Thursday, July 9, 2009

I thought you said you were different, was that what I heard you say?

We're over at the Carnival of Doom, which has--tonight--decided to hold a sale. I now have a new definition of "just not right".


(The Requiem Mime skin in question...with an addition you won't see here.)

This is the skin in question. When the vendor is right-clicked--on the left-hand side--it shows you what it contains:


(Click for the larger image.)

The Requiem Mime skin. Currently $L50, part of the incredible sale the Carnival's now running.

I'm not saying that's not a good deal, but if you happen to right-click on the right-hand side of the vendor, this is what it shows you:


(Definitely click for the larger image on this one.)

A second vendor square. In that vendor is the Raven skin, one of the skins Tox1c Chemistry designed for Black Swan. This skin? Retails for L$1000.

Still not getting the deceptive part? Let me make it ridiculously clear, then:


(Shown with Ctrl-Alt-T on, to detail transparent prims. The second vendor is invisible to the naked eye. Wonder if anyone's been trapped by this?)

You should be able to clearly see it on the above image, even small, but if you want to click for the linked photo, it's another vendor prim, set invisibly on top of the first one, offering a skin L$950 more than the initial vendor would lead you to believe.

What if you're not watching your finances? What if you want to support the creators who worked hard on the Carnival, and you're sad to see it go, but you can only afford a few skins, a few outfits, and the rest has to go to rent? What if you don't have another way to make rent, now that that's gone?

When it comes right down to it, what if you only wanted to spend fifty Lindens, but, because these two prims are so closely aligned, and you happened to have L$1000--or more--on account, you clicked in the wrong area, and--expecting a skin for L$50--didn't even think to really read the pop-up?

Sure, that's your loss, you didn't read what you were buying, but--come on! The skin behind that one is L$50! How could you possibly know unless you happened to click on the second INVISIBLE vendor that there was a second skin offered for much, much more?

Thankfully, this is what happened to Miss Neome. But what if it happens, maybe already has happened, to others? What then? Skins are no-transfer, how do they go about getting their money back?

And to whom should they complain? The Lindens? The Lindens don't care. Tox1c Chemistry? He's the one who set this up! He doesn't give a damn.

This is deceptive, tricky, and thieving. Full marks for being a bastard, I'll give him: but this is rather rubbing salt in the wound, here.

(Pursuant to Dale Innis' suggestion, this has now been ARed. The number of that report is #157955. I thought heavily about this, and, had it just been a prim buried in the wall, I think I would have contacted Chemistry and tried to warn him of the possibility--but that prim vendor is invisible.)

Moving on.

Trent Reznor recently gave a list on his forum on what to do if you're an unknown or establishing artist. I thought it worthwhile enough to repost here.

This was written on a bumpy Euro-bus ride across the wilderness - may ramble a bit but I think the point gets across.

I posted a message on Twitter yesterday stating I thought The Beastie Boys and TopSpin Media "got it right" regarding how to sell music in this day and age. Here's a link to their store:

Shortly thereafter, I got some responses from people stating the usual "yeah, if you're an established artist - what if you're just trying to get heard?" argument. In an interview I did recently this topic came up and I'll reiterate what I said here.

If you are an unknown / lesser-known artist trying to get noticed / established:

* Establish your goals. What are you trying to do / accomplish? If you are looking for mainstream super-success (think Lady GaGa, Coldplay, U2, Justin Timberlake) - your best bet in my opinion is to look at major labels and prepare to share all revenue streams / creative control / music ownership. To reach that kind of critical mass these days your need old-school marketing muscle and that only comes from major labels. Good luck with that one.

If you're forging your own path, read on.

* Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of mouth is the only true marketing that matters.

To clarify:
[Partner] with a TopSpin or similar or build your own website, but what you NEED to do is this - give your music away as high-quality DRM-free MP3s. Collect people's email info in exchange (which means having the infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make them limited editions / scarce goods. Base the price and amount available on what you think you can sell. Make the packages special - make them by hand, sign them, make them unique, make them something YOU would want to have as a fan. Make a premium download available that includes high-resolution versions (for sale at a reasonable price) and include the download as something immediately available with any physical purchase. Sell T-shirts. Sell buttons, posters... whatever.

Don't have a TopSpin as a partner? Use Amazon for your transactions and fulfillment. []

Use TuneCore to get your music everywhere. []

Have a realistic idea of what you can expect to make from these and budget your recording appropriately.

The point is this: music IS free whether you want to believe that or not. Every piece of music you can think of is available free right now a click away. This is a fact - it sucks as the musician BUT THAT'S THE WAY IT IS (for now). So... have the public get what they want FROM YOU instead of a torrent site and garner good will in the process (plus build your database).

