Virtual Crowdsurfing

hola comrades!

i took the better part of this past week and sorted through & responded to – see below – over almost ONE THOUSAND (jesuschrist) collected responses to the past “why i am not afraid to take your money” blog, since it got posted and reposted all over the place (thanks cory @ boingboing, mike @ techdirt, popurls.com, absolutepunk.net, iconfactory.com, and all the other folks who spread it around & rewteeted it).

i have a lot to say. please feel free to cut, paste and share it as you so choose.

it’s broken down into four parts:

1. Virtual Crowdsurfing (an explanation)
2. Selling Out (my personal definition)
3. Why This Works (for me but maybe not for everybody)
4. Money, Art & Random Balance (the economics of trust)
5. AFP responds to comments

1. VIRTUAL CROWDSURFING (an explanation & a continually rambling manifesto…)

first, tons of people asked if they could donate directly to me. yes, you can: HERE.

the topic obviously hit a nerve all around. goddam.

i got a phone call from NPR (american public radio) a few days ago and was invited to do a studio interview about this topic for their show “on the media” as a result of all the buzz.
the funniest thing about that: at the end of the interview, rick told me i was the only person who sounded optimistic and, well, “happy” about this whole music industry mess.

well…yes. i am happy. why? because i’m not chained…and i’m not even technically FREE! i’m still stuck on my record label!!!!
but it doesn’t matter. i have a direct way OUT of the system that relies not on suits in offices, but on a working wireless connection, the goodwill of my fans, my work ethic, and the quality of my output.
so yes, of course i’m happy.
and as far as i can read hundreds of comments down, so are a lot of other people who are GLAD to have free-er content and less middleman involvement, though it means more personal responsibility.
we just need to agree to make it work.

my cellist friend zoe keating (@zoecello), who more or less runs her own business out of her house (and isn’t signed), told me a few days ago on the phone that people have been ordering multiple CDs directly from her website and simply putting, in the comments section of paypal “PLEASE DON’T MAIL ME THESE CDS – i just wanted to send $40 because i want to support you!”.
i’ve had multiple people try to write me checks/hand me cash at shows because they’d downloaded music for free and wanted to just give me money.

there’s obviously something going on here… and it’s obvious to me that the public is willing to support a new system.

i also firmly believe – as many of you seem to – that this new era of music and content (less huge blockbuster artists supported by the mass media, more living-wage artists supported by smaller fanbases) will actually drive the quality of content UP. artists will hopefully no longer be in this game for the wrong reasons (i.e. to be instantly/luckily famous and rich) but instead will take an honest look at the work it takes and the lifestyle it provides; in most cases, not a luxurious one, but a fulfilling one.

the naysayers are free to try their own systems.
do it! but as far as i can tell, what i’m doing is hurting nobody.

a few months ago i was traveling around impulsively after a long tour, taking off-time and visiting friends and family in various cities and discovering the then-newfound magical powers of twitter.
i used these magical powers to put together flash-mob-style donation-shows on beaches and in parks, to find last-minute practice pianos, to find cafe/yoga/wireless recommendations, to find crash spaces for me & my assistant, even to twitter for rides to and from the airport from random fans (twitchhiking!). why the hell not?. call me crazy. but i like these people and trust them enough to do that. i got a fantastic ride from the denver airport to boulder from a woman who told me all about her two kids and brought me some drawings they’d done. she kept my number and a few days later, she gave me a ride BACK to denver…and this time brought the minivan, her partner, AND their two kids, about whom, at that point, i knew everything. it was like getting an adopted family for a few hours. it was either THAT or the bus. simple? for me, yes.

i started to call this “virtual crowdsurfing” because the metaphor was just too perfect.

at a show where people are crowdsurfing, you can’t just stand there on the edges, wondering endlessly if you should jump in or not…biting your nails, hemming, hawing, calculating whether the collected masses will really care about you and whether a few people in the moshpit might be assholes and not pull their weight.
if you wait too long, the show’s over.
you must dive, pray and work on a faith-based system that folks will have your back.
you might wind up on the floor, shit happens. but people will help you up, brush you off, push you back in the pit.
and you, in return, need to hold your hands up in the air when somebody’s flailing body comes in your direction…you cannot duck, you cannot run in fear that you might break a nail…or a finger.

i was doing a signing after one of the beach shows in LA and i realized i’d left my wallet and phone (visibly) unattended in my ukulele case, where people were asked to toss their money in, about 20 feet behind me.

over 300 people had put dollars, drawings, notes and little ponies in there.

my wallet and phone were untouched. i hadn’t even thought about protecting them.

am i an idiot for leaving my shit out? absolutely.
is my faith in my fans profound beyond words? yes.

and so it is: i am grateful as fuck to be riding on the upstretched hands of my audience, blissful in the randomness, happy for the gorgeous mess, high on the trust, and plenty willing to lose a glove, shoe, or some other article of clothing that gets accidentally ripped off in the bacchanalia and falls by the wayside.

end part one.

xxx
afp


[above: the photographer lindsey bynres, who was sent my way at the coachella festival by her girlfriend tegan, took this killer photo at one of this past year’s perfect moments.
i made it into a heavy-paper poster (neil’s idea actually, credit where it’s due) and you can buy it HERE.]

some more thoughts, for the in-depth blog-reader:

2. WHY THIS WORKS (an explanation)

there’s something particularly awesome about the fact that we are in a new age of wild west internet where the protocols and etiquettes aren’t set.

i want to state clearly:
i am not trying to find an answer for everybody.
i am ONLY trying to find an answer for me. i am an artist, i need to support myself. i’m not trying to save the world or make internet history.

my career, growth, trajectory and fanbase are unique.
what works for me may not be the best course of attack for lady gaga, MGMT or zoe keating.

please bear in mind the last ten years of my life (you may know all this, but if you aren’t familiar with me, this is crash course in my life):

since the birth of the dresden dolls in 2000, i have pretty much been on tour and i have, with very few exceptions due to sickness or mad schedules, signed and hung out with my fans after almost every single show.
if i had to guess how people i have signed for, hugged or connected with…..it’s probably in the hundreds of thousands of people. (literally).
some nights brian (the dolls’ drummer) and i would sign for over a thousand people, for 3-4 hours.
we would take a lot of time to really meet people, talk to them, hear their stories, connect with them. in a lot of cases, stay in touch with them.
and now i know my fans. there was no way this could have happened overnight.

just like any real one-on-one relationship, you can’t dive in and expect faith and trust.
you don’t fuck someone one night, never call them back and still expect they’ll come visit you in the hospital or bail you out of jail ten years later.
you have to keep an ongoing, honest, real connection with them.
you have to keep feeding the relationship, calling, checking in, caring.

please understand: i don’t preach this from a high horse, i say this so you (especially who don’t KNOW me) understand that the people i am reaching out to…these people KNOW ME.
a lot of them have MET me. a lot of them have FED me, HOUSED me, helped me carry heavy amps and gear up stairs, promoted my shows in their towns.
to this day, i rely on them for TONS of help. and this is a huge part of why i feel confident that i won’t look like too much of an asshole when i reach out to my fanbase for money.
even those who haven’t helped me directly follow the story, they see how my life functions and they offer what they can.
they’re part of this ride, part of my struggle to live this weird life with it’s many travels and ups and downs.
for the most part, they trust me. and i trust them. time and attention has made that possible.

i’ve also been blogging, hanging out on our forum (theshadowbox.net, which has been up since about 2001), vocally supporting our live bootleggers, posting and organizing gig photos, fan art and videos, doing weird free gigs, (recently) twittering up a storm, making countless random/weird-ass youtube videos (…i’ve paid filmmakers out of my pocket to make well-edited karaoke videos of me singing avril lavigne songs just because i think it’s fucking hilarious – the industry guys could never understand why i was doing these things. they would ask: why would you spend your time on this when you could be spending it on your career? my answer: this IS my career. i am doing this because it’s FUN and because i CAN motherfuckers). i used to do all these projects workaholically and gleefully alone. nowadays i have more help organizing my shenanigans, mostly in the form of (god bless all of them) my assistant beth, my internet team at BRAT, interns & friends and lovers pitching in, and my management. and more. and i love doing these things.

but i don’t expect to get directly paid for these things.

in my mind, these things have nothing to do with direct profit and everything to do with helping fuel the connection between me, the fans, the songs and the world in general.
when that connections is strong, i’ve always figured (maybe naïvely?) that the money will show up as and when i need it.
and you know what? it does. and always has, more or less – in the form of ticket sales, merch sales and now online donating and webcast auctions.
i’ve pretty much always had enough to get by and when i’ve run out, i’ve borrowed from friends (and even fans, sometimes) until things weren’t too tight.

that being said, i don’t think my plan would necessarily work for an artist who hasn’t built up a trusting and personal relationship with their fans.
it doesn’t have to take years and years, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

in response to a lot the comments out there…i hear a lot of artists (tons of writers and visual artists commenting out there as well) complaining that the world doesn’t seem to want to recognize the practical exchange that MUST take place if artists are going to continue to survive and therefore create. i wonder if this has something to do with the fact that we LIVE in a world of free and constantly-accessible content. when i was a teenager, most of the art you liked HAD to come from records, books, VHS tapes or other hard-copy objects you bought in a store or hunted down in a library. nowadays all of that art is freely available with a very quick google. what value does that place not on the work itself, but on the time and sweat that went into creating that work…..the human face and energy behind the product that is freely shared?

…………………………….

3. SELLING OUT

to the artists out there: i’ve never heard a louder clamor of agreement in the comments from the other artists in this community.

just to remind you and to basically summarize what everyone else here seems to think (except for the few people out there saying “why don’t you get a day job, bitch?”)…

repeat after me:

ASKING FOR MONEY FOR YOUR ART IS NOT SELLING OUT.

selling out is when you go against your own heart, ideals and authenticity to make money.

selling out is an action, a 180 from a stated position.

i don’t consider pop stars to be sell-outs.
the lady gagas, britneys and madonnas of the world are UNABASHED about why they got in this game: fame, money, über-success, chart-topping hits.

but if neil young were to suddenly hire the matrix to write him a thumpin’ dance album and then appear on saturday night live snogging bob dylan, i’d have reservations about his integrity.

…………………………….

4. MONEY, ART, and RANDOM BALANCE (the economics of trust)

for your amusement i dug up an old photo of my busking self.
this was harvard square, probably in 1999…


(photo anonymous & pilfered from internet)

i stood frozen, and when money was tossed into that little tin vase i would unfreeze and give away a flower & a moment of eye contact.

(and to answer Nic, who commented:
I’m really curious about a technical aspect of this. I’ve been mulling this over for while since I read this blog, and I really wanted to know. Is there sun screen built into that paint you would wear? Cause I know that I would be burnt to a crisp after one day, yet alone 5 years.

nope, no sunscreen. i tried to stay in the shade, but i’m probably heading towards acute cancer of the face at some point. don’t worry, i’ll blog and ask for donations for the chemo…).

this is interesting:
i was always ASTOUNDED at how consistent my take was at the end of a day of street performing. after a few years, i could pretty much rely on what i would earn in a given hour, even though ALL OF THE DONATIONS from people on the street were random and impulsive.
there were good days and bad days, but there was a definite average.

talking with jason webley last week about busking brought something up that i hadn’t known about him…when he was a street performer he wouldn’t actually set up his accordion case to collect money. it made him feel too weird. so he would just play in the street for a half hour or so while a crowd gathered, then he would sell CDs.

i sent him this blog, and he responded:

i should probably clarify, it isn’t that I “never” had the case out… I often did, but mainly I considered it a CD display. And the way I did my shows energetically, people almost never just came up and put money in… it would have broken the mood. They would wait until i stopped and then I’d sell the CDs. It’s interesting to me how my mind worked about that stuff, I really didn’t like the idea of people tipping me by throwing dollars into my case, however I found it perfectly fine and somehow very fulfilling when people bought my cds.

here’s a (relatively old) photo of jason doing his Thing on the street:

so, that’s how jason did it.

zoe keating, a few nights ago, told me something similar about busking weirdness…she used to busk on her cello to make ends meet, but she couldn’t bring herself to lay her cello case down in front of her.
she said it just felt too crass. so she would lay her cello case somewhere to the side, right on the edge of her peripheral vision, and people could toss in money as they wished without it being right in her face.

and that’s how zoe did it.

here’s zoe, second from left, a recent “cello tweet-up” with peter gregson in san francisco’s union square about a month ago:

(this impromptu concert was free to the public).

i find the differences between all our styles fascinating.
it’s simply more proof that all artists HAVE to carve their own way, within their own comfort zones, when it comes to commerce, online or otherwise.

it seems to me that everybody keeps hoping we’ll find A SINGLE way to fix the problem of money, music and the industry.

there are LOTS of systems now, LOTS of tools at any artist’s disposal, and they are all there for the taking, à la carte. it’s up to you and your own taste.

there used to be just one general way to be a band: work on your act, sign with a label, cut record, tour.
now there are as many ways to put an online price tag on your work as there are small musical genres that used to be overlooked and are now finding a fanbase because of the net.
THIS IS A GOOD THING. once again, it will not be a tool for the wanna be rich-and-famous, it will instead empower the artist and the fan and put an end to a painful old hierarchy.

i noticed lots of people commented apologizing “i’d love to give you money but i’m a poor student/artist/bastard”….

this is important:
i would never begrudge anyone who can’t give me money. never.

when i was a street performer, there were tons of penniless punks and poets straggling about the pavement.
sometimes somebody generous would drop in a 20 dollar bill.
sometimes a punk-rock poet from the pit would pick a bouquet of leaves off a tree and leave them at my feet, or write me a poem and drop it in my tin vase.
they got a flower just like everybody else.
not only did it count, it made me even happier. they had taken the time out of their lives to connect with me.

man cannot live on money, leaves or poems alone.

those who gave cash covered my rent. those who gave me poems and leaves fed me in another way.
and indeed, it always worked out, day after day, year after year. my rent got paid, my soul got fed.

do not try to pay for your next concert ticket with stolen foliage.

but you get what i’m saying.
we take care of each other in this way.

……………………………………..

TO THE COMMENTS.
many of these comments are edited down, i pulled out relevant bits.
fyi: there were an OVERWHELMING number of amens and positive comments.
because i found the negative ones to be thought-provoking, i selected more of those over the rah-rah ones.

Brandon:
As someone who’s worked in marketing and professional arts/industry associations, I can tell you that in general, relying on people’s good will to keep the money flowing is never a good idea, even if what you have to offer makes the world a better place, etc.

Amanda, you offer something of great value to your fans, but as you know the music industry, independent or mainstream is a fickle bitch, people’s tastes can change and you will find yourself with fewer fans than before (‘cept for me – I’d never leave you!). But is the solution to constantly change your image to compete with changing trends? Do you market yourself in the traditional industry manner where you essentially *tell* people to listen to your music, buy albums, attend shows, etc.? Frankly, I love the fact that you haven’t, but I worry that someday, your earnest independent method of promoting yourself and your work might hurt you as well…

so ironic, the many people who commented saying “this won’t work because MOST people won’t support you…except for ME! I’LL support you! if only there were more people like me…!”
don’t you see…? we’re ALLL HERE. it’s you, me and a bunch of other people here making it happen.
i never change my music or image to please people. i do what i want. those who are turned on will stay, those who aren’t will trail off. there’s enough of YOU to make it work. end of story.

…………………….

Your Mother:
How come you got half the money for a date you didn’t attend?
(AFP: this is re: the dates with holly gaiman that were sold on my webcast, see the last blog)

because i brokered the deal, dude.

…………………….

Matthew Ebel:
AFP- I spent the past week ruminating on your dilemma as it’s something I face with my own fans- how up-front and open can you be without ruining the appeal of the artwork? Two of my most marketing-savvy friends and I talked about this on our 7-hour drive to PodCamp Philly this weekend too. One of the conclusions we reached is that there’s a threshold where talking about money becomes offensive… and it’s impossible to really gauge that threshold until you’ve crossed it. Our best guess is that once your revenue begins to seriously overshadow that of your fans, it may seem more like bragging than being honest and open. My own conclusion is that it’s a matter of selecting the right channel- if your goal is to act as a beacon for other musicians (like me), save the raw numbers and “business” end of the art for the musician-oriented channels. When the CD Baby DIY podcast interviews you, talk about raising $10,000 from a webcast, but when you’re targeting the music fans directly (via your blog, Rolling Stone, etc.), be less specific and focus on the art or the process.

totally true. i think that once all this money-talk blows over, i may speak about it very little. but right now i’m enjoying making a point.
(by the way everybody, i tuned into matthew’s live weekly webcast at http://matthewebel.com the other night and brought over a bunch of folks by twittering. he played well into the night for us as we chatted in his chatroom and drank beeeeer and, at the end, i logged on for a spontaneous piano webcast from my apartment as a thank you. all HIS fans who hadn’t known me just switched ustream channels and we continued the party. i love the internet. this is the SHIT. you can read someone’s blog-review about it HERE.)

…………………….

Kater:
Art isn’t about making money.

no. it’s not.
and the day art starts making itself without the help of artists, we’ll be all set.

………………………………..

MistrsEvilKitten:
I am very surprised that people would be complaining about your requests for money going to you. I was more than happy to help support you, and that is why I didn’t just buy your DVD from your site for myself, but I bought 3 more for my friends. Also, I recently went into a music store and checked out the WKAP music book… It was beautiful and I wanted it BAD… but I didn’t buy it. You know why? I wanted to buy it from your site so that the money would go to you. I love supporting you because I know you will NOT disappoint. What you put out is of the utmost quality and I am thrilled every time. I am not one to be swayed into liking something just because I already like the artist… I can honestly say your music, DVD, WKAP book, videos, music books, etc. are all extremely impressive and worth supporting in the best way possible! And there is no reason that YOU, a chill-inducingly amazing artist, should be struggling when the Hannah Montanas, Katy Perrys, and the like are living it up. They should rot!

no, be nice. they shouldn’t rot. but will they maintain their lifestyles or their fanbases? check in with them both in 10 years and let me know.

