Archive for the ‘business of indie music’ Category

wow, paypal is slimy

Paypal has a new trick that makes me want to punch faces with extreme force. I was logging in today to pay for an Orycon membership (because that’s the only payment they take online), and I got this stop dialogue:


Now, this is a load of donkey dung, because I have a laptop I’ve been using for exactly this stuff for four years. Same laptop. Never even reformatted. But I’m all, ‘okay, fine, whatever.’

They give you two options. One is to receive a phone call at a predetermined number. Another is to verify data. Or let me put that more specifically, like they did: verify public data. That’s an important difference, and they think they’re being oh-so-very-clever, and I almost fell for it.

See, I didn’t want to deal with a telephone, so I chose verify data, thinking this would be some sort of account information validation. WRONG. They’re trolling public records and (presumably) credit report information to tie together a more complete – meaning more saleable – identity profile, and asking me to “verify” data I’ve never given them, ever. That’s when I realised what was up.

In short, you’re not “verifying” anything. You’re drawing them a comprehensive historical map of your life, connecting all the little dots they think they might have for you, on their behalf, all under the guise of some sort of security check.

You get: inconvenience and data mining! They get: A far more saleable and more complete historical profile of you, under false pretences.

Just to see what happens, I tried my other Paypal account, after verifying my computer on this one. OH LOOK, said Paypal, WE DON’T RECOGNISE THIS COMPUTER!

Dung twice.

And the same set of options. So, yeah. If – or more likely, when – you get this dialogue, pick a disposable number and have them call you and enter a pin. Because this? This is horseshit.

Paypal is just awful.

eta: IT GETS WORSE: In comments, check this:

Michael Hanscom: Did you see the recent story about their new TOS’s authorizing robocalls from them or their associates for basically whatever reason they want? It was enough for me to just flat out close my account.

Really. No, I missed that. So either way, you’re screwed. You give them a legit number they can phonespam or you let them datamine you. Awesome. Fuck, I wish I could close my accounts. But I have business need. Goddammit.

eta2: And here we go – the first spam call has already arrived.

what with thrilling adventure hour going away…

What with The Thrilling Adventure Hour going away to my great sadness – the Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars theme makes me happy every time I hear it – I want suggestions for anything like it as a replacement podcast. No, not Welcome to Night Vale, I’ve been on that since about six months after it started. Something else.

I mean, I’ve got Big Finish Audio Doctor Who, and I suppose I really could fill in with that, but… it’s just not the same.

Wow, I will miss Thrilling Adventure Hour. Goddamn I am so sad they’re wrapping things up. Ah, well, I can’t blame them, it has been ten years. But still.

Recommendations, anyone?

Oh yeah, and as a reminder, as part of the big NIWA sales event, Bone Walker’s digital download is on 40% Bandcamp discount – enter “NIWA” as your discount code at checkout. It won’t be this cheap again unless somebody pays me, so now’s the time. 😀

Anna's put Faerie Blood on sale, and…

There’s a Northwest Independent Writers’ Association event going on, so Anna has put two of the Free Court of Seattle works on sale – Faerie Blood, the novel, and “Blood of the Land,” the newest story. This is the series that Bone Walker accompanies as soundtrack, so it’s a good time to get a toe in if you’re on the budget.

And as part of that, I’m putting the digital download of Bone Walker for 40% off, if you use the discount code “niwa” – so if you don’t have the newest album yet? Now is a good time to get it.

Novel and short story details here, Bone Walker the album here, don’t forget “niwa” discount code.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

mobile view goes over well

It’s still early days, but doing all that mobile view work (and turning it back on once it was usable) seems to have had a pretty decent impact. Here are some stats from Google Analytics:



The bit in red is mobile; above that is desktop; below that is tablet. The tablet audience is surprisingly small; it’s swamped by both desktop and phone. The “bounce” rate is the percentage of people who hit the site and only look at one page. The pages per visit is a mean, and includes the bouncers. The time-on-site thing I consider kind of unreliable, to be honest. (It’s regularly internally contradictory within a single day, is why.)

