. I've bought a T-shirt and bought the newest compilation CD. I will buy the Live Concert DVD when it comes out. I'm glad you're doing well and I'm also happy that I'm part of the... uh digestive system of the cash making cow.

John Dill says

is there a music eating, money pooping bovine song in the making? i'll pay the first FLAC $1.

kerrin says

It always makes me happy when you get poop, so feed that cow lots of food. :)

Javier says

you can’t see inside the cow; you can only build one, feed it music, and wait for it to poop.

Ahem, I beg to differ. ;-)

Gary says

Thanks for sharing the stats... It's always fun to do math, even if you can't work out what it all means!

I haven't heard the new song, but I'll give it a listen now that I know about it.

Let me ask you this, if you don't mind. I get most of my music from Napster's subscription service. Do you ever see any money from these guys? Or does it just disappear into someone else's pocket?

Nicole Lee says

Jonathan, only you can talk about making money and cow poop in the same sentence. Awesome.

Melanie says

I don't buy the songs. I download them and then buy the album.

for whatever it's worth, I will tell you that I am more inclined to give you money because you're willing to give me music for free. I am resentful of artists who demand compensation for my adoration, as wacky as that sounds.

Luke M says

So does this make your fan base the hardworking intestinal flora and enzymes that process the music into sweet, sweet cowpats?

Also, I think Len needs to get in on this whole music-eating, income-pooping cow thing. There's a T-shirt design in there somewhere.

Anyway, you *should* be making more money doing this -- your talents were clearly wasted on the software industry -- and it's awesome that you live in an age where you can set up your guitar case in cyberspace and busk for the whole world. Not to mention that the live shows are consistently fantastic and among the best uses of one's live-entertainment dollars.

Triumphant ARRR!

Roman V. says

Haha suck on that "Cult of the Amateur" guy. "Who would make any money if you offered things for free?"

BTW if you're interested, JoCo, I have a neat little script that uses PHP to create a sort of sort of download log so you can at least track some stats or whatever. It uses an MD5 hash of the downloader's IP address so no actual personally identifiable information is ever used, and it all happens server side, so the user never has to notice. Drop me a buzz if interested.

Mike says

>> How many people downloaded/listened and then donated instead of purchasing? (Full disclosure, probably not many - donations are generally a teeny tiny fraction of my income.) <<

I'm one of them. Nice to know that, as usual, I am a member of a teeny tiny fraction.

Matt Lee says

Hooray for being one of the few FLAC buyers. I fall into the category of being tipped into buying other songs due to my Blue Sunny Day purchase; I'd had a couple freeloaded mp3s sitting around that I tossed into the basket in FLAC as well before checking out. I also listened to a few free songs before buying, so I'd account for several free views, as well as several FLAC purchases. Oh, and I heard about it from Twitter, twice over: yours and @hodgman.

DPSquared says

I freeloaded as well, though it will be added to my Rhapsody master list with the rest of the oeuvre as soon as it's available. As a reformed mass-infringer, I'm a big fan of the subscription model from the end-user perspective, but I too would like to hear your thoughts on Napster/Rhapsody artist compensation. Given that your songs have recently made up about 30-40% of my pvp soundtrack, I hope you're getting a good chunk of my $12.99 each month.

Klaus Varley says

Another classic Coulton piece. Thank you.

Guy Mann says

I think you are doing it absolutely right. I am a media freeloader but because i put my time into find free media i find i feel an obligation to talk up the good stuff i find. It's not because i intentionally want to market a specific piece of media but there is it seems something rewarding about find and passing on a meme. So by leveraging human nature you increase market share with free content. I can't tell you how many people i have introduced to your music because it was easily and freely available.

Brandon says

My wife has procured most of your available material through eMusic. I do hope that service provides you with a healthy portion of your income. And I have a Skullcrusher Mountain T-shirt. It would be nice to know what portion of your take comes from what outside services and what portion comes from non-music purchases like T-shirts and mugs and such.

