Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An Invitation For Your Patronage

Before I get started: I know, I know, it's been, like, forever since my last post! Well, longer than I usually let slip by, at any rate. And I totally announced on Twitter and Facebook that this post, this BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, would be coming what is technically yesterday. I mean, it's three in the friggin' morning and I was hoping to have everything ready around twelve hours ago... And while I have some perfectly valid excuses, I also have a very good reason! Let's begin with the excuses, shall we?

I guess there's really just one excuse, but could you could count it as many little excuses caused by one enormous factor, and that is that, well, I did just put out two records in, like, the same week! Promoting is usually a time-consuming, tedious, soul-sucking task when just one record is involved, but I've been promoting Instrumentality for sale at online stores, which has it's own set of difficulties, as well as promoting Reprise which I felt obliged to release to show everyone that I'm not a sell-out, I'm still just a cyber-busker offering free art and trying to make ends meet on tips.

And neither the distributor nor the stores themselves are giving me any help (in fact, they've ignored common sense in some instances as if they're trying to make it harder) when it comes to selling Instrumentality. All of the advertising, all of the promoting, the job of making people simply aware that this record exists, even on streaming services, has fallen entirely on me. Now I know what a label is for, aside from distribution. It's not enough to make art available. Especially when stores insist on slight differences in your name - such as the word "The," and gods help you if you have improper capitalization going on such as in "anoNYMous" - or streaming services don't include any information about your work aside from the song title. Because of factors like these, I didn't even know Instrumentality was available on YouTube or Spotify until I tried a variety of different searches. The word "instrumentality" doesn't even appear in the information about my songs on YouTube except in the video window, on the album cover, which is displayed while the song is playing. Then there's the author name for these videos, which is simply "Various Artists." Not The Lady anoNYMous. So there is nothing linking these videos to each other. The songs might as well be completely unrelated. And, of course, I have to learn these things as I go along. Did I mention that I don't even get an email or link or anything sent to me when my art goes online somewhere? I have to find it on my own and then run around the Internet every day telling people where and how to find it. It fucking blows. I'm used to doing all of the footwork for promoting my Bandcamp releases, but even Bandcamp, a nearly entirely free service, gives you tools for promoting outside of their website and tries to network the artists within it. From the distributor, stores, and streaming services, I get absolutely nothing. The distributor says, "Hey, we got your money, now have fun trying to make some!" while the stores say, "Hey, we make money if you make money, but we got more important shit to do than help out a lost cause like you!" while the streaming services say, "Yeah, you'll get a fraction of a cent for each play of your songs from our advertisers, keep your pantyhose on!"

So maybe playing for tips really is the way to go. Musicians and artists in general seem to be gravitating towards crowdfunding to make art and make a living, and the number of crowdfunding platforms and the different varieties of crowdfunding are multiplying like crazy! One of these platforms, with a style that caters to people who make small-scale creations on a frequent basis, is Patreon.com. Rather than asking for donations for a large and relatively expensive project, Patreon users ask their "patrons" to pledge to tip an artist for smaller creations. For example, a patron could pledge to tip me $5 for each digital record or short story that I release, which is the kind of art that I will be offering. Afraid that, with my reputation for releasing multiple records a month, I might go wild and do something totally fucked up like make a record release out of every song, and I'll start producing a ton of crappy songs to try and make lots of money? Well, patrons can cap their monthly pledges to fit their budget, so if you're pretty sure you'll only have $35 to spare for art, even by an artist you love as much as me, you can set that as your cap and not go over. You can also cancel your pledges at any time. To me, this is sounding like more and more of a sweet deal, for artists and patrons.

(An example of patron rewards)

To sweeten the deal, no matter how much you pledge, you get the product the artist produces free, plus artists are given a variety of ways to entice you with exclusive packages and bonus content only available to patrons, some of which the artist can even organize into "tiers" of patrons and their pledges. For example, I can make an exclusive four-track EP available to patrons who pledge $1 or more while I can make an exclusive fourteen-track album available to patrons who pledge $5 or more, and those $5-pledging patrons will also have access to the four-track EP available to the $1 pledgers. Seeing how this works? I hope so, because I know the language and concept can be a little tough to grasp at first, but I don't think I can make it any plainer.

Let's see: patron tips per Thing (as Amanda Palmer terms the artists' creations), patron can set budget, patron can cancel continuing to tip at any time. Artist gives bonus Stuff to patrons aside from Things. Patron's tip amount determines what Stuff a patron can get. Typically, larger tips means cooler Stuff. Larger tips also qualify for all of the less-cool Stuff as well. Hmmm, aside from the use of qualifiers like "cool," I think I may have actually done it.

So, you have undoubtedly by now deduced where this is leading: I'm taking to the streets with a bottle of lube to sell hand-jobs! And I've set up a Patreon! (I'm not sure if I'm supposed to capitalize the word when using it like that... It's hard to tell with relatively new Internet terminology.) Go to http://patreon.com/theladyanonymous (and how easy is that to remember? It's like these people want potential patrons to be able to find me!) to visit my profile where you can see that I already have patron rewards set up with more on the way! All that's needed now is you and your support! So much of my art is already available for free through various avenues on the Internet. Through the donations button on this page and through the "name your price" option at Bandcamp, there's already ways to give me tips. But this way you can tip and get rewarded for it with exclusive or early-release content! And you're given a direct line of communication with me, as patrons can post on an artist's profile. It's like a magical place has blossomed on the Internet to bring artists and patrons together!

I very much hope to be seeing you all at my Patreon, where you can continue to support me directly, and where I'll be given a means to give back to you directly for your support! Together, we'll continue to make free art happen!

As always, may your inner snails remain resilient and determined!

Oh, and that bit about the hand-jobs was a joke. Please, don't go looking for me!