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Science for Sociopaths on Creating a New Ethic & Culture of Sponsorship

I’d like to take the time to explain why I’m no longer signed to a record label, and why I’ve decided instead to rely entirely on listener support. For those of you who haven’t heard me talk about this, or for those of you who feel that I should pursue a recording contract or go on American Idol like every other singer-songwriter, I’d like to explain my philosophy around funding this work. You might find some of this surprising. 

You’ve heard of the term “selling out.” Selling out is when you say or do something inauthentic for the sake of making money on the transaction. And in today’s digital economy, it’s kind of a given. Your favorite YouTuber doesn’t really love memory foam so much that they can’t go one week without singing it’s praises. That transaction is no longer between you and the YouTuber. It’s between you, the YouTuber, the people trying to get you to buy memory foam, and the people trying to get the YouTuber to sell you memory foam. The same compromising situation arises when a creator signs a contract with any large production company. Hint: follow the money. My goal in this project is and shall remain to create music that moves us. I don’t want to be availing myself as a means to some unrelated end, and you don’t want me to be doing that either. But that leaves me with the challenge of how else to fund production costs.

The goal used to be to sign to a label, to be a famous musician, to do things the “traditional” way. However, having been signed to a label, I learned how compromising having persons above you on whom your entire future depends can be. Since I’ve left the label and shifted my focus away from trying to find outside representation, I’ve discovered that direct listener support is the most honest relationship I can have with an audience. The difficulty here is that many people expect to get music and other digital media for free. We’ve trained ourselves to expect this by creating an internet economy based on advertising. Companies pay for your time and attention, and every YouTuber that relies on advertising pays a cost to their own time, attention, and worse; their authenticity. By self funding this platform together, we’re creating a forum that is truly free from outside pressures that are conspiring to co-opt your time and attention away from what you truly value.

What we’re creating here, besides music, is a new ethic and culture of sponsorship where each of us takes the time to support work we value. In the words of a fellow patreon creator, “many of us regularly pay $3 for a cup of coffee, and we don’t think twice about it, yet it would seem onerous to pay $3 for something that actually brings us much more value than a cup of coffee ever could.” I’m guilty of feeling this way, and frankly it wasn’t until I started self-producing music that I even cared to better understand the value economy. Asking for listener support is something that I dreaded at the beginning. Then I thought about it. Listener-supported music is untainted by third parties with impure incentives. The music is free, and everyone can listen to it. If some of you find this music valuable, then you can support it to the degree that you find it valuable, which is the transaction that most honestly reflects whatever benefit you get from my work.

For those of you who are regular listeners, who derive value from my music, I want to encourage you to support Science for Sociopaths at a level you’re comfortable with. I also want to be clear about one thing: there are some of you who shouldn’t support SfS no matter how much value you get from it. If it causes you any financial stress to give even a dollar a month, then my appeal for listener support is not directed at you. For everyone else, please know that those of you who have begun funding Science for Sociopaths in a recurring way through patreon are making it possible to keep the music coming. And if the project grows in interesting ways in the future, it will be because of regular contributions from listeners like you. Thank you so much!

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A podcaster and fellow patreon creator I greatly admire, Sam Harris, was sourced for the backbone of this appeal.

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