Jonathan Coulton gets the kind of press coverage most musicians only dream of. In the past year alone, he's been profiled in The New York Times Magazine and Wired and on National Public Radio.
But Coulton's music is largely secondary to these stories. The former software writer from Brooklyn has become a media darling because many believe his business model represents the future of the music industry.
Without the aid of a record label, Coulton, 36, has used daily blog entries, weekly MP3 postings and online promotion of his live shows to gain a nationwide, mass-market audience.
We're talking way more than MySpace. For one year, Coulton wrote and posted a new song to his website every Friday - a project he called "Thing a Week." The 52 songs were made available for free download, and Coulton has burned them onto four CDs.
His blog entries keep fans coming back because Coulton can write, and not just about himself. His entries are witty opinion pieces covering topics of interest to the kind of creative fans he's cultivated.
In a recent entry, Coulton commented on a Wired interview with Universal CEO Doug Morris. Morris confesses that the music industry failed to get ahead of the digital revolution because "there's no one in the record industry that's a technologist...and we didn't know who to hire."
"Wow, this is a CEO, at a record label, NOW?" wrote Coulton. "They can't even figure out how to HIRE someone to help them with these newfangled 'computing machines.'"
Coulton's blog entries typically generate 20 to 40 comments from fans every day.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Coulton's songs are tailor-made for a demographic that spends a lot of time on the Internet. His brand of indie-pop blends the wit of Barenaked Ladies with the detached uber-cool of Pavement to make folk music for the cubicle-bound, high-tech proletariat across America.
The most widely downloaded Coulton song is called "Code Monkey." It's an upbeat pop tribute to the lonely emotional life of a software coder yearning for love at the office.
Coulton uses his Net-based approach to tour where he knows his fans live. That means more than a few Madisonians must be logging on and downloading his MP3s.
Maybe it's all those Epic workers out in Verona who can appreciate a song about a code monkey who's a "very simple man with big warm fuzzy secret heart."
Jonathan Coulton: Friday, Dec. 7, Majestic Theatre, 7:30 pm