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Jonathan Coulton, a Day in the Life

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the code-monkey-still-the-best dept.

The Internet 68

The New York Times is running a look behind the scenes with singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, creator the somewhat popular "Thing a week" songs on his blog. Coulton describes a bit of how he got started and what daily life is like maintaining relations with his fans. "Along the way, he discovered a fact that many small-scale recording artists are coming to terms with these days: his fans do not want merely to buy his music. They want to be his friend. And that means they want to interact with him all day long online. They pore over his blog entries, commenting with sympathy and support every time he recounts the difficulty of writing a song. They send e-mail messages, dozens a day, ranging from simple mash notes of the "you rock!" variety to starkly emotional letters, including one by a man who described singing one of Coulton's love songs to his 6-month-old infant during her heart surgery. Coulton responds to every letter, though as the e-mail volume has grown to as many as 100 messages a day, his replies have grown more and more terse, to the point where he's now feeling guilty about being rude."

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Who? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19117405)

Who?

Re:Who? (3, Informative)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117535)

His most popular song of late is called Code Monkey [youtube.com]

Personally, I like re: Your Brains [youtube.com] better and the WoW version of Code Monkey [youtube.com] as well.

Re:Who? (1, Insightful)

Ophion (58479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117677)

  1. You swapped your links.
  2. Those are some bloody awful songs.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19122691)

They're better without the dumb videos. Well, Your Brains was anyway. Reminds me very much of TMBG.

Re:Who? (1)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117841)

I preferred this version of Code Monkey. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lLRBiEBRA [youtube.com]

I can't quite put my finger on why.

But I'd like to.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19121017)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lLRBiEBRAc [youtube.com] You dropped something.

And I agree! Worth finding!

Re:Who? (0, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117939)

This guy has a song called "code monkey"? Jesus christ... I can't imagine a more boring/dorky subject for a song. This guy sounds like They Might Be Giants meets Public Radio. I'm open minded, but not open-minded enough to listen to a song called "code monkey". That's just terrible.

Because everybody knows... (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19120923)

you should always judge a song by its title.

Re:Because everybody knows... (1)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19122117)

You know, you're right. I personally loved "I Boned Your Mother With A Broken Trojan", almost as much as "My Dick Is Longer Than Yours And You Know It"

Code Monkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19117987)

Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write god damned login page himself

Re:Who? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19117661)

A mother insult is a reference to a person's mother through the use of phrases such as "your mom", "yer mum", or "yo mama", frequently used to insult the target by way of his or her mother. Used as an insult, "your mom..." preys on the fact that people commonly love and revere their mothers, making the insult particularly and globally offensive.[1] "Your mom" can be combined with most types of insults, although suggestions of promiscuity, obesity, or lack of intelligence are particularly common.[2] Compared to other types of insults, "your mom" insults are especially likely to incite violence.[3][1] Slang variants such as "yo momma" or "yer ma" are sometimes used, depending on the local dialect. Insults involving "Your mom" are commonly used when playing the dozens. Additionally, this phrase is frequently used in playful banter between friends. Although this may appear to be a recent phenomenon, one can trace its roots far back in history. Indeed, William Shakespeare appears to utilize such a device in Act I Scene 1 of Timon of Athens:

        Painter: "Y'are a dog."
        Apemantus: "Thy mother's of my generation. What's she, if I be a dog?"

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Life of Timon of Athens

Although the phrase has a long history of including a description portion (such as the old, mostly harmless insult "your mama wears Army shoes"), the phrase "yo mama" by itself, without any qualifiers, has become commonly used as an all-purpose insult or an expression of defiance.

Use as a retort

"Your mom" is also sometimes used as a sarcastically immature retort to either a mild criticism or even an innocuous statement. The effect of this is usually to mock the person. It is occasionally used as a sexual innuendo as in the following example:

        Q: What are you doing?
        A: Your mom!

