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More artists speaking out: Claude Coleman Jr.

For a while, Big Data could afford to turn a deaf ear to content creators, and the reason why was simple. No one wanted to speak out about unfair treatment at the hands of Big Tech because they feared receiving the same backlash that Lars Ulrich said. Thankfully, some artists realized, what Lars Ulrich said was, however non-finessed in word choice-- correct. Also it is important to note that it was fifteen years ago.

And some artists who are fairly famous, but very far from rich, also want to educate some people. Not everyone crowdsourcing an album is already famous potential royalty earner Amanda Palmer, or Zach Braff.

One such lesson in the economics of music came in the form of a Reddit AMA I missed, back in June, featuring Ween's drummer Claude Coleman Jr. I am deeply sorry I missed it because he was crowdfunding to get the dosh together for an album and I would have loved to have supported it.

Coleman (who is also a drummer for a lot of other bands like Eagles of Death Metal, Chocolate Genius, Elysian Fields, etc.) was lumped in with the "rich artists" by a lot of Redditors who have made a lot of assumptions about the way the industry works. "Oh you're that guy in Ween, they had that one alternative hit back in 1992, so you must be rich."

Coleman's response to these assumptions and accusations it is at once heartbreaking, funny and extremely incisive. I've posted the majority of it.

I would like to first address this issue my seeking funding through crowd-sourcing means.
There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of presumptuous hubris regarding a subject matter that none of the people questioning the matter seem to have any experience with. I understand some are simply curious which is totally fine, but with a few others, frankly, it's comes off as insulting and a shortcut to thinking.

...I am a independent, contracted musician, paid by incident, by the gig, by the tour, by the whatever. If there is no incident, there is no income. Ween's last work was New Year's Eve, 2011. My last work with EoDM was one gig a month ago. Wow, I really must be rolling in it, huh.

I am familiar with many very, very famous musicians in NY, who are similarly struggling, working the door at clubs, supplementing their lives with whatever they can because they don't have enough gigs and the work is not steady. I delivered flowers this past Valentine's day. Picture that.

Independently contracted musicians are on a completely different economic structure system than songwriters. They're not on the record contracts. They don't receive publishing income; the mechanical royalties received on the work they do is a trickle from a flaccid penis.

Currently, I live out of my car, sleeping in a studio control room in a friends home, with no consistent income to speak of, hustling around as I work on other people's music. I have no complaints at all - I have the wealth of strong spirit and beautiful people in my life. But this is my realty until I get grounded once again after which, I won't be asking for donations - I didn't for the first two records I made. But this idea of me needing to sustain some kind of 'lifestyle' that I'm now accustomed to from my years of rock stardom is truly, truly absurd.

I acquired a home only through a near-death car accident rendering me in lifelong chronic pain that I'm now going to lose from divorce and a loss of my work with Ween, because I cannot afford to live in it; it faces foreclosure if it's not sold. It is only because I am so in the red and in arrears with everything and everyone that I'm seeking help to make this record at all, the first time I've ever done so - my first two records were paid for my own money. I'm unsigned, unrepresented, and self-funded.

If someone really wants, I can support this argument with tax returns, with contacts of friends who've loaned me cash to get heating oil; to put gas in my car to get me to my carpentry gig. Whatever you need to put this issue to bed already.

I'm doing this AMA to promote my efforts to make a record, to meet the fans I've played to for over 20 years, in order to help me make more music. I have tremendous love for the people who show me love, even for those who are blindly ignorant to the realities of a life of musicianship. But please take your ignorance of the subject elsewhere so I can focus on connecting with these people that matter to me most, or please try and digest what I'm saying and stop bringing it up.

That'd be nice, wouldn't it. Claude Coleman Jr., thanks for speaking out.

Also, if you go to Aaron Freeman's (Gene Ween) bandcamp, you'll find his situation isn't much better. He recently released the last demos he did as Gene Ween, because he is "was left in dire financial situation."

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