The Beastie Boys' site offers everything you could possibly want in the formats you would want it in - available right from them, right now. The prices they are charging are more than you should be charging - they are established and you are not. Think this through.

The database you are amassing should not be abused, but used to inform people that are interested in what you do when you have something going on - like a few shows, or a tour, or a new record, or a webcast, etc.

Have your MySpace page, but get a site outside MySpace - it's dying and reads as cheap / generic. Remove all Flash from your website. Remove all stupid intros and load-times. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO NAVIGATE AND EASY TO FIND AND HEAR MUSIC (but don't autoplay). Constantly update your site with content - pictures, blogs, whatever. Give people a reason to return to your site all the time. Put up a bulletin board and start a community. Engage your fans (with caution!) Make cheap videos. Film yourself talking. Play shows. Make interesting things. Get a Twitter account. Be interesting. Be real. Submit your music to blogs that may be interested. NEVER CHASE TRENDS. Utilize the multitude of tools available to you for very little cost of any - Flickr / YouTube / Vimeo / SoundCloud / Twitter etc.

If you don't know anything about new media or how people communicate these days, none of this will work. The role of an independent musician these days requires a mastery of first hand use of these tools. If you don't get it - find someone who does to do this for you. If you are waiting around for the phone to ring or that A & R guy to show up at your gig - good luck, you're going to be waiting a while.

Hope this helps, and I'll scour responses for intelligent comments I can respond to.


TopSpin Media info:

This is all clear, sound advice: anyone reading along, who's starting up a band, or who's wanting to? My advice is TAKE IT. He's not wrong, it's why he's still a relevant artist today, it's why he's able to tour, afford to live in N'Awlins, and produce records for up-and-comers on the way. Do these things. You won't be sorry, you will gain fans, and eventually, with persistence and hard effort put in, you'll get there--wherever "there" is for you, be it "never eating Ramen again" or "flashy world tour".

It's possible. It's just not easy. But these tips will help you.

futuremarkets asked, later in the forum thread:

So is getting your music as mp3s out there and to an audience more important than gigging and building up a fanbase? You often hear that gigging around your local area and beyond is the only way to establish yourself, but is this really less important than spreading your music?

Another poster said pretty much what I'm going to: no, not really. What's important now, in our music climate, is touring. Getting enough to afford gas, plane, train, boat, carfare, whatever; and performing live. Festivals, small clubs, radio stations, museums, grocery store openings, whatever you can think of: get out there, get your name out there, get your sound out there.

How'ver, you can't neglect the sit-at-home types, because we're the ones out there reviewing, recommending, and on occasion urging the concert types towards bands we like. So you gotta let us hear you--not only by giving music away (though that's a plus) but by giving us ways to hear you that doesn't involve free music: to wit, places like, MySpace and similar sites. Sooner or later--and for most of us, sooner, not later, what we hear we're going to want to own. Make it easy to buy your music. Just as easy as it is to listen to it.
out there. Live music fans are live music fans are live music fans--if you're any good, they'll pay to hear you. No ifs, ands or buts about it.


Dale Innis said...

Clearly the first thing to do about the buying scam would be to post in your weblog. :) If you haven't already, I'd also AR them; couldn't hurt. It's so so so clearly a scam...

Anonymous said...

That is an excellent piece by Mr. Reznor. Thanks for sharing it!

Emilly Orr said...

Dale: Well, now, see, I'd have done that, but I didn't think that counted as an 'abuse' related offense.

Miss Poindexter: You're welcome! Especially in light of occasional band-based wandering eyes, I thought it couldn't hurt.

Candy said...

Wait - are both vendors for the same person, or did Tox1c Chemistry put his invisible vendor on top of some one else's?


Emilly Orr said...

Chemistry has his vendor--still invisible, as of this morning-verging-on-afternoon--on top of Cecile Milena's Requiem Mime skin vendor. So it's not even his flat of skins, it's placed on top of another maker's skin.

None of his skins have been reduced for the sale, they're all L$1000, I didn't truly expect them to be reduced. But this takes that unethical leap forward and puts an unmarked, full-price skin of his--and not even a visible one at that, as the prim's transparent--over another skin. So even if one does click on the right and buy it? What you think you're buying isn't what's going to show up in inventory.

Emilly Orr said...

And as stated above...I have ARed.

I hate ARing people.

Sphynx Soleil said...

Look in Crimson Shadow for some of the skins - they're reduced THERE but not at Carnival.

Emilly Orr said...

Weird. So they're going to make people visit all the sims they're closing, just to check to see if things are on sale there?