In popular culture

"Your mom" jokes became common in North American pop culture in the early nineties. The Pharcyde's 1992 track "Ya Mama" echoed it, [4] as did the film Napoleon Dynamite, in which one of the supporting characters utters the phrase "your mom goes to college." Mexican film Y Tu Mama Tambien's title is an equivalent usage in Spanish ("and your momma too"). There is also a television show Yo Momma featuring contestants "playing the dozens". The Australian hiphop outfit Butterfingers released a song called "Yo Mama" that made number 17 on the 2004 Triple J Hottest 100.[5]

Re:Who? (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19121311)

I remember hearing about Johnathan Coulton from various geek podcasts a few years back. His songs were particularly popular with the geek circle because 1) his songs were all under creative commons, and 2) people related to his subject material - geeky things.

I pleasantly suprised to see his popularity grow. I suppose exposure in /., Penny Arcade and Digg really helped on top of the geek podcast inner circles.

Video Interviews (1)

laddy (159448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117467)

There was a two-part interview with Coulton which was actually fairly interesting. Part 1 [themerlinshow.com] . Part 2 [themerlinshow.com] .

100 messages a day? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19117469)

No one in the history of time has ever received that many emails a day.

Re:100 messages a day? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19118017)

No one in the history of time has ever received that many emails a day.
No normal human could respond sincerely to 100 angsty emails a day. Mr. Coulton has superpowers, his secret identity is Respondo. In addition to the ability and desire to write thoughtful responses to 100 emails daily, Respondo is also known to have the powers of BCC:-seeing, and complete mastery of reply-all-fu. Respondo has been having trouble with his love life due to his archrival, Dr. V1agra, who always rises to the challenge. Respondo is currently engaged in a battle of wills against Blogspammer and his evil minion, Formula409.

Seriously, though (well, not really), we'd all do well to not troll Slashdot's human interest stories as much as any news outlet.

Re:100 messages a day? (1)

namebutler (1102195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19124895)

The thing is that if he's responding he's likely adding new solid fans everyday. Sure he might not be getting thousands everyday but maybe one third are new fans who emailed him and they'll likely stick around. Once he hits the 200 a day I'm sure he'll be rethinking his strategy.

100 a day? (5, Funny)

magarity (164372) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117475)

Coulton responds to every letter, though as the e-mail volume has grown to as many as 100 messages a day, his replies have grown more and more terse, to the point where he's now feeling guilty about being rude."
 
And now you've gone and slashdotted the poor fellow. Here come his 15 minutes and there goes all his prexisting fan base.

Re:100 a day? (1)

Sabaki (531686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117621)

Well, he hasn't responded to every message before now, but he's still an amazingly talented and cool guy.

He's already had at least fifteen minutes, and I think we longstanding fans will be sticking by him.

Stick it to the man (3, Informative)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117537)

Re:Stick it to the man (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19123423)

All on one page, no ads:
Alternatively, you could have linked the one page [nytimes.com] " view directly under that, have a nicely formatted article, and let the NYT have at least one page-view for its advertisers, which seems a reasonable trade.

Re:Stick it to the man (1)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19123661)

Perhaps you didn't read my subject line. I was inviting, yea encouraging, everyone to "stick it" to "the man".

Re:Stick it to the man (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19123751)

I did indeed read the subject line and debated whether a reply was appropriate. I decided that some folks might share my "give a little, take a little" philosophy to web-surfing and a link wouldn't hurt. Soul-sucking registration aside, does the NYT really represent "the man" in your mind? :)

Re:Stick it to the man (1)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19123869)

No, I don't believe in "the man", I was joking. I will also grant that this is not a very egregious example of spreading out an article over several pages - it is a long article and the ads aren't all that intrusive. Still, I dislike articles that spread beyond two links. It makes it too much work to quickly scan, especially for articles I assume are going to be uninteresting for the most part. Like this one.

