Aurelio Voltaireis creating Music, books, animation, films, toys and more!
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I'd be lying if I didn't state that I love when people of their own accord decide to contribute $6.66. So, I've made it easier to select my favorite patron level! It's wicked, it's devilish and it REALLY helps me to keep making macabre music, art, Gothic Homemaking episodes and the like! And of course, you get access to all of the exclusive content here!
My name is Aurelio Voltaire. Those of you who know me already know that I make lots and lots of things! I started my career as a stop-motion animator (I made a bunch of the early MTV and SYFY channel station IDs ), I make animated films, comic books (Chi-chian, Deady, Oh My Goth!), I've written several books (The Legend of Candy Claws, Call of the Jersey Devil, What is Goth? etc..) I'm a touring musician and I've released something like eleven studio albums (and several more EPs and singles) over the years.
I'd say I make the bulk of my living from making and performing music and I feel really privileged to be able to say that!!! In fact, I'm really, really lucky to be making a living as an artist at all! I think I probably make it pretty clear (at shows, through social media, etc... ) that I know that would NEVER be possible without the support of those who like what I do. I run all of my own social media pages so that anyone can reach me directly. I run my own merch booth at shows usually, so that I can meet and thank each and every person who came out to the show.
Unfortunately though, things are changing. Fewer and fewer people are paying for music. What is maybe the most confusing part is that they haven't stopped loving it... they just don't see the point of paying for something that's so easy to find for free. A song by their favorite artist won't be worth spending 99 cents on, yet they'll still gleefully throw down four bucks for a coffee at Starbucks. Why? It's not because they love coffee more than music but because there really isn't any way to get the coffee for free. The unfortunate part though, is that many of these people, while being true, ardent fans of the work, are either not considering ( or I shudder to think, completely unconcerned for ) how this effects the artist's life or ability to continue making the art they claim to love.
(For the record, I'm not talking about people who simply don't have the money. I'm talking about those who do, but choose to spend it elsewhere. I think that's important to note as I have a huge audience of poor students (for instance) who are always welcomed to listen for free wherever they can!)
Fewer people are coming out to shows as well. Rather than buying a ticket and coming out, many people will settle for watching the videos countless fans will shoot of the tour and post to Youtube
( for the record, I've never prohibited filming or recording of my shows and I've always encouraged people to share those videos on-line). Is it the same experience? Of course not! But it's free... and because it's on the internet, it means not having to put on pants, not having to leave the house and not having to interact with other people.
Lastly, in the trifecta of what has made this year the hardest financially on my ability to continue doing what I do is that it seems fans are buying less and less merch. There can be a dozen different reasons for this, mind you, and I promise you that I've explored the issue from every possible angle. But I'll present you with this one single example:
This year was my 17th Dragoncon in a row (Dragoncon is a convention in Atlanta that draws 80,000 people, where I perform to roughly 6,000 people at a time). At the risk of sounding overly proud, I would boldly say that in my 17th year, I was a more popular attraction than ever before! I performed for thousands of people, I signed hundreds upon hundreds of con badges and I took more photos and selfies with fans that I ever have in any previous year. The punchline?
... my team crawled away from Dragoncon this year barely being able to cover expenses!!!! For the first time in years, the amount of money that we made selling merch (which is the only way you make money as a band at Dragoncon) was roughly the same amount it cost to manufacture the goods to sell, ship it there and pay for food and airfares. It was... well... SHOCKING, to say the least. The year before was kind of bad and we were all really surprised, but this year was just demoralizing and very, very confusing. How could people be so effusive about how much they love the music, but not want to take any of it home (or a T-shirt, poster, book, toy, etc)?
And then this happened... a very nice man (with his wife and two children) approached my booth. He handed me forty dollars. I accepted it and asked him what he was buying from the booth and if he'd like to have it signed and he said, "I've been standing here for a while watching you. You greet everyone with a smile, you take photos with people, you'll sign their badges or anything they hand you, and I've seen that the great majority of these people aren't buying anything. I don't think they realize that the only way you can make money on tour is if they buy something. So, please take this money. I don't need anything in exchange, I just want you to keep being able to feed yourself and your family and keep making the music we love."
Wow! I was really blown away and wasn't sure what to say. I, of course refused to take his money because it seemed really alien to accept what seemed like a donation... but he was very persuasive, bless his heart! It was at that moment that I realized that some people understand what we musicians and artists these days are up against, and some simply don't.
I had heard about Patreon a while back. I've had some colleagues suggest I join it. I've had some fans suggest it as well. But I was not ready. I felt like it was akin to begging ( I guess maybe I should have read Amanda Palmer's book? LOL! ) Then recently I was having a conversation with a friend about how musicians only thrived, many years ago, because they had patrons. People like Mozart were only able to produce art (and support themselves!) because there were generous people who loved their work and wanted to see them be able to continue creating it.
And then suddenly in didn't seem so bad.
And so now I ask you if you will join me. Do you enjoy what I create? Would you be willing to help me continue to be able to create it? Because truth be told, I think we have reached that place in history where only with the help and support of people like you, will music and art continue to thrive... especially the kinds of art that would not be so palatable to corporate sponsors.
In exchange, I promise you that I will work hard to continue making what you've hopefully enjoyed from me thus far. And I will never for a moment allow you to feel I don't appreciate your support!
And naturally, I will try my best inundate you in entertaining things in the hope that every month feels like a month worth contributing to the cause!
If you can help in this VERY direct way ,let's make some spooky (possibly funny... possibly tragic... most likely a bit of both) ART!
And if you simply can not, know that I still truly appreciate your love, your enthusiasm and that you enjoy my music and art!!!