Chris O'Sullivan says

The first time I heard your music was in the downloadable track pack on Rock Band. I enjoyed the song, so I downloaded a torrent with most of your songs at that point. Ever since then I've been a HUGE fan, and I feel that buying anything/everything you put out from that point forward is the least I can do. And if you come to my town, or anywhere near here, I will buy at least 2 tickets and I can't wait to buy the DVD.

So yeah, I feel I'm doing my part.

Bob says

> the ratio of paying customers to freeloaders comes to about 13.4%

point of order... ratios are not expressed as percentages. :-p

in any case, you *do* realize that your next song is now going to have to be about a money-pooping cow, right?

Dedra says

Donated a bit. But I feel I must point something out so as not to skew your non-math cow pooping model: although I like Blue Sunny Day, the donation is for my appreciation of Skullcrusher Mountain and Chiron Beta Prime. I keep going over the ways in my head to get CBP on a music button for my *actual* Christmas cards so that it plays when the recipient opens the card. Pity...

Also, if you could someday write a song about a geeky mom of six kids who installs x10 controllers in her house so she can control the lights and powered devices from her driveway using her iPhone and connecting to her Mac as the server, that would be cool.

Orrey says

I just like to screw with the stats - downloaded 3 songs - listened to most in brower. Donated $50 on the paypal link for Biege Bear. Take that tracking stat machines :)

M_pony says

I still maintain that modern musical artists, Our Bearded Hero among them, make their -real- money through playing concerts.. not by selling songs individually. There are exceptions (music licensing for games is more important now than ever) but generally that's the way it works. Noteverybody will buy the new Rush or Radiohead or Stones or DepecheMode album, but you can bet that they will tour their collective balls off and make mondo cash doing so.

The only other way to make money would be to start cranking out songs at some -inhuman- pace, like.. oh I don't know.. a song every week! (I think only people like Prince record that many songs, though.. seriously) If you had lots of fans and were writing that many songs, instead of touring, then maybe you could make money off of song royalties.. but more likely you'd just end up with even more fans wanting to see you perform them in concert.. especially some of the obscure ones from time to time (hint hint).

You can all go back to talking about cow poop now. :)

Crickett says

Let's see, what have I contributed to the Coulton lifestyle/household bottom line?

purchased 9 songs
tickets to 3 concerts x 2 people
bought 2 Mandelbrot t-shirts
purchased the whole lot
purchased Blue Sun sight unseen
searched fruitlessly for Alive

So when's the next concert in Seattle? And PLEASE find another venue! Moore theater was FREEZING!!!!

Doctor Orpheus says

I confess that when it came to "Blue Sunny Day" I was one of the freeloaders. I try to rationalize it by saying I'll pick up some merch when I see you in NYC this Friday (like last time when I bought the THING A WEEK tin even though I'd already downloaded most of the content.

P.S.-I'm rather fond of "Resolutions." When I hear it I think of someone trying to teach their young robot how to behave, in a sweet way.

Chris O'Sullivan says

I'd also like to state that I purchase all songs without sampling them first. I have faith.

Scott Frazer says

Since everyone is fessing up to how we support you, here's mine:
I freeloaded every song you've written.
I've been to every Chicago concert you've thrown
Dragged at least 6 people who've never heard of you to them.
Bought 2 tshirts.
Bought 2 Paul and Storm CDs
Bought you a beer at Schubas.
Donated $50 to EFF to get the JoCo Looks Back USB drive.

I'm in for the DVD, too.

Jack F says

I've only paid for your songs 3 or 4 times. But I've gone to 3 shows, and brought along several people (who hadn't heard of you) each time. (They usually bought CDs while there.) I also bought a couple shirts and probably a few other things.

I'm certain I would not have gone to any shows if it hadn't been for the free downloads that got me hooked. (It's as though a creepy bearded guy in a trench coat came up to me on a dark street and whispered "Hey, little boy, try this download. It's free, and all the cool kids are doing it..." Now I'm just another junkie with a monkey on my back.)

9572AD says

I'm just not a track buyer. I'll download the tracks and buy the CDs when they become available.

