This is the sixth interview in Chapter 2 in my new book, Designing Media
Roger McNamee, November 2008
Roger McNamee is both a musician and a venture capitalist. He got his start on the business side, helping the Grateful Dead to stay viable after Jerry Garcia’s death through direct sales to its fans. Now he works during the daytime as a founder of Elevation Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in media and entertainment companies. His passionate enthusiasm is most obvious when he talks about his life as a musician, playing lead guitar in Moonalice.
The band was formed in 2007 with a yes-we-can attitude to promotion and financial support. They perform regularly and often, keeping their ticket prices low. They create posters for almost all the concerts, offering them for sale individually and compiled into a book, together with Moonalice legends and concert set lists. Every show is recorded on audio and video, with carefully packaged CDs and DVDs of the previous ten shows available for sale at each concert (along with T-shirts). Free downloads of the shows and videos are available online, but people can pay for a nicely packaged physical version if they want it. In April 2009 Moonalice held their first Twitter-integrated concert, with each song being uploaded during the show and tweets sent out about the real-time availability.
Roger feels that accessible tools for creating music benefit everybody, and that it’s more fun to create music, art, and design than to consume it. He believes that democratizing the creative process is inherently good for society, that it educates all of us and makes us realize that anyone can put up an idea, by blogging or adding an entry to Wikipedia. This change challenges the conventional media world, after a forty-year period during which the population could only be accessed in large chunks. It’s getting easier and easier for people to put time and attention into the things that they love.