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Interview with Voltaire

There’s been a movement within the science fiction community where an ever-increasing number of writers are doing more and more things for themselves, and depending less upon agents and publishers. E-publishing seems to be slowly getting more of a foothold. What has your experience been with self-promoting?
I confuse and confound agents, because I do so many different things, and I’m so hard to categorize. To again use the example of my friend Jason Miller, he has different agents for his music, his voice-over work, and his acting. With the agent, you’re giving at least ten percent of what you earn to them, and in return, in theory, you’re buying access to work or access to people that you couldn’t get to without having an agent. Then you have the percentage of the revenue sucked off by whatever corporate entity you are dealing with. You’ve brought up an excellent point about the movement away from agents. That is happening everywhere, much to the chagrin of record labels, publishers, et cetera. The internet is an engine that has empowered people to the point where you can find a way to communicate with one, two, ten-thousand people or more people. They can see your work and, if they are interested in buying your work for a dollar, or any amount of money, you’ve just bypassed the whole system. I self-released my last album, “To the Bottom of the Sea”, in 2008, and I made more money self-releasing it that I ever made with a record label, because I’m making ninety percent of the profit.
Independent artists need to learn how to use social networking. My first “professional” social networking experience was with mp3.com, and they were sending me checks! People could find out about you, communicate with you, and buy your songs. I was getting checks for a thousand dollars some months. That business model ended up not working, and people ended up leaving it almost overnight. Then MySpace came along—what a Godsend! I didn’t know HTML, so here was an opportunity for me to create a website, a destination, where people could go, hear my music instantly, see photos, see my show dates. I could add them as friends and then send them emails about what I was doing—what a fantastic thing! When Facebook came along, there was a huge exodus from MySpace. I had something like fifty-thousand MySpace connections, many of whom now never check their accounts. Facebook has a limit of 5,000 friends, and I hit that over a year ago. I can’t add any more. They won’t let you switch a personal account over to a business account, which really sucks. I don’t want to switch over and start a music, or business page or whatever, that would be awful, to have to start over. I’m just going to wait until the Facebook folks change their minds, because, I know that, eventually, they will allow users to make that change.
Of course, now a lot of folks have moved away from Facebook to Twitter and are all about the twittering. The social networking dynamic is going to change. If you want to succeed independently, you must have your own website, and you must keep up with the social networking trends, and you must keep finding ways to drive traffic to your own website. You should have your parties at your own house, if you see my point. It’s taken me awhile for me to figure that out, and I’m now working at trying to make my website into more of a destination.

And that website is?
Voltaire.net (http://www.voltaire.net) My online store is currently down, so I also use the iTunes store, and Amazon.

You’ve got a children’s album coming out, in addition to your country album. What are the titles, and when will they be available?
The children’s album is called “Spooky Songs for Creepy Kids”. It should be ready in time for DragonCon. It will have “Goodnight Demonslayer”, which is a lullaby that I wrote long ago for my now-teenage son, some re-workings of my not-so-kid-friendly songs into kid-friendly, lightsaber rape-free versions. There will be a “Twilight” version of “Vampire Club”, as well as songs that I did for Cartoon Network and an online game called Adventure Quest Worlds (http://www.aq.com/) .
The country album is still coming together. I’ve been playing with the cover art whenever I can, which is mostly only when I’m on an airplane. I’m leaning towards having the title be that of one of the songs, like “Hate Lives in a Small Town” or “All Women Are Crazy”. I had some loser ideas when it came to titles, like “Entering Voltaire Country”, and some other real dogs.

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1 comment

1 Redstone Science Fiction #3, August 2010 | Redstone Science Fiction { 08.13.10 at 9:09 pm }

[…] An Interview with Voltaire, musician, video artist, and popular convention performer by Paul […]