Amanda Palmer Shows How Her Fans Support Her

from the connect-with-fans... dept

One of the most amazing things to me about those who think that we need stronger copyright laws or that the music industry will "die" if we don't enforce copyright laws more stringently is what they're really saying about fans: they're saying that fans don't want to support artists. However, as we've seen over and over and over again, that's simply not true. Fans have no problem supporting musicians, if those musicians make an effort to connect. The idea that fans will suddenly stop supporting artists is shown to be false over and over again. The latest example comes from Amanda Palmer -- who's been on something of a crusade to get out of her record label contract with a subsidiary of Warner Music, Roadrunner Music. In an email to Bob Lefsetz, she talks about the support her fans are giving (voluntarily) as well as how she's better connecting with her fans via Twitter (despite the record label saying Twitter wasn't worth bothering with):
it's a lesson in how the future of music is working - fans are literally (and i mean that....literally) lining up at the signing table after shows and HANDING me cash, saying "thank you".

i had to EXPLAIN to the so-called "head of digital media" of roadrunner australia WHAT TWITTER WAS. and his brush-off that "it hasn’t caught on here yet" was ABSURD because the next day i twittered that i was doing an impromptu gathering in a public park and 12 hours later, 150 underage fans - who couldn't attend the show - showed up to get their records signed.

no manager knew! i didn't even warn or tell her! no agents! no security! no venue! we were in a fucking public park! life is becoming awesome.

also interesting: i brought a troupe of back-up actors/dancers on the tour (we were only playing 300-1000 seaters) and had no money to pay them, so we passed the hat into the crowd every night. each performer walked from each show with about $200 in cash. the fans TOOK CARE OF THEM. they brought us dinner every night, gave us places to sleep. (i couldn't afford to put up that many people in hotels). all sans label, all using email and twitter. the fans followed the adventure. they LOVED HELPING.

so?

the times they are a-changing fucking dramatically, when pong-twittering with trent reznor means way more to your fan-base/business than whether or not the record is in fucking stores (and in my case, it ain't in fucking stores).

twitter is EVERYTHING that you explain in your rants: it is a MAINLINE insta-connection with the fans. there is ZERO middleman. my fans hung out with me all day on twitter today while i unpacked weird tour shit, fan art, gifts and paraphernalia that usually just ends up in my closet or in the trash and took pictures of it for them.
Connect with your fans. Give them a reason to buy and they'll support you. This doesn't require DRM, lawsuits, collective licensing, blanket licensing or even copyright. It's a model that works today and works well for musicians of all stripes (though, you actually have to be good... no new model works that well for bad musicians).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:44am

    "life is becoming awesome."

    God, I wish we had the current net back when I was a musician in the 80s and 90s!

     

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  2.  
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    ddbb, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    Ima, I hear you. I remember when 4 track cassette recorders were the big thing that brought multitrack recording to the masses. I remember passing out tapes. I remember reading 'zines from across the US and Europe to discover and feel connected to new music. If only current electronic distribution and communication were available back then! What may have been! Now, I have more recording power in my laptop than most studios had, and I get more feedback within hours of posting new material than I ever received in the old days.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    R. Miles, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re:

    You're not a musician now? Why not?

    Seems to me you can start again much easier.

    Let us know when you do.
    :)

     

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  4.  
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    Mechwarrior, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Queue WeirdHarold's "I never heard of her" old foggy routine.

     

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  5.  
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    Lucretious, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    or "sure, it works for smaller level musicians but....."

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    more light "Without that record label no one would have heard of Amanda Palmer to begin with"

     

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  7.  
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    Weird Harold, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Hey, soon we will be back to the level of strolling minstrels trying to gain favor in a kings court.

    Please note, I have nothing against twitter, myspace, and other tools, they are like billboards, tv ads, or radio station interviews - part of a bigger whole, not a replacement for the recording industry.

     

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  8.  
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    Sweet Chuckie, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Strolling minstrels...

    I've heard Nobama doesn't like strolling minstrels.

    SC

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    B, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Strolling minstrels...

    .........what?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Re:

    hey... whoa now Harold! This doesn't even look like a troll post! Are you ok? Did you get enough sleep? I'm worried about you man!

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re:

    @WH
    You may have been trying to sound disapproving...but that sound pretty sweet to me (though admittedly I am of mediocre musical ability at best).

    Musicians could take polls to see who will pay, try and gain favor in one area, travel there, receive room and board, then move on to the next nearest area where they can survive. Profitable? no. Guaranteed to work? no. One hell of a trip and tons of stories to tell around the dinner table? yes.