…………………………………..

mike:
I find it sick that people are dying in Africa and India and dont even have the opportunity to get a job at mcdonalds or cutting grass but yet you who are fully able to get a job at mcdonalds or any landscapping job gets on here and asks for donating money because you are an artist and need to eat to keep making music. I am on a personal journey to stop any donations to you.
Its sick kids, poor people with mental health problems in 3rd world countries dont even have the opportunity to eat once a day or work yet our money should be sent to you..

please do not obligated to give me any money for my art.
give it to the starving children! yay.

…………………….

Tennyson:
Anyone who hopes to own their future in the arts needs to own their money, know where it comes from, and decide for themselves where it’s flowing to. Why do you guys think every filmmaker who’s making an impact owns their own production company? Media is entrepreneurial. In fact, it’s opening up to new talent. The tradeoff is that nobody owes anybody a damn thing – least of all a break. Film, music, and art in general has become about breaking out, instead of breaking in.

SO WELL SAID!

…………………….

drwex:
I’m supremely sympathetic to your main point, and certainly in favor of direct support of artists as one possible model. I’ve blogged on these topics for years (see http://copyfight.corante.com). I would, however, like to request that you not lightly use the word “raping” to mean “ripping off.” It’s an unnecessary dilution of a serious term. The way that the Cartel abuses creative artists and steals from the people who make the whole industry possible deserve a more direct discussion, not overbroad labeling.

sorry. RIPPING OFF.

…………………….

felis:
crass is the new black.

i love you

…………………….

Ronald van Loon:
10k is a meaningless number. Is it pure profit? Presumably not. Also, what do you use the money for? Investment? Parties ? Drugs? I would put this in the ‘it’s not how much money you have but what you do with it’ category, to paraphrase a well-known male memberism. I’d prefer openness in these matters anyway – so just keep up the good work…

madove:
Since I’ve started listening to music as a teenager and painfully trying to get together the money to buy a new CD/artwork, I have craved to give this precious money to the person who touched my heart (the musician, writer, sometimes the cover designer, too). And for how much I understand that the record business and manager system has its use and sense sometimes, I’ve always hated the idea that something that I could easily copy gratis from a friend or download from dark corners of the internet, but that I buy because I want to SUPPORT THE ARTIST will give the artist 50ct while 15$ will get lost on the way. I just LOVE to give you my money directly for all the fun, feelings, tears and joy you are giving me, and I am grateful that you find ways to come and ask it. This is the future.
And if you manage to get really rich that way: A lot of people are getting rich with very very dirty hands or by funny tricks on marketing and clever contracts. If I see one day my AFP on her own yacht with a cocktail in her hand, earned by giving your art and so much of yourself to the world, it will just feel right.

&

from the comments on the blog from tale-of-tales.com:

Patrick3:
One interesting side effect of the punk economy as opposed to the traditionally centralized model is that being an arrogant jerk about your decadent income and lifestyle carries a greater risk that your audience will be put off and less inclined to subsidize said lifestyle.

Michaël Samyn:
That’s probably not a bad thing in most cases. As much as the audience should take up its responsibility to support the artists whose work they enjoy, the artists should use that money responsibly. Of course, there may be border cases, where the decdadent life style is part of the art :)

…ah yes, like some of our rapper friends.

this is definitely one of the harder edges of this system and this topic.
plenty of people here have commented that they’d love to live to see the day where i float by them in my bling yacht made of fan-love.
that’s a nice sentiment, thanks guys.

yet: i really do wonder if people will start feeling a sense of moral ownership about my actions when the gears of the machinery are more exposed.
we’ll see. i’m not really committed to the idea that everybody HAS TO KNOW the amount of money i am earning and on what projects.
i originally threw out the dollar amounts (months ago, when i had my first webcast auction) as a statement to say: HERE IS PROOF THAT THIS WORKS.

rappers are so vocal about how much money they make it’s not even funny.
i want to see what would happen if fitty put out a free record and a tip jar.

p.s. i actually met 50 cent on a plane once, long ago when i was a little dresden doll. i approached him & his entourage (i snuck up to first class from coach) and said, “excuse me, mr. cent”.
he said “please, call me fitty”. true story. i also gave him the first dolls CD and he said he liked the artwork. :)

…………………….

Mike P:
i really get where you’re coming from and i’m all for paying for art, for music, for performance. but to be completely honest, it seems really insensitive to not acknowledge in the current economy how many of your fans are in far worse debt, have much less $$$ and could never even come close to affording the travel and lifestyle you enjoy. and i know you work very hard for it, but recently it sometimes seems like you feel entitled to a nonstop flow of $$$ for your fans simply for being Amanda Fucking Palmer. for example, the last webcast i watched felt like it had little to nothing to do with art or connecting with the fans – it was all about collecting the $$$, selling stuff like those leftover photos that felt very much like an afterthought. so all i’m suggesting is that you try to keep in mind how many of us are also struggling to pay our own rent and realize that there are limitations to how much we can give financially on a regular basis.

a lot of people commented in similar sentiments…..and i’m really grateful for the very honest way people have been voicing this concern. i’ve never paid such close attention, and i’m glad to be able to get such frank feedback from everybody. note taken.

…………………….

my friend kim boekbinder, from vermillion lies:

Hi! I’m in Porto, Portugal with Zoe – it is so fucking beautiful here. You should come here and play, maybe with us.
I read your blog about money the other day, I’ve been thinking about exactly that a lot since I am launching my album fundraiser right now.
I love that we are moving into a new art support model where people support the artist, not just the end result – the album. Finally art might be appreciated as an ongoing process instead of just another product.
Anyway…I was wondering if you might put a link to my fundraiser in your next money blog, if you think it’s appropriate.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/KimBoekbinder/kim-boekbinder-solo-recording

Love,
Kim Boekbinder

you go girl. (kim is great, everybody…so is zoe boekbinder & @vermillionlies. look them up.)
i’ve seen lots of people using kickstarter. let us know how it goes.

…………………….

Jason (via techdirt.com comments):
“artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.”
True, but who says they need to make money from their own art? Plenty of artists have made amazing music while working day jobs. Very few are able to make even a modest living with their art.

i think this person totally missed the point and reading this hurts my soul.

…………………….

gurdonark:
I’m one of many folks who shares music for free under Creative Commons licenses. I think this kind of sharing creates new community among listeners and among creators. Yet I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with an artist seeking the payment of money as part of distributing music and earning a living. If we are going to see the music business transform in the ways we all hope, musicians must function as small businesses. It’s true that some artists will be more crass, and some artists will be more subtle. The consumer “market” will decide which style it prefers, and reward its preference with purchases. The street busker point you make is part of the solution—and the rest is that there is no reason a music-maker can’t do business just like everyone else—and every reason why music-makers must do so.


exactly.
p.s. creative commons FTW: creativecommons.org


…………………….

Betty Phillips:
Amanda, your work is inspiration to so many. Fuck those who don’t get it. I LOVED being able to tell everyone that I spent my night with a bottle of wine, my son Jareth, AMANDA FUCKING PALMER and BETH. AND since it was free- I was able to purchase a DVD for my son and I to enjoy, donate to a worthy cause, and have a great night doing it. Keep on doing what you do. I have no problem with you taking my money…better you than a record co. that squeezes the artistic blood out of everyone, screaming…SELL OUT!!!

re-appropriating the term SELL OUT would be a true cultural coup, wouldn’t it? we should try it.

……………………

kovacs (via comments on theshadowbox.net):
Amanda, asking the fans for money its something that is true, and everyone will have to get used to it if they continue to sample an artists content for free. I think you have been extremely astute in predicting this.

In these auctions, specifically, you’re profiting off of the fanatics, tapping into (what I percieve as) a personal vulnerability in your fan base, their adoration. Credit where credit is due, you deserve this adoration, I’ve never seen an artist give so much back. But, it borders exploitation, despite them doing it willingly. You say that Ticketmaster, Roadrunner, etc have been “shamelessly raping both fan and artist for years”. Be careful, these auctions are bordering on comparable.

Do you want to pave the way in new ways to ask the fans for money, or profit from the fanatic?

simple answer:
both.

once again, this is an opt-in scenario, and the non-fanatic are never chastised.

…………………….

drowningdolly:
The internet has made it such that just about anything is available for download, free of charge. For years I’ve been torn with the feeling that downloading is immoral. I take what I want, I enjoy what I take, and I give nothing back. Credit should be given where credit is due. Listening to your music, reading your words, gazing at your face, these are all things that I derive pleasure from and as such, should be justly rewarded. The guilt is easier to swallow when you feel that disconnect with the artist…. Middlemen such as the record company, the chain CD store, ticketmaster, etc enable that disconnect. You convince yourself that you’re screwing THEM over and what’s it matter when they’re already filthy rich? I think when an artist takes to their fans the way that you have, you make it personal…

&

me&mycharms (via thesahdowbox.net):
Pink recently did a string of 50 billion shows in Australia, and the price of her merchandise was off the charts. I heard to get a hoodie it was about $170, and the cheapest tickets to see her were no less than $100. Nobody accused her of exploiting fans or taking advantage of fanatics. It was just expected.
The only difference I see is Pink wasn’t standing behind that merch table, taking the cash personally from everybody.

bob lefsetz writes about this a lot – the time is coming where people are simply feeling TOO RIPPED OFF TOO OFTEN at shows like this and they simply go elsewhere for entertainment – thus the dying live music industry.
years of overpriced tickets, added fees, parking fees, overpriced drinks, overpriced merch…the whole thing has left a general bad taste in the mouth of the public.
as a general rule, the dolls (and i) have always tried to keep tickets as cheap as possible (except boston symphony hall…gulp, sorry about that one) and all shows all ages. i experience TONS of grief from promoters and agents about this ALL THE TIME. they KNOW they will make more money if the shows are 21+ (more liquor sales) and if the tickets are jacked up $5 here and $10 there. it’s an ongoing battle i will have to fight all my life.

………………………………………….

ZohoGorganzola:
I wholeheartedly agree that the direct payment of artists probably will (and should) be the future, but you mention ticketmaster as one of the greedy middlemen. I’m not taking issue with that. They are, in fact, greedy middle men. But how do I avoid paying them? I want to see artists like you and others live, but all of the venues in my city (Philadelphia) are associated with one of the big ticket companies in some way or another. I already purchased tickets for your philly show, but in the future, whenever you come back to town, is there any way I can just send you money and get tickets for a show? Or are you bound by whatever agreement you have to make with the venues?

yes i am often bound, and this is a really tough topic.
i try as hard as i can to keep fees down and to work away from venues that have huge monopolies & fees (and there are artists out there who simply REFUSE to work with live nation venues and ticketmaster…i know conor oberst was doing that for a while) but it makes your choice if venues EXTREMELY limited. it’s really frustrating and another uphill battle, but with audiences mobilized, there is real change possible. stay tuned on this one.

…………………….

Josh:
…I would love it if every musician had a public P.O. Box or better an online tip jar, if their publicist had a book keeper to handle the checks, and then for all the music I like, all the youtube videos I like, I could send along some cash. Maybe just 5 bucks. Because Warner bros. gives them 22 cents, and puts them into debt and obnoxious contracts. So, my 5 bucks, that gets to the artist is 20 or so times what they used to make, and then I could tip a lot more artists and when I get a head, I can gleefully go back and tip them even further, see their shows. Because they’ll still be around, and they won’t have been ripped off.
But until there’s a sea change and probably even still, artists will have to solicit.

this concept is coming. as to your last line: artists soliciting IS the sea change of which you speak. it’s just going to have to be tastefully organized.

…………………….

Mrs. Micah
…if people accuse you of prostituting Holly again, here are two words for them “box social.” Have ‘em watch Oklahoma. Shoot, my grandparents’ first date was a box social. She was dating another guy, my grandfather wanted to date her, outbid the other guy, and voila.

SO TRUE!


……………………

leighwoosey:
“morality is by nature objective”
You sure on that one?
“can i get a fucking amen?”
No, of course not. If you really believe in what you’re doing you shouldn’t need one.

re: mortality, i was actually wrong. what i meant to say was “by nature subjective”.
i just fixed the typo. thank you.

i really do believe in what i’m doing.
and i do need an amen. are you kidding? i need all these amens.
a handful of amens would be enough to keep me going.
but a thousand like this make me want to stay up all night and write a free webcast opera.

………………………..

georgepanayotou:
My name is George Panayotou. Amanda, I nearly wept when I read this. Partly from shame at what I believe is a drive that pales in comparison to what I’ve read here. I’ve not been spit at or ridiculed (much) or hated on straight to my face; mainly because I haven’t put my face, both my actual and my figurative (as represented through my work) out there. I haven’t risked it. I suppose people think that if you have your own website or have cut a few albums (and snagged Neil Gaiman, no less) that life has just sort of handed these things to you without paying a price in blood or without at least some effort on the part of the artist to MAKE things move in their life by an almost superhuman surplus of energy, and (dare I say it?) faith. But those ‘closet artists’ are just closet believers, afraid to proselytize their good word to all who would hear. Is there not a kingdom or a king that rewards the faithful who are spit on, hated and who stand statuesque against the tides of scorn, eyes open and staring past the glint of passing cars filled with jeering faces, locked on the summit of one’s efforts? The only kingdom that has the power or authority to reward that I know of is the work itself.

“The only kingdom that has the power or authority to reward that I know of is the work itself.”
this really, really made me stop and think, because it was so beautifully and powerfully put. i think for some, this is true.
and for others, like me, the work is a means to and end, but the work itself HAS to be enjoyable to make the end acheivable.

……………………………

ChuckEye:
Money for art is great. Money for props & knicknacks is, well, kind of an insult. I think it’s cool that AFP has people willing to throw money at her in exchange for worthless shit, but worthless shit isn’t AFP’s creative output, so it really shouldn’t be what she’s selling.

the props and knicknacks are symbols of connection. that’s all. don’t confuse it.

………………………………….

@jimgoldstein (via twitter):
Fucking Amen! I’ve passed this on to my Twitter followers who are photographers. Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

Jean:
I took heat recently during a month when I was struggling to make ends meet just for putting a Paypal donation button on my serialized novella’s web site, and asking my blog readers to take a moment to peruse my Etsy and eBay listings. I was told to go get a job at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s if things were so bad. The fact that there are people in the world who think creative people would contribute more to society by slinging fries for minimum wage than by actually creating things depresses the crap out of me. I totally appreciate the ground you’re breaking, and when I get into some positive cash flow I’ll support you in ways other than just telling people how brilliant you are.

&

blipblipblam:
This is all so valid. I date a sequential artist. The major comic publishing companies, and now newer ones like Tokyopop, are taking advantage of young, unestablished artists all the time with iffy contracts and low pay.

i think photographers, writers, deviantartists, and pretty much any kind of artist who provides art for free online should hop on this fuckin’ train.

………………………………………

Darkmage32:
I totaly agree AFP! We pay to go to the show, we pay for al this, but the money never goes to you, or any artist! I’d rather MUCH rather see it go to you so you can get things you need to continue the art! Don’t feel shame for you are totally correct in the statement that you afre making, we need to deal with the change! Fu**k the critics and the nay-sayers, for they are the ones that don’t want to see the artist grow, or survive for that matter, they are the same fat cats that are charging us the sur-charges and fees, and such. I salute you for actually making a change for the artist! And yeah, I was one of those people that tipped you as a statue, and still think to this day that that is truely awesome.

KaitmanReturns:
I think, like you said, the big problem is people don’t realize how they’re getting “raped” by the record company. Buying a god damn postcard that you wrote my name on and mailed to me went directly to YOU, the one that makes the amazing music and does other amazing shit which I love. I don’t want to “support” you through fucking iTunes or whatever because that’s not actually supporting you.

merethom:
a-fucking-men.
the naysayers just haven’t realized this is how it’s going to work from now on. i’ve been to about 10 concerts in the past 6 months, and every artist (with the exception of ones on independent labels) has said: don’t buy our new album, we don’t see a dime from album sales. instead, download our album and buy our concert tickets/merchandise/etc. because that’s where we actually make money. and i lovingly oblige.

rhyskka:
I love it that you are honest.
By the way, I don’t seem to understand the system in whole yet. Where do the money one paid for a wkap cd at the gig go? To you or to your label?

this is really important, so listen…
there are artists like zoe keating who REALLY DO MAKE MONEY when you buy their music from iTunes, because they own it and are selling it directly.
you are doing them no huge favors by downloading their stuff for free. unfortunately this all comes down to educating yourself about the artists you’re trying to support.

if you buy any music right now on iTunes from the dresden dolls’ debut, yes virginia, no virginia, or who killed amanda palmer, I will never see a profit from those sales (although i will get a minuscule profit from the songwriting, and brian in turn will get a percentage of that – but it’s fractions of pennies).

however, if i were to be released from my label tomorrow and put my own songs up on iTunes independently, I’d see about 40%-50% of the money.
the best way to know? ask the artist, and hope they’ll be honest, or do your own research. if they’re truly independent (ie running their own label, chances are good you can buy their stuff on iTunes and know that money is really helping them). i’m in a position with my record label where i have no problem directing money away from their bank, because they have actively told me (and shown me) they don’t want to support my career & my art. fair trade.
as for other artists, their relationships with their labels might not be so cut and dry: mouthing off and saying “just download all my shit and buy a shirt!” can make their labels (especially if their labels are putting actual energy and money into that artist) feel very sad, and rightly so, since the label relies only on those iTunes/record sales to pay their rent. every story is different.

as far as hard copy sales go: it’s the same thing.
i will see no money from the records sold in stores.
this will change if i get released, and you’ll be kept well in the loop.

as far as why i feel morally ok about this (“why did you sign this record contract?” you may ask, and you may also be thinking: “isn’t it immoral to re-direct money away from a company who you’re legally indebted to for the work they’ve put into your career, your recordings?”)…you’ll have to wait for that story for a while. sorry.

…………………………………

in closing, i’d like to share with you this email that tora sent a few days ago.
tora is a member of the danger ensemble, the 5-member theatrical troupe that came with me on the who killed amanda palmer tour all last year.

i did not have money to pay them (i could only cover their airfares and travel, no salary), so every night we passed the hat in the audience at the end of the show.

people donated what they could.

it worked.