Prisoner06 says

I love FLAC. When I burn CD's for my car I use FLAC whenever possible. I proudly make up slightly less that %10 of the BSD FLAC owners. Yeah! I'm statistically significant! I actually did the whole "pay one fee full catalogue d/l" in FLAC too. I wonder what percentage I am there. I think I shall go buy you a banana now Mr JoCo.

Austin says

Off topic but the RSS feed for shows isn't working, it's just showing your main page topics.

Rioexxo says

BRILLIANT EXPOSE! thanks for the flood of data. I'll have to read this a few times.
P.S. 230 people 'DEMAND' you in Phoenix, of which I am one!

LS says

I bought the entire catalog about a year ago, which means I've only freeloaded any songs released after that. I did, however, go to a live show, buy a skullcrusher shirt, and plan to buy the dvd. That'll buy your kids some diapers, eh?

Brett says

I downloaded Blue Sunny Day for free, but this blog post reminded me to go back and pay for it, since I liked it!

I have paid you before but also downloaded a few of your tracks from eMusic - I hope you get a fair amount of money from them too.

a bit embarrased says

Just for the record: I don't buy the songs because I don't have the money. No, really. You don't want to know.

Thanks for making your work available for free. It really has kept me sane.

I don't feel particularly good about not giving something back for something I get joy out of pretty much every day. Next time I actually have disposable income I plan to buy some albums, or upgrade to FLAC and confuse your statistics.

Thanks again.

Ruaidri says

So, I just donated for the first time (it was long overdue) but that $30AUD was so worth the $20usd going into your account.

Anyways, come to Australia so the far off fanboys (and girls I'm sure) can shower you with cash.

Matt Giuca says

JoCo, a very interesting analysis. I feel like a bit of a bastard because I haven't purchased or listened to any songs on The Aftermath yet. But I will.

Here's what I did:
1. Got 15 songs off a friend. Listened to them like crazy. Decided this JoCo guy, he is for me (both for the music and the philosophy).
2. Bought the $70 Box Set, before it had The Aftermath in it.
3. Listened to them like crazy. Still going.

Now my thinking is, I'm happy to pay for them but I don't want to listen to them beforehand. Otherwise, I feel like I'm not actually "buying" anything. You don't get that nice feel-good after making a purchase. So I think you are set up quite ideally with a bunch of "officially free" songs and the rest which are technically not free.

So I haven't listened to The Aftermath, and I'm planning to buy The Aftermath when it's "finished", and then I'll have the feel-good of a whole new JoCo album. When is it going to be "done"? I might just give in and buy all the tracks separately...

And yes, please visit Australia :)

Roman V. says

Also for what it's worth, the first time you came around to Cleveland I and a friend of mine bought your whole CD set... I think... or at least most of it... So, yeah, w00ties? (Breakfast of Champsions)

Matthew says

I'm hoping to do the same with writing--novels, short stories, theology, Dungeons & Dragons campaign modules, etc. Write good things, put them in the cow, wait and see what happens.

I lack the courage to quit my day job until I've got a decent pile of poop coming out regularly, though.

Angelastic says

I'm not sure what's the most interesting, JoCo's breakdown of sweet moo-lah or cows' breakdown of food viewed through a cannulas.

Should I do my taking-music-from-JoCo-and-giving-money-to-JoCo breakdown too? Yeah, might as well.

1) downloaded the Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms for free from some Popular Science page.
2) downloaded all of the smiley-face-free songs and subscribed to the Thing A Week podcast to get all those free.
3) bought all the rest of the stuff, except for one or two tracks which I somehow didn't notice.
4) went to a show in London, bought one ticket, one T-shirt, and one Thing-A-Week box set (which I still haven't opened) and gave JoCo some chocolate, CERN souvenirs and punch cards.
5) went to four more shows in the UK, bought five tickets (because I'd left one in my hotel) and one T-shirt, gave JoCo another random gift. He'll probably have to build another wing on his mansion for all these random gifts. Oh wait, he said he wasn't rich.
6) donated to CC and got flash drive, but I guess that's feeding a whole different cow.
7) bought a couple of karaoke tracks to use as background music for a thing I was doing.
8) went back to freeloading, downloaded BSD and other aftermath tracks without paying, as well as many bootlegs of shows.