     

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  12.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    Re:

    Hey, soon we will be back to the level of strolling minstrels trying to gain favor in a kings court.

    In modern parlance: musicians trying to convince people to be True Fans.

    Yeah, it's easier to just get a stipend. Sorry, not an option for most of you.

     

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  13.  
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    lulz, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:07pm

    Re:

    New attitudes and new ideas like the above story are replacements, though. middlemen be damned; the only one who wants them around is you.

     

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  14.  
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    Amanda Palmer = Robert Palmer with shorter hair, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Wow, $200 in cash each. That's like $50,000 a year (without benefits).

    I wonder if this nobody (her name means nothing to me) would work for $200 a day, and still proclaim life is "awesome."

    All that, and she's so articulate too. . .

     

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  15.  
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    lulz, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Strolling minstrels...

    I'm sorry, but I haven't heard of him. Maybe you're confusing him with Barak 'O'bama. Ah, that must be it.

     

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  16.  
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    mike42 (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    Sorry, Harold, I missed it in your post. What value does the recording industry add that that isn't replaced by these tools?

     

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  17.  
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    Ben (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:17pm

    You have to be good

    Quote: "It's a model that works today and works well for musicians of all stripes (though, you actually have to be good... no new model works that well for bad musicians)."

    Perhaps this is really the nub of the matter to the record companies. Whilst they hold all the promotional controls and the influence with the radio & TV, they control who gets promoted and who does not. The bands that they throw together (because they look the part) in the recording studio to make standard pop crap, are cheap to manage & produce, sell millions, earn millions for record company and earn peanuts personally (because of their lack of real contribution and contractual rape-age by the record companies).

    Is this perhaps a large part of that over-old business model that the record companies want to perpetuate? I wonder why.

    Roll on the days when real talent and an open attitude gets you the fans and support you deserve.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    I don't think I fully understand what you're saying here. Are you saying that $200 a day is a bad thing? My life would be awesome if I made that (it's over twice what I make now).

    They may only be getting $200/day but at least it's theirs. With the recording industry, the artist has to pay them back tens of thousands of dollars (if they can) before the artist gets any of it.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Mechwarrior, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    I suppose you know what the average non-pop musician makes a year?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    Re:

    And this is bad because...?
    Please elaborate. Really, we want to hear reasons.

     

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  21.  
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    Logo, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    @Weird Harold....

    Wouldn't that make us consumers the king?

     

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  22.  
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    Hugh, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    200 a day is a bad thing? Since when? As a college Grad with a 2 year degree, I make 14 and hr, and i work 12 hr days. And that's before taxes, 200 a day no taxes, for maybe 4hrs of work, that's just frigging awesome.

     

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  23.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    twitter, myspace, and other tools... are like billboards, tv ads, or radio station interviews - part of a bigger whole, not a replacement for the recording industry.

    How exactly are social networking sites like billboards and is twitter like a television ad or any of those like a radio station interview? Please explain.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    Re:

    You = An Troll Idiot Who Doesn't Make Any Sense

     

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  25.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re:

    How exactly are social networking sites like billboards and is twitter like a television ad or any of those like a radio station interview? Please explain.

    They all bring attention to an artist. What part are you having difficulty with?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 5:24pm

    Re:

    As someone else commented, it's not too late. After listening to her for about 5 minutes, it's clear that anyone can have a cult following on the internet.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Re:

    They are tools to market yourself. Nothing more. But they are just tools amoungst other tools. The only advantage is that there is some potential for feedback, and people think you are "kewl". But really, they aren't any different than any other marketing tool. Instead of doing a radio call in show or perhaps an online chat, you twitter. All marketing devices.

    Just like a billboard, it isn't a complete solution to market and sell and collect revenue by itself.

    You guys need to work on seperating out marketing tools from "business models".

     

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  28.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You guys need to work on seperating out marketing tools from "business models".

    What kind of business model doesn't incorporate "marketing tools?"

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Mojo Bone, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    Re:

    Hugh: "200 a day is a bad thing? Since when? As a college Grad with a 2 year degree, I make 14 and hr, and i work 12 hr days. And that's before taxes, 200 a day no taxes, for maybe 4hrs of work, that's just frigging awesome."