(here’s she is, the blond on right, performing “blake says” with kat & mark of the danger ensemble, photo from jj174)

from tora:
This reminds me, I read your blog about paying artists. I wasn’t really aware of the backstory, but the backstory in this situation is sort of irrelevant. What you said needed to be said and it doesn’t really matter what sparked it. As an artist I feel like I deal in a completely different currency. If we were to really count every little income and expense and average it out over our entire careers, we would probably (for me CERTAINLY) have earned well under the poverty line in terms of a weekly or monthly or yearly ‘income’. But thats because a monetary currency is not relevant to our cause. We don’t clock on ‘hours’ with ‘time cards’ because time is not constant or relevant for us either! My job when I work in theatre is to manipulate time and space, to bend and fracture everything we know and present it in a stylized form so that we might learn lessons from the stories we are telling…and when I think about it that way, how can I possibly fit that job (and myself) into an ‘approved’ social structure? I cannot. In a way, the only way I can possibly be paid, is if people pay me what they think I am worth.

There are those who think I am useless.

There are those feel they owe me their life.

There are those who are too proud to give (but take nonetheless).

And there are those who are generous.

Yes we do need to eat, but it also needs to be acknowledged that we work on a different system, but a system that runs parallel to the mainstream and is just as supported by it as it supports it, they feed each other. I put my hand into my pocket for the buskers because I know that we are all the same…and at the end of the day, if I really asked myself what it means to me – my favorite story, my favorite album, my favorite painting, my favorite movie, my favorite song – I can’t put a monetary value to it. It is truly priceless. And when we realize THAT, maybe we will start to be more generous towards artists.

amen, tora.

once again, please feel free, everybody, to continue to share your thoughts on this unwieldy subject.
i feel more grateful than ever to have such an articulate and thoughtful readership.
you guys all fucking rock.

XXX

AFP
http://twitter.com/amandapalmer
http://twitter.com/afpwire
http://twitter.com/postwartrade
(and yes, even http://twitter.com/dresdendolls though it’s still embryonic)

p.s. ….thank you ALL for the great reading and artist recommendations….in short:
- yes i know patrick wolf, we’re friends. i think what he’s doing is smart.
- i ordered “the gift” and it’s already arrived. will read ASAP.
- i was a huge throbbing gristle fan as a teen. RAH!
- thank you for the links to tom green, elizabeth streb’s gallery,
- yes i’ve been watching kristin hersh/cash music and jill sobule, they’re both doing awesome things and i am glad they’re out there.
- and yes, i know einstürzende neubauten has been making fan-funded records for a while, i used to worship blixa and actually stood in line forever to meet him and give him a dresden dolls CD. god knows if he ever listened to it but i like to think it perhaps found a second life somewhere in an efficient german trash compactor making splintery-plastic sounds surface-recorded with an expensive neumann microphone for his next record.

p.p.s.
re: webcasting.
i don’t think it’s wise to charge for webcasting at this point. maybe soon, but the technology isn’t perfect and it draws more people into the party (i’m especially convinced of this watching webcasts go viral on twitter).

Back to Blog
  • Jason

    Amanda.. I have to say I love what you’re doing and unlike some, I know you can do it. You’ve got the talent and you’re willing to stick to it. You’re also true to yourself in your songs. I was lucky enough to meet you after your concert in Raleigh/Durham. You’re an amazing person. I was there when everyone donated to the Danger Ensemble even my friend who came JUST so I would have someone to come with me and honestly had only heard me rant about you. I wish you the greatest luck in the world.

    P.S. I feel guilty though cause I bought the WKAP DVD from Newbury Comics when it was released, long before you announced for us to buy it through you.. ;_; Sorry. I will be purchasing from just you in the future though.

  • http://weesaw.tumblr.com lisa pizza

    re: fans not wanting to give ticketmaster the $$

    buy directly from the venue. walk down there, and buy the ticket with cash. my favorite local venue DOES sell on ticketmaster, but if i walk up to their box office (or our indie cd shop) i can get my ticket with no fees. do this do this do this whenever you can. fuck ticketmaster, but keep your local venues in business!

    • Circe

      This only works if you happen to be in the same city as the show which is sometimes not the case :(

      • http://weesaw.tumblr.com lisa pizza

        oh no, i definitely agree. i still use ticketmaster if i’m leaving town or if i’m afraid something will sell out before i can get to the venue, but i also make an effort to NOT buy through ticketmaster. hell, we drove 4 hours to see amanda last spring or whatever, and she scolded us for not buying our tickets ahead of time through ticketmaster. sometimes it just has to happen. but “sometimes” and “every time” are not at all the same thing.

  • Liv Honeywell

    To Rich Givers
    by Walt Whitman

    WHAT you give me, I cheerfully accept,
    A little sustenance, a hut and garden, a little money–these, as I
    rendezvous with my poems;
    A traveler’s lodging and breakfast as I journey through The States–
    Why should I be ashamed to own such gifts? Why to advertise for
    them?
    For I myself am not one who bestows nothing upon man and woman;
    For I bestow upon any man or woman the entrance to all the gifts of
    the universe.

  • Mandaz087

    “a handful of amens would be enough to keep me going.
    but a thousand like this make me want to stay up all night and write a free webcast opera.”

    …in that case, AMEN x 10000000000000! =]

    • http://twitter.com/sorrypolly Polly

      + 100000000000000 more :D:D

      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN
      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN xxxxxxxxxx

  • http://www.facebook.com/musicdancelearnlive?ref=profile Greta

    “you have to keep an ongoing, honest, real connection with them.you have to keep feeding the relationship, calling, checking in, caring.”This made me feel warm and fuzzy. I’m glad you have a relationship with us! When I think about it, all of the “famous people” that I know (mostly dancers from our little world of bellydance) I really do love because they are willing to make a personal connection with me– chatting in the dressing room after my performance at the show, eating lunch with us students while we talk about the future, just adding us on *facebook* or twitter and talking to us. These are the ones I love, which is so important. It’s why we love you. Thank you. And I think there was a lot else I meant to comment on but I can smell dinner and so it has flown my mind…But another a-fucking-men to you because you fucking deserve it. This blog said a lot. And meant a lot. Thank you. Warmest wishes, Greta

    PS: Now that I’ve eaten, a lot of my ideas came back to me.
    -The person about starving children in Africa:
    Thank you. My most obnoxious friend uses excuses about starving children in Africa all of the time. They are very important, I will agree, but we have to support everyone equally. Some people will always prefer to support and love one person/people over another, and that is how the world goes round. If one doesn’t get enough money to keep themSELVES going, they cannot (generally) themselves become involved in this sort of philanthropy effectively. Yes, some people who are very determined will. But human nature dictates that humans will go multitudes of different directions to a google of different purposes. And if this didn’t happen, then nothing would exist as we know it.
    So support the children in Africa. I will help. Miss Palmer will help in her own way, I’m sure. She just has by posting your comment. Don’t tell people that they can’t put their money towards their own chosen cause.
    Also.
    -You (Miss Palmer) mentioned loving to see people making other contributions to your statue-self than money. I will keep this in mind. This gives me a lot more outlet because even though I could probably scrape up money for you… I always feel as though it should be going in to saving for *something.* I am SO tightfisted, it’s scary. But I want to support you with love AND practical things like money… I shall see what my mind comes up with and you may be getting something fun out of this.
    -And I’d love to feed you at some point. Seriously. If you have a show in Madison or Chicago, I will be the first to email you begging to bring yourself and your crew food :]

  • http://agonyzer.vox.com Agonyzer

    Fuck selling out. What you and your fans are doing is buying out. That’d be the opposite of fans buying in to recording company B.S. and you selling out to make a million dollars. I’ll buy in all day. I’d better, because the book I’m writing won’t sell itself, and the publisher won’t sell it either, whoever that turns out to be. As a creator, I know that I am directly and solely responsible for my creation.

  • Arran

    Nailed it Amanda! We’re currently in an age where we’re not only over saturated with ‘less than substantial’ “product” music wise, but poorly formed opinion about the right & wrong way to go about creating & distributing it.
    I always knew from the early days, you were a different kind of musician & I would defend your integrity & artistic intentions because they seemed to mirror my own. Thanks for (continuing) to prove me right.
    <3's

  • maxinenation

    i think money, at least in our culture, makes people really uncomfortable. mainly because most of us just don’t have that much, especially these days, so it’s no longer money to make ends meet, it’s money to do simple, tiny things and the lack thereof. it’s becoming a personal awkwardness to admit to needing money. i don’t know why that is, it means nothing as to what kind of person you are, right? anyway, i think this trickles down to this situation. art is already personal, especially the art you do. it’s a nice and cathartic, sometimes intense, kind of personal. the asking for money thing is another kind of personal, one that changes the definition of the lines between artist and enjoyer of art. i can’t really come up with an exact explanation as to why the discomfort happens, but i think it for sure does.

    i support what you’re doing. i have no idea how the artists i love make their money, and i’m glad someone’s finally admitting there are times when you just DON’T. donations seem fine to me, but i think what makes it even better is that you’re willing to exchange more goods for the money, even though your music should, in theory, be enough.

    when i have a cent to spare, it’s yours.

  • bridgetvoid

    i almost feel like what people are not saying is the fear that you are insincere when it comes to your interactions with your fans…that they are in essence buying your friendship or buying that connection. in this age of celebrity, we’re so lead to view artists as “other” and therefore cooler and more important that for many people, perhaps those not caught up in the DD machinations, the idea that a performer would have such an intimate relationship with their fanbase seens absurd…because in their eyes, you are a rock star dating a famous author…how could you have time for anyone who isn’t in that social strata?(i’m speaking in hypotheticals here, for the record)

    i mean, i’m sure there is a lot of resentment that you’re able to do what you love and get paid for it in such a non lateral way, but i really do wonder if at least some of it also stems from the idea that your conenctions are a facade (which i’m not saying they are)

  • QueenxNina

    Tora’s comment had me weeping. As a young artist (just started college) who is trying so hard to be optimistic about the future, it feels good to see people like you all who have had no fear in pursuing their dreams instead of “settling” for a desk job. I love you, and I pray that I can be like you someday.
    -Nina

    • http://carnivaloftherandom.blogspot.com Kristen McHugh

      I don’t know what kind of art you make, but hang in there. Find people who will support you, critique you honestly, but *be* there for you. Sometimes you have to find a day job you don’t hate so you can eat, so be ready for it. Make a family of artists who will dream with you, because the world isn’t always kind. Hang in there. Believe in yourself. See with better eyes than the world expects us to. :)

  • Name

    Dear Mike, the author of the comment:
    “Its sick kids, poor people with mental health problems in 3rd world countries dont even have the opportunity to eat once a day or work yet our money should be sent to you.”
    I take care of the sick kids and the poor people with the mental health problems, along with women in labor and the terminally ill cancer patients. Working in the US right now, and in 3rd world countries in the past. The physical work of practicing medicine isn’t difficult, seeing these people in pain is heartbreaking.
    Music, and AFP’s music in particular, is what keeps me focused on being able to take care of these patients in the best way I possibly can, despite the heartbreaking situations I am constantly seeing. Art is critical to making the world a better place.

    • astronautqueen
  • lovehound

    i did rather talk your ear off, didn’t i? you were very gracious and let me babble even though you were tired and probably just wanted quiet. it means more to me than i’ll ever be able to convey that you let me take care of you for a little while, trusted me enough to get you from point a to point b and back again. every time we hear the cat stevens sprint commercial the kids say, “hey, that’s amanda’s song!” and then i marvel at what a lucky few hours those were for me, for my family. anytime you’re out this way and need a ride or a place to crash and don’t mind having your ear talked off, our door is open :).

    xoxox

  • Alex

    Amen

  • whoneedslove

    Amanda, I have been a fan of yours since about mid-2005, and it was definitely love at first listen. I have all the Dolls CDs (excluding A is for Accident) and the WKAP CD. I bought them all at Best Buy or Target, and while I was not aware about any of this when I bought them (all shortly after they were released) I want to let you know that I will be donating and buying from your site from now on. I bought the WKAP book for this reason, and I love it. It just felt so good knowing I was helping you. I simply cannot thank you enough for doing what you do, bringing me your art, and enlightening me with your blogs. I am a struggling artist, and I’ve been debating this idea of making money for a good while before you started it, though I haven’t done it yet. My mother asked me recently about the power of social networking, and I told her about what you do. She asked me why I thought it worked so well, and I told her it felt more like a friendship than you simply asking for money. Friends support each other when they need it most, and even though we may never meet, I feel as if you know me better than most people. Thank you for everything you do, and I am eternally indebted to you for just getting me through the day. No one can put a price on what you’ve done for me, but I will always be more than happy to support you in any way possible.

  • turtle

    I came here to say I agree with drwex above. He said it better than me. The only reason I haven’t been reposting, tweeting, and sending everyone and their dog to your posts about money&art is your use of the term “raping.” It really bothers me. It may seem strange to be that strongly affected by a word, but I am. Perhaps it says something to the taboo nature of the topic that I was unwilling to even comment until someone else did.

    • http://carnivaloftherandom.blogspot.com Kristen McHugh

      Having actually been physically raped, I understand it’s a taboo for a lot of people to use the word. However, (and I don’t claim to speak for all survivors,) part of my healing came from getting on a stage and turning my agony into art. There are all kinds of rape, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rape, including, “to plunder and pillage, to seize and carry off by force.” When you pour your fundamental, *SELF* into creating art, and someone profits from it, but you don’t, I think that qualifies. It’s a touchy subject for some. In opening my mouth and using what happened to me to speak to other people as a poet, I took my power back. I see what Amanda’s doing, within context, as the same kind of empowering act.

  • notbuchanan

    Amanda, I think you’re amazing. I’m trying my best to collect pennies to pay for a ticket to your Nov 20th show, if I make it and bring a bottle of wine will you share it with me afterwards?

  • http://www.rosemaryvandeuren.com/ Rosemary

    Amanda. I think these two blogs have been incredibly courageous, insightful, interesting and thought provoking. Did I mention courageous? And I am really glad to hear you got an NPR invite from the first one. Very appropriate. I am a very shy writer who struggles even with public blogging, and even moreso with financing my work in this day and age where everyone on the internet is screaming and only the loudest screamers make it through the sound barrier.

    I agree that the system for arts reacing the public is broken. I have watched the spectrum for what types musical, film and written works receive funding get narrower and narrower in my lifetime. I firmly believe that if this were the 90s, The Dresden Dolls would’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone when your first album came out. I am stunned, appalled and frankly, bummed out that this is not the world we live in right now.

    Large entertainment firms have a caricatured idea of what they believe will sell, honed down and cobbled together from a mish-mash of a handful of top-ranking artists (Britney, Madonna, etc.). It is insulting that the industry thinks so little of its consumers, to think that everyone only has one taste. This idea of only financing mainstream arts has pushed all the fringes (and there are a lot of us!) into relying on financing direct from the public who is as disappointed with widely available media as we are.

    Btw, I loved the webcasts. I dedicated time to watch them. I was happy to buy the signed dvd, which I could afford. But in my opinion, the webcast itself was part of the service and that was free :)

  • http://carnivaloftherandom.blogspot.com Kristen McHugh

    Every time you sand a little more off the edges of the sculpture that is art/artist/connection/commerce…I feel joy. It’s taking shape, the concept is becoming itself in all its mutable strangeness and wonder. I’m a writer, a poet, a slam and spoken word performer. There are very few models in my form for how to even consider being a working artists. I know so many amazing poets and musicians in my hometown, (Pgh., Pa.,) who are constantly walking the wire between art and keeping a roof over their heads. You’re 100% right that everyone has their own way of negotiating the boundaries that feel right to them. You’re 100% right that what seems crass to someone else, is also drawing a blueprint of possibility to artists who need to feel hope. Most of us live with the, “reality,” that we’re never gonna be able to pay our bills or feed ourselves from our art. The path you’re hacking out of the wilderness may change that, or at least help us to find a way to take some of the financial pressure off so we can create more freely. That is worth everything. I don’t need to be famous, I need to have the freedom to share my work with people. I can’t do that, none of us, as artists, can do that , if we’re barely hanging on. Amen, Amanda, AMEN.

  • adanarama

    It saddened me to see so many people don’t think of what you do as valuable, but wonderful to see the clarity and gentility of your responses. I came across your WKAP album during what was probably the strangest and most stressful time of my young life, and I found it to be a powerful therapeutic force and a good reference point for self-reflection. Having access to pictures and videos of you being so amazing and free and brilliant with unshaven armpits and wild lingerie helped me come to terms with many parts of my gender presentation and identity that I used to view as conflicting or somehow wrong, and boosted my self esteem immeasurably. I can say with deep certainty that I would be a far less emotionally stable and healthy person if I had never discovered your music.

    I’m only one person, and I’m not even old enough to vote, but I think what you do is immeasurably worthwhile and it’s quite clear that I’m not the only one. Mike who thinks all the money should go to starving kids in Africa has noble ideals, but terrible things in one region don’t make the problems of every other region go away, and no single person should have to solve every issue – you doing one thing well doesn’t damage unrelated causes. I think you contribute the most to the world by being the amazing artist you already are.

  • bill

    Charging or asking for donations for a webcast concert would be neat, but for a chat session would seem too something. I don’t know what. Could you ask the guy you webcast associated with last week (sorry I forgot his name) about his technical video setup. He streamed like DVD. Yours looks not as good as cellphone vid and that’s a shame since you are very worth seeing.
    It’s good that this is all getting out. Giving money for supporting art is a social act that is susceptible to shyness. A person might think “what if they don’t want money? What if they think I’m trying to buy recognition?” It’s great knowing that an urge to reciprocate is appreciated.

  • http://erinhgphotography.wordpress.com/ Erin Hune Glover

    Amanda, you continue to amaze me. I love the idea of directly supporting artists. That way, my thinking process goes from “ugh, I have to pay $15 to get the things that I love” to “Hey, I love this! Here, have $15 for making it.”

    I recently bought a dress from Kim Boekbinder via twitter. I sent her the money, plus a little extra. She sent me the dress, plus a signed postcard. This is good.

    I don’t always have a lot of money, because I’m a student. I’m also a photographer, and I rarely charge for my art. Sometimes people insist on paying me, though. Then I take what I need to eat that week, and the rest I set aside for late night twitter auctions.

