What Makes a True Fan

Hey everyone!

Recently I posted this status update on my Facebook and Twitter pages to thank the people who supported my IndieGoGo campaign by placing a pre-order for my Raised by Bats album. 

"People ask me how many true fans I have. They look at the number of likes on my Facebook page, followers on my Twitter page and subscribers on my Youtube page and get confused that the number is in the high tens of thousands. It's an illusion. I can tell you exactly how many real fans I have right now. 335. This is how I know! ; )

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/raised-by-bats-a-star-studded-gothrock-album-from-aurelio-voltaire/x/67837 "

 

( As you may imagine, there were 335 contributors to my campaign and they were shouldering a whopping total of over $10,000!  For the record, after the $10,000 it will cost to finish the album, shipping and Indie Go Go fees, it would take roughly another $40,000 for me to recoup what I have invested so far. But I'm not a greedy pig who is trying to make all of his money back in one shot which is why I am only looking for finishing funds.  ; )

 

So.... my post was perhaps, ineloquently stated. My goal was to (A) commend the people who chose to support something they claim to love with their hard-earned dollars and (B) to point out the shocking chasm between the number of fans it appears I have online and the number of people who are actually engaged to the point of thinking, "Voltaire is losing his shirt on this album! It could be his last and since I want him to make more, I should support the cause!" 

 My goal, however was NEVER to "shame" anyone (as some suggested) for not supporting and CERTAINLY not to shame anyone who didn't have the means to!

Naturally, those amongst the 335 people who'd contributed replied with words of support. Many others were surprised they hadn't yet heard about the campaign (so, some good came of the post, I suppose! LOL!) and some posted to communicate that they'd be contributing soon. 

However, then there were the people who got very upset, taking my, perhaps ineloquent post to mean that I think fans who are poor and CAN'T buy a CD are not real fans.

And here is really all I can say about that...

REALLY?? No, seriously, REALLY????

In the time you've spent on my Facebook page, Twitter page, Youtube page, meeting me at shows, emailing back and forth,  is this REALLY something you can conceivably think of me? If so, we CLEARLY don't know each other as well as I thought we did.

So... let's just take a moment to put things in perspective shall we?

I am fully aware that some people simply don't have money. You know how I know this? Because I STARVED (nearly to death) for years in order to have a music career at all. Seriously, there was a time at the beginning of my music career when I simply could't find work as an animator or director and wasn't yet making money from music. Back then, I played shows for free and I gave away my music on cassettes (LOL! yes, cassettes) in the hope of someday, MAYBE, building an audience of people who cared about my music, maybe even enough to think it's worth something.

During those times, I was not able to pay my rent nor was I able to feed myself and it was REALLY, REALLY hard!!! I barely ate and then when my son was born, his mother left me because I was not a good provider.  If my favorite band said to me, "I understand that you have no money, so here's a free copy of the CD," I would have been VERY appreciative!!!!

And that is EXACTLY why  I've been putting my own music on Youtube for years now! I will eventually make available EVERY SONG I'VE EVER RECORDED there totally free! I still have a way to go to get all of the albums on there, but I will eventually.  And the simple reason is because I KNOW THERE ARE THOSE WHO SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY. For the record, I can monetize those streams with ads and even though I literally make about 1/100th of what I'd make from iTunes sales if people just bought the music outright, I feel it is necessary to be able to make the music available to those who love it but CAN'T AFFORD to make a purchase (and hey, I'm not  bothered that Google can foot the bill to some extent. Lord knows they can afford to pay me a few pennies per stream! ).

And... in the meanwhile, while I continue to put more albums on my Youtube page, you might notice that there are THOUSANDS of unauthorized uploads of my songs on that site. Every song I've ever recorded is already there and have I had them removed??? (which by the way is REALLY easy to do)  The answer is no... because if I'm not offering the song on my official page, I won't have the unofficial ones removed because, then you can't hear it for free! 

Are you getting the impression that I'm a greedy, shitty, selfish capitalist asshole yet? Because I'm not.

Furthermore, I have made it VERY VERY public that I totally understand that I'm the luckiest guy alive for being able to live the life of an artist and that it is SOLEY because people support my efforts that I'm able to do it at all.

Because of that appreciation, you simply will not find an artist who spends as much time before the show and after the show meeting and greeting his or her fans as I do. I make it a point to meet each and every person who came to the show!

