How Amanda Palmer Built An Army Of Supporters: Connecting Each And Every Day, Person By Person

from the keep-at-it dept

Following the massive success of her Kickstarter experiment, we asked Amanda Palmer if she wanted to write a quick guest post about why she thought the offering was so successful. Here's what came back, including a bonus bit from Sean Francis, who has helped Amanda for years on the tech/social side of things.

There's a great story about how bamboo grows. A farmer plants a bamboo shoot underground, and waters and tends it for about three years. Nothing grows that's visible, but the farmer trots out there, tending to this invisible thing with a certain amount of faith that things are going to work out. When the bamboo finally appears above ground, it can shoot up to thirty feet in a month. This is like my kickstarter campaign. The numbers aren't shocking to me, not at all. I set the goal for the kickstarter at $100,000 hoping we'd make it quickly, and hoping we'd surpass it by a long-shot.

I've been tending this bamboo forest of fans for years and years, ever since leaving roadrunner records in 2009. Every person I talk to at a signing, every exchange I have online (sometimes dozens a day), every random music video or art gallery link sent to me by a fan that i curiously follow, every strange bed I've crashed on...all of that real human connecting has led to this moment, where I came back around, asking for direct help with a record. Asking EVERYBODY. Asking my poor fans to give a dollar, or if nothing else, to spread the link; asking my rich fans to loan me money at whatever level they can afford to miss it for a while.

And they help because they know I'm good for it. Because they KNOW me.

I've seen people complaining that this is easy for me to do because I got my start on a major label. It's totally true that the label helped me and my band get known. But after that, the future was up to me. It bought me nothing but a headstart, and I used it. I could have stopped working hard and connecting in 2009. If I'd done that, and then popped up out of nowhere in 2012 to kickstart a solo record in 2012, my album would probably get funded to the tune of $10k...if I was lucky. There are huge ex-major label artists (pointless to name names) who have tried the crowd-funding method and failed dramatically, mostly because they didn't have the online relationship with their fans to rely on. And vice versa: plenty of young upstarts with a small but devoted fanbase have kicked ass using crowdfunding, because they've taken a hands-on approach online and at shows, and have been close and connected with their fans ALL THIS TIME, while nobody was caring or watching.

I tweet all day. I share my life. My REAL life. The ugly things, the hard things. I monitor my blog religiously. I read the comments. I ask for advice. I answer questions. I fix problems. I take fans at their word when they see me at a show and tell me their vinyl arrived broken in the mail. I don't try to hide behind a veil of fame. I don't want to be anything more than totally human. I make mistakes, get called out, and apologize. I share my process. I ask for help SHAMELESSLY. I sleep at my fans houses. I eat with them. I read the books they write. I see their plays and dance performances, online and in real life. I back their own crowdfunding projects. I get rides home with them. I'm the kind of person they WANT to help, because they know me well enough, after years of connecting, to know WHO I ACTUALLY AM. They don't just get a photoshopped snapshot of my every time I have an album to promote. They see the three-dimensional person, in motion, in real-time. Living and working.

There is no marketing trick. There is human connection, and you can't fake it. It takes time and effort and, most importantly: you have to actually LIKE it, otherwise you'll be miserable.

We're entering the era of the social artist. It's getting increasingly harder to hide in a garret and lower your songs down in a bucket to the crowd waiting below, wrapped in a cloak of sexy mystery above. That was the 90s. Where an artist could be as anti-social as they wanted, and rack up cred left and right for shoe-gazing and detaching. It's over. The ivory tower of the mysterious artist has crumbled. If you're painfully shy and antisocial and hate tweeting and blogging and connecting and touring...and you really just want to write and sing music and be left alone, you can still succeed...if your music is BRILLIANT. But you better have a damn clever boyfriend, girlfriend or friend-manager to fight your battle for you and lift the megaphone in your name, because no longer will a huge, magical company scoop you up and do all the heavy lifting (or if they do, they'll charge you 100% of your income for the service).

I got asked today on Twitter: "why is an artist your size using kickstarter? shouldn't you leave crowdfunding to the peple who need it?"

I answered: all artists at every level (even the Gagas and Madonnas) have to somehow raise capital for their work, whatEVER level it's at. some artists go to labels/companies for the capital to fund albums & tours. Now artists (at any level) can go direct to their fans. The end.