Matthew: I did that... didn't get any poop, not that I had any poop-catchers at the ready anyway (you really have to quit your job so you have time to actually milk the cow, or collect its poop if that's more your thing) but I got quite attached to the cow and I think I'll keep it as a pet. I'd recommend it. A word (actually a couple of sentences) of advice though: Do not try to write a novel a week for a year. The cow will get sick and die from overeating. Also, don't feed the cow parts of a novel before the novel is finished. Once it's in the cow, there's only one way to get it out, and it's... money? I think I've botched this metaphor. Don't eat beef.

Wessf says

Thanks for the stats! Very interesting read, and great song. Happy. Happy.

Jesse says

I suppose I might as well front up to what I did, since everyone is.

1) Friend sent me code monkey.
2) Immediately got hooked into Thing a Week. Downloaded all past episodes and all future episodes as they came out.
3) Bought the box set
4) Have downloaded everything since I bought the box set for free.
5) Been to 1 concert (but you haven't had any more in my area!)

Gary says

I'm one of the small number of people who donated and grabbed some free downloads, in my case because it's simpler than buying a song at a time. I've also bought a couple of your CDs.

It's interesting that the people who donate seem disproportionately represented among the commenters. I'm guessing that those who do that are also disproportionately responsible for getting the word out about you.

Nojh says

Okay... so how does one purchase a FLAC version of your songs?

As for my purchasing/downloading history. I found your songs first through a friend sending me an mp3, then youtube and the WoW machinima. By that point I had two or three of your mp3s, since I don't crawl for mp3s usually. At some point I finally stumbled onto your website but didn't buy or download anything until because I wasn't big into listening to music.

Later I ended up with my programming job and decided listening to my co-workers was going to drive me insane, so I bought pretty much half of thing a week (anything with the three or four songs that I had) to listen to. Then came back 6 months later and bought the second half, and any straggler songs that caught my fancy while listening to the, what did you call it? Blue Tagger? things.

So a friend of mine who keeps track of concerts told me you were performing in Houston, so I opted into that. Drama with the tickets meant that I purchased multiple tickets and half my friends ended up not going. (Which of course led to me having to enact the famous string breaking incident for my friends. We all laughed in sympathy for you, of course).

On a side note, come back to Texas soon so my friends who missed out can see you perform (with or without g-string jokes, your choice). I understand if you like Austin but thats a 4 hours drive for me, and Houston is only an hour and a half. College Station might not be worth it for you but you might look into it. :)

And your twitter comment about breaking your site was enough to have me look at this blog, which is enough to make me look at your new song. It made me tap my foot but I'm debating purchasing it or not, as I've lately moved on to podcasts as a way to drone out my co-workers incessant moaning. Also I have a minor $1 purchases and would prefer to buy multiple songs in a package because I find I like your songs more on repeated listening than on initial presentation. So baring the FLAC thing, which interests me but I seem to have failed in figuring out how to purchase it, I'll likely wait to buy Blue Sunny Day until you have a few more songs that I like or one song that I really really want.

(Incidentally I do this with Rock Band too. Buy songs I want, and throw in a few 'maybe' songs from a long list I sort every month or so, every time I buy a 'song I must have' but feel bad for just buying one thing. Yeah I think I'm weird when it comes to music...)

three08 says

to buy a FLAC version, go to the "music" section at the top of this page, and then near the top there is a header that says "download formats" and has buttons under it for each of the formats. when you click FLAC it goes to a page that looks much like the normal store page but has a brief explanation at the top of what the FLAC format is. those should all be FLAC versions.

Nutcracker Buck says

I first heard of you two weeks ago, after which

(i) I pissed away most of that day and the next on your site (lost value to US economy: I don't know, a few hundred bucks maybe, theoretically, though I probably would have been pissing the day away on something else anyway),

(ii) emailed you that I thought you were awesome, etc., and told you I was going to buy the box set,

(iii) did not buy the box set,

(iv) went to your show in Houston ($28, plus cost of one spilled Diet Coke, which House of Blues graciously re-served for free, emailed you that I was going to buy all your stuff,

(v) listened to a lot more of your stuff over the next couple of weeks (still no downloading), and

(vi) bought the box-set day before yesterday.