Re:Stick it to the man (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19123995)

Still, I dislike articles that spread beyond two links.
We're in full agreement here. Some of the tech review sites are infuriating in this regard, with a pretty picture and a few lines of text per page, and an article spanning sometimes upwards of 20 pages! I wonder, however, how long it's going to take these sites to really get tired of people just hitting the "print" link to avoid the ads. I'm certainly guilty of doing it and you are too, by the sound of it. Who will speak out when they come for the print links?!

Coulton Rocks :D (5, Interesting)

Magneon (1067470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117543)

I must say, I did email Mr. Coulton after purchasing a number of his songs one day. I just fealt like explaining my quirky selection and justifying my buy. The next day (I sent the email late at night) I received a nice and well thought out email in response.

We really should support artists like Jonathan. He's talented, his songs are interesting (bills, bills, bills or creepy doll for instance) and funny (such as code monkey), and best of all when you buy them, he gets every cent. (well, most of it. Paypal takes 2.5% :P but that's a far cry from the premiums that record labels extort from their artists). Also, you can listen to all of his songs before you buy them. The whole thing. Not to mention quite a few of his songs are free downloads.

Check out http://www.jonathancoulton.com/ [jonathancoulton.com] today! :)

/advertisement ;)

Re:Coulton Rocks :D (2, Insightful)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19119347)

I emailed him as well after buying Code Money on iTMS and while it wasn't the next day, also got a terse but funny response to my email that essentially read "You rock!"

I had never done that before and was wondering why; I appreciate the music and all, but figured that buying it was my way of indicating to him my appreciation. At least, that's how it's perceived to the "big" artists; your chances of getting a "hey, thanks!" email from Bowie or the Rolling Stones is nil. But smaller bands, smaller solos, they come across as the "regular Joes" who happen to make great music and they by that nature seem more approachable. I've seen stadium rock with an army of bouncers in front of the stage, and then there's the guy with the guitar playing on the mat next to you at the pub and is more capable, and presumably more receiving, of any compliments you're willing to throw his way.

Excellent article (2, Interesting)

Dan Stephans II (693520) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117569)

Refreshing. FTA:

Indeed, running a Web store has allowed Coulton and other artists to experiment with intriguing innovations in flexible pricing. Remarkably, Coulton offers most of his music free on his site; when fans buy his songs, it is because they want to give him money.

I had never heard of him but I am definitely going to take a listen. What's remarkable to me is that people find the idea that people will pay for value ... remarkable. The whole article is peppered with great examples of how Coulton embraces people using his work -- he even says it is a way to get him exposure. Most excellent.

Re:Excellent article (2, Interesting)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117717)

I agree that his mindset is refreshing. I think there are a lot of musicians that have this mindset and that it is not necessarily unique. What is unique is that he is actually GOOD. Too much of what you can find released under the Creative Commons is (in my opinion of course) trash. His songs are entertaining and geeky and have brilliant lyrics. What really impresses me is that JoCo is willing to live as a middle-class citizen and work for his money doing concerts, contracted work, etc. Most talented (or at least well-marketed) artists seem to think that they can produce one album and deserve to live like a king for the rest of time.

Re:Excellent article (3, Interesting)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118633)

I think there are a lot of musicians that have this mindset and that it is not necessarily unique
I'd second that. As a musician/composer myself, I have found that the advent of the internet (combined with my growing a little older and hopefully more mature) has changed my goals as an artist. In 1989, all I wanted to do was get my band signed to record deal so we could open for Guns N' Roses on their next world tour. Now? I'd just like to license enough songs to filmmakers/producers or sell tracks to people who dig cool/interesting/unique music and make a decent middle class living (as I do now in my day job).

I used to think I wanted to make millions of dollars with my music. Now, while I wouldn't turn down the millions, I'd feel like I hit the lottery if I could just provide a decent living for my family by exclusively selling/licensing music. It's no longer wildly optimistic for this to happen with the internet. It makes it possible for an unknown to become known. It also makes it possible for people to contact others in the industry that they would not otherwise have been able to get in touch with. I've made a number of good contacts in television and independent movie forums that would've been next to impossible 10-15 years ago, all because I took my old piece of crap Compaq and made it a server to host my own website [mikeiscool.net] .

