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What happens to your digital life after death?

This has huge implications, including who receives Youtube, iTunes, or adsense royalties from archived content 150 years from now?

(Source: pewresearch)


Anonymous asked:

seriously you are an amazing human being! thank you for being so passionate about music. I seriously more people like you should exist. thank you. music really is the best thing in life and it is often ruined by very commercial artist who only care about money, but I'm so glad to see that there still are people who genuinely care about music. thanks

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to be commercial. Different things make different people tick. I’m pretty firm on my stance that Beethoven and Justin Bieber are on the same artistic level, at least in my opinion. To me, the art of marketing, writing a hit pop song, or composing a symphony are all equally as hard as one another.

Go ahead - try and get 100,000 Youtube subscribers writing cheesy songs about girls, or farting, or giraffes. Or maybe writing the world’s next memorable symphony. Anything really.

The fact is that it’s incredibly tough no matter how you slice it.

The ones who do it well have “something” going for them. I’ve learned to study what they do, appreciate it, and admire it.

I care about music much like most people do. The difference is that money doesn’t make me tick. Changing the world does. There’s nothing wrong with wanting money, but there has to be a balance, and there has to be a heart.

Everyone’s muse, lifestyle choices, careers, and thoughts are different, so who am I to judge that one is better than the other?

I actually care more about if the person is a good person more than anything else. Money only gets me the things that allow me to tackle my dreams. That’s always been what it’s about to me, but I wouldn’t look down upon someone who believed otherwise.

A Note About Pandora Royalties

Pandora has been getting a lot of flack for this artists’ post titled “My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!”. I disagree with that post, here’s why:

1.) You shouldn’t be mad at Pandora, you should be mad at Congress’ tiered unleveled playing field for treating internet radio royalties differently than legacy AM/FM radio. Pandora can barely swim above water because their royalties are over their heads. Sure, they’re a publicly traded company, so maybe they’re being dramatic about it, but that doesn’t make the double-standard law any better.

2.) Pandora is most likely helping sell those $17 t shirts

As I mentioned last month, the old business model allowed you to only make $1 off of a song per person. And that was it: $1, sale is done, no more money. No viral sharing, no playlists, sandboxed, no charts, nothing. Now that an artist can average $16.89 per year per song - that’s incredible!

The difference is that the old model consisted of releasing 3 CDs over a lifetime to a million fans, whereas today’s model consists of releasing 30 CDs over a lifetime to a few thousand fans.

Not only that, but Spotify has actually increased paid downloads, so I can assume that

1.) Pandora’s royalties over a lifetime amount to greater income than retail sales
2.) Pandora actually increases retail sales, too
3.) Pandora, like AM/FM radio, increases ticket and merchandise sales (exposure)

So I have no problem with Pandora’s current royalty payments. I also agree with their recent loophole purchase of an AM/FM station. (I don’t have music on Pandora simply because their odd submission rules, but oh well).

Granted, Pandora and Spotify (and Apple Radio, etc.) follow slightly different technicalities in royalty payments, but they’re similar enough to draw the comparison. I pay out royalties to the songwriters whose music I cover, and the musicians and publishers of each respective song will receive that split for eternity - and trust me, they’re all very happy.

Similarly, when looking at the Youtube model, some publishers want synch license fees so people can upload their cover songs to Youtube, then they also want to claim the streaming royalties. But they’re missing the point. They should forget the upfront fee and make it easier to upload music, then use Youtube’s Content ID so they can make royalties on every stream. The royalties over a lifetime eclipse any synch fee. Plus, it’s trillions of half-penny transactions versus 10’s of large transactions - as a Youtube partner, I can tell you that the former eclipses the latter. And guess what? Youtube increases iTunes sales.

So welcome to the new model, nothing like the old model. It’s much better.

Your Money Update

As I mentioned last week I want to publish a monthly accounting update so everyone knows where their money goes to. That’ll all be itemized in my next post.

I paid royalties to all the Homestuck musicians and many more this week. One thing I liked is that Sinister Psyche AKA Kezinox (the composer of Homestuck ‘Fuchsia Ruler’) told me it helped him get a mishka watch he wanted:

That was cool to know, so I wanted to pass that on to you. Feels awesome to help out other musicians for their incredible music.

I’m for it. Tumblr only made $12 million last year, which seems that they can use a bigger advertising company to support them and exponentially grow their income streams.