You simply will not find an artist who spends as much time on-line answering emails and comments on Facebook, Twitter, etc and who makes himself as available as I do (and then writes a 5,000 word essay because someone misunderstood a post on Facebook! LOL!)

If somehow you still don't understand my nature, how appreciative I am of your support, financial AND otherwise... I guess you still haven't gotten to know me! ; )

When I posted that comment, my goal was not to shame people who didn't contribute, it was to thank the AMAZING people who realize that making and SELLING music (yes, the music if for SALE. folks! ) is how I feed my child, how I pay his tuition and how I pay the rent.  Fans, as I'm beginning to see it... fall into three categories these days.

 

1) Those who understand that this is my means of support and are willing to pay for something they enjoy (you know the way you would for a Happy Meal or a coffee at Starbucks...)  They understand that making, recording and releasing music is my prime occupation and since they enjoy it, they help support my efforts (you know, the same way you pay a dentist or a carpenter or a baker for their efforts).

2) Those who love what I do, but simply can not afford to support my efforts with money. Having been homeless and dirt poor myself, I perhaps understand that position more than most. How anyone could think that I would discredit or discount these people as "real" fans is truly upsetting to me. But hey, many of you don't know that... so that's why I'm writing to you now. 

It is heartbreaking when these people are adults, may of them, like myself with a family to support. Sometimes, music is the only thing that helps you get through the day with your chin up.

Of course many of these people are also college students. I'm generally known to give college students a free ride. (although with a heavy dose of chiding! LOL!) You are out there learning to do something that hopefully you will find satisfying and also be able to make a living at. Nothing is more satisfying that doing what you love for a living, trust me! I hope you all get to live that! And I also hope that when you achieve your goal, people will be willing to pay you for the fruits of your labor!!! So let me toss this little chestnut in there.. the next time your parents ask you what you need, right after you ask for that Starbucks card, tell them you could REALLY use an iTunes card as well. It ain't gonna kill them! LOL!

3) Then there are those who love music but don't think beyond it to who is making the music. They are true fans in their hearts, they are moved just as deeply by it and amused just as much as any other fan would be, but they simply don't (for too many reasons to list here) understand or care what went into making the music, how much it cost, what was sacrificed to make it or whether that musician can survive to make any more music in the future. I imagine they are content that others will pay for it down the line, but it simply isn't going to be them. I don't villainize these people, mind you. I actually REALLY appreciate that they love my music!!!!! .... I just don't necessarily understand them. There is a huge difference.

Getting back to my original post, the point was not to condemn ANYONE, the point was simply to thank those who contributed, in essence shouldering  the weight for those who can't (and those who won't)  and to beg the question...

 if I have 45,000 Facebook likes...

29,000 Youtube subscribers...

12,000 Twitter followers and several thousand people signed up at www.voltaire.net for the newsletter...

....does it seem reasonable that only 335 people CHOSE to pre-order the new CD so far?

I think it's a fair question. I don't think it's anything anyone should be angry about, I just think it's something to consider.

The fact is, I've exhausted all of my resources making this album. I paid EVERY musician who recorded on this album, EVERY artist who contributed art, EVERY engineer who worked on it out of my pocket. Why? Because THESE ARE TALENTED HARD WORKING PEOPLE AND THEY DESERVE TO BE COMPENSATED FOR THEIR TALENTS!!! I've spent $35,000 of my hard-earned money, the money I would normally use for rent, food and my son's tuition with (what I think are) reasonable expectations that in years to come, I will make my investment back and in the process have created what I think is some pretty decent ART that many will enjoy!!!! 

 Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong... maybe it's time to find something else to do with my life. It's not the first time I've had to change careers in order to be able to support my family. And as traumatic as that would be, I will do what I have to, when I have to survive... naturally. I really don't ever want to go back to being homeless and not having money to feed myself and if that means finding something else to do that people see the value in (which is pretty much anything other than music! LOL!) so be it.  I guess only time will tell.

I'm not really looking for an answer in all of this, mind you. I merely want to communicate that if my post was ineloquent, and painted a picture that one must PAY ME in order to be considered a true fan, nothing can be further from the truth. 

In my opinion, in order to be a true fan of mine, one must love the music... AND... one must care about what happens to me. Whether that involves ever spending money or not is of no consequence to me at all.

