Great article on my friend Mr. Coulton in the NYT:
Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog - Jonathan Coulton - New York Times:
Jonathan Coulton sat in Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, his Apple PowerBook open before him, and began slogging through the day’s e-mail. Coulton is 36 and shaggily handsome. In September 2005, he quit his job as a computer programmer and, with his wife’s guarded blessing, became a full-time singer and songwriter. He set a quixotic goal for himself: for the next year, he would write and record a song each week, posting each one to his blog. “It was a sort of forced-march approach to creativity,” he admitted to me over the sound of the cafe’s cappuccino frothers. He’d always wanted to be a full-time musician, and he figured the only way to prove to himself he could do it was with a drastic challenge. “I learned that it is possible to squeeze a song out of just about anything,” he said. “But it’s not always an easy or pleasant process.” Given the self-imposed time constraints, the “Thing a Week” songs are remarkably good. Coulton tends toward geeky, witty pop tunes: one song, “Tom Cruise Crazy,” is a sympathetic ode to the fame-addled star, while “Code Monkey” is a rocking anthem about dead-end programming jobs. By the middle of last year, his project had attracted a sizable audience. More than 3,000 people, on average, were visiting his site every day, and his most popular songs were being downloaded as many as 500,000 times; he was making what he described as “a reasonable middle-class living” — between $3,000 and $5,000 a month — by selling CDs and digital downloads of his work on iTunes and on his own site.
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.