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Interviews: Ask Jonathan Coulton What You Will 48

Jonathan Coulton's song Code Monkey became an anthem for many programmers (not just ones with managers named Rob) and his success is proof that you really can become an internet rock star. Since we last talked, Coulton has became the house musician for the NPR show Ask Me Another and had one of his songs copied without permission, credit, or thanks by the show Glee, much to his chagrin. Jonathan has agreed to answer all your questions about music, internet stardom, and robots. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
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Interviews: Ask Jonathan Coulton What You Will

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  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @12:45PM (#46484105)

    Did you have a specific girl in mind at the office when you wrote that song?

  • more karaoke tracks? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nick Number ( 447026 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @12:46PM (#46484133) Homepage Journal

    Over the past five years I've taken on the mantle of karaoke nerd (I will also answer to diva), and I've really enjoyed performing the karaoke tracks [] which I bought from your website and persuaded various KJs to import. "First of May" tends to get me some funny looks, and despite the disclaimer, I've yet to be punched in the nose after singing it./

    Do you have plans to release any new karaoke tracks? Is there any chance that "Still Alive" will get one, or does Valve own those rights?

    What about more sheet music?

  • The Presidents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by enzo_romeo ( 756095 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @12:47PM (#46484151)
    Any plans on releasing an updated version on the internets? I've liked the additional lyrics when I hear it live. And thank you sir for your work. ~ from a fellow code monkey
  • by Anonymous Coward

    According to your own definition of success, have you reached that point where you feel like you've made it happen? If so, what was that point? If not, what would you like to have happen?

    I've been a fan ever since I discovered Thing A Week as an undergrad. My dormmates and I discussed doing a musical theatre version of "Skullcrusher Mountain." "I'm Your Moon" was our first dance at our science-themed wedding. Keep up the awesomeness!

  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @12:56PM (#46484247) Homepage Journal

    Did you finish Portal 1 and 2?

  • by __aaqvdr516 ( 975138 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @12:58PM (#46484271)

    Hi Jon. Have you been approached for Portal 3?

    Also, thanks for releasing all those tracks for Ultrastar DX. My son was absolutely terrified of the Creepy Doll song and my kids love to sing RE:Your Brains (They're 6 and 5).

  • The Good Wife (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @01:01PM (#46484289) Homepage Journal

    When the CBS show "The Good Wife" copied your Glee saga (in the season 5 episode titled "Goliath and David") right down to the Reddit sleuths uncovering the background noise, did you receive credit or compensation? It would be pretty hilarious if that too were blatantly reproduced without permission...

  • by Bhull ( 644157 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @01:07PM (#46484349)
    Can you give some details about the technology you use on stage when playing live without a band?
  • So I'm here in my cube wondering how to reach escape velocity. I could maybe do a thing a quarter or maybe a thing a month though, and have a decent set within a year.

    What are the best first steps and what was your greatest challenge in leaving the day job?

    (Yes, I know, two questions. Sue me.)

  • What is your approximate breakdown of revenue annually (i.e. % from digital downloads, CDs, live shows, royalties)? How has it changed over the years?
    • by pezpunk ( 205653 )

      while you're at it, would you say women are usually very impressed, somewhat impressed, or not impressed at all at your tumescence?

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @01:29PM (#46484617) Journal

    As a consumer listening to songs I find only a small percentage of work of any single artist strikes that perfect mix that makes me want to put a song on a "favorites" playlist. As you look back at your library of songs, is there a group that you think really are just meh and how many do you still really, really enjoy performing? As a followup - if the songs you perform the most get stale for you as a performer do you look to your catalog to keep things fresh or do you prefer to write new material?

  • Will you come sing at my birthday party, pro bono? I am old enough for this to be weird, but you are a hero of mine.

  • I've heard you referred to as a modern-day Tom Lehrer. What is your take on that comparison?

  • What's your favorite song?

  • The notice you gave via RSS for the Portland gig a few months back was way too short. Thanks for doing the Humble Music Bundle. You rock.
  • Rob can actually be funny sometimes, you know.

  • Sorry, this is question #2, but since I know you'll be reading these and the number of questions seems light so far, I figured I'd ask. I love Artificial Heart, although the bonus tracks are a bit incongruous. "Today With Your Wife" chokes me up. Nice work.
  • by wertigon ( 1204486 ) on Friday March 14, 2014 @03:13PM (#46485865)

    Hi Jonathan!

    These days it's quite popular to both bash the copyright system and sue those thieving filesharers to oblivion. I'd like to ask you what you, as an independant musician, think would be a good balance between the creator rights and the public interests? Would it be a RIAA wet dream where all the content is locked up behind paywalls and getting a copy from an unauthorized source, like say a library, would constitute a crime with a minimum of 6 months in jail? Do you believe more in the Pirate Parties vision of abolishing the monopoly on creating copies, but retaining the protection against economic abuse? Or are you more in favor of going full nuclear by abolishing the entire copyright system alltogether? Thank you for all the great songs you have produced over the years!

    • Also, your answer needs to be 300 words or less and understandable by Supreme Court justices who have never used email. You can do that for us, right, Jonathan? After all, you're a rock star.
  • My teenage son got PAX tickets before the acts were announced and he's kind of bummed that you're not on the show list.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      he won't be part of the shows at least, unfortunately :( (he's not there every year).

      VGO will be at least, and they're AWESOME.

  • On one of your recent visits to Atlanta you had your merch-guy sing your encore. Is that common practice for you?
  • You weren't at the last PAX Prime, nor will you be at the upcoming PAX East. Any story behind that?

  • I think it's been a couple years since Artificial Heart came out. I know that you've been busy with Ask Me Another, touring, cruising, etc., but are you working on anything new?

    Also, how do you feel about Artificial Heart compared to your earlier (do-it-yourself) albums?

  • What are your retrospective thoughts on you're thing a week project? I'm particularly interested in if you thought it was a success (and what that might mean), and if you would suggest something similar to other artists.

    Loved your music ever since i heard about you through Slashdot 6 or 7 years ago! Thanks for all the laughs and entertainment!

  • Hey JoCo!

    Do you still log into Second Life and would you consider doing another concert there?

    What's your opinion of the Oculus Rift and other advancements in three dimensional technologies, and you believe they will inspire renewed interest to virtual reality?

    Many thanks

  • Can you tell us what the song Now I Am An Arsonist is about? It's not as obvious as the title might suggest. It talks about astronauts and acrobats while arson is hardly mentioned. Did you have the backstory of some particular arsonist, real or imagined, in mind when you wrote it?

  • So, Joco, I had no idea who the hell you were when I stumbled across the PopSci podcast from the moon, which was really awesome and still what I think of when I think of your work. Not all these songs everybody else thinks of. No, for me it's a wacky but informative podcast.

    So what happened? Why did they stop? How come you don't talk about them?

  • Have you considered a female point-of-view version of your song "Better"? It'd be interesting to hear the logic behind her upgrades, and what she was after in the first place.

    Also, is there any kind of correlation between "Better" and "Nobody Loves You Like Me"?

    Do, please keep up the Wonderful Work! Great, insightful and thought-provoking body of work, BTW!

  • I thought I asked a couple of decent questions, but it seems they were toxic, and the thread has died a miserable death... Anybody still out there? Has anyone gotten any kind of answers from JoCo?

    Does any body know where my BBQ Fritos went?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"