    This is how we all survive. We make money (doing something we love, slinging burgers, whatever), we take what we need to survive, and then we give some to someone else to help them survive. If we get a postcard or a dress or a song in exchange, all the better. The cycle continues. We’re all supporting each other here. The only decision to make is who you’re going to give the money to. I prefer to give it to someone who needs it, someone who will also pass along the extra. I know you’ll do that.

    I’d like to see things set up so that we could donate 50 cents here, 2 dollars there, when we see something we like. I don’t always have much extra, but I could find 50 cents. And then you could buy a soda when you were thirsty.

    I don’t know that this makes sense, but it needed to be said. I love what you’re doing, and I’ll always be here, as will the rest of us.

  • http://addictivepoison.deviantart.com/ Name

    Your work is an inspiration. I’m a writer/visual artist/singer/songwriter/actress/overall lover of the arts. Medical complications have limited my ability to go out and get a “day job” as was suggested in many of the comments. My husband (also an artist) is supporting me financially but, being one of the many Americans who was laid off, he has resorted to the afore-mentioned burger-flipping profession which leaves us wondering whether purchasing that gallon of milk will prevent us from making rent. I only hope that someday the door that you are opening (or, more appropriately, the door that you are kicking open) for independent artists will create an opportunity for artists the world over to simply do what they love. Art, after all, is beauty and love. Life shouldn’t be about money, nor should art, but (unfortunately) it is required for those little things like rent and groceries. If ever I find I have the funds, I will gladly make a large and well-deserved donation to you. You have touched the lives and hearts of countless people. It is only right that we, the recipients, should give back. I hope that someday I can follow in your footsteps. If you have any advice for getting started, I’d appreciate it. Your devoted fan _K_

  • Amanda W

    Love you AND P. Wolf, figures you’re friends. My two favorite artists!
    No, really, keep on doing what you’re doing and the HATERZ can take a seat over there to the left.
    COME PLAY IN NEW ORLEANS SOON, PRETTY PLEASE <3

  • JoshP

    i’m gonna throw a poem into the hat. It’s a true story, no lie.
    a spider, kept between panes of glass, it’s web spun
    patient and careful in execution, sitting with meticulous
    precision.
    never notices me, never sees me, as I walk past her every day.
    But the moths, the paste and glutinous corpses accumulate
    and I wonder.
    Her web is in the window above the dogfood can, but her noiselssnss
    and patience amaze me. and so do the dogs. and the food, and the compressor.
    and myself. and stair treads completely sodden with too much fucking rain.
    the truth is she is waiting.
    and one night, a mantis is in the window next,
    proud, erect,
    bearing like a mantis should… I suspect. She is also looking, but prowling.
    I have never seen anything so fast as the striking spider and the bitten mantis.
    The bug got ill, but lived… but who cares?
    I have a life to live, as we all do.
    And the damn things creep me out.
    (the end)
    the message?
    patience, perseverance, live in the moment, deny the pain til tomorrow, be beautiful

  • Beth C.

    Amanda,
    I’m a broke fan from Brasil. I work as a teacher and teachers here are not well paid. I’d like to support your art because I love it and because I have downloaded your music for free (shame on me :p). I’m really sorry I cannot be part of this team of fans that buy things from you and can see your shows or be in a ninja gig. Sometimes it breaks my heart thinking I may die without really see you playing. But I’d like you to know that I will be here giving you what I can, love.

  • meghanhall

    Amen Amanda!-
    When do we go to a patronage type society? If someone glave you x number of dollars, would you dedicate the work to them?
    My problem that I am worried about, is that doing what I love makes me broke, I give when I can, and I try to use to prescribed methods, but I love so much music. If all my favorite artists go to a subscrpition service (not what you are talking about doing, but if you were thinking about it) how do I choose? A lot of my fave artisit are off the beaten track. Thanks for your honesty. It has made a huge difference in my life as a listener.
    I’d still like to somehow find out the nitty gritty on how artist make money through lables, albums, itunes etc…

  • Tiejaz

    Hey Amanda, if you’re ever in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I’d give you a ride or let you sleep on my couch or whatever. You rule.

  • tiela halpin

    thank you…..just thank you. the bit about the community of artists brought tears…i want to be your best friend :)

  • laurajune

    You are one classy lassy.
    Also good-looking, but that is neither here nor there. ;p

  • shoogle

    I just have to say that you give me hope as a graphic designer (in college, OH LAWD) that I’ll be able to somehow survive this economic mess.

    I changed my major, my entire life, to go into the art industry with the full intention of making a profit and a living. Every day I deal with people who hate my attitude. In college, up-and-coming local artists slave over their canvases to produce jaw-dropping pieces of social commentary. They spit on marketing majors and future businessmen.

    But I guess I’m from the AFP school of thought. I want to make jaw-dropping pieces of social commentary. …But also get paid.

    Hard work and number crunching aren’t for everyone. But the way you trust and supprt your fans, in all their piratey, bootleggy, deviant glory, is really remarkable. You appeal to your consumers by treating them with integrity and respect. You work hard for them, and they pay you for it.

    And I do too. You’ve inspired me to get tattoos, belt it out, play an instrument, study art, and be a bitch when the world tries to punch me in the face for choosing art over income. The least I can do is pay for a CD, a download, a t-shirt, whatever, you know?

    Here’s to hoping more artists get paid for their work. You’re speaking for so many of us, the famous, the poor, the fucking nuts, the artist in hiding who’s afraid to take a chance.

    If you can succeed, it can give us all a lot of hope.

  • http://twitsted-artist2.deviantart.com/ Matt

    Keep going Amanda. Boo hoo and oh noes to all of those who think you’re being off your rocker, but you make your own way and it works and it’s good. Reading your blog has made me think more about how the majority of things reach people, and how they might miss out or be gipped on things, and that it’s all quite oppressive to the artists who just want to make and be with their fans, like you.
    I wanted to comment and ask, as I don’t remember if you ever said it, but had you ever living statue’d in Providence RI? When I was a tad younger I saw a statue that looked astonishingly like your photo in this post, and if it was you, I would laugh a little laugh and be glad.
    Love your work.

  • spacepeanut

    You make me Happy.

    You inspire me to connect with people.

    You are beautiful, inside and out.

    I love you.

    x

  • Liz

    Amanda,

    I would love to be verbose, speaking extensively about the comments both above and below, but frankly, I can sum it up in a few words.

    You are loved and beloved by many.

    Everyone has an opinion and everyone is welcome to an opinion. If they feel the need to scold you for your school of thought, shame on them for not recognizing that “there is no one true way” can apply to so many situations (note, not all, I’m sure as with everything else in life there is an exception to this rule). Keep drawing positive energy from your community, and stay strong in the faith in your art. I think this most of all is what carries you through.

    You are an amazing woman.

    Liz

  • Coedy

    “Jason (via techdirt.com comments):
    “artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.”
    True, but who says they need to make money from their own art? Plenty of artists have made amazing music while working day jobs. Very few are able to make even a modest living with their art.

    i think this person totally missed the point and reading this hurts my soul.”

    don’t let this hurt your soul. for some people, it’s a reality they, unfortunately, have to face. it comes back to what you were saying about how it’s different for everyone. here in australia, most bands have day jobs. bands who have successful albums that chart, bands who get a decent amount of airplay, bands that tour fairly relentlessly still NEED a day job. if they want to eat, they have little choice. because, as far as australia goes, the market simply isn’t big enough for these bands to make a living from their art (i’m sure it’s not just bands/musicians, either, but all artists). neither is it big enough for them to create a big enough fan base to really carry and support them. which is actually really quite sad. but it’s true. being invloved with bands, i could give several examples of bands really working hard for what they do, because they love what they do, but they’ve been forced to work a day job (and, if anyone’s interested, i will….though it’s probably not my place to name names…)

    the tone of this may come across as negative. it’s not. i’m yet another huge afp supporter. and i love your work (artistically, or otherwise. hell, i’m tempted to send you $100 just because i love reading your blog. fuck it. make it $500.). but i feel it’s another angle that needed pointing out. and i can’t speak for the rest of the world. i would assume, due to other countries having larger populations, the process may be easier than it is here. that said, i may be wrong.

    • insignifikunt

      I think you’ve got a really good point here. Oz Music scene is pretty dismal. Not only do we not have the population but we are also completely saturated with US/UK artists as well and for some fucked up reason, so many Aussies seem to think because they come from overseas they are more worthy of our attention than our home grown artists.

      That said I think what Amanda’s doing could work for Aussie artists, it’s all about getting people to notice though which is the hardest thing of all. The only way this can work for any artist though is if they cultivate relationships with their fans the way Amanda has. I know there are heaps of artist’s out there who do listen to their fans and interact with them and maybe, just maybe they could choose to go down this same path and could also be in a position to follow a similar model to AFP.

      I am pretty sure there are countless artists in the US/UK who also have to work day jobs as well, it’s not just Australia, we probably just have it slightly tougher here.

      • Coedy

        well, i guess my point is that some (note: SOME) artists simply can’t survive doing this WITHOUT having a day job. sad. but true.

        in a perfect world, the artist makes a living from their art. but we got some work to do before the world is perfect :) especially in australia. i’m not saying this is the way things SHOULD be. far from it. there’s so so many great aussie bands that DESERVE to earn a living from their music. like i said, in this country at least, it’s not really feasable.

        • Coedy

          let me explain: look at Magic Dirt. they’ve been playing and recording (and connecting) since 1993. they’ve had albums and singles in the Top 30. they’ve toured the us and europe. they’ve been with several major and indie labels (who inevitably screwed them). they’ve NEVER made a great deal of money. they’re now operating 100% independantly. and, in order to maintain that, they now have day jobs.

          because they don’t sell huge amounts of CD’s. their tours usually sell out, but a sell out tour of australian pubs once every six months or so is just not enough to live on.

          they are also VERY good to their fans. and have a hardcore fanbase who would gladly lay their lives on the line for the good of the cause.

          but the numbers just aren’t there.

          and i respect them for forging on, even if it means getting a day job. the determination to see the thing through, no matter what, is worthy of respect!

          maybe i’m not explaining myelf well……i think amanda’s whole point is to work towards a world where artist CAN make a living through their art. where they don’t NEED to work a day job. and it’s early days, but i hope that day comes.

          • http://www.vorpalier.net/ Connie

            AGREED!

            The other point is that just because other artists need “day jobs” it doesn’t mean that they *should* need them or that Amanda should get one just because others have them.

          • insignifikunt

            True

          • insignifikunt

            REALLY??? Magic Dirt have day jobs??? Wow I wouldn’t think that would be the case. I know Red Sun Band were only able to quit their day jobs when they released their second album but they aren’t as well known as Magic Dirt so they’ll probably be back working day jobs again soon.

  • Circe

    Amanda, what you’re doing is amazing and I fully support and respect it and you. (Both times I’ve seen you it’s cost me $2oo in plane fares to get there but it was BEYOND worth it.)

    I have a question now, though. I desperately want to buy the Dresden Dolls Companion, Virginia Companion and Who Killed Amanda Palmer Songbook for a dear friend’s birthday, but the only place I can find it now is Amazon. If I buy it from there will you end up seeing any of the money? I’d really love to get them somewhere that benefits you if it’s possible.

  • http://www.myspace.com/albinofarm Rev Jeff

    I feel confined in my day job and live vicariously through you at times…
    I’ve had many arguments with my drummer and we disagree on these philosophies entirely. I’ve never felt the need to try to get signed, it just doesn’t seem appealing to me. I don’t want someone else to have a say in what I create. I think what’s more important in a band is not that you have similar music tastes, but simply similar philosophies on art and why you create what you create.
    I adore you, AFP, and I hope to meet you in person someday.

  • Lisa

    Amanda, what you are saying about the music industry is also becoming true in other areas of entertainment. I’m trying to get work in the game industry right now as an artist, and I am definitely noticing a trend where small, independent groups are creating some of the most beautiful, innovative and entertaining stuff I have ever seen. One of the most popular, best-selling video games of all time was made with people basically volunteering their time and skills. The model where small companies or even just groups of people working for free on their own time is overcoming the usual model where EA puts out a new version of Madden each year that is only slightly better in gameplay and graphics and is in no way worth $60.

    There was a guy (his name escapes me at the moment) that made a game mod for Warcraft 3 called DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) that became way more popular than the original game. He managed and updated the game for YEARS on his own time and for free. The popularity of Warcraft 3 surged because of the mod, and now the guy works for Valve.

    I know it’s not exactly what you were talking about, but I do think independent games have a lot in common with what you are doing. People are starting to value the quality of content over the brand name and are finding new ways to access it. It helps that it is getting easier all the time to make good games on a budget and there are more avenues of distribution. You just need some smart, creative, passionate people that are willing to put in the work.

  • Brianne

    Thank you. This inspires me.

    Let me start off by saying that my school is not a a school for the arts. It is just a regular high school, that happens to have a thriving Theatre, Band, Choir, AND Chamber Orchestra (one of only two non-arts school in the county to have an orchestra), plus overflowing guitar and piano classes. And, not to brag, but all are amazing and undoubtibly talented.

    Our Marching Band is going to be in the Macy’s Day Parade next year. All out PA programs have done well at State competitions. Hell, our choir and orchestra are going to Carnegie Hall this year (Carnegie baby, CARNEGIE!).

    But, we have an arts budget that is almost totally lost on buying sheet music. This year, the guitar class for its first run, with over 100 students, had a budget of $0. Zilch. It was BYOG (Bring Your Own Guitar).

    I, am apart of the chior, gleefully hoping to see New York City for the first time, and have my jaw drop open at the awe-inspiring beauty of Carnegie Hall. This year, we came back to find our main fundraising company has gone bankrupt and tanked. We have to try and scrounge up thousands of dollars all by ourselves.

    This calls for self-promotion (which, the theatre and band have down, but choir and orchestra sturggle with, we are mucho smaller, and thus have less manpower). I may try and see if I can borrow your ideas, Hopefully we’ll revisit the idea of going out to the parking lot infront of Publix or Walmart, preform entire show choir routines, or maybe an entire Medelssohn or Handel piece with the orchestra; a bucket in the front with a sign that says “CARNEGIE OR BUST!”.

    Wouldn’t that be an amazing sight?

  • blah

    speaking of 21+ shows, any chance of a ninja gig in maine to accommodate the kids?

  • Athene Numphe

    Dear Amanda,

    Thank you for being amazing.

    While it had its flaws, I think the idea of the patron-artist had a lot of merit. What you are doing makes us all patrons in a small way.

    I wish that I was independently wealthy so that I could be a patron to artists who inspire me. If I ever win the lottery, can I become your patron? I would probably ask you to play at my birthday parties in return. Hope that’s okay with you.

    -athene

  • fallen_woman

    I actually don’t want to buy most merch other than music and some artwork (I have way too friggin many t-shirts), but I’ve been thrilled to bits when you’ve come to town and I could pitch a few dollars your way. I wish I had known all of the above before I bought my copy of WKAP a year ago. Promise, whenever I get a job again, one of the first things I’ll pick up with my first paycheck is the WKAP book and figure out how to send you a tip.

    Beach ninja gigs FTW!

  • bcrose

    Amanda, you are going about everything exactly the right way, in my opinion. Bravo for sticking to your guns and kicking ass. I’ll support you as much as I can while struggling with university finances.
    You mentioned that the Dolls won’t be seeing any money from the iTunes sales of The Dresden Dolls, Yes Virginia, and No Virginia. There’s a totally awesome cover of Life on Mars from a compilation album you guys did that I bought from there; are you getting any money from the sale of that or is that all going to the/ another label?
    Just a note about the ticket companies, though- they’re not all big evil corporations. We have some local guys in Victoria, BC called Atomique Productions that deal with a few venues here, and we just had a giant music festival involving the likes of Tegan & Sara, Final Fantasy, Beach House, and K-OS. Tickets were $60 and service charges were an extra five bucks. Totally unbelievable. I made sure to buy a lot of merch because there’s no way the artists would have been seeing much of that. They’ve been doing a really good job of keeping shows accessible and I’d be willing to bet there are companies in almost every other major city who also do that.
    (Incidentally, if you ever come through here they’d be a good group to book with. We have this fantastic building called Alix Goolden Hall which used to be a church and is about the most gorgeous venue ever.)
    Again, just want to say I’m behind you all the way, and will support you so you can keep creating and doing and being.

  • http://www.csdaley.com csdaley

    I think about this issue a lot. I am a writer who is looking to break into an industry that appears to be on the verge of rapidly changing. I have written two novels this last year and am about to start my third.

    I create art (I am not sure if it is good art but it is art). I feel a need and a compulsion to write everyday. I want to make a living at my art. I would love to stay home and write everyday (I write about this a lot on my blog).

    I am lucky that I can hold a day job while producing my art in the evening. I live okay. My wife and I asked are families years ago to not give us gifts for birthdays and holidays but to give it to a charity of their choice. We take the money we used to spend on gifts and put it into a fund that we use to support artists that we love. I don’t mind them asking me for money. I can’t write without there music. They inspire me and bring me joy. It also brings my wife and I joy to help artists we love.

    If you don’t like this system nobody is making you do it. If you do then by all means go give to Kim Boekbinder (she is wonderful & lovely). Buy Zoe Boekbinders music. Head over to Zoe Keating’s site and go crazy. And of course keep Amanda making music. My joy depends on it :)

  • http://corvustristis.wordpress.com/ Corvus

    I lack lots of relevant words on the topic. I have no future career in art myself, and thus haven’t spent a lot of time contemplating how to remake the industry -obviously in dire need of evolution- into something real and vital. I’m also one of those “currently broke” sorts that can’t put my money where my mouth is… yet.

    So why am I commenting? Just thought I’d say I have extra bed(s-ish) and a car in the Northern Colorado area if you ever need another ride to/from Denver International. I’ll even brave DIA’s demon horse of doom!!!!!one!

  • http://www.vorpalier.net/ Connie

    Just wanted to say thank you for all your thoughtful posts on this topic, especially answering criticisms in a direct and even-mannered way.

