Andrew Bird Narrates His Songwriting Process

For the New York Times’ Measure for Measure blog:

I remember the moment I did this sort of thing for the first time 12 years ago, when I was writing the song “Lull.” I simply made my doubts and neuroses about the song part of the song. I felt a thrilling flush of embarrassment, as if I had violated some self-imposed rule, and now know this to mean I’m on the right track. Sounds a bit like a technique used by comedians like Woody Allen or Louis C.K. — making your neuroses and failures part of the show.

On Louis C.K. & Direct-to-web Distribution

I have yet to purchase Louis C.K.’s new direct-to-web performance, Live at the Beacon Theater {official site}, but that won’t stop me from pontificating. (I’m not completely without my C.K. bona fides however; I listened to and enjoyed his “appearances” on WTF and Fresh Air.)

Anyway, as you probably know by now, the comedian decided to release his show direct to fans, bypassing the traditional studio model where they pay for the shooting of the video, have control over the distribution, and eventually send the performer a cut. C.K. simply paid for everything (a $250,000 investment according to the Times), and made it available on his website direct-to-fans for $five.

It’s reminiscent of Radiohead’s web release of In Rainbows {wikipedia} via a pay-what-you-can scheme.

C.K.’s experiment has already been dubbed a success, earning him $750,000 pure profit (again, according to the Times). The temptation here is to make too big a fuss about this, pointing to this new model as the future of the web and entertainment. No one would be giving Louis C.K. five¢ if it weren’t for his appearances on shows produced by established media empires, a point David Carr {NY Times} should be given credit for acknowledging:

In fact, I wouldn’t know anything about Louis C. K. if it weren’t for cable. I DVR’d his freakishly hilarious series “Louie” on FX, which is owned by News Corporation, and I saw his last two comedy specials on cable. The people who helped build the brand of Louis C.K. might wonder about his decision to go native (digitally), but hey, it’s the Internet: it’s every man, woman, producer, consumer, company and cable outfit for itself!

In other words, it’s great work if you can get it. But we’re a far cry from the day when artist an can support themselves on the web by selling their shows directly to fans. But if there has to be a middleman, I suppose one like Etsy or Threadless is a step up from NBC or Viacom.