The basic tenets of success in music are still true: have good songs, touch people, work hard. But as far as getting around from place to place... musicians are no longer traveling by limo with one-way glass protecting them from view. Now we're all going on foot, door to door, in the open sunshine... with the internet as our magical, time-space defeating sidewalk.

love,
amanda
@amandapalmer

ALSO:

Here's is a note from Sean Francis (@indecisean) , who's been working with me behind the scenes for over 5 years, helping me run my blog, socials, mailing list and general net-land:
The internet's been synonymous to Wild West'ian outlaws and lawlessness for so long, I think people forget that it's also got another REALLY appealing attribute: it's a giant safety net. And if you spend time nurturing and engaging the people holding that net, you KNOW you're going to get caught.

For several years, I've watched and aided, as Amanda's interwoven strategies predicated on those two things - pioneering and connection.

As new media has emerged, we've looked at how it'd be advantageous to her career, and in what ways it could be potentially beneficial to the fanbase... and as she's toured, written, recorded, and Twitter'd away, we were privately (and sometimes publicly) playing with puzzle pieces which are culminating in the release of this new album.

To get this right, Team AFP have spent hours on the phone and sent literally hundreds of emails, every week (sometimes daily)…and with the launch of our Kickstarter this past Monday, the public is seeing what several years of work can do.

When Amanda fell or misstepped in the process of trying to get this right, her net was there. And now that she's ready to do this on her terms, they still are.

Maybe it's a small collection of fans in some people's eyes - but it's a SOLID one - that believe in art and connection. And I'm watching it grow in size by the minute... not just monetarily, either.

While you were sleeping, Amanda Palmer built an army.


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    Chris ODonnell (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    Yes, but...

    But this can only work for artists willing to put in years of work to build up their fan base.

     

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      The eejit (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

      Re: Yes, but...

      IT's a job. Jobs mean work. Liking your job is merely a bonus.

       

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        :Lobo Santo (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re: Yes, but...

        Liking your job is merely a bonus.

        eeee! What a horrid thing to say!

        If you don't enjoy what you're doing, you've not yet settled into your career--keep plugging away and trying new things.

        Me, I love my job. For lots of reasons, and techdirt is only like, 6, of those reasons.

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

        Re: Re: Yes, but...

        Liking your job is merely a bonus


        I couldn't disagree more. Liking my job is a mandatory requirement. If I don't like the job, then it makes the rest of my life worse.

        I'd be happier being destitute than being tortured daily by a job that I don't like. I've taken several jobs that didn't pay nearly as well as others I could get simply because the work was very interesting.

        A job is work, yes, but if you enjoy it then it's also play.

         

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        TtfnJohn (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 9:46pm

        Re: Re: Yes, but...

        She loves her work, recognizes that part and the work it takes to be a successful musician either as an indie artist or one signed to a major label must be. In music you damned well better love your work because if you don't you won't survive Internet or no Internet.

        Until I retired, following and incident in which I was disabled I loved my work too. And the people I worked with. I did that work very, very well (if my job evaluations and customer feedback can be believed) largely because I enjoyed it and the challenges it brought me.

        The things I do well are the things I enjoy. I knew dick all about gardening 6 years ago and fell into it largely because I was bored to tears during recovery from open heart surgery. For some reason I found myself in the garden leaning how to do it, the basics of it, landscaping and a host of other things all of which I still love and enjoy. I do that well because I enjoy it. It's hard work at times, drives me crazy at other times and is immensely rewarding most of the time.

        I guess the key is that work, even hard work becomes something more like play when you enjoy and love it. A woman I'm doing some work for was watching me out of the window yesterday as I was clearing a particularly nasty weed out using a weed whacker attachment to my power head, then a pruning attachment cause it worked better and finally a tiller attachment to break up and mess up what was left of the roots all in the pouring rain, great big smile on my face, and having, from per perspective the time of my life out there. She wasn't far wrong.

        So I completely reject the notion of work as drudgery. If its drudgery then I don't perform well. If I like or love it then I perform well, learn more and just plain have fun. And yes, play.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    I think this is a brilliant example of Brené Brown's: The power of vulnerability lecture on vulnerability being the root of true human connection, and the artists that are opening themselves up to their fans and letting them see that they are human and vulnerable are reaping real rewards from it.

    Truly the birth of a golden age for the Arts.