Hey, it hasn't happened yet, I still need the "straight job" to help pay the bills, but it builds every day. Hopefully, I'll garner enough interest to be able to quit and concentrate on making music and being a father. With guys like John Coulton leading the way, there's hope for guys like me.

Re:Excellent article (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118133)

This seems to illustrate viability of a new kind of business to come. Providing highly personal entertainer-to-audience interactivity going beyond old models. Bypassing the dinosaur men-in-the-middle models. I could see some enterprising startup providing a mechanism for artists to do this without having to be IT specialists themselves. Kind of a WordPress for musicians maybe. But maybe with power tools for managing customer interactions, non-written content delivery, etc.

Re:Excellent article (1)

Nachtfalke (160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19120373)

And you could call it....MySpace.

Re:Excellent article (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19120937)

Well, if MySpace were to add some means of metering and charging for media distribution. Except that then makes them another man-in-middle like a record compnay, and we're back to the old model of a big guy between the artist and the audience.

Re:Excellent article (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#19122767)

This seems to illustrate viability of a new kind of business to come. Providing highly personal entertainer-to-audience interactivity going beyond old models.

Wasn't the web supposed to enable people to be their own publishers? Oh it works. Hmm.

The Internet Fanclub (3, Interesting)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 7 years ago | (#19121391)

This is the reality we live in now, as artists. I do a little bit of singer/songwriter type stuff, and though I've never received a red cent for it (and never asked, as I'm pretty much just a hobbyist), but when I do get mail or whatever, I respond. It's good PR, it keeps people in the loop, and you know what? People like people, not just brands masquerading as people.

On a more tangential note, the internet is spelling the end of the traditional fanclub. Now you have widely available software that's capable of creating good, if not great music. And the people interested in your music probably have access to that. Music is an interactive thing now -- like it used to be before labels existed, I might add -- and people who enjoy music sometimes enjoy doing things with that music.

I multi-track my music, as it's pretty much the only way I can cost-effectively produce it. One thing I found is that if I say, "Here are the tracks, the vocals, the instruments, the effect, whatever," and add that I like people remixing or redoing the song, people actually do it. One guy (I assume a guy, but who knows) actually took a soft guitar and voice song I did and made it into a dance track. A pretty good one at that.

I like the fact that he did that. It validates my art. He likes the fact that he could do that. It validates his interest in me. And it's the sort of feedback loop that only becomes more exponential as time goes one, the sort of thing labels are unable or unwilling to do. And also the sort of massive opportunity they miss because of it.

Sick feedback loop (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19117595)

I guess if you think every little thought passing through your head is worth publishing to the world it might get a little weird when the world responds in an equally sycophantic manner.

 

Re:Sick feedback loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19119487)

It gets messy when you start getting paid to publish every little thought, and you end up having a lot of those days where you don't really have one, but you're supposed to publish one anyway, so you do, and the world still responds in a sycophantic manner. It takes a lot to keep your head straight, then.

Re:Sick feedback loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19119903)

I was just going to ask where's my 'blogcultureisdumb' tag.

Losing His Segment (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117599)

John has to know that with popularity will come the pressures of fanmail. Do not answer all of it. Pick three a day, MAX, that are worthy of response, and archive/backup the rest (mainly for legal reasons).

You have to delegate your time when you're a public figure. Don't waste it by talking to people who idolize you. At the very best it will make them STILL LOVE YOU. At the very worst, it could break the illusion of your stardom and cause them to lose interest (and you lose your fan) -- or even cause them to get a wrong vibe from you that could lead to some serious personal safety ramifications.

Sometimes stars need to be up in the sky. At night.

Re:Losing His Segment (5, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118529)

Speaking from personal experience in both directions, I'd have to disagree.

