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In which John discusses the future of DFTBA Records, a business that endeavors not to suck.


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A Bunny
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John: Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday. So we all know that for-profit companies kind of suck, like we dislike them, even though we like many of the things they make, you know, like iPads and Dr. Pepper, by the way, just spit-balling some brain crack here, but an iPad app that pours cold Dr. Pepper out of your iPad into a glass!

Right, but I'm really interested in why for-profit companies feel kinda evil and icky to us, particularly because I am co-owner of one such company. So, Hank, I want to talk today about how we're seeking to run DFTBA Records, your friendly neighborhood e-tailer, as a business without it being a business that sucks.

So lots of awesome people are always making awesome stuff in Nerdfighteria, like Nerdfighter Johnathan from Britain's Got Talent just released his first album, Elmify has like, the most nerdfightastic Etsy store ever, Nerdfighters are making This Star Won't Go Out banners and skyscrapers in Nerdcrafteria.

Now, some of that stuff, like albums and Etsy stores, has a commercial life, but some of it doesn't, but Hank, when you and Alan Lastufka started DFTBA Records in 2008, your idea was to connect YouTube musicians to their audiences in a way that allowed for the YouTubers to make the majority of the profits from album sales. That was a pretty revolutionary idea, and it worked really well, you've released great music by Charlie McDonnell and Alex Day and yourself and Driftless Pony Club and Megan Tonjes and many others. DFTBA Records eventually grew to have one entire employee, Kristen Franklin, who incidentally is the first person ever to use the words "French the Llama" in Nerdfighteria during the 2009 Project for Awesome. That's right, Hank, the inventor of French the Llama works for DFTBA Records, my only response for that is FRENCH THE LLAMA!

Speaking of which, I will be doing my punishment next week, I'm trying to find a llama.

But, right, as DFTBA grew, you also wanted it to be a place where YouTubers could sell other kinds of stuff, wristbands, posters, t-shirts, and get the majority of the proceeds from those sales. Now, Hank, all along, the Nerdfighter merch at, like valerie2776's Pizza John shirt, was designed by Nerdfighters. But until recently, we didn't really understand the power of this to change peoples' lives, and then I started coming across these watercolor paintings that included quotes from my books. I mean, all of a sudden, Hank, Tumblr wasn't just the place for Who-lock slash fiction and .gifs of Downton Abbey, it was also a place for these amazing watercolor paintings. Eventually, I found out that these paintings were made by a Malaysian Nerdfighter named Mei, and I contacted her, and we decided to print up a bunch of posters that I would sign, and by "would sign", I mean, "am currently signing while walking". And we soon figured out that with the right royalty structure, the proceed from this poster and this one and also this one which I can only show you part of because it contains a curse word, those royalties can support Mei as she finishes university and then tries to find a job in graphic design, which I'm sure she'll do a great job of, because she is an excellent graphic designer. Seeing that happen was awesome, so we tracked down the creator of this, a 19 year old student named Erin living in California, and we turned them into posters, poster, poster, poster, and we also decided to release two new shirts by college student Marina, including Daisy Buchanan Thinks You're a Beautiful Fool and Augustus Waters' first ever t-shirt. Marina, of course, also designed Holden Caulfield Thinks You're a Phony.

So, Hank, traditionally, DFTBA Records has been about connecting people with audiences to stuff those audiences will want. And that's really cool, and it's been a big part of how I've bought diapers for Henry and how Alex Day has afforded those tiny little jeans he squeezes into, but I'm really excited for DFTBA Records to also become a place for people who don't have built-in audiences, but have great talent, can make stuff that will allow them to help pay for college and travel and all the other stuff they want to do. We'll see if demand will allow us to grow that part of the business, hopefully it will, but all that stuff is available for pre-order now on, link in the doobly-doo, oh, and also, This Star Won't Go Out, the charity set up in Nerdfighter Esther's memory that benefits children with cancer and their families, had a t-shirt contest. The winning t-shirt was designed by 19-year-old Tatiana, who lives in Kazakhstan, yes, there are Nerdfighters in Kazakhstan, and they are clearly made of awesome! So that t-shirt can also be pre-ordered at, also, of course, you can order Esther bracelets, and those proceeds go to This Star Won't Go Out.

So, Hank, that's our continuing attempt to build a business without being evil, hopefully we're expanding in the right directions. Hank, thank you for reminding me and Nerdfighteria to vote, DFTBA, I will see you on Friday!