Real Geek Becomes Internet Rock Star
36 year old geek Jonathan Coulton got sick of coding, he wanted to sing instead. He was a typical geek – no doubt working in a dark cube decorated with action figures and empty pop cans.
His diet was full of caffeine and junk food. He didn’t shave (which hasn’t changed). Then he decided to follow his dream of being a rock star – albeit on his own terms.
Now he makes a living from his very plain blog, selling music and performing. More than he did programming. Notice his branding is true geek – it’s authentic and despite doing little actual marketing it’s working.
I’m afraid as I write this that it could start a revolt and we need programmers! The saving grace is most would never actually appear before a group of people, let alone a team meeting.
In 2005, right after the birth of his first child, Coulton told his wife he was quitting his software job. I can’t imagine what fear overtook her. He wanted his daughter to follow her dreams and he thought he’d better walk the walk. It took him just a year to do it.
His strategy? Write one song every week for a year and post it free to his web site. A true startup – he traded a furnished cube for a tiny closet in his home that he converted into a recording studio. He wrote songs there inspired by what he saw, his former job, or whatever he could come up with. No matter how stupid or strange.
Now his fans do his marketing, and they ask him to perform (you need at least 100 people and they use the web site Eventful to coordinate concerts). They make things based on his music, in other words he brings out their creativity just by being himself. At one point, he asked for donations. His fans responded and he started selling music.
What a fairy tale! But this is true Internet marketing in my book – the Internet with its unlimited distribution is a platform for making dreams work.