As much as I hate ads, I understand Tumblr needs to make money so that Tumblr (and this amazing community it nurtures) can survive. I thought $5 promoted posts could have worked with some tweaks, which would have created a serious income stream. I also felt Tumblr needed an internal Bandcamp-like store, Etsy-like store, and more. They host they content - why not sell it too?

If Marissa Mayer leaves Tumblr untouched and allows David Karp to run it as promised, then I see it being a win-win for everyone.

I also think our Tumblr pages may see a lot of traffic in the year to come because Yahoo plans to incorporate it with their other sites. This is both good and bad, I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t care about web traffic, I care more about the tight community. So if Tumblr becomes mainstream then it risks losing its niche audience. Only time will tell.

Tumblr and their investors always had an eye on an exit strategy, so this was seemingly inevitable. All things considered, I think Yahoo was the best company that could have bought it. Twitter would have sunset it like they did with Posterous, Facebook would have destroyed it, Google would have acqu-hired the talent and sold the parts, and if Tumblr remained independent then they faced increased competition from Pinterest, Wordpress, Twitter, etc.

I think this is a direct offensive move for Yahoo to incorporate Flickr so they can go against Facebook and Instagram. Gaining a younger demographic while securing mobile users is exactly want Yahoo needed, and that’s what they got - for a fraction of the price, too (Tumblr is worth a lot more than $1B in my opinion). Yahoo’s stock isn’t dependable, so an all cash deal was a good trade-off for a lower price tag.


Yea but I’m not too worried about it. I live a pretty minimal life, here’s my monthly breakdown:

$400 rent
$200 food
$200 health insurance
$200 music licensing and distribution
$200 recreation and hanging with friends
$50 phone and internet

At this time last year I had just made over $700 a month which was an insanely huge amount of money for me at the time. I always said that if I made it over “the tipping point” then I would give my music away and just keep doing this for everyone, close my eyes and see where it takes me. “If it scares you, do it” - so sure, I’m scared I may have cannibalized my income, but I’ll know in 3 months if I’m stupid or if my community will make sure I don’t go away.

Here’s where your dollar goes when you purchase my music. I have two lines of income that have been just enough for me to survive:
1.) my Youtube music lessons here
2.) my orchestra music here.

I also want to start a monthly accounting blog update on the first of every month so everyone can see what I made, where the money went, and future plans. As an internet junkie I’m big on transparency, but this is also about the structure of what I want this to be:

I see you as my employer, and me as the employee. So you should know the finances anyway, in my opinion.

That being said, t-shirts are coming out soon, so they’ll have higher profit margins than a digital download. I’ve been so busy the past year arranging that I haven’t gotten around to it - but expect it in a few weeks at most.

Bandcamp takes 15%, which is really awesome. iTunes and the “big stores” take about 30%, which is insane (but it’s a smaller percentage of a bigger pond. iTunes is still somehow the lion’s share of my income.)

Here’s how I see it:

Since the beginning of time musicians and artists had to work for kings and queens and all types of horrible situations. Plus, they usually died by their mid-30’s, and their music wouldn’t be heard by others until 150 years later.

Later on in history, if I was on a major record label I would have only seen 3 cents per song [link], sometimes less (like how Eddie Van Halen actually somehow owes money after a shady record deal [link] )

Anyway, fast forward to today and when you buy something off Bandcamp I make about 85 cents (with another ~40 cents going towards licensing, web hosting, and overhead, etc.)

So in the span from the year 1960 - 2013 the “royalty rate” I can make from my music went from 3 cents to ~50 cents. And here’s the kicker: I don’t have to pay for manufacturing, distribution, marketing, etc.

So go ahead and get it for free, or throw in $1. Whatever you want. When I first started this idea I financially couldn’t make it free because I needed an income stream. Now after 7 years I’m finally living light and minimal, and have a low enough overhead that I can finally spread my music around to teach people about the orchestra without fear of starving. It also feels good to be in a position to not have any barriers to stopping people from being exposed to the orchestra.

I do hope to have t-shirts in a few weeks, which will have higher profit margins (making $4 on a shirt is better than making $0.50 on a digital song that should be free anyway). Plus shirts are COOL.

I have a whole tag where I respond to people asking me about downloading my music without paying for it. I’ve said plenty of times - I don’t want to be dead before people hear my music because I don’t want to fall into that trap. I want to change how things are.

So I don’t care what you do. It’s music, it’s meant to be experienced, shared, hated, loved, and invisible. Just enjoy it. That’s all I ask.

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