     

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    Kyle Reynolds Conway (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    "There is no marketing trick."

    And just like that, the middlemen disappeared. Poof!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    I think this is a brilliant example of Brené Brown's: The power of vulnerability lecture on vulnerability being the root of true human connection, and the artists that are opening themselves up to their fans and letting them see that they are human and vulnerable are reaping real rewards from it.

    Truly the birth of a golden age for the Arts.

     

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    Joe Publius (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    The value of fans

    I were in music, writing, art, etc. a day wouldn't go by where I would be blown away by fans like that.

    I totally get that some people are shy, introverted, and find it hard or are not interested in finding ANY way of making that kind of connection with people. On the other hand, look what that connection can do!

     

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    Almost Anonymous (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    And the circle turns

    Great post Amanda!

    I really appreciate the fact that you mention sponsorship (without using the word). In the good old days (actually, bad old medieval days), wandering troubadours and minstrels would quite often have a rich sponsor (think noble lord or lady). While they would still travel around and sing for their supper, having a sponsor was a safety net and would usually ensure they would still eat even if a particular town or hamlet didn't care for their music. Looks like everything old is new again...

     

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    Alana (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 2:19pm

    Kickstarter is stealing money from the labels! /sarc

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Not only are they willing to use relevant media but also to drop, or discourage the ones they do not. Like this note about facebook groups for the house tours.

     

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    Pwdrskir (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 2:59pm

    Small Businesses

    This is exactly what the 28M small businesses in the US do everyday.

    They seek customers in multiple ways, provide a quality product and customer service to build a client base. They compete for eyeballs/ears which keeps them nimble and hungry. Capitalism at its best.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

    Cost of hiring a team?

    Key quote:
    To get this right, Team AFP have spent hours on the phone and sent literally hundreds of emails, every week

    Just how many young, independent artists starting on their career path do you think can hire and pay for a team to send hundreds of emails and make hundreds of phone calls? Oh, and while holding down a day job and writing and recording kick ass music.

     

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      Robert (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      Your assumption is the team is large.

      Team *could* be volunteer fans. Team could also be a group of individuals who are not out to maximize profits at all costs, but instead earn a decent living (and they do exist).

      You can also automate a great deal of the emails (automated phone calls are annoying and not a good bet) to sound relatively person. Answering unique emails, 20 a day, when it is your career to do that, you can make the time.

      For someone starting out, working a job, your fanbase won't be hundreds of emails each week.

      Again, if you know people who like artists, are technical, and who want to help artists starting out, yes you can create an effective team and still be affordable. You can even be more efficient than the artist, but this would be marketing, not fan-interaction replacement. That has to be up to the artist.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      Emails are easy just use any email manager(i.e. Evolution in Linux) and you can send one email to thousands of people, there are blogs that you can create to keep in touch and troll your own comment section. Bieber did just that and look where it got him :)

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 3:30pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      How to make your own YouTube background [HD Walkthrough]

      That could be the most important thing right now you could learn to make something interesting at $0 dollars.

      Open a channel in some video streaming website and work it.

       

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      E, May 4th, 2012 @ 6:28pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      true. but...

      of course it takes people behind the scenes to pull the strings. yes it frequently takes a lot of work to pull those strings to move a mountain so large. sure, people are in place- and doing all this work is their JOB. but isn't that true in EVERY FIELD? and for musicians...artists...indie or starving or loaded or fully staffed- it's not necessarily about cost. it's about finding the right people to work with. or work for you if that is the case.

      i've been in the music biz for nearly 10 years now. i started as fan who just wanted to help. i did street team work and stuffed envelopes to press people. for free. because i loved the band that had asked me to. and i believed in them.

      now i sit at a desk and manage a modest but successful indie artist. i'm not rich. but i don't starve. i type emails all day. because its my JOB. and i like my job. and i love the musician that asked me to. and i believe in them.

      and now younger people ask me how to get into the business...and i tell them the same thing i was told 10 years ago:
      -love music, go to shows
      -meet bands, talk to the kids down the street
      -carry their amps, sell their shirts, stuff their envelops (or rather hit send on their emails)
      -be good, do good work, work your ass off for a band you love, paid or unpaid.
      -you will work for some shitty bands you don't care about.
      -you will find the band you believe in, you will continue to do good work.
      -you won't remain unpaid forever.