 

Sincerely,

Voltaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

J Alexander January 13, 2014 @05:07 am
I was going through my own challenges and life changes for the past couple years, so I saw the campaign far too late. But now that I am in a better place In life I will be preordering the new album along with some toys for my office. It was your presence at the Analog in Portland that made my hellish week worth enduring. You make a difference in my life and inspire me to live and be myself. - J (a fellow bat raised Portland Spooky kid)
Citra November 14, 2013 @04:34 am
I have been so beedwierld in the past but now it all makes sense!
Amelia W October 23, 2013 @09:08 am
I would not have been offended if "BITCHES GOBUY MY MUSIC SO I CAN KEEP MAKING IT!" Had been the tweet/status/whatever. Musicians need to eat too. :) Keep making music forever (if you can of course). You are amazing and i look for more ways to support you every time i can. Do i need a pony of doom...HELL YES i do. Do i need 2 copies of your cds so one can live on my ipod and one can live on my xbox (or because i cannot wait for the physical one to arrive and it is up on itunes)? DAMN STRAIGHT! Do i need more toys on my desk with an ooky spooky theme so the old ladies at work think i might be a little off? INDUBITABLY! I have had a crush on the new album since i heard the first previews on soundcloud and am pleased as a peach to be supporting your making of music, toys, and everything! You sir are A-FREAKING-MAZING! P.S. Come to Portland OR sometime soon so i can buy even more stuff and have you sign it :)
Ange October 23, 2013 @04:47 am
I promised myself when I went to DragonCon that I would take all of my measley money I could, and I would spend it all on you. I am so very glad I did. I knew you pay to make your life-saving talents available to people out of your own pocket, but as a struggling almost human, I never realized how much it entailed. I have been very grateful to you (my whole "family" has been) for a few years now, and it was a joy to meet you. I'll be squirreling away for a few weeks to get up some funds for you. Trust me; no one here wants you to EVER have to give up music..and I don't think your fans want to give you up, either..at least until it's what you WANT not what you NEED. I read so many posts on your page how you saved someone's life. The world needs you, in my opinion.
Tina Pop October 22, 2013 @08:14 pm
You Rock so fucking hard. Love ya to bits.
Monique October 22, 2013 @06:06 pm
I love your music and will always buy the cd to show my support. I would have preordered, but have to wait until after Christmas.
Dorian October 22, 2013 @06:02 pm
Mr. Voltaire ~ I was exposed to your work by a friend who found a cinematic for "The Beast of Pirate's Bay" on Youtube in 2009 or so. I had already known "Brains" by heart but hadn't realized that was you. ("Land of Dead" wasn't from an episode/whatever I got to see.) In the time intervening, I've wrecked my life, had people kick me when I'm down, and overall lost nearly everything - a trend that continues, for now, although I'm slowly learning... Hm... To inform life that's it's out-of-luck and stuck with me, so to speak. As I've journeyed through this insanity, your music - as well as a few other artists, to be fair - has been one of my few constant companions. I have no money. I do well to support myself and am in custody hearings over my daughter (it's okay - she's better off in her mother's hands for the time being)... I've always deeply appreciated your understanding of those of us who love your music but have no easy way to get it short of Youtube, (frankly) piracy, etc. Buying it all is on the other side of finding financial stability. Probably a couple copies - different friends like different albums and I could easily find excuse to hand them out so we all have legitimate copies. Keep on making music - it helps so many people I know smile and make it through the day. You're like the Takei of the goth scene to me, so to speak.
Barb October 22, 2013 @05:47 pm
You are worth so much more than I can possibly pay you. We do care. Thank you for creating so many things that I love. Thanks to my son, Nicholas, who sang your songs incessantly every time I saw him during Dragon*Con 2003. You are truly the kindest person I know. It is an honor to be your First Officer.
Devilmark October 22, 2013 @05:43 pm
Good sir, allow me a moment if you will. I'm broke. No job right now, having to live with the 'rents until I can find another one(no luck thus far unfortunately). I am, however, in my downtime, writing books. Whether I find a regular job, or become a published writer, I promise I will buy your wonderful music. And if I become a published writer, with good cash flow? I will contribute significantly more toward your endeavors to: 1. Ensure you, and those close to you, do not suffer. 2. Ensure you can do this for as long as you want. 3. Ensure you never need fear not having/getting enough money for your effort. Keep up the good work, good sir, and if I can get these magic beans to grow, know that I'll make sure you get a couple golden eggs for yourself. ;)
Josh Nelson October 22, 2013 @05:10 pm