    When I was in the States I was shocked that the only tickets I could buy were from Ticketmaster. In Melbourne, Australia tickets are usually available from the venue independently – I guess because the venues operate as indie businesses. Do you receive more of a cut from indie venues?

    (And I saw the Danger Ensemble’s Hamlet Apocalypse the other night – it was AWESOME!)

  • kaliblack

    Working with an established label or artist is a great way to get exposure so that you *can* go independent. Unfortunately it’s very difficult for anyone who starts out indie and stays indie to become well known. Well known doesn’t have to mean the same as popular, but exposure is usually the same as availability. Thanks to the internet, word of mouth can get you further than ever before, but people still have to know that you exist. That means self-promotion. This puts artists and promoters between a rock and a hard place as far as some people are concerned. On one hand it’s crass to “sell out” to big companies, on the other it’s crass to self-promote. Whose side are these wankers on anyway?

    We do need a new understanding of artistic integrity. One that allows artists the possibility of prosperity. I will not compromise the standards of my work for greater profit margins, but I can’t make diddly if I’m worrying about how I’ll eat, pay my rent, and buy materials. If I were offered a corporate deal that meant I could get a decent paycheck without compromising my standards, you bet I’d take it. Otherwise, if I want to make a living, or even a little bit of pocket money out of my art, I know I have to get out in people’s faces. I can’t just wait for them to find me amongst the masses and masses of stuff in the world. As long as I maintain standards and quality, I think my integrity is in good shape.

    Artistic integrity isn’t a euphemism for poverty. Perhaps it should be a synonym for quality.

  • A guest

    Question: If artists should not be ashamed to ask to be paid for their art.. why are you asking artists to provide you art for your tarot deck for free? Do the fans who will no doubt flock to this not count as “artist” enough to get paid for providing art that you will sell for a profit? Just wondering…

    • insignifikunt

      Are you sure they are asking for the art for free? All artists who sell through Post War Trade are commissioned to do the works and as far as I know this was going to be the same thing?

      Maybe they are asked to submit their ideas for free and once the artist is chosen they’ll be paid accordingly?

    • PsychopathBunny

      I can answer you as one of the artists that was involved in the project. There are things in life that are simply priceless. Being able to work for AFP as a tarot artist was one of them. No money could have made the experience better. And I’m not sure if I can say it, so I won’t, but they did figure a way to give us something back, making it very personal for every single one of the tarot artists.. you’ll see when the deck is released n__n

      Besides, this will do wonders for me in job applications :D

  • PsychopathBunny

    I’ve been pondering about this for a while, and the conclusion I’ve reached is that there is no absolute truth. There isn’t a magical universal cure for this wretched disease that has becomed not only of the music industry, but for art as a lifestyle in general. I agree with you, specially in the part where you say that this method of making profit from your art is not valid for everyone. There’s the mainstream artists that will continue with their system, if it works for them fine. But what about the other 80% artists out there? Great artist SHOULD be able to stand out by themselves, but that is just as effective as waiting for money to grow on trees specially for you. Everyone with the interest of standing out should find their own way, and I’m glad you’ve found yours. To start changing the outside world one must begin with themselves.

    I am a graphic design student and I’ve seen how hard it is to get recognition for your work, no matter how good it might be, not even to mention actually getting paid! I’ve had some experience and for what I’ve seen, any form of personal creation is usually underestimated; and I’m glad there are people out there such as yourself making a difference; you’ve really inspired me to do the same (which I will.. in my own way).

    I am not an artist or a musician (I suck at it) but I am a devote follower of art, specially music; and it is a fact that art doesn’t create itself, it comes directly from the artist. I fully back up the idea of being able to support the artist directly, which is why I always buy the merch directly from them, as well as their cds when I’m able to do so (though I haven’t been able to support you directly for money issues… but I promise I will toss 50 bucks for you when you come to Mexico, or buy the cd/dvd/book when I’m able to do so)

    I live in Mexico and here it’s even more obvious what a bunch of money leeches the promoters and ticketmaster are, but sadly in here there isn’t any other way (yet..) to be able to watch your favorite artist; but there have been artists that in exchange for the extra money you have to pay, they give it back through fan interaction and love. For example, The Birthday Massacre, when they came the tickets were VERY expensive (they came with 3 other bands) but they should you their merch directly! They came out to hang out with the fans! This is only one example of how important it is to be able to reach the fans and connect with them, not only expect them to be bank accounts. The artists that really get the importance of giving back to the fans are the ones that are breaking ground in the media.

    On a side note, not all labels are evil (though 90% of them are). Otep just joined Victory Records, and they agreed with them to distribute the cd at a vey affordable price!

    Gee… i wrote a lot…

  • midnight_faerie

    Amanda,

    As always, this blog was a wonderful read, a good insight into the dialog between yourself and the fans, and the internet at large.

    I’m also an artist of sorts. I recently started making jewelry for a friend that I happened to have met because of #LOFNOTC. For that, I want to say thank you. I want to thank you for starting that whole revolution. I want to thank you for helping me to find some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I might not have met them if it hadn’t of been for you. I love you for that more than you’ll ever know. (#FLF love!)

    And as far as the debate about whether or not you’re right for doing what you’re doing, that’s not for anyone else to decide. You have to do what feels right for you. There are always going to be detractors, and negative comments, because let’s face it, this is the internet, it happens. I support you by turning people on to your music. By showing them the videos, by telling them that I don’t see you as some untouchable icon on a screen. I see you as a person, someone I can relate to, someone that actually understands what it’s like to be something different in a world that’s often made up of trend clones that have no real idea who they actually are. They just do what the TV and the magazines tell them to. You’re not like that. You’re real. And I love you so very much for that. And I hope to eventually meet you, hug you and look you in your pretty eyes and tell you how much you’ve changed my life.

    Keep on keeping on, lovely.

  • http://thisisbionic.blogspot.com Brenna

    Beautiful, Amanda. Everything you have written is the precise reason why I tell all of my friends about you. You’re not a singer; you’re an artist. You live/breathe/sweat your work, and you don’t stop at music. I was trying to explain to a friend the difference between a performer, an artist, and a musician the other day…not a wholly deep conversation, but a conversation nonetheless. I brought you up under all three categories.

    I wish you could come to Tucson some day. It’d be totally bitching to see you play at Congress or something. Also, I would feed you.

  • Babe Sellers

    she felt for the floor.
    sanded hands against the wood.
    rock splinters paper.

  • insignifikunt

    When you were in Oz in Feb/March I was working and studying, I had my own business, and therefore I was able to spend stupid amounts of money going to gigs around the country, tipping the Danger Ensemble at the gigs as well as online, and bought lots of merch and since then bought the #LOFNOTC t-shirt, ordered 3 extra WKAP books (as gifts) on top of the one I got in the pre-order uber package, bought the DVD at the webcast and have bought a number of items on Post War Trade.

    I had the money; I wanted to spend it on something that made me feel something. I can’t quite describe what that feeling was, but for the time you were in Australia and I knew another gig was just around the corner I was on a high. Music for me is a drug. It made going to work in a job I hated tolerable because it was that job that made it possible to get to those shows and buy that merch etc.

    Since then my business has closed. Part of me is happy about this as I hated working there and am now pursuing a career in music, but I currently have only $10 in my bank account and at 25 I am shamefully back to needing to rely on my parents for everything including train fare to get to my place of study and a job I am currently interning at and therefore make no money from.

    At this point in my life I could easily look back at the fact I spent all that money seeing those shows and buying the merch with regret. But in all honesty I don’t. I do regret that a good portion of the money went to airlines and transport but the money that made it to you and the Danger Ensemble I don’t regret AT ALL.

    I don’t know what the future holds, whether or not I’ll ever be in that position to be able to spend as much as I did again, and if so it probably won’t be in the near future, but I’m happy I did it. I know someone wrote in response to the last blog about fanatics and he/she questioned whether or not you were exploiting them, well I don’t really see myself as a fanatic over you personally, but your music sure and this is the time I probably should regret not thinking things through before I opened my wallet, but I don’t. At the time I had no idea only months later I’d have no money, but shit happens. It was MY CHOICE to spend that money; you didn’t force or coerce me into doing so.

    This isn’t meant to be some sob story, woe is me I’m broke, so sorry if it appears that way…. I know I’ll never regret spending the money on you because you gave me something more valuable than money and quite frankly money means very little to me, BUT I am afraid to find that things aren’t what they appear.

    I don’t want to ever regret believing in you! Believing in someone is far more valuable than money. You have an incredible amount of power which I am sure you are well aware of. Maybe you don’t have a following the size of Britney Spears, but your following are much more emotionally involved in what you do and by cultivating that relationship with your fans, I think you’ve also created for yourself a hell of a lot more responsibility than most artists.

    Don’t get me wrong, if you turned around one day and decided to morph into a pop star and totally become a sell out, then my life is not about the change dramatically, I would get over it. I’d be fucked but I’m not about to go slit my wrists or anything, but some of the comments I’ve read here, on the boards, twitter and all over from other people lead me to believe some people are THAT emotionally involved with your work and that connection they feel with you and I hope you are constantly mindful of that.

    My only hope is that you are completely honest in what you claim to believe in. I want to see this in action for all facets of your career. I don’t think you can honestly pick and choose what to do independently and what you don’t once you’ve made these claims. You can’t say fuck the middle man and then when they offer you more money get back into bed with them (metaphorically speaking!) I am not talking about record labels here, I know once you are free from them you’re unlikely to ever sign to a label other than your own ever again. But you will need to work with middle men throughout your career, we know this, no one can do it all alone, but I just hope you choose wisely in the future, it is possible to find people to help that aren’t going to fuck you over in the end. You said it yourself; Beth and BRAT marketing are evidence of this so keep choosing wisely!

    I don’t really know what I am trying to get at with this comment, I am just easily swayed and impressionable and there are some things I’ve read that have made me have my doubts which really sucks because I don’t think I have ever been so impressed by someone before. From your artistic talent, to your intelligence and your integrity, and if I were to find out that any of it was not the total and honest truth is far worse than knowing I only have $10 in the bank.

    No you are not my bitch, you don’t owe me or any of your fans anything, and I don’t expect you to reveal everything about how much money you make and where it goes, I don’t even care as long as you are sustainable, but I do expect that you remain honest and maintain your integrity.

    End rant!

  • http://spacedlaw.blogspot.com/ Nathalie

    Another system: on the Vermillion Lies band site one can purchase songs/albums for a fixed price or invent their own – which is brilliant.
    I wish Jason had a tip jar at his concerts (there is just so many CDs one can buy) but, hey, his loss (but if he thinks he keeps a better grip on his soul that way, why not? It is ultimately his choice).

  • Coco

    I found it so asinine that a commenter thinks the reason kids are staving is because greedy artists are taking all the money for themselves. Take an econ class, commenter! The idea that you would be doing something more noble by working at McDonald’s rather than making music for money is just amazing. Not in a good way.

  • lisalovesrhps

    i love you. you are so un-fucking-believably inspiring. and smart. and talented. and your blogs- then kick ass.

  • anewshadeofred

    I am a broke college student.

    This is a recent change actually. . . fucking economy. . .

    When I was gainfully employed- I did contribute as much as I could. . . I bought all of the companion books, pre-ordered the big book of WKAP. . . I was a LOFNOTC, and I have the shirt to prove it. I saw you play SXSW and I was amazed at your kindness, your beauty, your enthusiasm, and your dedication to your fans.

    I actually had some minor complications with my book order, and so I wrote an email to Neil which was forwarded to Beth. She was wonderfully helpful and I am very gracious to her for it. . . The book happily lives on my coffee table and is lovingly shown to guests at every opportunity.

    I think what will set you apart and make this method work for you is your dedication to your fanbase. . You (and your team) give to us as much as you get, if not more.
    Where other artists feign thanks and give half-smiles, you engage in conversation and hugs.

    My point is that this is not shamelessly asking us for money. I think that the years of work, and love, and music, and art, and inspiration that you have given us is more than we could ever compensate you for monetarily. . .

    It’s a symbiotic kind of relationship. . .

  • Dave Mac

    Good words, as usual. ^.^

  • Danny Darko

    I am so happy that you’re out there doing what you’re doing, and especially that you’re being so vocal and candid about your victories and defeats regarding the business side of your music. Please, please don’t stop doing that. There are a lot of us out here who are watching and learning from your successes and failures.

    Watching all the unnecessary corporate barriers that stood between artists and success crumble under the hammer of technology is something that has brought me no end of joy as a musician. And that you, and so many like you, are out there, proverbial dicks swinging in the breeze, taking the risks to find that working model that artists like me can use as a template is something that I appreciate deeply.

  • http://auroraproject.net/ Atrus

    Amen!
    I admit I didn’t really get most of the complaints. Even if you think that asking for money is ‘bad form’, no one is forcing you to open your wallet. Just pay for what you feel is worth paying, and ignore the rest.

    It’s even more confusing that the same people who’d spend wads of money on eBay for some random AFP paraphernalia are the same that wouldn’t give the same money straight to you for the same thing in return. Somehow, having a third part seller makes it more ‘right’.

  • leighwoosey

    re: mortality, i was actually wrong. what i meant to say was “by nature subjective”.
    I suppose there’s a typo in every blog post. It lurks behind the text and linespaces with a will of it’s own and will sneak into reality when you least expect it.

    i really do believe in what i’m doing… but a thousand like this make me want to stay up all night and write a free webcast opera.
    Fair enough. If you need attention and approval and amens to come to life then you should go out and get them.

    Do you wonder if perhaps what you are selling people is little pieces and moments of friendship? If so, should friendship be bought and sold like that?

  • lcp

    one thing i thought of when i read about all the people apologizing for not being able to donate: this system, of giving directly to the artist, not only has an advantage for the artist (getting money for art instead of some suits ripping him/her off) but it does have a huge advantage for the fans: in the old days you had to wait to be able to listen to your favourite music/read your favourite book/ watch your favourite movie until you actually had the money to buy the hard media version. now you can download, asure that somebody else who does have the money atm will support the artist so he/she will live until you have the money to pay the artist back yourself. as long as you are honest about it and don’t forget that you (morally) owe the artist and are willing to pay back, this is going to work perfectly for all parties involved.

    i myself had to actually sell bodily fluids and rely on the help of a very good friend (thank you mfs) to be able to see your show last year. now my life/situation is gradually getting better. soon i will be able to buy some merch off your homepage and maybe even use the virtual tip jar. and i won’t forget to keep paying back for what you put out there.

    and the one guy who is on a vendetta against your method and want’s to stop donations: he can try all he wants. he won’t succeed. maybe he is even a roadrunner suit, as bitter about your off-company success as he sounds :-)

  • lindamedford

    Amanda please come back to Asheville NC we love to have ya again

  • rhyskka

    Sometimes I get this feeling that you are sort of my elder sister. Whenever I think about my favourite artists and writers, it usually goes like this: The Beatles? the best ever musiiiicians. Devendra Banhart? aah cool&lovely, musiiician. Stephen Fry? huuuge brain. Amanda Palmer? my elder sister.
    I’ve visited not so many gigs, but every time I visit one I always think of an artist, like, “wow! I used to watch him/her on youtube&myspace, and now I see him/her live. They really exist! That’s cool”. After I saw you live, I never had this thought crossing my mind. I guess the reason is that you make your fans feel so connected to you, that this is more like constant, almost everyday online talks. You know, like relatives or friends have when they don’t see each other often. I never got this feeling, like, you were only a picture on a cd artwork and then it turned out you were real as my fingernails. You were always real. I find it strange (in a good way), but at the same time I know the reason for it.
    There are really tons of little things I would like to thank you for. No, really, I don’t have the slightest idea what would I thank sir Paul for if I ever met him. Well of course I exaggerate, cause I would certainly say that his music obviously really makes people connect when they find out that they share their love for the Beatles. We all know this. But would I thank him for making me really understand why is it important to tip the street performers and do it every time I get a chance? I don’t think so.
    Good luck to you, Amanda! I really wish you luck and happiness. I hope to see you in Petersburg, Russia next year. And Jason Webley too :)

  • discohospital

    I just wanted to say it’s amazing how such a big part of the comments on your blog, your art, everything! are so well phrased, well thought – out and articulate. It makes me believe your fanbase – and the people whose attention you have – are really intelligent and amazing.
    It’s something I’ve never seen in anyone’s fanbase before. For me, it makes it even more special.

  • brutus_colville

    hi, i havent read all of your page, not all of it seemed relevant to me and alot of it was things that are realated to your life and your art which i know nothing of so I thought i shouldnt realy read to much of it.
    I like the crowd surfing idea, the way of working on trust and faith with people.
    I think I may be able to utilise the basic concept in my trade as I had kind of the idea of offering recording on a equal benifit/support type thing but you have given me some ideas of how to make some extra cash along the way to help pay my way.

    thank you

    if i have the good grace to remember your name i will surely give you a donation when if I successfully implement some of these ideas.

  • Guest
  • Zachary G

    You know, I recently heard something similar about the video game industry. Tycho of Penny Arcade recently suggested a system where a developer makes a game and releases it for free, and the gamers who play the game donate afterwards. This has been received with sarcasm and shaking heads, with most saying, “Yeah, in a perfect world, BUT. . .” The current system is similarly messed up, where a terrible game can be made for millions of dollars and millions of people will buy it simply on the hope that it will be worth playing, and if they’re disappointed the only solace they have is the 20 dollar trade-in value at Gamestop. IF, that is, they sell it back within a month of its initial release.

    And I’ve noticed a lot of the same sort of symptoms all over the place. In the economy, in politics, is social psychology… we’re living in a world that literally did not exist twenty years ago, in terms of information sharing and access to knowledge. I think in a lot of ways we’re wrestling with how to keep our old values relevant in a world where the specific circumstances that brought them about are not relevant at all. I think we, as a society, want all the benefit of technology and social networking without the hassle of understanding the weight that these things bring into our lives. But I think we’re at a point now that it’s not just a small group of people who need to change, it’s everyone. We all need to observe our situations and reconsider the way we look at the world and how we go about living our lives.