      at this stage, sure, Amanda pays a team whether large or small to help her execute her vision. but she has paid her dues and done the time and has been at it for a while. she shouldn't HAVE to slog through all the behind the scenes work on her lonesome.

      of course musicians just starting out or those with smaller communities are not in the same position.

      but that is the beauty of harnessing the power of all these new web tools for artists: kickstarter, bandcamp, CASH Music, facebook, etc. whatever.

      now more than ever- artists can spend more time crafting their art and making music or sculpture or sand castles or mudpies or...while the team behind them crafts the nuts and bolts into the machine. whether a paid team or the kids from the house down the street that carry the amps and hit send on the emails.

      no artists should HAVE to spend the bulk of their time social networking. we need them to MAKE ART. and that's not the point (though clearly Amanda Palmer does social network a lot because she CARES and thats GREAT). but earning this mad loot on kickstarter will only make executing her vision that much easier. on her and her staff. further enabling her to bolster the community she has already created- while giving her the freedom to be...an artist.

      and for that. i salute her.

      kickstarter will not be the perfect fit for everyone. but we should support the artists who are finding new ways to beat an old system. it's only gonna get easier for future artists down the road if we start laying the pavement now.

       

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        TtfnJohn (profile), May 5th, 2012 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re: Cost of hiring a team?

        At least you know, then, that mountains are moved one shovelful at a time.

        As I said in my post there's this attraction between we techie types and musicians. So if you're a techie add to the list of things you've put down, all valid, offer to help out the band on their web site, getting videos onto YouTube and a hots of other things we techies know how to do.

        We have our own connections elsewhere too, say to highly skilled amateur and professional artists and videographers so we can help them to build their team, fans at first willing to do their little bit for free. Creative people helping other creative people, which goes on all the time. Maybe paid later on but we're not doing it as much for money as a chance to help out. Creative play, if you would, one step away from the things we must do to earn a living, but something we feel passionately about. This new band we've discovered.

        The band members would need to do social networking themselves other wise it would all look so fake and, well, RIAA like. Luckily there's a whole generation of kids and band members to whom social networking comes as naturally as breathing.

        Nothing's a perfect fit for everyone. Not every band or act succeeds any more than any of the rest of us gets to score a goal on a breakaway in a game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

        What IP maximalists fail to understand, at times, is that creativity is a shared experience not a solo one. Sharing and participating in the creative process, even outside our area of specialty, makes us more creative as well. Even in our "day" jobs. Imagine, for a moment, if gardeners didn't share with other gardeners and neighbours their secrets and knowledge. What an incredibly dull world we'd live in.

         

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      Karl (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 6:35pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      Just how many young, independent artists starting on their career path do you think can hire and pay for a team to send hundreds of emails and make hundreds of phone calls? Oh, and while holding down a day job and writing and recording kick ass music.

      How, exactly, do you think Amanda started out?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 9:30pm

        Re: Re: Cost of hiring a team?

        Did you read the article?
        She says quite frankly she got her start thru a regular record label. She admits it gave her a head start.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 11:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Cost of hiring a team?

          She says quite frankly she got her start thru a regular record label. She admits it gave her a head start.


          You might want to look at how big of a following she had prior to signing a record deal. Claiming she's only a success because of the label would be a faulty assumption.

           

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          Karl (profile), May 5th, 2012 @ 1:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Cost of hiring a team?

          Did you read the article?

          I have been acquainted with Amanda personally, since well before she was signed to a label. The label is not how she "got her start." It's not really how she got popular, either - she and Brian were selling out major Boston venues well before they signed with Roadrunner.

          Emily White (former Dresden Dolls tour manager) talks about it here:
          http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2009/07/an-insiders-view-of-amanda-palmers-success.html

          The gist of it:
          And because of that decision [to sign with Roadrunner], the band did receive pockets of radio success in markets like St. Louis and Arizona. The attendance at those shows spiked in 2006 when a few Dolls songs were receiving airplay. Awesome, right? Well, now it's 2009 and we've returned to some of those markets. Many of those radio fans don't turn up anymore. Yet, the hardcores or "1000 true fans" are still there, just like they have been since they organically founded The Dresden Dolls back in the day. They still line up outside for hours, know every word of every song (whether or not it has been released), and wait around for Amanda's autograph. They don't need a top down marketing plan to tell them what to like. And who are the new hardcore Dolls/ Amanda fans? They are the younger siblings and friends of the original fans, who continue to spread the gospel about an artist who's work they love so much they can't not talk about.