Anyway, as you can see, phone users used to bounce off the site at a dramatically higher rate than other kinds of users; now they’ve moved into line with everyone else. Pages per visit on phone is up, time on site (unreliable tho’ it may be) is also meaningfully up. Mobile users had been dragging the whole site average down; now it’s back in line with other formats.

So I guess that mobile view is kind of important! In retrospect I guess that seems kind of obvious, but I tend to hate them personally, so I guess that kind of affected my impression of their value. I wish I’d done the work earlier, now. Ah, well, live and learn.

post-scarcity part 11: vinyl revenue reaches 20% of CDs

I continue to be bemused by the ongoing return of vinyl LPs. Another year, another set of gains, in both units and revenue. Data from Statistica:

It matches what I was seeing in an RIAA PDF from earlier this year. Vinyl sales are doing very well, thanks, and are the only ownership segment that’s actually rising. Streaming revenue is climbing too, but wow, not enough to make up for all the down segments.

Data again Statistica, this graph Forbes

I think there are a couple of things going on here.

First, the LP surge – yes, of course it’s at least partly a fad. That’s not durable, and the increase in rate of increase is most probably a warning sign.

But aside from that, I think the rise in LP sales may be related to the LP package being a physical/tangible object that’s interesting to have for itself. Certainly, if you’re going to pick a CD vs. a vinyl LP as an interesting physical object, the LP wins. Bigger covers, more interesting art possibilities – the whole drill. But…

I wrote a while ago about how the RIAA made music ownership a negative value. I think that’s still pretty much true, for digital.

But I don’t think that perception ever reached vinyl. Vinyl had been written off by the time the RIAA swung into self-destructive smashy smashy. And I’m wondering if vinyl still caries a weight of ownership that digital no longer does.

I mean, I just had a friend of mine who has never owned a turntable and is the opposite of a hipster say she’s thinking of getting one. This shouldn’t be ignored.

The downside for the artist, of course, is that LPs are a lot more expensive to make – particularly for indies. And smaller living spaces mean less space for storage of any kind of stuff, including LPs. That’s a limiting factor, and while it might become less of one as housing stock rebalances, that rebalancing is a longer cycle, and probably won’t come early enough to matter.

or somebody will find a way to make it their job

The second statement I take from these graphics is that the industry – as of 1st half 2014 – is still both sinking and on fire. That Forbes chart shows year-to-year revenue changes in stark numbers – down categories at $-394m (downloads, CS, synchronisation, others) vs. up categories at $+231m (streaming, vinyl) year-to-year.

That’s a $163m revenue loss. I certainly don’t see how vinyl can staunch that much bleeding. And the streaming revenue gains – while obviously more substantial, and where the industry is betting its future – don’t even make up for the drop in paid downloads. They’re just cannibalising their own revenue streams.

We’re still living in a post-scarcity environment. And there’s no rearrangement of desk chairs that can change that fact. Delay the repercussions a little, sure; stop them, no.

Me, I want to release something on Edison cylinder. It can in fact be done; there’s a company in the UK doing it. And wow, it’s expensive. But if, you know, 20 people want to go in at $50/each for cylinders, I will do it. I will do it in a heartbeat.

No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. XD

This is Part 11 of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, a series of essays about, well, what it says on the tin. In the digital era, duplication is essentially free and there are no natural supply constraints which support scarcity, and therefore, prices. What the hell does a recording musician do then?

last call for the secret blog discount, but first call for…

Last call for the Secret Blog Discount sale! All pay things on Bandcamp – meaning all music, and both Free Court of Seattle novels in paperback – are 25% off with this checkout code which expires TODAY!


But! There’s a surprise sale on Amazon for author Angela Highland’s other books. Carina Press didn’t notify her, they just did it. So if you’re interested in her other series – the Rebels of Adalonia novels – Valor of the Healer is a staggering 99¢ right now. G’wan, get it – at 99¢, it’s not even really splurging.

secret blog sale (sticky post)

There are a lot of new visitors here over the last week, and almost all of you are here for the Hugo Awards gaming/Sad Puppies articles. And that’s great – welcome!