Still haven't heard the vampire song though.

Derek DeVries says

I WAS a huge Metallica fan. How did I get turned on to Metallica? The same way most people did before they could get mainstream radio airplay: a mix tape from a friend.

After that I bought virtually all of their albums (including import singles with weird B-sides), I saw them four times, I bought tons of T-shirts and other merchandise (including - no lie - an air freshener), was a paid member of the fan club for years, etc.

Then they became the mouthpiece of the RIAA and one day I became one of the 30,000+ fans booted off Napster for downloading some songs (that I already owned) so I could listen to them on a different pc. In an instant, they lost all of my future business (and support) to preserve the pithy and diminishing chunk of money they were making on CD sales.

I AM huge JoCo fan. How did I get turned on to JoCo? I heard the interview with Terri Gross on Fresh Air and downloaded the free MP3s of the live performances. Since then I've bought the box set, T-shirts, and the wife and I have seen two live shows in less than a year (and we'll see him any time he shows his face in Michigan).

This is the future of music. It's a better, brighter future because it's not directed by corporate executives who strangle creativity because they're trying to mass-produce profitable schlock that the highest number of people will tolerate listening to four times per hour on the radio.

JoCo: You just keep on keepin' on - you are the "Long Tail" personified. You're a shining city on a hill (or at the very least, a wolf-covered lair on a mountain) that serves as a beacon to anyone who yearns to make a living doing what they love.

Nat says

I prefer to buy CDs rather than pay for downloads. I have all your CDs that were actually for sale (which reminds me, I should download Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms as FLAC!).

For reference, I got into your music having heard it at the end of podcasts (and realising that all these awesome songs I liked were by the same person). Then I listened exclusively through the flash previews for quite some time until I picked up Smoking Monkey and Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow at a UK Filk Convention. Then I went to a UK gig and picked up all the other CDs and a tour t-shirt.

Every time a new song comes out I spread the word and enthuse about it to my friends, so hopefully I'm doing my bit even though I'm not paying for songs as soon as they're on the blog...

ALeX says

Loved it! Reblogged it. Hope some music executive reads it and wonder "If it works for a 'niche' artist, why don't we start raising such cattle?"

Stephen says

I get my JoCo stuff via eMusic, mostly for the convenience. Is it significantly worse for you that way?

Jace says

Alright, this is pretty interesting.

As one of your fans, I've only ever used your store one time-- and that was for some karaoke tracks. I own physical copies of each CD you have available on CDBaby.

So some curious questions from me:
How many physical CDs do you sell? (through any means)
What are your iTunes stats? (I assume you're on there through CDBaby and so it's easy to check)
And how much do you get everytime someone buys a copy of The Orange Box? :D

Kazzi says

Slightly off-topic, but "(if you made a mistake and would like your $$$ back, let me know)" just actually made my day.

JoCo says

Interesting to hear all the anecdotal evidence - just goes to show, free music doesn't necessarily lead to zero dollars.

To answer a couple of questions that have come up:

1) Subscription services - if you are paying someone money to download my music, chances are some of it's getting to me eventually. Napster, eMusic, Rhapsody, these are all legit services that pay me through CDBaby.

2) I make some money from physical merch, CDs and shirts, but the largest portion of my income comes from digital sales. Last year it was about 45% of my income. Maybe 20% was tickets at shows, another 20% physical merchandise, and the rest of it various other stuff (private events, commission work, donations, etc.)

3) I don't get any royalties from the Orange Box, that was a one time buyout situation.

4) On the subject of which outlets are best for me financially - it's very hard to compare subscription services to purchases, but if I had to guess I'd say buying from my digital store is the highest ratio of money you spend to money in my pocket. That said, don't worry about it, the point is that it all adds up to a money pooping cow. Just be relaxed about it and consume the way you want.

