The most valuable thing anybody can do to support an artist is to meditate on the question “who do I know who would appreciate this as much as I do?” and then share it. I was very angry and entitled for too much of my life. I might be even angrier now, finally for the right reasons, but I understand now what a miraculous gift it is to connect with someone.
In the best scenario, you don’t even have to think about it. You’re simply compelled like you would be by the desire to hug someone or to pet a stranger’s dog.
Even the major labels have never found a more reliable way to push their product than the recommendation of a trusted friend, to the point where “influencers” are a thing and that still can’t beat it because parasocial relationships are unsustainable. There’s never been a more critical point in history to connect and share with friends out of genuine enthusiasm and love.
Let me share a couple anecdotes with you.
Liberapay is an open source, non-profit alternative to Patreon. I’d probably go with Liberapay if I decided to use a funding model like that. I try to fight monopolistic services and products whenever I can by using ethical alternatives if there’s a viable one. I think it’s equally gross for an artist to get rich by exploiting the desperation of other artists in the name of empowerment (Patreon) as it is to profit from the sociopathic corporate totalitarian system we suffer under in the name of charity, mercy, and solidarity (GoFundMe).
A couple years ago, Liberapay’s payment processor, MangoPay, screwed them over hard by basically saying “we don’t have control over who can donate money through your platform, so we can’t work with you anymore.”
One thing everybody who cares about democracy and liberty and fairness hates about PayPal is that they too have shut down organizations and individuals. Mostly fascists, but still – it’s the UNpopular voices that need their freedom of speech protected, otherwise it’s not really freedom and any opinion can be marginalized, defunded, and silenced. I digress.
Liberapay agonized over this situation, with thousands of indie developers and artists and organizations counting on them not just to make sure they could receive money from their supporters but also to make the right decision that would jive with their politics. They ultimately went with PayPal, and they’re enjoying continued growth by offering people an alternative to The Only Game In Town. Albeit via another one.
Here’s the other anecdote: My friend Mathew is a PayPal hater. He’s been tuning in to the show for ages. Recently he messaged me to say, basically, “I want to give you some biz but I don’t trust the series of tubes.” Just last Tuesday, during the stream, he ordered a Mr. Goodtimes “Morning Person” mug from the shop on my site. Which of course uses PayPal. And I was like “heyyy Mat loves me more than he hates PayPal, yay!” So, yeah, also the service that allows me to produce CDs and vinyl on demand so I don’t have to come up with thousands of dollars for traditional mass production, you’ll never guess how they have to be paid. Yep. I’m afraid it’s PayPal. The Only Game In Town.
They’re monopolistic, enemies of free speech, and part of The Big Problem. They’re also globally ubiquitous, extremely secure, convenient for the vast majority of consumers, and relatively cheap for sellers.
This is all just an absurdly long way to assure you that I’m always looking for alternatives that jive with my ethics, not just with my little music thing but in my life in general. I’m at the point right now where I want to go to Alaska and become a homesteader and hunt all my own food to boycott every corporation on earth. Big Agriculture is a filthy industry too, you vegans, with terrible human and ecological costs.
But with my little music thing it’s harder because I have to consider the people who listen to it. So I kill Google analytics to do my tiny part in protecting site visitors from tracking, I kill Facebook integration to try and deny advertisers just a bit more of their personal data. And I don’t give a shit anymore about counting visitor traffic or showing FB comments on my site.
The stakes for me are so much lower than they are for somebody like Liberapay. I’ve put impossible limitations on my potential to reach people by pulling all my work from Apple and Spotify and Google and Amazon. Years ago. But we do have to fight back, in any small way we can, and I don’t believe we can do it without sacrifice.
My wife and I just opened a joint account with a local credit union. I emptied my personal account with Bank of America with a donation to Bernie’s campaign a couple months ago and shut that fucker down. The B of A account, I mean, not Bernie. The DNC did that.
[Thanks to Mat and Dusty for sharing their PayPal hate with me and getting me off my ass to finally take the time and articulate these thoughts.]