    I don't believe there's any such thing as a four-hour workday for any independent musician, regardless of perceived 'level' in the industry. The four hour bar gig a lot of folks see includes a lot of work that most folks never see, nor even consider. 20 to 90 minutes drive time-not hard labor, exactly but time you can't spend on something else, 90 minutes setup , an hour to tear down, the same amount of drive time again, and that doesn't include at least 90 min a day of individual practice, several hours a week in rehearsals, ten or more years of music lessons, (not to mention the cost of those lessons) time spent on phone and internet to book the gig in the first place and time on the streets (and internet) promoting and passing out fliers. Now take that $200, split it four or five ways and calculate that hourly wage again, whilst considering that while taxes may or may not be paid they are still most certainly owed. When all's said and done, we'd be financially better off with a part time job at Taco Bell. We do this because we love music and we love you, the audience. You're welcome.

     

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  30.  
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    Hugh, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    in reply to Mojo Bone

    Mr Mojo if you would of read the article you would of seen that the extras that she brought in each got 200 per person on average, not as a group. As I understand it they were extras and from what im understanding in the article this isn't like they had to do a major stage setup for say a venu of 50k plus people. While practice is what makes everyone better, most musicians are not making music because they have to, most do it for the love of music and therefor would not see the practice that they do daily as work. I know i didnt when I was playing practice was a way to have fun and enjoy music.

    btw just so youll know I have setup for concerts, I use to DJ in a bar or two just so you know Im not talking off my head.

    But look at it in my point of view, being paid 200 bucks for 4-6 hrs of work that you enjoy doing is very very rewarding. You cant tell me that the person in a job that barely pays the bills, that stresses you out so much to the point where you go whats the use, gets the same feeling.

    So my point is they do something they love, they have fun doing it, and they are being well paid to do it is just Awesome.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What kind of business model doesn't incorporate "marketing tools?"

    All do.

    But they are components of a business model, not a model unto itself.

    It's the difference between a piece of wood and finished house.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But they are components of a business model, not a model unto itself. It's the difference between a piece of wood and finished house.

    But when you like to light wood on fire, and then run around claiming it doesn't exist, how do you build a house, WH?

     

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  33.  
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    wheatus, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 10:44pm

    Harold!

    What qualifies you to discuss the merits of "the recording industry"?

    Are you a part of it? If so please specify.

    Newsflash...touring minstrels is all we ever were. What's missing from the future is the King....he's gonna die 'cause he's old and useless and just found out about rotten.com

    brendan b brown
    wheatus.com

     

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  34.  
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    bolson, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:51pm

    music industry + 21st Century harbingers

    amanda is doing really well for all of herselves.

    i've seen her lifestyle; yoga, vegetarian, organic... pretty solid. her fans are amazing creative passionate familial folk with hearts of gold (a stand out in Roadrunner Records roster).

    i'm not sure just any kind of artist would have similar results, so we may need to keep labels around for a bit longer. ;)

     

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  35.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 7th, 2009 @ 12:34am

    $200 per gig

    I am assuming these are musician-for-hire. Amanda is the one with the label contract.

    Musicians-for-hire are paid by the gig or by the tour. Such musicians generally don't share in CD, merch, or songwriting revenues. A musician-for-hire who can make $50,000 a year is doing quite well.

    As I will continue to point out, there really isn't much money in music. A few artists become wealthy. Some get by with a modest income. And most never make enough to quit their dayjobs. Or they have family members who support them.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    wheatus, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 12:54am

    Re: Nobody

    Would you feel like a nobody if strangers on the other side of the world were lining up to put cash in your hand because they loved something you made from scratch?

    I know I would feel like life was pretty damn awesome...

    Oh, and...be careful saying that her name means nothing to you...may only be proving that you are a musical ignoramus...in public.

    bbb
    whatus.com

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Azrael, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 1:28am

    Re:

    I wonder if this nobody (her name means nothing to me) would work for $200 a day, and still proclaim life is "awesome."


    ME. I usually earn just $450 a MONTH.

     

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  38.  
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    SunKing, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 5:26am

    "What qualifies you to discuss the merits of "the recording industry"?"

    What qualifies you to ask if someone is qualified? Wierd Harold is actually one of the BEST arguments AGAINST the recording industry. By adopting their beliefs and pushing them here he allows them to be, one by one, logically and systematically discredited time and time again. What better way of showing the truth can there be then soundly beating your opponent before the eyes of everyone? He has already exhausted all the stock industry lines and is plainly finding it difficult to continue playing devils advocate with any kind of sustained belief. Personally, I don't think he ever believed what he says anyway, he just likes playing the game. Quite useful though ;).