    This is why I love you, Amanda. You more than any artist I am aware of (though I know you’re not the only one out there) understand what is going on. And you’re talking about it. Screaming it at the top of your lungs. And besides your message, you make fucking awesome art. I don’t think people would have cared so much about Bangladesh if George Harrison hadn’t been playing some of the best music of the era, and hadn’t brought with him some of the most important musicians of the time.

    And I guess to bring this all around, I’m a writer who has been struggling with how to get my stuff out into the world. I got my start writing on forums and posting in increments, and I’ve been struggling with how to get out of that habit. Because of you I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I don’t have to? I’ve been trying to fit myself into the mold of the successful authors that I love, and rather uncomfortably. But I know what works for me, and I’ve been ignoring that. Is there any reason it couldn’t work? It’d be an experiment that could end up disastrous, but I think if spun the right way it could work really well. Thank you very much, Amanda Fucking Palmer, for keeping me alive through high school and, now, giving me the impetus to try something new.

  • TashaOrlovsky

    I’m glad you had a note about the expensiveness of the Pops tickets, I was really disappointed when I saw that. Granted I could see about seeing you in Northampton, but transportation may make that difficult (Worcester…so close and yet so far away).

    I find it hard to believe that growing up in Arlington and going to Harvard Square pretty regularly with my family (did you ever eat at The Tasty? I loved that place, I had so many hot dogs there), I never saw you as a living statue there! Or otherwise, just around. Ah well, I don’t think I would have appreciated the siting back then as much as I do now.

    Do you ever think about being a living statue again? Just “for kicks”, for a day or so?

    One of my life goals is to have a drink with you someday and just chat. A hug would be cool too. Maybe one of these days, I”ll luck out while I’m in the Square.

  • bribee

    Amanda,
    I totally agree with what you are saying. I’m wondering if I am the only one who’s reaction to hearing the auction totals that kicked all of this off was ‘Wooot! Look what we helped do!!’ We all went into viewing the webcast/auction knowing that the purpose was to sell items that had been used in the videos and what not and to RAISE MONEY for an artist we love. I loved seeing the different things and hearing the stories behind them, what made them special. I appreciate the tips that were provided in this follow up blog to help the fans be able to more effectively support the artists we love. Educating the fans AND the artists is the only way this is going to change. Keep it going! You’re amazing!!

  • paddygreen

    The key to all of this is, I think, *nerve* and confidence. Confidence in what you are doing, in what you can do, and in what you’re going to do. My own band recently put out our first album, and we funded the whole thing by asking our fans if they’d mind awfully paying for it before we finished it. They did, if only enough to make a 300 CD run of the thing. Every single one of those fans was thanked in the sleeve notes, because we clearly couldn’t have done it without them. Next time, we’ll go a step further, and try completely giving something away, and let people donate – full on Palmer Method ;)

    It seems to me that this kind of investment in an artist has the real advantage of being a personal connection with them, and as a result provides everyone with more feeling of involvement – and everyone gets a little more from that.

    Your blog has made fascinating reading, and it’s good to see someone thinking about the effects and possible responses to downloading and readily copied information beyond heavy handed legislation and scare tactics. Cheers :)

  • Guest

    The “‘cept for me – I’d never leave you!” was a tongue-in-cheek. Damn you internets for not conveying tone of voice. Someday, maybe.

    I feel like what I said wasn’t necessarily negative, but just simply food for thought. Don’t mind it too much though – my crappy attitude about markets and public consumption comes from looking at too many pie charts.

  • Pocki

    I just got this retweeted from Drugstore: http://drugstoremusicbiz.blogspot.com/which might be of interest

  • xjaeva

    my biggest problem with this blog is the white text on black background. Otherwise I’m feeling the fan love.

  • bryon25

    I have working in entertainment (box office side ) for over 13yrs. day 1 of working this i realized just how fabricated and fake it all is and today, i still feel the same way. If i get to see a show outside of my work place its local bands in a run down bar or “american legion hall”, or just a trip to say, New Orleans and get to see a band playing for a bar tab or just to fucking play, makes me feel at home. I know they live it, breath it and abide by it 24/7. How cool it was to read about the crowd sending not taking your wallet and still throwing in the money they could throw. I still have flyers from shows WAY back and everynow and then i will pull them out and just laugh. This was construction paper and magic marks. But it was fun, the music was fun, and after reading this, its getting better. Best to you Amanda, Zoe, Tora and everyone else out there living their passion.

  • HipperNU

    TL;DR. My god. Blathering is the new black.

  • http://www.joannao.blogspot.com JoannaOC

    So much food for thought here, so many smart and interesting conversations with fans, readers, critics. I will be back to read this again and think about it some more. I am a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm because I like paying directly for my food and supporting someone local with whom I can have a direct relationship. I like supporting local stores and businesses for the same reason. I love to support artists by buying their CDs, donating, or in some way making sure that as much money as possible goes directly to them or to the independent store owners that support them. Thanks for sharing your experiences and ideas about this, and for giving us a space to see the answers to questions people have about this economic and artistic model. One thing I know for sure, you put your heart and your guts and your soul into everything you do and you make my world a better place because of that, including with your WRITING; you are a fabulous writer.
    x0x0x

  • http://robertmckay.net/ Robert McKay

    I didn’t know you until Neil started talking about you on Twitter. I’d heard of the Dresden Dolls, but that was about it. Now I’m completely hooked. Even more so now that I’ve read your posts about artists making money. I quit my job a few months ago because the corporate machine was killing my soul and that was about the time that I really found your music. I don’t think I could have cranked out the first 30k words of my novel without you.

    You are the first artist that I will support when I am really making money again. You are the real deal Amanda Palmer and I will do what I can to support you in other ways until I can pay you. I will of course tell people how wonderful you are and get them to join the revolution. If you have time you can read my blog and I will try to make it extra interesting just for you.

    The struggling life of a wannabe author isn’t the most interesting thing in the world, but I will post some snippets of my writing there. I think I’ll post the first one after this comment. You have left me wondering if I should try to forsake the traditional publishing route and go independent. I know it’ll be really fucking hard and I’ll have to push myself far beyond my normal boundaries, but I think in the end it would be worth it.

    Keep up all that you are doing. It’s made a world of difference in my life and hopefully some day I can truly repay the favor.

    -Robert
    http://robertmckay.net

  • calaverajoe

    On your connection with fans: The first time I got a reply from you on Twitter I /totally/ fangirl squeed, and being a 250lb bearded brick-shithouse of a guy, it was quite a sight.

    Then I realized that this was /normal/ for you, that you responded to folks, all the time. That you did so not because you felt you /had/ to, but because you /wanted/ to, and it did not lessen my amusement at a reply at all.

    In poking around the net about you (I’m a late comer to the party, sorry) it became patently obvious this is just how you work, and it’s awesome. Sure, it won’t work for everyone, and some responding to /everyone/ is just impossible, but the effort is definitely appreciated. Watching you and Neil interact almost feels voyeuristic, except that it just feels like the natural progression of your relationship to the world.

    Now I go outta my way to catch up on AFP tweets, see where you’re floating on the planet, and try to RT and peg folks if I know they’re in the same area to go see a show, or lend a hand, or whatever.

    I love that you do this.

  • Riva Graham

    i love ‘the gift’! wise choice of book.
    amanda i admire everything you do.
    i was going to write ‘please never stop being so inspirational and mind-blowing’ but i dont think its possible for you not to be.
    your better than doctor who.
    :)

  • minnaloushe

    GRRRR…. people who think artists should not make money from their art just drive me crazy!! And I can speak from experience when I say working a mind-numbing day job to pay the bills is NOT conducive to art-making. Artists should not have to work at McDonald’s to pay for making their art. No one expects doctors to give away their services, or hair-stylists, or even interior decorators, but somehow “artists” are considered sub-par, or art is something you do in your spare time. NO IT ISN’T! If our society had more respect for art and artists, the whole world would be a better place.

  • CH

    Unfortunately, this system relies on the poor giving what they can to support the artists. Which is noble and beautiful in it’s way. But it is sad that the people that can do the most to help artists are often the ones that exploit the artists the most. I guess, to borrow a bit of Leonard Cohen, it’s up to the beautiful losers to keep art alive.

  • meganboggs

    You are an inspiring person, Amanda Palmer.

  • HaliseW87

    “i got a fantastic ride from the Denver airport to boulder from a woman who told me all about her two kids and brought me some drawings they’d done. she kept my number and a few days later, she gave me a ride BACK to Denver…and this time brought the minivan, her partner, AND their two kids, about whom, at that point, i knew everything. it was like getting an adopted family for a few hours. it was either THAT or the bus. simple? for me, yes.”

    After reading Part one of your virtual crowd surfing blog…I became instantly intrigued. This is such a fascinating concept on how to get to know your fans on a deeper level and build a relationship with them. But it’s a concept that is absolutely unheard of to the likes of little ole me, at least when it comes to busy musicians such as your self.

    Kudos lady! I’m currently a BFA Theatre major at Central Washington University (Ellensburg, WA), and that kind of connection with people is something I absolutely understand and live for. I’m studying to be a Properties Artisan/Manager, and the show that really made the career choice final for me was “Vietnam 101: The War on Campus.” In order to really get a sense for the emotions felt by Oberlin students during the Vietnam war…I actually interviewed a great deal of individuals going to college in the late 60s and early 70s. That process of simply getting to know and hear the voices of people who still feel to this day that their concerns and internal struggles went unheard by the masses was my favorite part of the entire production’s design process.

    I met with a man who went to Washington State University his Freshman year in ’71, and he actually kept his journal from way back when, allowed me to read it…and actually told me to KEEP IT. He felt that I would get better use out of it than he ever could, and I asked if I could share his journal entries with the cast members. He cried, I cried…and he said that would make him the happiest person alive. After reading the journal entries aloud to the cast…a cast member by the name of Andrew Shanks asked if he could use the journal as a prop in the show and use the journal entries to better understand his character (an indecisive young man who periodically went to coffee shops on the Oberlin campus just to write down the conversations he heard around him in order to clear the mess in his head). Andrew used added loose blank pages in the journal to create more journal entries from the voice of his own character in the show. The audience of course had no idea of the life of this little leather bound journal…but Andrew, the cast and crew, and I did. It made our energy and connection with the message of the show that much stronger…and the audience saw THAT!

    After this show was struck…I realized that what matters to me most in Theatre is the collective experiences and voices of individuals (whether they’re fictional or not, it all comes from someone’s head) that you don’t hear. I may be a peon in the process of putting up a production here…but it means a lot to me to simply listen to what people have to say. And it makes me so happy that you care about what your fans have to say, and that you trust them enough to let one of them drive you back and forth from the airport. I’m sure you hear a great deal of interesting stories and meet a great deal of interesting characters in your fan base…but I feel like your interest in simply listening and making a connection is something you and I share.

    Thank you for motivating me today!

  • http://www.heatherwright.yolasite.com/ Heather Wright

    “i got a fantastic ride from the Denver airport to boulder from a woman who told me all about her two kids and brought me some drawings they’d done. she kept my number and a few days later, she gave me a ride BACK to Denver…and this time brought the minivan, her partner, AND their two kids, about whom, at that point, i knew everything. it was like getting an adopted family for a few hours. it was either THAT or the bus. simple? for me, yes.”

    After reading Part one of your virtual crowd surfing blog…I became instantly intrigued. This is such a fascinating concept on how to get to know your fans on a deeper level and build a relationship with them. But it’s a concept that is absolutely unheard of to the likes of little ole me, at least when it comes to busy musicians such as your self.

    Kudos lady! I’m currently a BFA Theatre major at Central Washington University (Ellensburg, WA), and that kind of connection with people is something I absolutely understand and live for. I’m studying to be a Properties Artisan/Manager, and the show that really made the career choice final for me was “Vietnam 101: The War on Campus.” In order to really get a sense for the emotions felt by Oberlin students during the Vietnam war…I actually interviewed a great deal of individuals going to college in the late 60s and early 70s. That process of simply getting to know and hear the voices of people who still feel to this day that their concerns and internal struggles went unheard by the masses was my favorite part of the entire production’s design process.

    I met with a man who went to Washington State University his Freshman year in ’71, and he actually kept his journal from way back when, allowed me to read it…and actually told me to KEEP IT. He felt that I would get better use out of it than he ever could, and I asked if I could share his journal entries with the cast members. He cried, I cried…and he said that would make him the happiest person alive. After reading the journal entries aloud to the cast…a cast member by the name of Andrew Shanks asked if he could use the journal as a prop in the show and use the journal entries to better understand his character (an indecisive young man who periodically went to coffee shops on the Oberlin campus just to write down the conversations he heard around him in order to clear the mess in his head). Andrew used added loose blank pages in the journal to create more journal entries from the voice of his own character in the show. The audience of course had no idea of the life of this little leather bound journal…but Andrew, the cast and crew, and I did. It made our energy and connection with the message of the show that much stronger…and the audience saw THAT!

    After this show was struck…I realized that what matters to me most in Theatre is the collective experiences and voices of individuals (whether they’re fictional or not, it all comes from someone’s head) that you don’t hear. I may be a peon in the process of putting up a production here…but it means a lot to me to simply listen to what people have to say. And it makes me so happy that you care about what your fans have to say, and that you trust them enough to let one of them drive you back and forth from the airport. I’m sure you hear a great deal of interesting stories and meet a great deal of interesting characters in your fan base…but I feel like your interest in simply listening and making a connection is something you and I share.

    Thank you for motivating me today!

  • purpleval

    A-MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!See, a part of the problem, or as I perceive it (but I’m only one insignificant person), is that art as a means of making a living has never, EVER been taken seriously. Look throughout history at all the common names that everyone knows even if they’re not into art–van Gogh, Beethoven, Edgar Allen Poe–where were these people when they died? A majority of them died alone and POOR. We haven’t yet reached that point where making art is taken seriously, and until that point people will have a problem with what you’re doing–going directly to people for money. But why not? If you don’t have money, how would you do what you do? You need air fares, equipment, instruments. Painters need paint and canvas. People expect beautiful products but they disregard the means it takes to get to the final product. Furthermore, for those of you who tell you “get a day job”–guess what? I have a day job. I would kill to just quit and spend my days locked in my room writing and painting and drawing, but I don’t because I’m not as gutsy as you and I CAN’T just quit and risk not paying my bills, risk not having money saved up because my car is on its last leg. I’m an artist who is choosing to play by the rules but you know what? I’m suffering for it. I’m not being melodramatic when I say it’s killing me inside every day I come into work and sit here and waste my time on something that’s not my art. I go home and I look at my drawing that STILL ISN’T FINISHED, and sometimes, damn it, I cry, because I just spent 8 hours (plus more if you count the commute) on something that ISN’T MY ART. Why should artists be chastised for their art? Why don’t you go to all the big heads in the stock market and tell THEM to stop flaunting their money. Why don’t you tell THEM to “go find a day job”? People view art as easy. I would love to see HALF of you draw a straight line or a circle. Draw something that even resembles a human being, a humanoid figure. I would like to see HALF of you come up with prose that make sense and aren’t cliche. I would like to see HALF of you even ATTEMPT to get up on a stage and pour your soul out in front of a microphone as your scream and sing. You think it’s so easy? At least if you burn a burger you can discard it and no one will ever know because you’re hiding in the kitchen–if you create a painting that no one likes you STARVE. So then why do artists do it? Because we are compelled to. Because sitting behind a reception desk day in and day out makes us cry. Because WE LIKE IT. And who the hell are YOU to tell us to not ask for money for what we create? Aren’t you doing the same when you get a paycheck every week, every other week? You’re whoring yourself out to whatever corporation you work for–what is the difference? You’re asking your boss for money, and the insurance companies ask you for a part of YOUR paycheck, and the doctor’s and hospitals are asking the insurance companies for money so they can pay their doctor’s and nurses. What is the difference? Finally–in regards to the “junk” comment. People sell “junk” all the time. They’re called yard sales. They’re called garage sales. How is this any different? Ones persons junk is another persons treasure. At least she’s not throwing away all the “crap” she no longer needs, thus adding to the ever-growing landfills. KEEP ROCKIN AFP!!!!!!!

  • tayln

    Hello Amanda,I (and I’m sure most of your fans) have been listening/following you since the self-title Dolls CD rolled out. I’ve also have been reading your blog for a good while now too. I’ve not commented before, but after reading these last few blogs I’ve decided to throw in my two cents. I was one of the people who bought the super awesome wonderful pre-sale bundle package of WKAP goods, and loved everything about it. (The only part that kind of sucked was the damaged parts) Even though we had to wait for several months to get all of the stuff, it was like an extended Christmas. The excitement and often times unexpected Amanda packages arriving seemingly out of the blue, was a lot of fun. I would totally do it again. (Hopefully you saw some money out of that, even with the missing/damaged good part)I bring all of this up in relation to my main point. Something you could try would to have people almost “subscribe” to you. As in every year (or insert period of time) have people pay your “subscription fee” and in return when something new becomes available (CD’s, DVD’s, books, random stuff, etc.) send it out to those “subscribed.” It would be money up front for you to live on and hopefully fund and create whatever your muses are saying to you (even if it’s an Avril karaoke video). I love and support you in whatever you do. I don’t mind paying for connecting with you. I just hope that the little bit extra I pay for you to munch on a DVD is really helping out and enough. Thanks for everything you do, see you in Tennessee.

    Edit: Not saying that only people that subscribed could get the new products, still have those able to purchase. But, just maybe have the subscription thing as an option.

  • Dale Leroux

    dear girl, don’t beat yourself up over this. I thought about your blog this morning while I chopped wood ( it’s a contemplative task) before going to work in the afternoon , and it became quite clear-
    don’t worry about what we the fans THINK, it’s really all about what we the fans DO.
    we work, do chores, blah-blah-blah , all for the chance to pop your music in the cd player for our 15 minute drive home, or the half hour before bed. The point being, we do what we have to do ( MAKE A LIVING) so that we can enjoy you at “our leisure”.
    You on the other hand are creating fantastic art that we crave and enjoy, but it’s your lifestyle and work that we’re getting lost in for those 15 or 20 minutes, ( longer if i drive really slow) not your leisure but your life’s WORK! Very simple- our “leisure” is your “work”. And work must be rewarded.
    As far as I know, this country is based on freedom and independence. And you are my living example of that quest. Everyone has the right to sustain themselves, especially if the product is self-created.
    Besides working in a paper mill, I’m an editorial cartoonist. I’ve also completed three children’s book projects but have yet to publish one. You know why? Because I SUCK as a self-promoter. And there’s probably THOUSANDS of novelists/musicians/artists rowing in circles around the toilet bowl. But you , my dear have the means, the love and interest of a growing fan base, and this phenomenal medium to get your art to the public. Make money. You have the right.You also have the obligation to yourself to self-sustain.
    Love what you do, your honesty (new englander at heart you are) and creativity.
    See you in Portland!