And thank you to everyone who spreads the word - that's the big thing I forgot to mention in my post, is that even if someone gets all the music for free, as long as they pass the virus on to someone else, I win (eventually).

J.Dollak says

I'm hesitant to buy much music online. I don't do it often, and usually when I do, it's for unusually obscure tracks that I don't have any interest in buying an album of.
This means that I've had the whole Thing A Week set, along with a few assorted mp3s on my ipod for a long time. When I'm ready to thin down my ipod's assortment of music, I was hesitant to break up the collection, since I didn't have any physical copy backed up.
Having the fetish object of an album is a big deal for me. When I finally got to see JoCo at the Birchmere recently, I took the opportunity to buy the boxed TAW set, and the Smoking Monkey disk.
What I really wish is that the other albums would be available as physical disks.
On the other hand, I was willing to pay out the 50 for the flash drive. I found the element tracks to be entirely worthwhile as a bonus.

I think I will donate soonish.
Please, persuade them to add at least one more song of yours to Rock Band. I want to play a Coulton challenge.

Paul says

Well, I bought portal on steam, finished it and heard THE song..
I found you on the intertube/webs and listened to some tracks.
Then I paid for and downloaded the full set,
Then went to the first London concert and bought the tin box collection (and was given a free T-Shirt fro yours truly) as well as a T-shirt for me..
Then went with my daughter (wearing the thrown t-shirt) to your second London concert and only managed to buy a P&S t-shirt (sad pirate) since you were too busy and our train was due :-(
I tell my friends about you and have given them a good 'seed' collection of your stuff,
I have also downloaded a torrent of all your stuff, though I have it twice already.

The 'business model' where you slowly and steadily get everyone on the planet to be a fan of yours, and then do concerts for money seems to be a pretty good one - getting known about is the key to the whole thing.

I'm glad that I could help you out, and thank you for entertaining me.

Being at the 2nd London concert where you said a big thank you to everyone bought a bit of a tear to my eye.


roz warren says

Because I am VERY OLD and grew up in the era where you bought vinal, brought it home and listened to it on a turntable, I am in the habit of buying music. First I purchased the songs from the itunes store. Then I bought them again by buying the boxed set. Then I bought them again on the new Best Of CD. I will buy them again when the DVD comes out. I've been to 5 JoCo shows. My life goal is to go to 100. I own a Skullcrusher Mountain shirt. And I once donated a banana because I was about to go to Aruba and it seemed like the right thing to do.

Cobwebs says

Count me in as one of those who bought the new song and also picked up a couple of others in the process. I'll always happily pay an artist a few bucks for something that makes me happy.

Colleenky says

I wasn't gonna do this, but I'm bowing to peer pressure, 'cause I'm weak like that. ;-)

Since about fall of 2006, I've bought: tickets to 6 shows (sometimes more than 1); 2 T-shirts; all the CDs; many (20?) karaoke tracks; at least a few of the Aftermath tracks; several bananas, monkeys and robots; and donated to CC to get the source tracks drive. And I'll be buying that DVD too, just as soon as it's available (nudge, nudge).

I'm a musician myself, so I do what I can to support my brothers and sisters in the art. :-)

Dawn Wolf says

Just to let you know, my husband loves the song "Drive". We always have to play it when we go on road trips.

Matt Giuca says

Yes, sharing music is awesome. I don't dump whole buckets of JoCo songs on my friends, but sometimes I think, "so and so would appreciate this song," so I give it to them. Sometimes they like it, sometimes not :)

But the point is, it's really great to be able to say "he wants me to give this to you, and if you want any more, just download them or ask me." (As opposed to sneaking around).

Colin Prince says

Hi, thanks for the music. Seriously, even though I'm not going to buy it (it's not my thing)

[I listened to it in the browser (Firefox Win with quicktime)]

Keep up the good work and keep writing about it cos you will inspire other music makers to do their thing and then I'll find some music I *will* buy.

The model is good and it seems it will triumph.

Jarod says


Was all excited to get the first sales report from iTunes, all it does is full your head with fail.

I'm not even going to ask to see reports anymore (unless it's a payday!)