    @WH: Carefully manipulated and contrived radio call shows etc. are absolutely NOT the same as twitter etc. There is a far, far greater connection DIRECTLY to the fans with the 'new' marketing tools. It's more transparent and open and essentially more HONEST. Fans get this. They always did and always will and it's VALUABLE.

     

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  39.  
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    wheatus, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 10:56am

    SunKing

    "What qualifies you to ask if someone is qualified?"

    I am and a full time professional musician, singer, songwriter, recording engineer and producer. I own and operate 2 independent record companies here and in the UK.

    I have been fronting my band wheatus for 13 years now.

    I have been signed to a major label and major publisher and sold 3 million records world wide....I've also been on and off the road for the last 15 years.

    Aside from that...I guess I'm about as qualified to ask Harold what HIS qualifications are as any one else here.

    No worries though SunKing...I think we agree on most points.

    bbb
    wheatus.com

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    FQ, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 5:15pm

    Amanda Palmer may not be a name that rolls off everyone's tongue, but she is doing quite well for herself. I'm pretty sure she's not trying to be mainstream.

    But give her credit: Back in 2003 when she signed, she was prescient enough to exclude touring and merch sales from her record label contract, so she lives off that income while giving away free downloads of her album (which she sunk $80k of her own money into) on her website.

    Plus anytime you can pass a hat into a 300-person crowd, and get $1000 in voluntary contributions for your backup performers (5x$200), that says loads about your audience....

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Mojo Bone, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 11:25pm

    Re: in reply to Mojo Bone

    No worries, Hugh, and I do take your point, but do you know how much those actor/dancers would be paid for touring with a professional theatre company? ($600/wk and $30-$50 per diem) Do you know how much they make if Amanda doesn't weave them into a story that her fans will want to be part of? How much did they make on days when there was no show? And touring is different than the average weekend warrior bar gig I described, it's a twenty-four seven proposition, and in this particular case, no guarantees that the performers will even make enough scratch to get to the next gig, or home, if something goes awry. Some may see this as romantic. I don't.

    I won't bother with a , "That won't work for...fill in the blank." argument, but let's just say that my fans' involvement amounts to paying a cover and gettin pretty drunk and jes' maybe buying some merch cuz they seen the merch girl on Springer. Not sure how long we'd survive on the sort of food our fans eat, for that matter, and I doubt we'd get much sleep if they took us home, cuz they'd expect the party to continue unabated in the new location.

    It's not that I ain't happy for Amanda, and more power to her, but record companies do serve a purpose, and I think it's time they got back to that, instead of repackaging back catalog and shooting themselves in the foot.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Matt, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    Cue the 'isnt WH such a troll' troll... im starting to feel like tech dirt is becoming the 2nd house of harold.

    Many readers don't GAF about who makes the comment so long as the argument is intelligent and thoughtful. All you guys whinging about the 'noise' WH adds to this forum and saying so ON EVERY ARTICLE are doubling the amount of noise.

    Doesnt it get boring...

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re:

    1) this is her dancers, not the band itself. Not to say they only work during the concert, they also have travel time and probably help with all kinds of stuff.

    2) It's $200 a head, not split.

    3) After considering 1-3, I doubt Taco Bell is more profitable

     

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  44.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 8th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Music income

    If you want a career that pays a decent living, don't go into music, or train to be a music teacher.

    Otherwise, virtually anything you do will pay more than a career in a band or as a singer/songwriter.

    It's like saying that you want to play football because you hope to have a pro football career. The number of people who hit it big in sports is small. The number of people who hit it big in music is small.

    Whether you are signed to a major label or DIY yourself, chances are you'd have made more in another profession.

    It doesn't really make sense to me to talk about how much labels do for the average artist because (1) most artists won't get those deals anyway and (2) a lot of signed artists don't end up with sustainable careers.

    If we want to talk about music careers, we need to distinguish between superstars, signed artists who are not as well known, and unsigned artists.

    I have friends who have done extremely well with major labels. I have friends who have done well as unsigned artists. I have friends who will never make more than weekend money from music.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Daniel Gonzales, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Say Hello

    Hey lady love, do reconize me? From the drawing group at Pearl Street Studios Dorchester. Just wanted to say how nice it is to see someone I know make it. I would like to see one of your performances this year in Boston. Hope you reply to my e mail address with the next Boston performance. I'll drag Larry Pryor with me. Big Love to you and continued sucess. Peace Daniel

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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