TorrentFreak has an interesting piece about how independent filmmakers are reaching incredible numbers of fans through alternative distribution channels. The Man from Earth is a great example. It has become one of the most popular downloads over the last few months (the film “went from the being the 11,235th most popular movie on IMDB to being the 5th most popular one” after being ripped and uploaded). This quote from the producer of the film says it all:

“Our independent movie had next to no advertising budget and very little going for it until somebody ripped one of the DVD screeners and put the movie online for all to download. After that happened, people were watching it and started posting mostly all positive reviews on IMDb, Amazon and other places. Most of the feedback from everyone who has downloaded “The Man From Earth” has been overwhelmingly positive. People like our movie and are talking about it, all thanks to piracy on the net!”

They are also accepting donations on their site because they recognise that the film is already out there. It’s the perfect model. Make something really good and let as many people see it as possible. You will benefit – although maybe indirectly and in a different way from the old idea of selling individual products. The Man From Earth might have languished on a shelf, waiting for random shoppers to be distracted from mainstream movies long enough to take a chance. Instead, it has been seen by thousands in a short time, and it continues to remain popular. The fans have even taken on the task of distributing and marketing the film, keeping it available and recommending it to friends. The main thing for the creators to worry about was to make something worth watching in the first place. And they certainly did that.

Radio Popolare

December 5, 2007

Karmafan was discussed on Radio Popolare in Milan today. Thanks to Michele Salvador (check out his paintings at www.michelesalvador.it) for letting us know.  We want Karmafan to be accessible to everyone around the world, so it’s good to see that so many people like the idea.

Karmafan on Phantom FM

November 23, 2007

Phantom FM ended their news today with a report on Karmafan. They recorded an interview with Dave and used Karma Police as a backing track. I guess Radiohead really has brought the whole idea of trusting your fans into the mainstream. Listen to the MP3.

Karmafan in the Irish Times

November 23, 2007

We were mentioned in Jim Carroll’s column in the Ticket today:

Sounds like he really gets the idea:

Instant Karma for new bands

David Barton and Kulpreet Singh believe that every struggling new band out there needs a Karmafan or two.

That’s the name of the new service from the Dublin-based duo aimed at bands interested in seeing if Radiohead’s tip-jar approach to getting fans to pay for music might also work for them.

Karmafan’s free-to-use service allows people to make voluntary payments to bands if they like their music.

Fans can set up accounts with the service, top it up with a credit card or Paypal payment, and then spread the love among acts they like, provided the band in question are sporting a Karmafan button on their website, MySpace or blog.

Barton and Singh won’t take a cent from these micro-payments, believing that the idea of tips also applies to them.

“If an artist believes that Karmafan has helped them, then they can give something back.”

More information from http://www.karmafan.com

There are two news items that if put together raise an interesting question about how artists should a) distribute their works and b) make money from their works. We suggest artists give away their works on the Internet and use the Internet to receive voluntary payments from their fans.

First the two news stories

  1. The strike by the Writer’s Guild of America continues and AMPTP has agreed to resume talks with the the writer’s guild’s representatives on the 26th of November. How the dispute will be resolved is anybody’s guess.
  2. Amazon released an ebook reader called Kindle. It apparently handles a whole lot of formats and I didn’t see a mention of DRM anywhere.

So if you are a writer and want to make a living from your work you have a choice. You can either write a book, get it published and hope it will reach enough book stores to provide enough sales so that you can make some kind of living. Or you can write a book, a short story, a poem and publish it via the Internet.

A lot of books these days are being sold as PDFs for a discounted price. Interestingly, the distribution of books is not being as tightly controlled by DRM – even the music industry will give up on such models soon. In fact, if we look at most of musicians on MySpace a lot of them are selling their music through CDBaby, PayPlay and other such sites.

A smart writer or a musician will instead give away his writing, music, programming code or anything they create freely on the Internet. This will result in more people reading or hearing your works than you can hope to reach with book stores or iTunes.

But How Will Authors and Musicians Make Money?

Before answering this question we’d like to point out the problem that musicians and writers have these days. Most musicians and writers struggle to get their works read. Utilising the distribution modes that the Internet offers can only be a smart move. Much smarter than trying to sell your poems on the streets.

So how does an artist make money? The answer is simple – patronage. Open as many channels as you can for your fans to show their appreciation, to give something back. That is exactly what we provide with Karmafan. So why aren’t you using it yet?

Karmafan was mentioned in today’s Irish Daily Mail.

“MUSICAL KARMA
Radiohead let their fans choose what to pay for their latest album. But can any artist do the same? Dublin-based website Karmafan has now made it easy for fans to give something back. Musicians can accept voluntary payments even by text message, and what’s more — it’s free to use. Find out more at http://www.karmafan.com”

Product update

October 24, 2007

Just a quick post about a few changes and upgrades we’ve made over the last few days.

ONE-TIME SUPPORT
Fans can now give an artist a single voluntary payment without topping up or joining Karmafan. Their support is anonymous but it’s the quickest way to send support.

VERIFICATION OF PROFILES ON SHOWCASEYOURMUSIC.COM
A lot of artists who use showcaseyourmusic.com have asked us about getting support through Karmafan. We’ve updated our verification process to include showcaseyourmusic.com and we’re adding more sites all the time. If you would like us to include a particular music showcase site you use to promote or distribute your work, e-mail us at support@karmafan.com

NON-FLASH WIDGET
For anyone who prefers not to use Flash, we now have a DHTML/AJAX widget available. This will not work on MySpace, as they don’t allow DHTML widgets, but of course the Flash widget will continue to work as normal on MySpace profiles and any other site. Both types of widget are shown on the right.