(Tim Larson and the Owner/Operators)

Odineye says

Let's see - for me I listened to Blue Sunny Day in the browser once, then downloaded it for a buck.

Then, when I looked at my JoCo collection, I realized that I no longer had Shop Vac, Creepy Doll, Famous Blue Raincoat, or A Talk with George - all favorites of mine from Thing A Week (I seem to have misplaced several of the songs from my collection from the podcast somehow).

So I went to iTunes and bought all of those. I've always liked them, but the release of the new song definitely was the thing that made me look at the playlist on my iPod and realize I there was other stuff I wanted.

And - I'm well aware that I just could have downloaded them again from TAW, but I figure if I like them enough to be looking for them, I like them enough to pay for them.

I think with things like music the free is a great thing - if the listener digs it, they are just going to want more. And it sounds like you've got the data to back that.

Brookes says

I freeloaded Code Monkey by recommendation at least a year ago but never listened to it, then someone linked me to Baby Got Back which stuck in my head something crazy, so I downloaded the torrent of your complete discography. Listened to that for at least a month straight before I bought the TAW box set, Smoking Monkey and Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow on cdbaby (I like to have the physical cds), bought another TAW box as an Xmas present for my sister. Saw you tonight in NYC (woo and hoo - awesome show, arrrr) and am now kicking myself because I forgot to buy a tshirt. This is the 1st time I heard Blue Sunny Day but I'm gonna go listen to it right now. I may or may not buy it (I don't like onesie-twosies) at the moment but will definitely buy a tshirt and want to see MOAR live shows!

Brookes says

PS you make hilarious faces when you're not quite sure you're going to hit the high notes - I dunno if you could see them in your 8 reflections but they were quite amusing.

PPS I really hope someone was taping because the numbers with Paul & Storm and awesome ukelele chick whose name I am too lazy to look up were brilliant! Creepy Doll killed me - my face still hurts from smiling so hard.

PPPS I absolutely agree with Melanie - I'd much rather give money because I want to - especially directly to the artist if at all possible - than be forced to fork over money to get the music when most of that money goes to record labels keeping musicians in slavery.

Martin Tilsted says

I think you got your math atl east a factor 10.000 wrong. You forgot youtube. Just look at It got more then 3.5 million views.

Trisha Lynn says

Freeloaded about 16 of your songs, haven't bought any physical merch yet (but I will, because a JoCo shirt needs to go on my eventual T-shirt quilt) but I did go to the concert in NYC last night, I'm pimping you out to a co-worker at the office (via your ideas about the Long Tail because he's a musician, too) and I'm also pimping you out to a friend of mine who just started a new job as a nanny and doesn't like the kid she's working with yet.

Every little bit helps, I think, and that's the lesson you keep teaching me every day.

whall says

Ok, from this post I've learned:
A) you're some sort of musician or similar
B) "you" "spend" "poop"
C) you appreciate stats
C) you *hate* repeated ordinals
C) a lot

HellZiggy says

I was going to list my history of feeding the JoCo money-pooping cow and I realized that you make it really damn hard for me to give you money!

When I donated money you offered to reimburse me a dollar for every song that sucked. When I brought you cookies at the Hodgman book reading you wouldn't take my money for the CD I wanted. When I worked merch you wouldn't take my money for the tshirts I wanted. When you were in Vegas at the Coverville 500 show, not only did you rip up the check I tried to give you, but you brought me beer from the Green Room.

Since you won't ever take my money I've had to do things like buy tickets to concerts I'm on the comp list for, and buy songs when you release new ones.

But even if I'd downloaded Blue Sunny Day for free, I would have had to come back and pay for it anyway because it is a totally AWESOME song!


Ben Forbes says

Well, I'm lazy, and in the UK, and cannot be bothered to download each individual song, so I just download albums from iTunes; I think you deserve every penny you make, plus a whole truckload more.

JonnyBoy says

Well, I see you've already exposed my idea, JoCo. A few days ago I got the idea: a musical with only Coulton songs in it. Now, I'm not saying this is going to be something big, but the cow in my brain is eating the music and ideas are getting pooped out. Tell you when the poop adds up to something.