          More details here:
          http://flavorwire.com/22094/exclusive-amanda-palmer-on-why-dresden-dolls-are-over-and-roadrun ner-is-out

          I could provide even more links, but I think you can get the point.

           

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          AFP Apologist, May 5th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: Cost of hiring a team?

          Actually, waaaay back in the day, she started out as a street performer. By choice. If she hadn't been signed to Roadrunner Records, she still would've been busting her balls for the sake of her art, and seeing as how she's managed to maintain/embiggen her business so well since she's been dropped, I'd wager that she would've "made it" (however you want to define that) all on her own anyway.

           

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 10:13pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      Techies and musicians seem to have a bond despite the appearance of doing vastly different kinds of work. Most tech work is, by it's nature creative and music is clearly creative. Add to that the truism that people inside the tech industry can actually play one or more instruments and the reason for the bond becomes clearer.

      My own experience is that people in high tech will freely, as in cost to the emerging musician give their time, design and build web sites, built and support email managers located on their site, and much more. One creative person lending a hand to another.

      This reduces the work away from their music and the vital part of person to person contact with fans. It doesn't eliminate it. The musician still makes the calls and no one just starting out is making hundreds of calls a day or composing hundreds of emails. The ones I've worked with have a stock list we've built up of emails that the management software on their web site personalizes and sends out most of which I vet.

      At the beginning the team is just two, the artist and me. If they start to have more and more success then that's the time to consider hiring someone for some tasks and perhaps replace me. Though most of the time even then the costs of the team are very low.

      Of course there are no hundreds of emails or phone calls at the start, that comes later. Most of the team, as it grows are fans doing it for nothing.

      It's far too common to over estimate the cost a this pint in an artist's career of this sort of support. The music is vital, of course, and so is the personal relationship between the artist and their fans which absolutely must be there.

      If it all lines up then early on for the artist the cost is very low if not a net zero cost.

      Amanda Palmer is far beyond that stage though I'd wager her costs aren't has high as some people imagine.

       

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      vermilingua, May 5th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      At the beginning when you have a smaller fan base, you don't need a team! Putting together a newsletter and a encouraging fans to sign on to it to get updates from you is not *that* time-consuming –– but it does take effort and it's well worth it. If you don't have the money, you need twice the wits. The information is out there.

       

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      vermilingua, May 5th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      At the beginning when you have a smaller fan base, you don't need a team! Putting together a newsletter and a encouraging fans to sign on to it to get updates from you is not *that* time-consuming –– but it does take effort and it's well worth it. If you don't have the money, you need twice the wits. The information is out there.

       

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      vermilingua, May 5th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Cost of hiring a team?

      At the beginning when you have a smaller fan base, you don't need a team! Putting together a newsletter and a encouraging fans to sign on to it to get updates from you is not *that* time-consuming –– but it does take effort and it's well worth it. If you don't have the money, you need twice the wits. The information is out there.

       

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    awa, May 4th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    Age of the Social Artist

    All the kudos to Amanda Palmer and those like her who have cultivated relationships with so many people. That is to be applauded and shines the light on a path to freedom to many artists who would have been previously shackled to the control of others. However, at the risk of appearing to be a sad hand-wringer, I can't but lament that the "age of the social artist" has the ring of something vaguely unsettling about it, as though success in the arts will be determined largely (though not necessarily entirely) by those who are most social. This sounds like junior high school. Many of the greats, particularly in the arts, were decidedly un- (if not anti-) social. Does the age of the social artist auger the age in which the "cool kids" trump? Then again, every age has its mythologies and illusions that favor some over others, sometimes deservedly and sometimes not. Why should this age be any different? The popular kids may rule, but perhaps everyone else will still have more routes to freedom.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 5th, 2012 @ 8:55am

      Re: Age of the Social Artist

      Many of the greats, particularly in the arts, were decidedly un- (if not anti-) social.

      I've run into this a lot. In fact, I have wondered if many musicians get into music because they don't have or don't want the social skills to pursue something else.

      So in a situation where cultivating fans socially adds to success, they are at a disadvantage.

      Palmer is exceptional in the degree to which she seems to genuinely like interacting with her fans and the energy she has to do so. The more I follow Palmer, the more I think no one else can do what she is doing. She is very unique.