My dear friend (which I will explain why I call you this later), It hurts me - HURTS past my neurons - that people seem so apt to take advantage of a digital era. I, for one, love having a real, physical copy of my music - what if my computer was destroyed in a fire? it'd all be gone - but as it stands college is of a higher priority for me. That said, I also did not know about the indiegogo campaign in the first place. "But Josh," you may inquire in your wonderful voice, "I've been advertising it everywhere!" Sadly, I can't say it reached me. I hadn't known about it until you linked to it in this blog post. Maybe that's a lack of vigilance on my part - I'm known to be kind of dense at times - but I'm not completely sure, seeing as how I scour my newsfeed on facebook. Does it mean I'm not a fan? By your standards, I would surmise not. And I am grateful for that. I call you a friend, by the way, because unlike the musicians who pervade the charts nowadays (something I hope you someday attain without losing your own charm), you *get* me. You *get* the people I know. You *get* our troubles and you've been through it all. As such you are there to console us and for that I call you a friend. I may be a step or seven down as a fan, but as an artist myself, struggling with my own problems, I feel like I could at least help console as well. Though, while I'd love to be considered your friend, I know it isn't in the realm of likely probability, despite us living in NY (assuming you still do). This past summer, I was talking to a Mr. Denny Daniels, a longtime colleague of yours, about you at his curatorial venue, the Museum of Interesting Things. And he told me that you were (and are) a fantastic person. I can't disagree with that, solely because of what I'd said before. Anyhow, we spoke of you and to speak so casually of you, even when internally starstruck, was an experience that gained me new insight, in a way. Am I a fan? Yes. That is a doubtless claim. A friend? Well, while we've never met, I feel like you are my friend even though the converse may not be true. Sending vibes of a more positive tone, ~Josh Nelson
Jake R. October 22, 2013 @03:57 pm
Very sadly, I hate to say, I fall into the second category of fans. I am 21 with a 3 year old at home working/going to school full time. I don't make much money but what I do make i'm saving specifically at this time to order on indiegogo after I heard about it a few days ago. It saddens me to believe there are people that got upset over your post on facebook. I saw it and took absolutely ZERO offense. I stream your music everyday at work, currently listening to the bottom of the sea, I appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to do so. I dare anyone to find another artist that actually gives a damn about their fans so much that they would put ALL of their content out for people to listen to. I have bought a few things from Mr. V but not nearly as much as I would like to own. But that is why I have a dream Christmas list lol. Why take offense to a comment on a social network site from a artist that we all look up to? This may just be me but I personally look up to Voltaire. With every great thing this man has done how dare people insult him in such a way! It is absolutely revolting that people are so self centered they can't watch the nooseletter, listen to the meanings in songs, read how much this man has sacrificed for the simple reason of making songs, movies, books, toys etc. for the reason that people enjoy. After all this is Voltaires way of making a living. ITS HIS DAMN JOB! How many would honestly devote their time and effort into something if they weren't getting paid for it? So is it to much to get a simple request for showing our support? To hell with everyone that feels insulted by the comment! Keep doing what you do Voltaire there are still some of us that love your work and will do all we can to support and love you and what you do. LONG LIVE VOLTAIRE!
Gabrielle October 22, 2013 @03:44 pm
You obviously care enough to write this! I know about the campaign and will be contributing once I get back from a trip... I need to hold on to my little nest egg fund just in case something were to happen :P Hope you still have the Candy Claws guys!
Nicholas Black October 22, 2013 @03:36 pm
I am sorry you had to spend the time writing this Mr V. Looking forward to the new album. Don't let people who don't get your jokes affect your day and how you spend it.
Jenn October 22, 2013 @03:35 pm
You know what? I wasn't aware of the Indie campaign because I'm not on FB or social media as much now that my work entails me being on line all day (I get sick of staring at the screen). I in no way took offense or felt I was less than a "real" fan, nor do I think you were sitting back, sucking down a stogie cackling "muahaaahaaa....fuck all those poor peons! They don't deserve my love! No musics for them!". Some people are overly sensitive, I guess. Even if your post was a little bit clumsy in the wording, for people to think that your asshole switch had suddenly turned on is pretty laughable. Now remember in the future...every word should be sweet, cuddly, and chosen with everyone's delicate constitutions at the forefront of your brainpan.
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