I don’t know much about Jonathan Coulton, but this article from the NYT is really worth reading. It covers two aspects of how the Internet has changed things.
First is the financial aspects, how musicians can make a living without record labels. An important point to me is how people pay for the music because they want to support the artist:
Indeed, running a Web store has allowed Coulton and other artists to experiment with intriguing innovations in flexible pricing. Remarkably, Coulton offers most of his music free on his site; when fans buy his songs, it is because they want to give him money.
I understand this behaviour, but somehow I wonder if it is a viable approach going forward… Relying on people paying for something that they could also get for free will stay a niche approach. A bit like non-crippled shareware.
Another very valid point brought forward by Tad Kubler from the Hold Steady:
Are today’s online artists ruining their own aura by blogging? Can you still idolize someone when you know what they had for breakfast this morning?
People who follow Bob Mould’s blog can read plenty of stuff on his work-out routine and diet, which I would not have considered "rock" in the old days. It’s a strong contrast, for example, to the White Stripes who have maintained a mystery about their lives and thoughts. I am quite undecided myself, which of the two approaches I prefer.