I'm certainly no Jonathan Coulton in terms of unusual Internet celebrity, but I do semi-regularly receive what might be termed "fan mail" from people in certain circles, I've been approached at conventions by people who dig my work, I have been recognized on the street, and I once got to autograph a particular body part. I'm also famous enough that a stranger started a Wikipedia article on me, though not famous enough to escape said article being deleted for non-notability. Taking all that with the massive grain of salt you should take with any Internet celebrity's assertions of their own Internet celebrity status, read on..

Since I really am grateful to hear from people who like something or other I've done, it just wouldn't feel right to leave these things unanswered. You think I rock? Thanks for thinking so! You think I suck? Thanks for letting me know why! Any input from outside is valuable in some way, especially on the Internet where there's such a massive glut of material and a post about the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything can get lost among a set of photos of one's cats. Feedback is the main payback for most of what I do (thanks, Slashdot mods!) and what drives much of the Internet's independenty-produced free content.

You talk about "breaking the illusion" of one's stardom.. personally, I love breaking whatever illusions come about from my peculiar brand of noteriety. A good friend of mine named Mark Lyons once said "the higher a pedestal someone has you up on, the easier it is to knock you down from it." I don't crave pedestals at all, and I'd much rather promote an honest image of myself to the world rather than letting people paint some People Magazine bullshit with my face on it. I really don't have any interest in the amount of work and deception it would take me to live up to some glamourized image loosely based on me, and take every opportunity to throw whatever monkeywrenches I can into that sort of goings-on. Have illusions about me, good or bad? I would like to smash them!

I'm never going to control whether people like or dislike me or my work, but so long as people base their judgments of me on something that actually has to do with me, they've come by their opinion honestly. And what's more, I've made some of my best friends this way. And this isn't the MySpace/Livejournal/Web2.0 definition of "friendship" which basically means "I clicked on your name once" but the real-world definition about the privilege of having great people involved in one's life.

Looking at this from the other perspective, I've had the pleasure of corresponding with people I've been a fan of for whatever reason. I don't expect personal replies back because of the realities of the situation, but that makes the few that do stand out so much more from the rest, and simply strengthens my support of whatever made me write them in the first place. I've even made some good friends this way as well.

Re:Losing His Segment (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19124369)

You signed a boobie? Do you know that puts you in the top 10% of all Slashdotters in terms of sexual experience?

Wow, twice in one day (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117605)

First there is the doubt about iTMS being a video distributor and now an artist is finding out that the Internet will actually let you interact with your fans. Wonder why the **AA never thought of that? Who knows, this 'intarweb thingy' might just catch on yet.

In other news, politicians are finding out that the Internet will allow their fans _AND_ foes to interact with them... whether they participate or not.

The Internet is changing the world, faster than we may realize. It's good to see that at least artists are figuring it out. I can only hope that the **AA start to catch on soon.

Ze Frank (1)

christopherfinke (608750) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117747)

Coulton also collaborated with Ze Frank [zefrank.com] on one of his last shows, singing a number of Ze's songs while Ze provides facial expressionary commentary.

Just a damn good guy overall (2, Interesting)

HarvardFrankenstein (635329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117797)

Jonathan demonstrates that rare quality of just being a hell of a guy. I've made a habit of manning his merchandise table at all of his shows at Milkboy in Ardmore, PA, and he always takes the time to chill with me and whoever I've brought along for a little while after the show. I'm really glad to see him getting the fame he deserves. Music needs more nice fellas.

Re:Just a damn good guy overall (1)

EtoilePB (1087031) | more than 7 years ago | (#19128791)

Ditto. Turns out that even though I discovered him through Spiff's Re: Your Brains video, my ex and I used to live about three blocks away from him in Brooklyn, and we've done the merch thing for him in New York a few times. He really is an outstanding guy and the shows are brilliant. After trying to convert all my friends (in a few cases, successfully), i'm glad to see him getting the attention he deserves, too. Now we just need more songs! ;)

Re:Just a damn good guy overall (1)

HarvardFrankenstein (635329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19128815)

Ha ha, more songs? What, 52 in one year wasn't enough for ya? :)

100 messages a day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19117869)

I wish I could cut back my work email to volume.

