Unsolicited tip for media company c-levels: if your reaction to this crate of magic is "Hm. I wonder how we'd go about suing someone who ‘did this' with our IP?" instead of, "Holy crap, clearly, this is the freaking future of entertainment," it's probably time to put some ramen on your Visa and start making stuff up for your LinkedIn page.
Because, this is what your new Elvis looks like, gang. And, eventually somebody will figure out (and publicly admit) that Kutiman, and any number of his peers on the "To-Sue" list, should be passed from Legal down to A&R.
Everybody knows the business has moved from legal to binary files. The question now is how much more lead time old media companies and other IP-obsessives can afford to burn by pretending it's otherwise.
In the mean time, though, you have to wonder how much artists like Kutiman (or, for that matter, Jonathan), really need the mixed basket of theoretical benefits that big companies with big distribution can provide. For a long-lived career, does a boot-strapping indie artist with giant niche appeal gain enough from a big-company relationship to offset the loss in agility, equity, and flexibility? I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Because, even in the face of bullying, obfuscating, and throat-clearing from corporations with a homemade timetable for evolution, more and more folks like Kutiman will just keep making and releasing stuff. Cool stuff, "illegal" stuff, niche stuff, and stuff that doesn't require the benediction of a middle-aged executive in order to reach its precise audience with almost zero friction or overhead.
And, that prospect should buoy and energize anybody with a scintilla of artistic entrepreneurship or the drive to just try making and offering their own stuff in their own way.
Man. What an exciting time this is. Seriously. We may not each have Kutiman-level talent and vision, but there's absolutely never been a better time to at least give it a throw.
Remember: the only person who can sit on your ass is you.
Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He's best known for being the guy who started the website you're reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today. Also? He looks like this, answers questions, and has something like a life.