Electrate Monkeys

The New York Times has a well-written and in-depth story about Jonathan Coulton's (and other artists') use of social media to create a music career (free registration required). The "reveal" of the article is that Fame2.0 requires an immense amount of personal interaction with the fans who create music mashups, fan videos, and other assorted types of letters and fanfic.

Of course, those who have crafted a career in any of the performing arts can tell you the majority of their work as an artist looks less like people would think of as "art" and more of what a lot of people consider "management."

The article includes some of the more sinister complications of extimacy, including a good "coachspeak" analogy:

There’s something particularly weird, the band members have also found, about living with fans who can now trade information — and misinformation — about them. All celebrities are accustomed to dealing with reporters; but fans represent a new, wild-card form of journalism. Franz Nicolay, the Hold Steady’s nattily-dressed keyboardist, told me that he now becomes slightly paranoid while drinking with fans after a show, because he’s never sure if what he says will wind up on someone’s blog. After a recent gig in Britain, Nicolay idly mentioned to a fan that he had heard that Bruce Springsteen liked the Hold Steady. Whoops: the next day, that factoid was published on a fan blog, “and it had, like, 25 comments!” Nicolay said. So now he carefully polices what he says in casual conversation, which he thinks is a weird thing for a rock star to do. “You can’t be the drunken guy who just got offstage anymore,” he said with a sigh. “You start acting like a pro athlete, saying all these banal things after you get off the field.” For Nicolay, the intimacy of the Internet has made postshow interactions less intimate and more guarded.


Money quote:
All the artists I spoke to made a point of saying they would never simply pander to their fans’ desires. But many of them also said that staying artistically “pure” now requires the mental discipline of a ninja.


Sport said...

Ninja art - cool!

You just have to play your own music; let the art come to you; give your muse 110%; leave it all on the stage; execute the concert plan. Heh.

Doc Mara said...

I took what the audience gave. I knew that I couldn't let the audience dictate the tempo, so I forced the notes up-fret and kicked it into another gear.