       

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    But but... paywall, and... begging!

     

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    JustMe (profile), May 4th, 2012 @ 4:40pm

    Amanda's Twitter question

    Full disclosure: I'm somewhat of a fan. I funded Amanda and Neil's fireside chat tour thingy on Kickstarter a couple of months ago and have already pledged for her album.

    The Twitter guy doesn't get it - at all. Kickstarter is indeed a great way for artists to make a connection with fans but it isn't about starving artists. It is a SPECTACULAR way for fans to Vote With Their Dollars/Euros/Yen/giant rocks (Rai stones) and it is about making personal connections, as Amanda says. In my very recent history I have both the Pebble E-Paper watch ($8,500,000) and Bob Bernard and Kailin Yong's "Harvest Queen" ($3,478). Obviously they are very different projects, but both people had compelling stories and offered me value for my money.

    I'm a proud user of Kickstarter because I get to connect with people like Amanda in a way that can never happen with a 'major label artist' because the labels can't afford to allow any external input.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 6:34pm

    "We're entering the era of the social artist. It's getting increasingly harder to hide in a garret and lower your songs down in a bucket to the crowd waiting below, wrapped in a cloak of sexy mystery above."

    love that sentence

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2012 @ 11:54pm

    All this, and I can only imagine how popular she would be if she actually had some people supporting her with real marketing and real networking and all that.

    She had the potential to be a superstar, lost in many ways.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2012 @ 12:42am

      Re:

      Why do people have to be superstars to be considered successful?

       

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      TtfnJohn (profile), May 5th, 2012 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      Superstars tend to create themselves, often despite labels. To retell a very old story Polygram has to be dragged almost kicking and screaming to sign The Beatles after insisting that the days of guitar bands were over.

      Of course, the Beatles had a huge following already from endless playing in playing bars, basements and any other locations they could find or Brian Epstein could find to stuff them into. the social networking of the day.

      The major contribution of the label was to put them in touch with George Martin to produce them, an artist as talented and open minded as Lennon/McCartney were.

      Beatlemania exploded on its own. The label essentially leaned back and raked in the cash. Underpaying the band as they went. (See George Harrison's "Only A Northern Song".) Until the day he died Brian Epstein remained fully in control of promotion, marketing and bookings of "his" band. Not to mention demanding and getting a much better deal from the label.

      You're over estimating the influence of labels where true superstars are concerned. That popularity is the result of the artist themselves.

       

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 5th, 2012 @ 8:17am

    How do the collaborations work?

    I've posted this elsewhere on Techdirt and also on Hypebot. Palmer is so good at sharing her experiences I'm hoping she'll elaborate on this:
    __

    Since the beginning of Kickstarter, I have been curious about how cross-media collaborators share or don't share in whatever money is raised.

    If, for example, a musician is offering something as a reward that the musician didn't make him or herself, does he contract for it, creating a work-for-hire arrangement (e.g., he hires someone to make a design for a t-shirt and then owns the design and can sell multiples)?

    Or does the musician team up with others and they share in the income in some fashion? And if they share in it, how do they decide what each earns? Do they split it up equally? Do they get different amounts, depending on how much each contributes? And if that, how do they decide? By the amount of time put in? By the commercial going rate? By how much "fame" each brings to the project?

    Amanda Palmer has multiple people contributing to her Kickstarter project which is why I am focusing on this particular project (plus she is very open about her business, so I hope she will share info). I'm curious what was the arrangement going to be if they just hit their goal and what's the arrangement now that they have greatly exceed their goal. Was there an original agreement to pay a certain amount to create a design, and then a profit-sharing agreement if the Kickstarter raised more money than the initial goal?

    There's been so little discussion of music/multi-collaboration income sharing that I've wondered how various people divide it up. In some cases, the musicians may be hoping that the artists/photographers/graphic artists are donating their contributions in exchange for exposure, but if they are, I'm guessing that if the project is very successful, the volunteers are going to want some compensation, even if they don't think about it until after the fact.

    And I think one of the interesting aspects of Kickstarter is the transparency. People can see how much money is coming in for each project. So if the various collaborators on the project didn't work out an agreement beforehand but now see how much money is coming in, they may adjust their terms accordingly.

