Men with beards are so nice.

I had salted caramel ice cream with Derek Powazek yesterday + coffee with Jonathan Coulton this morning. They know as much practically about online community and being a self-sustaining independent artist online as anyone. I feel lucky to have their support and access to their insights. The best thing is that there’s nothing “special” or guru-like about either of them or the point of any of this. It’s not about distance and glossing everything up to imply that you’re great. It’s about putting the digital content out and accepting yourself and work as you are (this is my synthesis, not their direct words) and listening to and responding to your audience and your self.

This is a relief.

Both of them were so helpful and encouraging about my work and had some good insights and ideas about the web site design challenges my team and I face. (It’s amazing to say “my team.” I am stunned and thrilled that talented people are working with me on the talk show and my Internet infrastructure)

Of course it’s not just web design. It’s how to make a living as an independent artist. As Derek summarized + identified with my challenge “want to be a star, a community manager and an entrepreneur.” While I quibble with the word star (because my desire is to shine yes, but not to be distant or focussed on getting attention or fame for no reason), he’s right. It’s good thing I like to do all these different things. He does too and so does JoCo. It’s a good thing because they’re all necessary to be a successful independent artist apres Net. It will be true for any online business, but that’s a topic for another day and another post.

Being open, just putting stuff out there is at the heart of it. So in that spirit, here are my notes.

• put everything out (right now I have a constipated catalogue)

• Don’t sit on the egg too long. (DP) Put out stuff you think sucks. (JC)

•You don’t know what will hit.

• Tip jars don’t work. Sell your work.

•digital content doesn’t cost to store, and you can sell only one copy of one piece and make that one person really happy while another piece sells, travels a lot. Don’t focus on making something “viral,” just on making stuff.

• user content is the greatest fun. Invite it. Make room to show it.

• have a store, JoCo intelligently links to his with the word music in the nav. His store page is an explanation of how to get his music and his goals ie making a living. I like how JoCo’s store with all his digital content works. I want to do the same. I know most of mine is video and that heretofore people haven’t paid for this. But we will try and see as my mission will be clearer to people as I share it more.

>JoCo recommends e-junkie for shopping cart

• a place to capture email addresses easily near each piece of video content posted

• each show has it’s own little node as each of JoCo’s songs does, seen here, which includes a place to see fan/audience response + to solicit it. I find his simple way of doing it easy to understand and follow.

• within the HG Show each conversation should have the same.

• may not need subvert + hg as separate sites. just have subvert redirect to hg for now. Simplicity yes!

• the corporate / biz stuff has it’s own small site/page in another place

• all shows are under the heathergold umbrella

• Jane Siberry (now Issa) is having sucess with her “pay what youlike now or later ” system. JoCo is trying to get the code. He has learned that when a big wave of people come the pricesdrop. but this greater volumn / lower price makes sense to me.

• the feedback is the critical piece for the audience/ community (and the artist too :-), everyone wants to know that what they do say, create has an impact and is acknowledged.

• paying the artist directly for their work is the future, get with the program folks.

•integrate my manifesto, the why I’m doing things along with my work. Don’t worry about separaing everything.

• don’t worry about “branding” / calculating a single essence before putting things out. As Cory Doctorow told me, people are learning to filter. Don’t let self-definition paralyze you. Just put the stuff out.

•It’s really great to put out work you don’t like (JoCo). Get’s you over the perfectionist thing. That last 2% only matters to you.

• continue to play with the multiple levels of ticketing pries but make it clearer what they are. Eg. Keep the names of the pricing on the front page but have a “what the hell is this?” link that will go elsewhere to my FAQplace where I can explain this stuff along with my manifesto.

• pre-ordering. Use the fund this project / participate/gimmesomecandy approach to putting together a DVD and book of the last season (and same for Cookie) see: |

• calendaring. JoCo uses eventful . He was so so about their coding. They say they push all their events out to other calendars if you check that preference inc upcoming, but he hasn’t checked to see if, in fact, this is working. He said promoting the eventuful a lot is key. We can have in the show area a link so people can go there if they want to bring the show to their town/place.

• having lots of guides helps people find what relates to them. JoCo does a nice start here guide that lays out some of this (that link is in the margin, the little box at the top) and also lays out how and why he’s doing it and the approach to singing/giving the music.

•involving people in the process, blogging openly about it is great. I’ve been toying with putting all the numbers out so people can see how much each show costs etc. Although once the thing is done, like the stage is built for the hydraulic lift, how does one generate the $1000 to pay for it. Involving everyone in helping us solve the problem and costs is great. In fact, I will probably blog this :-)

4 Responses to “Men with beards are so nice.”

  1. schlomo Says:

    Great info in this post!

    One thing about being an online artist, is that what works for one does not neccesarily mean it will work for all. It’s the wild west out here right now, and listening/learning from as many people as possible is what is going to get you to where you want to go.

    And I’m looking forward to the ride!

  2. Justin Kownacki Says:

    Putting it all out there is important because you never know what will hit — this is true.

    But, at the same time, most artists / companies wouldn’t put EVERYTHING out there, because there’s a perception of image and a perception of quality that needs to be maintained. If your art or business is built upon a notion of being The Best ___, and then you release elements that YOU know are nowhere NEAR “the best,” that’s a mixed message.

    On the other hand, I’d be fascinated to see an artist or business make EVERY move the make public. See the sketches, the doodles, the brainstorming sessions, the broken code, the failures. It would make for a much more HUMANE approach to life / art / business, and maybe we’d all hate the successful (and each other) a little less.

  3. Heather Gold Says:

    I agree Justin. I think this is most useful to someone who is not yet “big” with a certain expectation of their audience. At the same time as Schlomo says, this is new. As i am more open about my process as I create my work, my audience will expet more of that. Every person may not want to see all of it, only the “polished” pieces, but others will want to be involved in the process.

    It’s also specifically good advice for me because I tend to “sit on the egg” (as DP puts it) too long. I’m not interested in putting out anything bad, but I am interested in learning to let go of stuff earlier.

    And as a chick, playing out matters. See this earlier post.

  4. Scott Andrew - lo-fi acoustic pop superhero! > wordpress > archives > 2007 > 10 > while i was out Says:

    [...] Heather Gold shares notes she took while hanging with Jonathan Coulton and Derek Powazek. Lots of interesting ideas about [...]

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