Dear artists: Stop whining, and get smarter.

[Originally blogged 3/11/08]
A note to all artists out there who seem to whine constantly about downloading and people stealing your music:

Stop being pussies.

Since 95% of all musicians do not make a living at their craft (me included), there’s a darn good chance that if it were 10 years ago and you were as good as you are now that, well, you’d still be working a day job.

Long gone are the days that most of us could get “tour support,” meaning the label would front cash for us to get on the road, basically depending on CD sales to make up the costs.  Long gone are a lot of days though, so pay attention to what’s going on now and stop thinking you’re going to be the next Nine Inch Nails.

Sure, it sucks and to me is massively disrespectful if someone calls themselves a “fan” and has never tossed you even a few bucks at a show for an actual copy of your CD or snagged it digitally off of any number of legal websites, but you know what? What the hell have you done to push your shit to give them a reason to buy it?

In an age where apparently kids would rather download (hopefully legally sometimes) than actually buy a CD, you have to be creative if you want to offset the money you may be losing due to illegal downloading. So what have I and many others done?

One word: Merchandising.

I’ve had a really nice time figuring out stuff to sell for Caustic, as “branding” and developing the image is a really cool way to get the word out on your band, let people advertise your sexy ass on their chests, cars, and crotches (I made thongs), and mostly it’s something a lot of people want.  If you look at bands like Assemblage 23, VNV Nation, and the god of merch these days, COMBICHRIST, you’ll see how smart it is to have a consistent style and image for your band and to market it in non-music formats.

Why? Because fans LIKE you and like SUPPORTING you, you ignorant assholes!

It’s a simple, silly thing to say, but you can’t download a t-shirt. You can’t download a shot glass. Hell, you can’t download a memorable performance, at least not in the sense that you’ll be getting the same thing out of a bootleg than you did out of being there and in the moment getting crazy with all your friends.

Which leads me to my next point: Play live.

Sure, you need to not suck and have music worth hearing, but playing live is a really nice way to a) Travel some, generally on someone else’s dime (or at least discounting the trip heavily), b) Meet lots of cool people and turn them on to your music, and c) Kick some ass on stage.

Personally, I see it as a reason to have a few beers (okay, 30), jump around (and off) stage for 45 minutes, and scream bloody murder and watch anywhere from a few dozen to a thousand people dance their asses off (or at least look really confused as to what’s going on, which is sometimes infinitely more fun). That’s rewarding in itself, but what’s even moreso, to me, is that it’s a really fun bonding experience. I sit in front of a fuckin’ computer 40+ hours a week and talk to people all over the world on this here interweb, and that’s awesome, but what’s more uber-awesome is actually spending time face to face with a crowd and just losing our collective shit together.  It’s a visceral thrill to ringlead a crowd in chanting “HANDJOB!” or any other dumbass thing I think of in the moment.

And if they enjoy it, they’ll spread the word on what they saw and ideally even MORE people will be there next time, and they’ll all hopefully have a little extra cash to snag a shirt, CD, or that limited edition Caustic totem pole I’ve been making my sweatshop minions carve for me in bulk. BREAKS OVER, MANUEL!!!!

Ahem…

So stop your bitching and upgrade to the new age. Battling on internet forums about downloading really isn’t helping shit at this point, as we all know you can rarely win an internet fight (something I need to remember from time to time myself) and changing someone’s opinion when they’re on the free music gravy train ain’t easy, especially when they’re blowing tons of cash on new XBox games and the newest fucking Saw special edition.

Step up and figure out a new model for pimping your shit. It’s better than watching a ship sink, and generally more fun.

(And by the way, download Caustic LEGALLY off all major digital distributos.  Don’t use ANY Russian paysites as I get dick from them and they’re costing YOU money and most likely stealing your harddrive with some virus at the same time.  Seriously.  I’d prefer you just steal it off soulseek or some torrent instead of giving those mutants a dime.  Much appreciated.)

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