    Let's say, for example, you were going to cut a musician a break because he had no money. But then he raised $300,000 on Kickstarter. I'm going to guess that now you know he has money, you won't feel the necessity to give him your work for free or at a rock bottom price.

     

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    Kevin Clark, May 5th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

    This is the arts economy

    And it does work on the audience, the fan, the commitment. The "Social Artist" is a great phrase - I think one of the great things Amanda does is incorporate the audience into the art. The music is certainly kick-ass, but if you just listened to her records, wouldn't you be missing something?

     

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    Frubs, May 6th, 2012 @ 1:07am

    why is an artist your size using kickstarter?

    'I got asked today on Twitter: "why is an artist your size using kickstarter? shouldn't you leave crowdfunding to the peple who need it?'

    That thought sort of occured to me, but I didn't quite understand what was going on here. Is it really the place of the fans to fund records being made? Isn't that down to the artist? Why are we paying twice? Especially when it's someone already established?

    But we aren't paying twice, we're paying once - it's just the money is doing more.

    It's worth noting that when you donate to the kickstarter, you *are* crowdfunding to help get the new record out - i.e helping to source the funds in the place of a record label; marketting, producing etc.

    But you're also getting the record in some form (the lowest amount donated still gets you a digital download of the album when released; higher donations get CD, vinyl etc).

    I.e you're paying for the record while simultaneously helping fund its existence.

    EVERYBODY WINS.

    This is an awesome idea and I wonder why it hasn't been done before. I really hope it catches on.

     

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    Simon, May 15th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Revolutions

    There's one gigantic shovel that helped moved this mountain that no one has mentioned yet: her husband, Neil Gaiman (arguably the most successful author on the planet) and their very public relationship, shared with fans via Twitter, etc. All the little personal touches are fine and dandy, but Neil is her biggest supporter and his fans go where he goes and I've no doubt her Kickstarter wouldn't have reached that huge huge number if it weren't for his (and their combined fans') involvement. This is not said to diminish Amanda's talent or determination one iota, Neil's aid is incidental, but it is a happy incidental.

    I'm curious, though, what happens once the product is delivered: it won't be embraced by the larger label-led community (radio stations, iTunes and similar download sites), since what Palmer does and how she does it is a threat to them, and while you may hear her on Sirius now and then, she's not a staple artist - she's still considered 'fringe' by the mainstream (which still exists, like it or not) and, unless she gets a shot at performing on SNL as a musical act (with Neil hosting? Gosh), she's not likely to hit the 'mainstream' any other way.

    Yes, this is the new age of the online/social artist, and I love Amanda's take on how it can be done (goodbye, talent agent) and I hope it is the beginning of the end of the mainstream, but that involves taking down Hollywood, TV, etc. etc. So long as audiences still pour hundreds of millions into attending The Avengers, spend their evenings voting on America's Big Talent Show, ignore traffic while texting and pout on Facebook, the greater change that needs to happen is held in check. The dam is cracking, but holding. What will send the flood through?

    Just off a bit, this economic downturn has had its place in the story as well and the nightmare of it (ignored in the mainstream, but heavily reported on independent sites and Twitter), the rise of Occupy, while the 'mainstream' of politics continues to stand for the 1%, the financial industry, while squeezing the life out of the average citizen (in the UK, the dismantling of the NHS is going to HURT LIKE HELL), the Arab Spring, all these things are adding up, piling up and there's only one (historical) end for it: revolution. One can only hope it's the Amanda Palmers of this world that lead the gentle armies to a better future.

     

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    JOJO, Jul 15th, 2012 @ 3:53pm

    S.C.I.E.N.T.O.L.O.G.Y Amanda Palmer is a SCIENTOLOGIST and that is why she got money. Palmer is untalented and incapable of writing a descent song or hitting a note, she seems to be bipolar or mentally impaired. After a series of bizarre marketing moves that range from sexting and making racist remarksinvolving the KKK she now decides to mock the disabled. Amanda Palmer isn’t interesting, just a desperate joke. Amanda Palmer should be in a mental ward, not on a stage. Palmer is the product of a Sea Org family who married into the higher ranking Scientology Gaiman family. She gives millions to the cult of Scientology.

     

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    Andrew Hotta (profile), Aug 28th, 2012 @ 11:32pm

    Hey there, it looks like you have a fine stuff currently! I really appreciate your work. Keep Positing!!

     

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