Who are the artistic examples of the up and coming model of promotion and distribution?
September 7, 2009 11:16 PM   Subscribe

Working on a list: looking for examples of artist types who are forging a livable career through unconventional methods of self-promotion and/or distribution.

Slightly vague, but I think it is a reasonably definitive category: in the old model, successful writers get a deal with a major publisher, successful musicians sign a deal with a major label. People like Wil Wheaton, Cory Doctorow, Jonathan Coulton are making a mark leveraging this new media thingy we've got going online. Not too interested in whether you think they suck or not. If they're making a living and eschewing the road more traveled to success, I want your examples. Bonus points if they have a regular online presence I can feed into via Google Reader.
posted by nanojath to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Brad Sucks

Not too interested in whether you think they suck or not.

No, that's the name of the band.
posted by nicwolff at 12:08 AM on September 8, 2009

Not an individual artist, but two interesting companies...

"This is the first time that I've come across somebody in the theatre combining investment and creative input. It strikes me as an interesting idea, and one that has only come about because London Bubble has had to think laterally after losing its revenue funding last year." - link

"At 10:11 yesterday morning, I received an email from a friend. The email contained only the link www.tunnel-228.com and an instruction: "Make sure you get in contact with these guys". Clicking on the link, I was redirected to a rather crass website in garish green and pink for Track and Rail Cleaning Ltd, supposedly "a long-established independent cleaning contractor specialising in cleaning and maintaining railway tracks on both 'above' and 'below' ground networks". Somewhat confused, I made to contact the company, only to be led towards a site of a completely different tone. Here, I was instructed to pick a timeslot and found myself reserving a place at, I would later discover, the latest Punchdrunk show." - link
posted by the latin mouse at 1:37 AM on September 8, 2009

Einstuerzende Neubauten have produced their last few albums using a supporter model. Fans contribute a fixed amount of money before the album is recorded, and then get to listen to the material as it is recorded and give feedback. Once the album is out, they get limited edition copies and perks such as access to after-show parties with the band.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:06 AM on September 8, 2009

Kristin Hersh - I get the impression she's not making a great living out of it, but she has much the same system as Neubaten. What I'd be interested in is knowing how many people using these new methods:

a) Didn't already have a reputation and a fan community. Coulton falls into this category, I think.

b) Are making a reasonable living out of their artistic efforts alone (i.e. more than they would if they were doing a minimum-wage job). All of the big names in free publishing seem to have well-paying day jobs and the books are essentially a hobby or a side concern, which they probably wouldn't have made money from under the old media system either.
posted by nja at 2:23 AM on September 8, 2009

Arin Crumley and Susan Buice of Four-Eyed Monsters fame.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:33 AM on September 8, 2009

Wim Delvoye, Belgian artist, became famous with his 'Cloaca', a machine that perfectly mimicked the human digestion tract by eating food and producing shit. It was a parody on the workings of the capital market system and the marketing that drives it.

He canned and sold the shit that the machine produced, and eventually even sold "shit" bonds (bonds to be redeemed with income from selling the abovementioned shit), that he had officially approved by the Belgian banking and finance commission as a financial instrument.

In a remarkable twist of irony, round about this time last year, these shit bonds proved themselves to be safer investments than, say, blue chip bank stocks.
posted by NekulturnY at 6:20 AM on September 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Jill Sobule
posted by hermitosis at 7:07 AM on September 8, 2009

Hugh McLeod. (posting from a mobile, thus the lack of a link)
posted by entropic at 7:28 AM on September 8, 2009

Jim Munroe (wikipedia)

Toronto author. Had one middlingly successful book with harper collins and then used the proceeds from that to self publish his successive novels (with a distribution pretty much as large as any conventionally published novel). He has a pretty ubiquitous web presence and has lately been working in comics and indie videogames.
posted by 256 at 7:52 AM on September 8, 2009

also, MC Lars.
posted by 256 at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2009

I know a ton of artists are harnessing the power of Twitter for promotion and connecting with fans - Amanda Palmer (formerly of the Dresden Dolls) is notable.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2009

Response by poster: Great stuff so far. Thanks.
posted by nanojath at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2009

What writer Sara Astruc is doing online is a good example of leveraging new media. Her online journal, astruc.com, has garnered a lot of press over the years, and bolstered a freelance career for her, writing for markets like MSNBC and MacWorld. She's soon releasing a book of her archives.

But what makes her stand out from the usual blogger/writer pack (beyond her ability to write compelling narrative) is that she has also been making a living since 2003 running an online community, an idea radical enough to land her on the blue back in the day. That original community has now evolved into The Simplest, a community loosely organized around ideas about living a simpler, better life.
posted by kristin at 1:21 PM on September 8, 2009

I don't know how the hell he makes money, but he's definitely unconventional.
posted by like_neon at 4:39 AM on September 9, 2009

Response by poster: Note for new AskMe question: How the hell does Bansky make money?
posted by nanojath at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2009

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