  • http://robyno@gmail.com robyno

    Amanda,
    I’m a big fan of Sarah Saturday and her music (under the name “gardening, not architecture”).. I’m telling you this because she founded a website a few years ago http://www.earnityourself.com as a resource for musicians so that they can book their own gigs, distribute their own music and, well, earn it themselves. The whole EIY movement obviously stems from DIY. The site says “Earn It Yourself is for anyone who understands that starting a band in today’s music industry means starting your own small company.” I figured you’d want to know about it since you are clearly on the exact same wavelength.
    If you actually took the time to read this, save my e-mail address somewhere and if you ever need anything in Philly, just write and let me know. I’m serious! I already e-mailed Beth to say my husband can make you yummy noms to eat after the Philly show. Hopefully I wasn’t too late and I’ll hear back, since we would love to feed your belly like your music feeds my soul.
    xo

    • http://robyno@gmail.com robyno

      How amazing am I to not put my e-mail address in the above comment? sheesh. robyno@gmail.comRandom e-mails from strangers are welcome also. Hopefully I won’t regret saying that. :)

    • Guest
  • bess82

    “what they think I am worth” – that’s the phrase that I was looking out for in this blog.

    “Worth” as a concept is hugely tricky and completely subjective. Is something worth what a person is willing to pay for it? Or what they are willing and able to pay for it? It’s easy for me to say that I’d be willing to pay £10,000 for “Mandy Goes To Med School”, but the fact is that I’m not able to pay that much for it. So how much is the song actually worth?

    No one is forced to buy anything from Amanda. Webcast goodies, merch, CDs, DVDs, books – the only people who buy these things are the people whose own subjective opinion is that the joy these things will bring are “worth” the pricetag.

    Amanda is not our bitch, and we are not hers. ChuckEye might think that the things sold on the webcasts are “worthless shit” and if they are to him then that’s fine – no one is forcing him to buy them or to even watch the webcasts. But because worth is so subjective, it’s wrong to brand them “worthless”.

    People are going to support Amanda, both financially and otherwise, for as long as they consider what she produces to be “worth” their money/time/love/whatever.

    I have more to say from an economics-student point of view – supply and demand, price points etc. But I’m going to sleep on it for now.

  • http://electricburritos.blogspot.com/ bre_anachronism

    In watching the complete and utter maelstrom that’s occurred since you first started talking candidly about money has been fascinating, to say the very, very least.

    After I read your blog, I remember going home that night and telling my girlfriend while we were making dinner that something you had said bothered me. Something about downloading, and how we were taking money from artists by not paying them for their art. I took that as the same kind of jab that Lars Ulrich and the rest of the bunch that have openly fought against free music, and it was a stab in the gut from someone I considered a hero.

    I thought and thought and thought about it. I mulled over how it was via downloading that I’d even heard of the Dresden Dolls (I got Coin Operated Boy from a recommendation in a magazine), and that once I’d heard a little, I was hooked. I downloaded everything, and fell in love. I had three or four burned cd’s of your music, and then, as soon as I cleared my bills, I started buying albums. Yes, Virginia. No, Virginia. A Is For Accident. And then I bought concert tickets, and I met you for the first of two times. I bought merch at the table, and furthermore, I bought merch from Two Ton Boa and Vermillion Lies because you handed me these amazing bands.

    I thought that you were expressing some sort of sentiment against the easy trade of music rather than money directly in your pocket. After the x amount of mulling and thinking and re-reading, I realized I had taken that so. far. out. of. context. from what you actually were talking about that I’d pretty much failed to see the point entirely.

    I think a lot of the people you’re getting negative feedback from have done the same thing as me- taken words at face value, not explored what you were talking about, and just not “getting it”.

    I will continue to download bootlegs of your live shows (please please please please, I can haz “Trout Heart Replica”?). I will continue to print pictures off the internet for my walls.

    I will also continue to buy albums, posters, t-shirts and concert tickets from the website and NOT the store, no matter HOW bad I want them rightthefucknow, as soon as my seriously broke college-student ass is capable.

    I gave you a letter in Gainesville this past March. I spent a lot of time fretting over whether or not you would read it. I remember telling you that I was a musician as well, and that the only heros that a lot of women with the DIY ethic and no desire to be a sex doll have are you, Ani, and a few others. You are changing the landscape of art as well as the way art is perceived, received, and supported- not only for the world at large, but for me. By the time I get in the game, provided I do, the atmosphere will probably have shifted again. But you’ve set something so much bigger than yourself in motion with this.

    I always wait with baited breath to see what you’ll do next.

    We love your art so much, Amanda. We may not KNOW you, but we know your art. So vicariously, we love you.

    Thank you so much.
    xxx
    Brianne.

  • lillylionised

    as a busker, i can completely appreciate how hard it is to make a buck. as it stands right now, most of the money i make busking comes from little kids who are fascinated by the weird chick with the hair and the guitar and the uke and their parents giving them a dollar to throw in my case, and sometimes the amazing punks of park slope (but rarely, because who the fuck knows a punk willing to get up before noon?). what you’re doing is internet busking. you give us something that makes us happy, makes our lives more interesting, and some of us throw a buck in the case because we’re fascinated by the chick with the hair and the uke, some of us say thank you and walk away because we dont have the money right now but we’ll give it to you when we have it, and some of us look at you with disdain and ask why the hell are you asking me for money?

    most people don’t resent buskers for putting their cases in front of them when they play, so why should anyone resent you for asking for support? buskers dont have the support of a label, your label is pretty much fucking you. its the same deal.

    the support is circular. you busked for ages before you were a doll, or afp, and now you get buskers to play before your shows, something any busker i know would be fucking glad to do. we’ve gotta share the love, the money, and the support.

    love and awesome
    lilly lionised
    xxx

    ps: every time i play “sing” when i’m busking, people stop and smile and usually give me something, especially when i get to the bridge. and my dad laughed really hard one time when he heard the second chorus which is so deep and thoughtful and then “sing for the kid with the phone who refuses to sing”. thanks infinitely. your music is paying me. i hope you dont mind.

  • http://culturesluts.com/ Jon

    re: Independent labels, not hurting the good guys through downloading.

    Can we find a way to certify labels as genuinely independent? Just like you can buy products with a ‘fair trade’ logo in the knowledge that the workers who made it were paid a decent wage and not ripped off, can we put an ‘independent artist’ logo on CDs which if you buy them will provide the artist with a decent income? Can we promote labels which treat their artists well and name-and-shame those which don’t?

    (Of course, to have any credibility such a scheme would need to be run by an independent non-profit organisation.)

    Just a thought. P.S. next album title has to be Amanda Palmer Sells Out. No contest.

  • Marissa

    This post makes you come off as so insecure it’s embarrassing. It’s like you need constant validation and reinforcement. Just say what you have to say and leave at that. Show some cajones, for Christ’s sake, especially if you’re going to boldly label yourself a groundbreaker.

    And about that:
    I read a great comment on your last blog about this from someone who called you out for taking credit away from these artists who have lived directly off their fans for years and years by claiming that you’re somehow “inventing the protocol” (a concept which you directly contradict above, now saying that it’s got to be different protocol for everyone).

    I noticed you stayed away from responding to that one.

    Also, in circles where fan-funded art has been going on for years, these things don’t “need to be said.” They are the unwritten rules and they are understood and accepted by all. YOU just need to say these things because your fan base was cultivated WHILE YOU WERE ON A RECORD LABEL. It’s a different world altogether. But I can’t expect you to realize this, I suppose. Obviously, if something is new to you, it must be new to everyone, huh?

    It would just be nice if you could be a little more sensitive and give credit where credit is due. Step outside your box a bit. Your worldview seems really limited for someone who has traveled so much.

    Don’t you see? It’s not about whether or not asking your fans for money is okay. The issue here for me is that you are 1) making gross generalizations about the changing industry, 2) only commenting on these industry changes now because they are directly affecting you, 3) insisting (however indirectly) that we should all embrace the change because it’s inevitable and 4) canonizing yourself as a front-runner in this hip new middlemen-free industry and thus ignoring and insulting those artists who have been in the no-middlemen game far longer than you have.

    What you seem to fail to realize is that maybe it’s not just the industry that’s changing… maybe your career is changing (e.g. your label no longer wants to “support your art,” you’re now a solo artist, you’re starting to really feel that pressure of trying to do it on your very own, etc.) and you just want to tell your fans that now their habits should change to support this new lifestyle of yours. THAT is tacky.

    People like you and ideas like yours pop up every once in a while and they almost never make a big-picture impact or a mainstream impact of any remote variety. You know why? Because they’re narrow-minded. You are thinking of YOURSELF. Your life is changing drastically and so you assume that so is the rest of the world. This will die down soon enough (as soon as you stop blathering on about, most likely). Because it’s a farce.

  • http://razorblade-cookies.blogspot.com emilly

    I’ve always viewed myself as part of a participatory process. If I can go to a concert, I do that; if I can buy merch whilst there, I do that. If I can’t, I know I paid for the ticket. If I can’t do either, I buy the record/DVD/EP/whatever in the store.

    And, on the poor poor times, I do everything I can to get the word out. I use my wee blog to mention musicians I like, I tell my friends, and THEY buy records, or go to concerts, and thank me for tipping them an artist’s way.

    Still part of the process. And yes, I too have gone to bars with some performer on stage, had nothing beyond the drink price, and wrote a poem and dropped that in the tip jar instead. The urge to offer *something* is undeniable, but I like to think that the performer in question might be amused, if nothing else, by the poem in the midst of crumpled bills.

  • dwfries

    Someone somewhere, some time ago asked me, “Hey, have you heard of The Dresden Dolls?” and I said, “No, I have not.” I subsequently downloaded both albums and listened to them. I was then shocked and horrified by the news that this musical group was no more. Eventually, I discovered WKAP and this website and the awesomeness of this community, but I still haven’t given any money to Amanda. I went to the NMH/Anne Frank play and bought a poster, but still felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Then I got 2 people to come with me and splurge on the high-priced tickets for Symphony Hall and I felt better. Though, some day, I certainly intend and promise to pay for the albums as directly as possible.

  • benbryan

    As a photographer, and the person who took the photo posted here of Kat, Tora and Mark, here is my two cents. I gave money to the boot that night. I had to, for a few reasons. First, they were traveling on the kindness of strangers. Second, my parents are from Aus and after the show I was fortunate to Talk briefly with Mark about it. I saw Kat and Tora by the front door, and they stopped for a quick portrait shot. During the show, I had a chance to photograph six people. They struck poses, I press a button. 327 times. Damn right I owe them all. For the music I have loved since 2004, seeing three people’s faces light up from meeting someone who has a slight connection by a country, and forming a working relationship with Beth. With a day from hell (Inauguration Day) she and I texted about 12 times to set up a press pass to shoot the show that night. All she asked for was a CD of photos taken. I had no idea TWO of them would be reposted on Amanda’s blogs. So I now I get that small bonus as well. I paid the $7 plus shipping for the DVD. When Danger Ensemble releases stuff, I’ll contact Tora, Kat, Mark or James (who sent a personal thank you note for his own copy of the November show). Hell, I’ll send Amanda $14 c/o Beth and throw in another 14 to her! I have a full time job and do photography when I get the opportunity. Of course I wish photography was my primary source of income. For right now, it is not. Yet.

  • amanda f

    I am an AFP fan of about 15 months now, so I’ve been watching this all develop and trying to finalize my feelings-which were not immediately decided. I downloaded her debut cd at the suggestion of another rabid Tori Amos fan, and like a junkie, went out & downloaded every AFP and Dolls scrap I could find.
    Her music and attitude are refreshing-and they inspired me to write. My dayjob pays me for my work therefore I could afford to go buy a fancy pen to get started with my newfound inspiration. Then I thought- that’s pretty shitty of me. WKAP is amazing, now I’m a Dolls fan, I get unquantifiable amounts of enjoyment out of them AND am making art of my own becasue of it-and I couldn’t even throw the gal a dollar??
    Its only right people–If you like it, support it! (and directly support it?-even better)

    For the record, I ordered WKAP and a poster from her site a couple months ago to atone for my previous ways.
    I wish my other favorites would make supporting them directly easier, I would do it.

    Love to AFP
    ~ @amandakf

  • buggy_beatle

    Hey Amanda?
    Do me and my friend (Amanda is her name too! Wow! You guys already have a lot in common!) a favor and do a stage dive for us at the Philadelphia show in November.
    We WILL catch you.
    You can count on us.
    ;)
    Much love,
    Melina

  • http://rumanddonuts.blogspot.com/ Morgan Atwood

    AFP – Thank you for this. Being frank and sharing your ideas openly is both great to read, and great for “the cause” (if you will). It helps that you know WTF you’re talking about. I enthused more and threw a link back here on my blog, hopefully people will follow and be made wiser for their clicking & reading.
    I’m seeing more of my fellow writers, and more small presses who handle those writers, taking steps like this. Some really good authors, who will go unnoticed by mainstream houses, are getting their work out there in innovative, reader/fan engaging ways, and making money based on what the readers want to pay/give. This is a beautiful thing.
    It’s also a valuable thing.

    Money is changing, how we use it, need it and make it in particular. We’ve all gotten a really good taste of this in the recent/current difficulty. If trends continue, the individual ability to produce something and exchange it for other somethings (money, goods, whatever) is going to go from handy, to necessary. We’re at a point with communication technology that the people can actually access not just art, but the artists, with ease. In the past, artists have been more isolated and that makes the difficulties of living off art that much harder when things are tough. Now, the ability to access art and artists promises to, even in a serious decline, make it possible for artists to continue to sustain via art – If, the artists can successfully utilize the technology and networks available to them. This utilization of resources will be necessary to everyone, but it makes me truly happy to see artists innovating here, instead of playing catch up.

    I think this is a great time to be an artist, of any sort, and the hardships ahead are nothing in comparison to the possibilities. We may all fall flat on our faces, but we’ll at least have exhausted some fantastic and exciting options on our way down.
    As a writer, I’m excited by the possibilities of expanding new readership, and seeing (working on) innovation in the way we write and tell stories, as afforded by the resources available to us now. There’s new territory to explore, and new ground in which to plant some old seeds and let them grow anew and free of the constraints of the old systems.
    I think these possibilities exist across the board – I’m only just beginning to play with them as a blacksmith and metal artist, but I think even we antiques can make use of this.
    I believe that if we do the work, the result will be more art, in more hands with more success and fulfillment for the artist.

    You’re a constant source of inspiration, thank you.

  • Billy

    You are amazing. You always have been and you always will be. That sounds crazy as something to say about someone who I’ve never met but you’re right, you HAVE created and fostered a trusting relationship with your fans. Enough at least for me to have faith in your future as both an artist and a human being, and that second part is RARE, but I believe in you.

  • Steven

    Amanda, I think you’re right. Artists need to support their craft financially, as much as possible. I also believe the record companies need to get with the times. Take Radiohead’s in Rainbows, for example. In one month alone, 1.2 million people downloaded the album. While about 62% of those paid nothing, 38% paid what averaged to $6.00 per download. Do the math on that.. Isn’t that 2.7 (plus or minus) million roughly, in one month alone? Why don’t you test it? Create a new EP. Create a web site to market it yourself. And ask people, hey if you want this, pay me what you think it is worth. You might be pleasantly surprised. And this is what I think all music artists need to do from now on, if nothing else but to remove commercial record companies totally from the loop, and focus on what people really want. If an artist is worth their salt, they need to be talented. In my opinion most people that want good music are willing to pay for it. And most people are sick of getting suckered into buying a commercial album with maybe only one decent track on it (I know it is happened to everyone at least once, where they bought some album hoping that it’s worth 15 bucks), and that is why my friends download music for free after being burned by slick marketing and commercial branding of musicians, well that is what they tell me. I paid more for Radiohead’s album just for the fact that I like to imagine I’m supporting a better alternative way to do business, and hopefully put the control back in the hands and probably more funds into the pockets of the actual artists themselves and not those fat cats at Sony or Time Warner, if anyone is really willing to take the chance with this kind of new business model. I would definitely pay more than 6 dollars for a new EP by you for digital download tomorrow, if you would released it just like Radiohead did with their last album. Have a little faith. :)

  • Nona

    I’m afraid I was in such a hurry to buy WKAP that I ran right out to a store; that was before I knew you wouldn’t get any money from that. But I’ve since bought the book and a few other things and I doubt they’ll be the last purchases I make.

    Honestly I think what you’re doing is a hell of a lot more respectful than the overpriced merchandise that is sold at some concerts and such, not to mention the ticket prices themselves. And I agree that the kinds of things you’re doing are part of an emerging model that we’ll be seeing more and more of, and it does foster a wonderful relationship with the fans. I’ve had some wonderful interaction with artists doing the kinds of things you’re doing and it’s meant the world to me. Quite some time ago I had to accept my lack of artistic drive and that the only role I would ever play is as Audience, but most of the time that’s just fine with me, and I’m happy to do what I can to be the best audience possible.

  • http://musicslu.com/ Andrew Moffat

    amanda,

    my name is andrew, i’m a 23 year old (starving) entrepreneur. i believe in everything you’ve talked about here. i’ve created a project designed to help share music freely but still reward artists financially. the project is http://musicslu.com. i want to help…please contact me! i would LOVE to work with you. i won’t lie, i’m struggling here. what i’ve made is on the tips of everyone’s brain, but it needs help to be remembered.

    andrew moffat
    andrew@musicslu.com
    217-778-6942

  • http://www.dramanite.com kimbowa

    A fascinating study in alternative business plans and income generation… also a interesting expose of a range of attitudes and perceptions regarding wealth, art, life and power….