Rude? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117925)

Answering that many emails a day is a labor of love and decency. You often can't get people you work with to answer more than a few emails a day and they're paid to do that. Think about that...

A thing a week (2, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117929)

JoCo got lucky with A thing a week and it really helped the fanbase, each week people would go back to get a new song, while they aren't all great they are all worth listening to at least once. So as his skills grew and he tried different styles the followers also changed and grew in musical tastes he tried.

I wish the guy much luck but I wish he'd do a Thing a week again if only to see how he continues to evolve with easily defined timelines.

Good for him - he deserves it. (2, Insightful)

Ryosen (234440) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117933)

Coulton is a very talented performer, very supportive of his fans, and a nice person over-all. He is an excellent example of how you don't need to submit yourself to the slavery of the big record companies by showing that the independent musician route is, indeed, a viable alternative. His support for Creative Commons licensing has only helped to further demonstrate the power of less restrictions.

If each Slashdot member were to purchase just one of his songs from his website (they're 99 cents), it would send a clear message to all musicians out there that you don't need the RIAA.

Jonathan deserves all of the good press he gets and I can't think of a better independent musician to lead the way.

And his music is great, too... (4, Informative)

TobyRush (957946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19117975)

Coulton's success isn't just a "right place at the right time" sort of thing, either... his music is actually very good. The lyrics are witty and original, the progressions are more than just I-IV-V-I, and his tracks are extremely well-produced. My favorites include "Bacteria" (which uses a KFC training tape as the source material), "That Spells DNA," "Ikea," "Shop Vac," "Creepy Doll," "Under the Pines," many of which are geeky and most of which are funny. But he very often churns out more serious stuff: "When You Go," "Drinking With You," a cover of Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat," and "I'm Your Moon," a song sung by Charon to Pluto reassuring the newly-christened dwarf planet that it's still the most important thing in Charon's life. (Okay, that one is geeky, too, but just you try listening to it without getting a little lump in your throat.)

The article doesn't mention (I guess it's a little off-topic) that Coulton also serves as Popular Science's "Contributing Troubadour" and is good friends with John Hodgman.

Re:And his music is great, too... (3, Informative)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118111)

I'm glad you posted this. I thought there was something wrong with me for getting choked up about "I'm Your Moon". At least if there is something wrong with me I'm not the only one.

I would add to your list of favorites:
Skullcrusher Mountain- a mad scientist sings to his captive.
The Future Soon- A junior high kid imagines his future as a cyborg
I Crush Everything- A giant squid that hates himself because he destroys the things he loves
Re: Your Brains- Imagine your most annoying coworker coming back as a zombie.

And of course the link: Where you can listen to them all. [jonathancoulton.com]

Re:And his music is great, too... (1)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118417)

I thought the lack of mention of Hodgman was odd, as well. I first heard Coulton as the troubadour on the audiobook recording of The Areas of My Expertise, and I think I must be far from the only one, considering the relative popularity of that book.

Responding to your Fans (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118117)

Responding to all your fans when the write is a rare talent. I know a few authors, published and Internet, who do exactly that -- and admire them all. After all, every performer needs an audience as much as every audience needs a performer!

Ouch. (1)

Edward Kmett (123105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118463)

So let me get this straight...

The guy is having trouble keeping up with the influx of mail and responds to everyone, so you slashdot his mailbox?

Harsh.

Re:Ouch. (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19120221)

Eventually he'll end up spending more time corresponding with his fans than working on his music.

Poor bastard (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118489)

He's already having trouble keeping up, and he gets slashdotted.

The Best of the Bunch (1)

BuffaloBandit (955011) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118707)

I have to say that the best of Coulton's songs has to be First of May. I first heard Ikea and was interested. Once I heard First of May, I was sold. That is by far the best song in his catalog:
"...bring your favorite lady, or at least your favorite lay."
For the uninitiated: Mp3 and more information here [jonathancoulton.com] .

