Cory Doctorow has thought more about alternative distribution strategies than just about just about anyone else. His medium is the written word, but the fundamentals are the same. Think like a dandelion, he says.
The crux of his point is that mammals expend a great deal of energy to foster each and every offspring to maturation, whereas dandelions don’t care about each individual seed – the important thing is that some of its seeds sprout.
The internet allows one to spread one’s seed far and wide, so long as you don’t get obsessed about getting paid for each copy. It isn’t going to happen no matter what you do, so you may as well adjust your thinking to a more functional model.
This is what Michael Crawford is doing – handing out a copy of his CD to anyone who asks (or, in some cases, doesn’t).
When walking out of the Jonathan Coulton show last Sunday, I encountered a guy asking if anyone wanted free music. Of course!
He was handing out a sampler CD of music by Chris Valenti. Jonathan Coulton-esque the guy said. I assume that it was Valenti handing out his CD, but I didn’t look that closely.
Not a bad idea. It’s a smart way to reach fans of the artist that inspires him. He’s trying to follow Coulton’s model pretty closely. His website looks like Coulton’s. You can stream all his songs for free and purchase tracks directly from him. He’s using Eventful to track fans, and he plays shows all around Southern California.
Valenti also makes movies, including a documentary about his experiences as an independent musician called 800 CDs.
Of course, the true dandelion would have handed me one of those 800 CDs. Unless he’s sold them all by now. But the three-song CD got me to his website nonetheless.