why i am not afraid to take your money, by amanda fucking palmer


i had two conversations within the last 24 hours which made me feel like blogging about this.

one was with jason webley, who i’ve been living with for the past week in the Middle of Nowhere.

i was writing a press release and in it disclosed how much money i made from the recent london webcast (about 10k).
i gave a copy of the text to jason to proofread over a cup of tea (that’s what rock stars do for each other nowadays instead of leaving lines of blow on the backs of bathroom toilets).
he suggested taking the money part out. he gently advised; he’s heard people gossiping about me and my shameless revelations about my webcast/twitter income etc.

right around the same time i got an email from beth, regarding the future of my webcasting.
she suggested we do something totally free and not ask people for any money.
she’s been picking up on heat from people that the ask-the-fans-for-money thing has gotten out of control.


artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.

artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye.

artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks.
please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.
dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it.

unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely noticed that artists ALL over the place are reaching out directly to their fans for money.
how you do it is a different matter.
maybe i should be more tasteful.
maybe i should not stop my concerts and auction off art.
i do not claim to have figured out the perfect system, not by a long shot.

BUT … i’d rather get the system right gradually and learn from the mistakes and break new ground (with the help of an incredibly responsive and positive fanbase) for other artists who i assume are going to cautiously follow in our footsteps. we are creating the protocol, people, right here and now.

i don’t care if we fuck up. i care THAT we’re doing it.

in fact, i ENJOY being the slightly crass, outspoken, crazy-(naked?)-chick-on-a-soapbox holding out a ukulele case of crumpled dollars asking for your money so that someone else a few steps behind me, perhaps some artist of shy and understated temperament, can feel better and maybe a little less nervous when they quietly step up and hold out their hat, fully clothed.

i am shameless, and fearless, when it comes to money and art.

i can’t help it: i come from a street performance background.
i stood almost motionless on a box in harvard square, painted white, relinquishing my fate and income to the goodwill and honor of the passers-by.

i spent years gradually building up a tolerance to the inbuilt shame that society puts on laying your hat/tipjar on the ground and asking the public to support your art.

i was harassed, jeered at, mocked, ignored, insulted, spit at, hated.
i was also applauded, appreciated, protected, loved….all by strangers passing me in the street.
people threw shit at me.
people also came up to me and told me that i’d changed their lives, brightened their day, made them cry.

some people used to yell “GET A FUCKING JOB” from their cars when they drove by me.
i, of course, could not yell back. i was a fucking statue, statues do not yell.

i did this for 5 years, and i made a living that way.
dollar by dollar.
hour by hour.
it was hard fucking work.

and for the last 10 years, i have been working my ass off in a different way: tirelessly making music, traveling the world, connecting with people, trying to keep my balance, almost never taking a break and, frankly, not making a fortune doing it. i still struggle to pay my rent sometimes. i’m still more or less in debt from my last record. i’ll lay it all out for you in another blog. it’s just math.

if you think i’m going to pass up a chance to put my hat back down in front of the collected audience on my virtual sidewalk and ask them to give their hard-earned money directly to me instead of to roadrunner records, warner music group, ticketmaster, and everyone else out there who’s been shamelessly raping both fan and artist for years, you’re crazy.

it’s also not a matter of whether an artist is starving or cruising on a yacht.
i would hate to see my fans turn on me once i actually have money in the bank with a “well, i would support you if you were starving, but now that you’re eating, no way.”
fuck that.
accept a new system.
feel ok about giving your money directly to paul mccartney. he may be rich, but he still rocks. show you care.
feel ok about giving it to fucking lady gaga if you’ve been guiltily downloading her dance tracks for free.
rejoice in the fact that you are directly responsible for several threads in her new spandex spacesuit.
it shouldn’t matter.
it’s about empowerment and it’s about SIMPLICITY: fan loves art, artist needs money, fan gives artist money, artist says thank you.

the critics are welcome to criticize.
they do not have to attend the party.
and even if they attend the party with rolling eyes, they will not be charged.
they will be hugged, they will be accepted and entertained, and they will not be given the hairy eyeball if they leave the room without tipping.
chances are they’ll tell a friend about the next party, and their friend will probably leave a dollar. and tell someone else.

taking my stand as a virtual street performer is the best thing that’s happened to my career and i revel in it.
and i love bringing people along for the ride.

i believe in the future of cheap art, creative enterprise, and an honorable public who will put their money where there mouth is, or rather, their spare change where their heart is.

can i get a fucking amen?



(update: lots of people have been commenting asking if they can donate money directly to me now. hell yes you can. click HERE.)

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

afp crossing the alps

amanda fucking palmer crossing the alps, by @madainn

p.s. happy that guys are into the idea of marathon webcast experimenting.
it’s obviously an artform waiting to be more art-formed.


Name commented:

Hi! An AFP webcast sounds great. FYI, there was a story recently on NPR about a geek performing weekly webcasts to reach fans & grow VIPs.



thank you for sending…..fantastic article about this fellow Matthew Ebel. crazy, he’s from my neck of the woods. i’ll research him further. it’s great that he’s found his audience online.

i was happy to see that my old boston friend, david wildman, was consulted as a pundit. …i liked this quote:

“I don’t know, it freaks me out,” he says with a laugh. Wildman likens Ebel to a talented street performer on the information super highway. “That’s the scary thing about this is, you know, are we devaluing human contact? I don’t know. But he’s found his audience and that’s really all that any musician can hope for.”

yes…it’s fucking scary to imagine a future of pod-people connecting virtually.

i never want the idea of live performance and connection to be swallowed by the internet. if anything, the idea of webcasting ups the ante for live performers…you CANNOT just gaze at your shoes and wank on your guitar and hide away onstage anymore. nobody will care. you need to actually feed your audience, give them THAT THING that they CANNOT get from the internet. the feeling of being real, vital, in a room with people, alive, connected. i think it’s important to make sure a young generation being brought up on the net understands the fundamental difference between chatting online/watching a webcast and going out and having genuine face-to-face human relations with people. brain to brain is fine. sometimes it’s all you have. sometimes you live in kansas, life blows. but it does terrify me to think that humanity will give up on the real, sweaty, complicated part in favor for the easy, digital, clean part. eek.


Robbo commented:

Has Amanda really prostituted her boyfriends daughter? For her own profit?

Oh well. She has done worse things im sure :D

(AFP: this is, if you’re late to the party, regarding the fact that i auctioned off two dates with neil’s daughter, holly, who’s in her mid-twenties. they went for $740 each.)


i have done some terrible things in my life, for sure, but i don’t think this is one of them.
holly loved the idea and we had a great time with it. we split the take 50/50, and holly, who’s not rolling in cash and was about to take roadtrip after finishing her dissertation, was psyched.
is something like this of questionable morality?
well morality is by nature objective. it isn’t to immoral to me, or to her, or to the people who joined in the auction.
holly also decided to throw some of her money back into the karma loop and donated half of it to a womens’ organization she used to volunteer for*.
so in my mind, everybody won.

* from holly’s twitter: I donated 1/2 my goat date money to the U Turn Project [if you’re interested in donating, you can HERE] – which I also raised money for by producing The Vagina Mons.

Back to Blog