This Sums It Up; (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19118999)

...slowly building new fans online, playing live occasionally, making a solid living but never a crazy-rich one.

1. I'm old enough to remember when that's exactly what punk rock was and most not-pop music genres still are.

2. I happen to interact with a number of musicians and a few actors who had what most people would describe as "celebrity" scale careers. There are a few that can _only_ talk about themselves with everything they do pretty much is about them. They can be no fun if you don't pay attention to them exclusively. Putting two in the same room is just like high-school drama. What's worse is they have children. No, 24-7 nanny care doesn't mitigate the damage. That said, there are many who are decent creative people that happen to act/perform for a living. This guy sounds like he fits the latter.

Today's lesson: there's definitely a group of celebrities that actively pursue the drama and trivial hoopla that's so popular.

He obviously doesn't get enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19119007)

Coulton responds to every letter, though as the e-mail volume has grown to as many as 100 messages a day, his replies have grown more and more terse, to the point where he's now feeling guilty about being rude.

If he's still in the guilt phase, he doesn't get enough ;-)

Brevity is the soul of wit (0, Flamebait)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 7 years ago | (#19119083)

"[Coulton]'s replies have grown more and more terse

Lame.

"to the point where he's now feeling guilty about being rude."

Jerk.

This is goaT5ex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19119397)

a fact: FrreBSD

Interesting (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19119681)

I've never heard of him before, but now I'll have to check it out.
This is the "model" I've wanted to take, using the Internet for distribution and exposure, and certainly I'd give some songs under the Creative Commons - not all songs are hit material, even from the very best musicians.
If nothing else, this is one thing the music consumer is benefiting from in the digital age: he/she can now pick and choose the specific songs he/she wants to pay for, and not get stuck with the traditional "album filler" that was prevalent in the past. (While I'm not sure the bands themselves viewed these "lesser" tunes as album filler, the general public almost certainly always has. Part of that is due, I'm sure, to the artist mindset of everything they create being "their baby" to some extent.)
I just wonder how long before the RIAA finds some silly reason for a trumped up charge to hit Coulton and his contemporary peers with, seeing how they're not getting a piece of the action here.

Which came first, RIAA or Edison? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19120279)

I just wonder how long before the RIAA finds some silly reason for a trumped up charge to hit Coulton and his contemporary peers with...

Yeah, because non-RIAA (or "indie", or "indy", or "independent") artists and labels are a totally new thing John Coulton invented. Prior to Coulton, the only way to become a musician was to be born the son of a musician or save a musician's life.

Why?.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19120117)

I hate to be one of those jerks who asks why stuff like this makes Slashdot, but...

Why did this make Slashdot?

Coulton is One of Us! (1)

Cybrex (156654) | more than 7 years ago | (#19132397)

Because frankly anything relating to Jonathan Coulton counts as "news for nerds". He is the quintessential geek bard, with song topics ranging from Mandelbrot sets (he actually turns formulae into song lyrics) to genetics to having a T-1000 as a roommate. His love ballad "Laptop Like You" honest-to-Gawd makes me cry, and I'm a stone cold mo'fo'! I just happen to really love my laptop. :-)

di3k (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19121087)

The more things change... (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 7 years ago | (#19123317)

I remember a time when an up-and-coming author named Terry Pratchett [wikipedia.org] would frequently respond to posts on alt.fan.pratchett, and even posted his email address there. (I believe I had a question about the speed of light on Discworld.) But that was before "the September that never ended", as well as before repeated major international bestsellers. Nowadays, even with the post-spam/post-web reduction in Usenet's popularity, I doubt if Pterry even tries to keep up with that newsgroup, and I suspect that his personal email address is only shared with close friends. Not to take anything away from this songwriter-I've-never-heard-of, but this is, I think, an old and oft-repeated story, and one that could probably be told about thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people that have come to celebrity in the last couple of decades.
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