The viral web is full of pleas for attention, affection and (usually monetary) support. So when SFist and other sites like TechCrunch took to the story of the NorCal indie recording artist Pomplamoose, whose viral tour diary by band member Jack Conte showed them $11,000 in debt, we saw it as a standard sob story but a notable one given the hot topic of the death of the music industry.
What wasn't disclosed in the post itself was that Conte is the cofounder of a startup that provides a crowdfunding platform for indie musicians. As noted in another (now removed) Medium post, Patreon is a San Francisco-based site that Conte references in his original post as a potential savior for musicians like him. He just didn't mention that it's his startup.
He did, however, note that Pomplamoose received over $6,000 from the funding site that it still squandered, at least according to Pitchfork and many an SFist commenter.
As the company reportedly raised $15 million in June, that's a bit surprising, but if he doesn't need the money, guess he doesn't need the money!
Sure one can argue that Conte's allegiance was always to the success of his band, so wouldn't anything he wrote be, at base, a marketing ploy? Is it different if Conte is actually logrolling for his startup? Can Conte be both a musician and entrepreneur with a business to fund without being called out for it?
Here's where I think it gets icky: The stated reasons for the post — the reasons that helped propel it across networks and feeds — are super disingenuous. As stated originally, they were:
The point of publishing all the scary stats is not to dissuade people from being professional musicians. It’s simply an attempt to shine light on a new paradigm for professional artistry.
Nope. The point of publishing these stats, at least as I read it, was to ask for help and support for Pomplamoose and Patreon.
We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.
We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.
I get it. These guys are busking, they're hustling, only in digital form. But speaking for myself, I'd prefer to know if I'm giving money to a startup or a musician, because I still think those are different things. They could have been more forthcoming about it and saved themselves the backlash.
And did he really need to invoke Taylor Swift? Really? "So in conclusion: haters gonna hate hate hate I’m just gonna shake shake shake shake it off. Shake it off."