But I am a musician, after all, so how about a welcome present. First: all pay things on Bandcamp are 25% off with this checkout code:


That includes all music, and both Free Court of Seattle novels in paperback, which I can stock and sell via arrangement with the author.

Read more

back from norwescon with a big announcement

Back from Norwescon! Here’s what opening ceremonies looked like from the orchestra pit.

It’s All Bendy

And I ran into Aang and Kyoshi, who I thought I’D NEVER SEE AGAIN AAAAAAAAAAAAA or something:


The panels I was on were really well attended, the Leannan Sidhe show I was playing went really, really well, and PDX Broadsides and Bards of a Feather made great first-time Norwescon impressions, and Saturday night was standing-room-only, but the big news for me, personally, is:

I’m stepping down from running nwcMUSIC.

This is a big deal for me; it’s been my baby, but after six years running music at Norwescon and five years building nwcMUSIC as a festival, I need to hand it to other people. I’ve built a legitimate programme here, and I’m really excited that it has momentum and all the tools are in place and everything – but it’s time for me to step down.

The position I’ve created has been, frankly, too much for one person. Certainly for non-supervillains. So there will be several far-more-manageable positions created by my departure.

There will be opportunities like Concerts Lead, Daytime Programming Lead, Publicity and Communications Lead or whatever they end up calling it, possibly a Special Events/Filkcircle Lead. There will be non-lead positions, like Concerts Second (what I’ve called “Water Fairy,” ably managed by Anna in the past), Concert Sound Engineer (replacing the most excellent Jen and John after six years), possibly Videographer (if K decides to move on as well), and so on.

It’s been very hard work, and I’m glad they’re breaking it down into more positions moving forward. It needs to be; nwcMUSIC has been personality-driven this whole time, because really, that’s how a lot of these things get going. Supervillains got FORCE OF MIND, after all. But a lot of times, that’s how these things end, too, when that personality steps away, or is killed by James Bond, or whatever. Job hazards.

But I promise this: you will not be going in unaided. I will share everything I’ve done and learned. I won’t be on the convention committee next year, but I really, really, don’t want to see nwcMUSIC go away. It’s built up into a nice community (that I want to continue to be part of, as a musician), it’s a really good educational experience for the participants, it promotes participation in your own culture, and it’s a heck of a venue for nerdy and geeky artists.

So someone – several someones – need to take my place. If no one does, it really will go away, and I don’t know anyone who wants that. So please – even if you aren’t the right person for any of these positions, cast that net wide, and pass along the news to everyone you know.

And contact Norwescon Special Events – – to get involved. It’ll be a couple of months before much happens for 2016, but they’ll want a list of potential people as soon as possible. This is a big change for Norwescon, too.

I said this at the last show, but thank you again to everyone who has come and played; everyone who has come and participated; everyone who has come and been part of an audience; thanks to K Wiley, videographer, who has worked his ass off to get us livestreaming; and most of all, thanks to Jen Kilmer and John Seghers, who have been our amazing sound crew these past six years. Without them in particular, quite literally none of this could have happened.

We’ve got a hell of a thing here. Keep nwcMUSIC going. I’ll help. And contact to join in, today.

i may have cleaned out the components drawers at 95% off

Seriously, this Radio Shack selloff is cheaper than stealing at this point – over the last few days, I’ve spent like $70 for easily $800 in supplies at their regular prices, and like $4-500 at reasonable prices.

Varying closing Radio Shacks have varying supplies left, so call around if you want bits. Plus you get hilariously long receipts because they’re ringing up every component package individually.

The longer one is 2.7m long and sixteen dollars.

a busy week for media

Hey, know how Anna and I are on the Seattle Geekly podcast this week? Well, here’s a followup; Dark Side of the Glass went live with their interview with me today. Actually they did it yesterday, but close enough. It’s a media explosion! Or possibly only a media perturbation, but category spicy.

Dark Side of the Glass are the same people running that Faerie Blood and Bone Walker giveaway. This coming week is the end of the entry period, so go get your entry in now – the odds of winning are pretty good at the moment, so it’s worth your while.

Do the thing!

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