monetizing music

The music industry is whack.  We all know this, but as a person making DIY punk music it’s always hard to reason about making money from making music.  Working a crappy (and moreover, undignified) job to support making records is something that is respected or revered.  With many folks making music coming from college-educated backgrounds or middle-class economic situations with lots of community and family support, the reality is that people could easily transition from a life where they live at income levels below the poverty line and make music to a life where they work a dignified, or at least lucrative, job to support themselves.  Are you flaunting your privelege by artificially living in poverty or by succumbing to an economic vision that doesn’t allow musicians to support themselves without all the cruft, exploitation, hype and wasteful promotion of the traditional record industry?

I don’t have the answers to this, but in his song Moment of Clarity, Jay-Z seems to have made his decision, at least in his completely different set of experiences in life and with the music industry:

The music business hate me
’cause the industry ain’t make me
Hustlers and boosters embrace me
And the music I be making
I dumb down for my audience
And double my dollars
They criticize me for it
Yet they all yell “Holla”
If skills sold
Truth be told
I’d probably be
Talib Kweli
I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
(But I did five Mil)
I ain’t been rhyming like Common since
When your sense got that much in common
And you been hosteling since
Your inception
Fuck perception
Go with what makes sense
I know what I’m up against
We as rappers must decide what’s most important
And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them
So I got rich and gave back
To me that’s the win, win
The next time you see the homie and his rims spin
Just know my mind is working just like them
(The rims that is)

Family micro-lending in the U.S.?

The Northwest Airlines in-flight magazine has been a wealth of insight lately.  I read that Berry Gordy started Motown Records in 1959 on an $800 loan from te Ber-berry Co Op, a fund which family members each paid in $10 every month in order to make loans to launch new family business ventures.  With so many projects (and friends) being broke right now, I want to know how people are funding important work from their base.  This seems like one cool model blasting from the past.

cash rules everything around me

I’m soliciting funds again.  This time, to support a project that I work closely with called the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project (  We send free reading material to people incarcerated in juvenile facilities, prisons, and jails throughout the Midwest, Florida, and Arizona.  Our primary means of support is  through the donation of books and money to cover buying books and the ever-rising cost of postage.  To put things in perspective, it costs between $3-7 to send one package of free books to an incarcerated person.  With each biweekly mailing, we send 100-200 packages, so the expenses grow quickly.  Though this might seem like a costly and not-so-efficient way to get reading material to people, it is often the only access to information, ideas, and mental stimulation that many incarcerated people have.  This Saturday, I will be bowling in a Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser and I would appreciate your sponsorship.  You can read more about the event at and donate via PayPal by visiting

Thanks for your support,