Or any other kind of artist…
I heard this piece on NPR about Jonathan Coulton.
He made about $500K last year selling his music online without a label and I thought that was pretty cool.
Many musicians and artists just don’t know, how to do something like that for their career. If they don’t have a friend willing to do all the work for free, they usually have to lay down a nice chunk of cash.
In this article ( that will be the first of a series ) I’m going to rundown what JoCo is doing online and how you can do the same for little or NO money down. With a bit of luck and the right fan base you’ll be the next internet sensation as well.
This first article will breakdown Jonathan’s site and what he’s up to. Then in future articles we’ll tackle other music industry tools and services and specific how to’s.
One very important tip before we get started
If you look at his site, one thing is clear; It’s simple. Don’t get hung up on website design, colors or anything like that. Just get it up so people can find your music. Worry about pretty pictures and colors later after you have cash to pay for that.
First, he’s got a domain: JonathanCoulton.com You can pick up your own domains at
Another quick note/ disclaimer
I’m NOT a big fan of Go Daddy. Sure they have everything you need and then some. I just don’t like the fact that they try and sell you things you don’t need.
OK back to JoCo’s site…
He’s got a very basic WordPress blog/site , which is very easy to set up and manage. With WordPress you can either go with their free hosted service on WordPress.org Or you can host it yourself ( Highly Suggested)
Easy to set up WordPress hosting can be found here
Music: He’s got a shopping cart of music downloads by E-Junkie ( but he also has stuff on iTunes, etc..). Other Ways of selling music and your gear:
Some One Stop Music Distributors. (should be used in conjunction with on site sales)
Selling gear as well?
Show: His show calendar is by Gigs Calendar, a free WordPress plugin
Forum: I would hold off on doing this until you have a an active following and fan base. Again it’s free.
Wiki: A personal wiki of all things JoCo. As I write, there are 1933 pages in his wiki.! So if you think you got the stuff, go for it.
You: A great simple page that displays stuff sent to him by fans. There a few ways of doing this auto-magically. I’ll add this later on.
Info. Mostly a picture of him, but its a great picture.
Contact: A standard contact page with a list of whom for what. When you are starting out you can do this with free WordPress plugins. You can look at my contact page and see what it looks like when it;s set up.
There are a few other bells and whistles on his blog/site but that is about it
JoCo’s social media presence: If you don’t have these social media accounts go set them up now.
His fan page that is auto generated by fb. They are scraping content directly from Jonathan’s Wikipedia page. Make sure you have a personal account for now. I’ll address fan pages and Wikipedia in future articles.
A MySpace page. It NEVER hurts to have one as a musician.
A Youtube Channel
He also has a last.fm profile, fan based websites and fan based flikr groups, etc.. All in all pretty cool
Some cool stuff he does to promote himself
He blogs a lot and engages in on his site all the time. His thing a week project is great because it not only created a nice library of music, it was also content that his audience wanted. Because of the licensing he chose, his fans created even more content with it.
This video created by a fan for his song “Code Monkey” has over 5 million views at the time this was posted.
He also has a forum with fans that are interacting with each other. It’s an active space. Once you get an active fan base going, consider doing the same.
He’s also listed on Rockband.com If you think you got the stuff? Get your music listed there as well:
He has his stuff released his stuff via creative commons license. So it gets used and shared.
He has a Wikipedia page. If you have enough relevance (a fan base and/or people have actually heard of you). You can get one as well
I’m sure he’s other places, but I just don’t have the time to look it all up
How he makes money
Besides onsite sales he sells his music on;
iTumes, Amazon, CD baby, What are records. You can do the same here:
He’s got ring tones by Myxer. You can make your own there.
He’s even got Kareoke!
And he sells gear. T-shirts, stuff, etc . You can do the same easily with:
That is quite a bit to get started, but it is all duplicatable.