Jim says

Started off as a random victim of your music on YouTube and on TWiT (MacBreak Weekly, actually). It's insidious. Whatever your cow's pooping, it's addictive.

Going back now to re-buy all the tracks on FLAC.

Keep up the evil plot; it's working.

rozwarren says

has somebody designed a cow pooping graphic and slapped it on a t shirt yet? i'd buy that.

jymusic says

"Who is currently making a movie about a suicidal vampire and is planning on paying me a million dollars to use this song for the final tragic scene? (Seriously, who is it? Call me…)"

If only life were that simple. ;-)

Steve says

Listened to JoCo songs on YouTube (starting with Spiff videos), got increasingly hooked. Recently came here, spent hours listening to songs and reading Info tabs, eventually realized I wanted most of these songs.

I bought the $70 set even though I don't care for ALL of the songs (I know, heresy), because I love the overwhelming majority of them, and I figure JoCo deserves the money. As it happens at the moment, I can afford it, and it was a feel-good purchase. At the moment, my playlists are inhabited entirely by Coulton songs.

No DRM made all the difference however. I would not have bought a single one if they had DRM.

Phil says

I think I have downloaded 4-5 songs free (I do not remember if any of them were the happy face free songs fro mthe site or not). But, I also bought all four thing a weeks, smoking monkey and whenever the DVD poops out of your money cow I will be getting that as well. I think the great thing about allowing the music to be free is that it gets the message out there and if people like it they will but a majority of it. Plus, since you are not "die for free downloading" people feel that if there is a song they like but are strapped for cash it's no big deal. They will go to a show or buy a shirt later... Unless you suck. Then, you;re screwed. Mayb e that is why Ernie Wade never made any cash and was so easy to steal from. ^.^

C. J. says

Found links via ze Frank, played/replayed/grabbed _Code Monkey_ out of browser's cache(!) because *dammit, I want that song*. Discovered this site and felt foolish for the backdoor approach, snagged another six or seven tunes and was digging on ALL of them, when suddenly a rush of brains to the head said:
"STOP. Why not see if perchance the man sells 'al-bums'? Because you're going to ruin your hands trying to snarf this stuff, and you know you want it."
* * *
Sometimes a good idea survives meeting me...
* * *
A whole tin full of two score and a dozen? Restraint against online purchases, doomed! Hell, get two of them, because Someone is going to LOVE getting this for no particular reason except "you will thank me for turning you on to this."

May Cthulhu and the FSM forgive me, I've even paid to have the excellent karaoke songs, and -- mea culpa -- have committed them. In public. To my surprise, people come up to me afterwards (my voice is well suited to a career as a mime) and want to know who wrote/performed the original, because... it was DIFFERENT, and kinda cool, you know?

In closing: JoCo, you made my month^H^H^H^H^Hyear when you announced the B.C.E. set. First thing after my initial squeeee (and evicting colleagues from orkplace office!) was to order a DVD+CD set -- no, make that two (because She really does love the TAW). Second thing: brace myself for a nail-biting week before I get to hear any of it ...
... and you blindsided me by GIVING AWAY THE ZIP ARCHIVE TO TIDE ME OVER!

You. Are. Full. Of. Awesome. And. Win. Thank you * 1.0+06 !

There, is that a coherent economic model?

Bob Welch says

You're stuff is good..."Code Monkey" is nice late '70's , '80's rock (light) production...kind of like me (I was a "chart" artist on Capitol records in the late '70's and a former member of Fleetwood Mac. (I'm 63 old boomer)I now give away all my (new) stuff for free........Good luck !

Bob Welch
(ex-Fleetwood Mac/Capitol records artist)

P.S. Bob Lefsetz gave me your url in one of his emails.

Mark Bowie says

I read Bob Lefetz newsletter and he totally plugged you. For every 5 newsletters I get from bob, I get the time to read 1 of them, and I'm really glad I read the one he sent me tonight.

I'm buying your tune - Zombies for $1. Worth every penny!

Take it Easy Jon! Can't wait to see you play a UK show :)