    I’m happy to support you and follow your exploits while there is humanity, fun, art, creativity and a caring regard for your supporters/friends/fans/detractors…. if you ever shift into “AFP Consciousness” as a movement/religion/philosophy I suspect I’ll start listening to Lilly Allen…

    I don’t mind you making money, I don’t mind you travelling and connecting with people who become your friends/fans/supporters/stalkers….

    I enjoy the attempts to explain your take on things – if only more of us were as willing to communicate our rationale and not feel the need to defend it…

    I applaud your efforts to remain independent of the big corporate entities… and would like to see your model of engagement adopted by a range of other people I admire… in fact, I’d love to find a way to let my work in academia operate in a similar way…

    One of the elements that fascinates and pleases me is the acknowledgement of other people’s creative works and the acceptance of transformative works that derive from you and your work…

    Keep doing things in your own vernacular… for the evidence is that your way includes a seemingly measureless positive regard for other people… and that’s something I’d love my daughter to learn… perhaps we can all find it in ourselves to take responsibility for ourselves, give of ourselves and accept the same from others…. who needs much else??

  • HornyHeather

    I think one of the best pieces of advice i had from you (from an artist’s point of view) is that you shouldn’t have a Plan B (a job or a backup plan), because artistically you would be truer and purer if you didnt have the option to back out – or indeed to get distracted by a day job.

    In order for an artist to survive on this alone, and to produce Pure Art, this kind of fan-financing is vital.

    I have a day job (music lecturer), and i feel like a broken artist. I can only perform when my work hours allow, i cant write because i saturate my days with other people’s music.

    I support you wholeheartedly and financially because i support what you do, and how you do it, and i wish i was as brave as you are.

    Heather Young
    xx

  • http://carpediem.purplejuju.com/ Judith

    Keep doing what you’re doing. It is proof that the world is changing – proof that there are good people all around – proof that people appreciate someone who has the guts to stand up for what they believe in – proof that people want a simpler, more connected way of life.

    Things are definately changing …

  • astronautqueen

    my dearest afp,

    i’m sorry i don’t comment more, first of all. usually i’m always rushing to get my two cents in, but with you, i usually feel like you’ve said every single thing i believe on the subject and that to comment would just be absurd and redundant. but i’ve realized that that’s certainly not the point.

    seeing some one who is so interested in actively pursuing a relationship with their fans (especially a musical artist who creates such honest and alive and inspiringly beautiful music, while maintaining so much integrity and personal worth) makes me want to cry tears of joy. it is so, so incredible to see some one out there saying, “i am here to do more than present a really deep/intelligent/emotional/witty song that will make you fall in love with my music and infect you with something called the ‘i idolize this person and they don’t know i exist’ disease”.

    no. you are actually saying, “i am here to give you my art, but i also want to know how it affects you”.
    and not just that. you are standing on your internet pedestal and inspiring your fans to do the same with their art, with their passion. and to witness a person succeeding in it just makes me all that more determined to achieve it myself, and i’m sure many people have experienced that too.

    i just need to express my utter gratitude towards you. you have been one of the few musicians that kept the most precious part of my faith in the music world alive, and i owe you a lot for that. way more than any album will ever cost. way more than any poster will ever be priced. all i can do to come anywhere near repaying you is to tell you in the most explicit words i can muster how much i thank you.
    (:

    p.s.
    thanks for tolerating the sappiness.

  • Billie

    Amanda, you are a fucking goddess.
    I would love to give you money but as a struggling artist, I cannot. The only thing I can do is to buy your CDs from your website to make sure that the money goes to you. And if i ever get the chance, I’ll go to one of your conserts.
    Your music is ASUUUUUM!!! (Think Rhino in that Bolt movie. If you haven’t seen Rhino, look him up on youtube. It’s a fat hamster.)

  • http://daualset.tumblr.com/ Claudio Gallo

    this is a great post and everyone working in the music industry should be reading it. i think that everything is going to change very soon and Creative Commons could be the key to the solution.

  • http://twitter.com/cheveuxroux Lauren

    I know this has been said a million and a half times before, but I too am one of those fans who would much prefer to support the artists directly than give most of my money to a record label working under the umbrella of a multi-billion dollar transnational corporation. It’s strange how the latter option seems so normal to most of us but the artist asking for money directly (which will contribute 100% to making more art) can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. What people don’t understand, I believe, is that if “impoverished artists” were to get a day job at McDonald’s they would have way less time to concentrate on producing their art (not to mention touring and connecting with fans, which are both essential to musicians) and they could effectively cease to function as artists except in the realm of hobby. Your business plan may not be feasible for everyone but, for your circumstances, I think it is the most logical one.

    Again, thank you so much for making such wonderful music and caring so much about your fans. You help us, we help you.

    P.S. If I may, I’d like to plug another wonderful female artist with her own recording company, Hannah Fury, who is also supplementing her income with her own merch and with whom you are probably already familiar. Either way, yet another example of this system in action. http://mellowtraumatic.com/home.html

  • Katherine Indovina

    Miss Palmer, you’re awesome. This model of working shall triumph.

    • Katherine Indovina

      I just tried erasing that comment because I realized I took Amanda Palmer’s own stance as an excuse to rant about myself which is ridiculous.

      Miss Palmer, I think there is nothing wrong with what you’re doing. Worst that can happen is that the fans don’t like it and it fails. If that occurs, an artist goes back to the drawing board to try something different.

      Many best wishes to you on your upcoming East Coast tour.

  • http://www.myspace.com/jacobandrewsmusic Jacob Guajardo

    Amanda Palmer, I think what you are doing is great. I think what you’re doing is courageous. I think what you’re doing is revolutionary, and I think what you’re doing is-most importantly-practical. I’m sixteen years old and I write music. I don’t write for money at sixteen years old, I write because of my love of the music. I don’t write for money because I still live with my parents. I have someone to provide for my needs. What you are doing is completely practical, you are giving something that people want. My sister often asks me why I want to be a musician if the music that I make never reaches the top of the charts, why would I would to be a musician if I didn’t get paid a huge amount of money to do it. I always tell her the same thing, music is my best friend and if I abused this connection, if I were to abuse this door to my sourcem, I wouldn’t love it anymore and the feeling would probably be mutual. However, I am completely inspired by what you are doing, connecting to your fans directly and encouraging them to support the musicians that support them in so many ways. A lot of indipendent artists say they don’t want to get paid because of the mainstream music industry making it seem like being paid for your art is selling out. Knowing that this money is going directly to you for something that you make of your own free will and knowing that it will reach other people and encourage them makes me very happy. This comment is a complete mess of ideas and thank yous, I know this haha, but I wanted to express my gratitude, one crass, but beautiful ;), music lover, to another.

    All my love and good wishes
    -Jacob Guajardo

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/manicdestrudo zackapman

    HI
    Um. I’m Zack. I could really use your help. I’m finishing up my undergrad as a theatre performance major at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. And I’m doing a presentation about theatre in contemporary music. I’ve been semi-carnally enamored with you and your work since my roomate played “Good Day” in the fall of ‘o6, and am unabashedly jealous of not having the idea to tour with a theatre group first. I was wondering if it’s at all possible to set up an interview with you? Or maybe email you a list of questions? Or should I go through Beth? In any event I’d really like to speak with you on the subject as well as about the current ($) topic if you’re not too tired of it.
    Um. Yeah. So, you’re a badass.

    Zack Apman
    manic.destrudo@gmail.com
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Zack-Apman/58003552052
    http://twitter.com/zackapman (@zackapman)
    phone– (269)-569-6043

  • Geertje89

    Well, amen, I guess…Lately I’ve been doing my share by trying to convert as many people as possible to Amanda Palmerism. There’s a lot for me to do, ’cause basically nobody over here in the Netherlands knows about you. :)I read what you wrote about faith and trusting people, and I feel pretty much the same. I’d rather leave my bag unattended on my seat in an Amsterdam metro than live a life in which I cannot trust anybody. They might steal something. They haven’t done it yet, in 3 years of leaving bags unattended :)There’s this other thing I’ve been thinking about. I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t know whether someone else has said it before (haven’t read all the comments). Don’t know either whether this is international, but at least over here many orchestra’s, small theatres and other art-related groups have organised a group of (often called) ‘friends’. These friends donate a stable amount of money every month, say 5 euros (dollars, whatever). This might seem little, but 200 friends donate 1000 euros every month. Well, this might be enough to pay the rent. In return the friends can order tickets before others, get some special present, anything. Friends happy, artists happy.Perhaps you might feel this restricts your freedom or something, but I think it could work. Don’t know about the organizational aspects, though. God, it’s difficult to explain this in English. I hope I’m clear.And last but not least, you might not even read this sentence anymore, but I love you, Amanda! :DLots of love and support,Geertje (don’t try pronouncing that :) )

  • timlinnell

    About 190 years ago, my great great great grandfather befriended William Blake, and eventually seeing he was struggling to support himself became his patron – at the time he was himself an artist trying to support himself and a growing family, but in Blake he saw a genius he couldn’t reach himself. Although ostensibly a commercial arrangement, a commission for illustrations the Book of Job and then illustrations to Dante, it was never going to pay back in cash, but Blake rewarded him in producing some of the most wonderful art he had ever produced, and with friendship, bouncing my infant great great grandfather on his knee and singing the Tyger to him.That was then, and since we’ve had the great cycle of copyright and business and art as a commodity peddled by dealers – which, oddly enough, my ancestor also had a principal role in creating. And now that whole system is shuddering, the wheel has turned, and to have the art we love, to have brilliant people tell us things we can’t articulate easily for ourselves, to have our souls touched and grated and torn and carressed, we need once again to return to a system of individual and collective patronage, or else we will just have to settle for the second rate and formulaic.Amanda, I’m off to make a small donation as soon as I finish this. I do this because I love what you do, I am desperate to find out what happens next. It’s unconditional, I expect no return, I don’t expect you to do noble and virtuous things with the cash, to feed the sick or clothe the poor, all I ask is that you use it to live your life in the hope that in doing that more great things will come from you.

  • timlinnell

    or at least I would make a donation if paypal hadn’t decided to lock my UK account for daring to try a $ transaction, will return to that in the morning.

  • shaunx

    I’d say amen if you weren’t so fucking full of yourself. Any message you have is drowned in the disgusting self-absorbed coating. As it is, reading your blogs lately has been making me sick and it’s so bad I haven’t been able to listen to your music in a couple of weeks. Sick, and not in the “hip” way. :(

    • Steven

      Shaunx, it’s like a relationship, isn’t it? Some are there for the week. And some are there for a few months. And some a few years. Whatever you are, I’m sure she’ll understand.

  • MauraLee

    ((QUOTE: “those who gave cash covered my rent. those who gave me poems and leaves fed me in another way.
    and indeed, it always worked out, day after day, year after year. my rent got paid, my soul got fed.” ))

    I think this proves that it really does take a combination of simple things just to make people happy. :)
    The entire blog is a masterpiece in itself, and just FASCINATING. Much more eye catching and enthralling than playing with my friend’s broken capo as she’s out taking the PSAT.

    I follow your twitter, and I’m just, overall, completely caught in the wave of creation and adventure. It’s visible, that connection with your fans, and it just leaves me in awe. I don’t understand why more artists can’t do the wonderful thing you’re doing, but I suppose that wouldn’t make it all that unique, would it? I think what catches peoples’ eyes is the fact that this is all DIFFERENT, and it’s just, from my perspective, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard of a human being accomplishing.

    Can’t wait for your Brooklyn show :)

    Love, “Maura Lee”

  • http://www.nicomaramckay.com/ Nico

    Thanks for the link to the crowd surfing pic, I’ve loved it since I first saw it circulating on Twitter. Duly purchased. Along with the previously purchased Who Killed Amanda Palmer CD, and book.

    When you last visited Toronto, alas, I had no idea your loveliness existed. I do hope you’ll visit again.

    Live well.

  • Betsy

    From today’s Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2009/10/20/AR2009102003399.html

    I personally disagree with Miss Manners – emphatically…. But thought it was interesting given the recent discussion.
    _____________
    Dear Miss Manners:
    I am a moderately successful novelist. Things are a bit dicey for me financially, mostly because I am appallingly incompetent when it comes to money management.
    Some friends with whom I discussed this problem were kind enough not to offer unwanted loans, but instead recommended that I put a “Donate” button on the inevitable Web site everyone in my field seems obligated to have.
    I wasn’t initially comfortable with the idea of asking my fans to support me beyond buying my books — that ought to be plenty — but I eventually agreed, and it did help. Now, a couple of years later (and in the same financial position, alas), I find that I’m still uncomfortable with asking for help in this way. The discussions with my friends over the subject have become passionate. I would very much appreciate your perspective.
    As a novelist, you undoubtedly have a high respect for the correct use of words to reveal truth. And yet Miss Manners fears that you have adopted a euphemism to disguise from yourself the truth of what you have been doing.
    “Donations” are given to institutions or charities that do good works. Individuals may earn money, as you do in selling books; they may receive it through grants to do work; they may inherit it; they may be given it in lieu of presents; they may find it on the street.
    But the act of asking others to give you money simply because you are needy is called begging. It requires a sacrifice of pride, and therefore self-respecting people resort to it only if they are totally destitute.

  • beesbonnett

    when i read this post i slapped it up on my facebook and all that other internet jazz. i have beucoup du fancy rich friends who think its so cute that i am artistically inclined, and “how great is that to follow your passion”. o how we suffer under the protestant work ethic dynamic. how about supporting the people who are a constant reminder that we operate under a phantom system of humans equal robots, and thats unacceptable. my real job doesn’t exist, nothing outside of the constant poetic rambling in my head that sometimes make the synaptic leap to my hand and then paper or canvas exists. its kind of like a mild disorder that you wrangle into materialization
    and yes i need you to appreciate that, outside of a few oooo’s and ahhhh’s. we appreciate exchanges on many levels, and when i need to eat you can exchange me some cash for something i spent hours contemplating and spinning into my version of perfection. take it home and stick it on your wall or something like that, or keep it as a reminder that tonight, bess bennett will pay her phone bill.
    dear god, there are aisles of bookstores devoted to books about creating the life you love, creating abundance,manifesting affluence, turning passion into money. how much money did you spend to take that book home so you can hone in on how upgrade from a ford focus to a beamer? get a library card and buy some damn art. most artists aren’t asking for a bmw, they are just trying to figure out how to pay rent.

  • Harlan

    Hey Amanda,

    You are doing very important work here. Keep it up. The author Charles Eisenstein is working on a new book on what he calls sacred economics or gift economics, which basically describes what you are doing. He discusses it and the importance of this model in relation to the economic times we’re experiencing in this talk on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG-L41dlEwc&feature=channel

    Also, his other works, which are unbelievable in their scope and wisdom, are available in hardcover for a price or online for whatever the reader is wiling to pay. He describes it here: http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/text.php which states:
    “have put the entire text on line because I believe it is important for these ideas to circulate as widely as possible in the present time of crisis. In the book, I write of a coming shift from a profit-taking economy to a gift economy, from an economy of “how can I take the most?” to “how can I best give of my gifts?” This future, in which the anxiety of “making a living” no longer drives us, will arise out of the transformation in the human sense of self that is gathering today. But it is NOT ONLY A FUTURE. We can live it now too. It is in this spirit that I offer you The Ascent of Humanity on line.

    “The cover price of the 600-page print edition is $25. I leave it to you to decide what is a fair price for this online edition, and you are of course also welcome to read it for free. On the voluntary payment page linked below I explain a bit more about why I am not making people pay for this work. The planet is returning to the spirit of the Gift, and I am pleased to join in that turning.”

    Keep giving the world beautiful gifts and you will continue to be supported. The blood cell doesn’t hoard resources, it has complete faith and trust that while it is continuing to perform the tasks it was put on this earth in this body to do, all of its needs will continue to be provided for. It’s only the perceived scarcity imposed by an interest based growth economy and an education system that forces us to be dependent on walmarts and grocery stores that makes us think that our lives are really any different than any other living thing in the universe. When we’re doing what we were put here to do, all of our needs will be provided for.

  • Jenny

    I used this blog and Why I Am Not Afraid To Take Your Money in an essay for university, I hope that’s okay. It was about consumer culture, arguing whether or not teenagers are passive in their acceptance of products, and whether real happiness is gained not from buying more products but from creativity. I made the point that people aren’t just blindly buying any more and that you are starting a movement wherein the audience has more say in the product they’re receiving and instigating the need for artists to create a more personal approach =)

  • Jenny

    Recently, a legend of my hometown died. His name was Bear and he was a homeless busking poet.
    Bear was a fantastic man, who sadly had a drug problem, but was always kind. The first time I met him he came up to me and a group of friends and explained that he didn’t expect money for nothing, and he would read us a poem. When we said we didn’t have any money (really, I was 14 at the time and probably spent the last of my money on comics) he gave us a poem for free. It was so beautiful that the next time I saw him I asked for another poem and gave him £5. He would make up poems on the spot about whatever subject you wanted, if you asked, or he would recite a poem about his army days, or about his dead wife.

    A week before his death he was beaten up by a group of teenagers and his spleen burst, but he couldn’t go to hospital for it, and that’s probably how he died. He was a man who had it really rough – it was rare you saw him without a few new bruises or his leg in a cast.

    But the moral of the story is that Bear was happy till the end…he had a troubled life but he carried on so long doing what he loved. And he was an incredible poet, I’m genuinely sad that I’ll never hear one of his poems again. So no, this thing doesn’t work for everyone – but busking definitely kept Bear alive a good few years longer than without. I’d just like to remind everyone that sometimes we need to be a little more altruistic =)

  • http://thefistoflight.blogspot.com/ Keira Anderson

    I hope you wont mind when I quote you in my dissertation. You can read it thus far at http://thefistoflight.blogspot.com/ (shameless plug, I know.)

    On re-reading what I’ve thus far posted, you don’t come off too well… don’t worry – I’m about to rectify the hell out of that. I hope this dissertation goes down well because I’ve listened a hella a lot more to things that people like you are saying about the Internet than… um… my tutor. Oh cripes.

    Keira (@akidfromkibble)
    xxx