Amanda Palmer Connects With Fans, Gives 'Em A Reason To Buy… And Makes $19k In 10 Hours
from the that's-the-way-to-do-it dept
We keep talking about artists who are connecting with fans, and giving them a reason to buy, and it seems like every day we hear of more and more new and creative ways that artists are doing this — even as the naysayers stop by daily to insist it’s impossible for such things to scale. It’s a blast to see it scale more and more every day and prove them wrong. The latest example comes from Amanda Palmer — who we’ve written about a few times before. She’s the singer who has been fighting with her major record label (Warner Music’s Roadrunner) for not just being a pain to deal with, but for making it harder for her to both connect with fans and give them reasons to buy. For example, she got caught in Warner’s stubborn decision to fight YouTube over payments, and had all her videos taken down from YouTube against her wishes. So, at a concert, she told fans to upload the video to YouTube as she sang a song begging her label to drop her.
But, even as she’s stuck on the major label, she’s shown that by connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, they absolutely will support her. Back in April, we wrote about how she got her fans to help support the backup dancers on the tour, since they had no money to pay them, but the fans came through with money/food/lodging.
However, now she’s going much further, much of it using Twitter to closely connect with fans. She recently explained three separate experiments, all done on a whim this month, which allowed her to bring in $19,000, and all of which show those same basic characteristics: connect with fans and give them a reason to buy. The story is so good that I ended up including the whole thing, because it’s too good not to read — but check out Amanda’s site directly.
this story has just been blowing people’s minds so i figures i should write it down.
FRIDAY NIGHT LOSERS T-SHIRT, $11,000
about a month ago, i was at home on a friday night (loser that i often am when i’m not touring, i almost never go out) and was, of course, on my mac, shifting between emails, links and occasionally doing some dishes and packing for a trip the next day. just a usual friday-night-rock-star-multi-tasking extravaganza.
i twitter whenever i’m online, i love the way it gives me a direct line of communication with my fans and friends.
i had already seen the power of twitter while touring…using twitter i’d gathered crowds of sometimes 200 fans with a DAY’S notice to come out and meet me in public spaces (parks, mostly) where i would play ukulele, sign, hug, take pictures, eat cake, and generally hang out and connect. this was especially helpful in the cities where we’d been unable to book all-ages gigs and there were crushed teenagers who were really grateful to have a shot at connecting with me & the community of amanda/dolls fans.
i’d also been using twitter to organize ACTUAL last-minute gigs…i twittered a secret gig in LA one morning and about 350 folks showed up 5 hours later at a warehouse space….i played piano, filmed by current.tv, and then (different camera crew) did an interview with afterellen.com.
the important thing to undertsand here is that the fans were never part of the plan..,i basically just INVITED my fans to a press day, the press didnt’ plan it…i did.
i was going to be playing in an empty room and doing q&a with afterellen on a coach with only the camera watching.
it was like….why not tell people and do this in a warehouse instead of a hotel lobby or a blank studio? so i did.
it cost me almost nothing. the fans were psyched.
but back to the bigger, cooler story….
so there i am, alone on friday night and i make a joke on twitter (which goes out to whichever of my 30,000 followers are online):
“i hereby call THE LOSERS OF FRIDAY NIGHT ON THEIR COMPUTERS to ORDER, motherfucker.”
9:15 PM May 15th from web
one thing led to another, and the next thing you know there were thousands of us and we’d become the #1 topic trend on twitter.
zoe keating described it as a “virtual flash mob”.
the way twitter works (if you don’t have it) is that certain topics can include a hashtag (#) and if a gazillion people start making posts that include that hashtag, the topic will zoom up the charts of what people are currently discussing. it’s a cool feature.
so anyway, there we were, virtually hanging out on twitter on a friday night. very pleased with ourselves for being such a large group, and cracking jokes.
how do you “hang out” on the internet? well, we collectively came up with a list of things that the government should do for us (free government-issued sweatpants, pizza and ponies, no tax on coffee), AND created a t-shirt.
thank god my web guy sean was awake and being a loser with me on friday night because he throw up the webpage WHILE we were having our twitter party and people started ordering the shirts – that i designed in SHARPIE in realtime) and a slogan that someone suggested: “DON’T STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN FOR WHAT’S WRONG”. neil gaiman and wil wheaton joined our party. the fdnas felt super-special.
by the end of the night, we’d sold 200 shirts off the quickie site (paypal only) that sean had set up.
i blogged the whole story the next day and in total, in the matter of a few days, we sold over 400 shirts, for $25/ea.
we ended up grossing OVER $11,000 on the shirts.
my assistant beth had the shirts printed up ASAP and mailed them from her apartment.
total made on twitter in two hours = $11,000.
total made from my huge-ass ben-folds produced-major-label solo album this year = $0
WEBCAST AUCTION, $6000
a few nights after that, i blogged and twittered, announcing a “webcast auction” from my apartment.
it went from 6 pm – 9 pm, my assitant beth sat at my side and kept her eyes on incoming bids and twitter feed.
while we hocked weird goods, i sang songs and answered questions from fans. we wore kimonos and drank wine. it was a blast.
people on twitter who were tuned in re-tweeted to other fans. the word spread that it was a fun place to be and watch.
we had, at peak, about 2000 people watching the webcast.
at the suggestion of a fan early in the webcastm anyone could, on demand, send us $20 via paypal and we would chew,
sign and mail them a postcard. we sold about 70, and we read all those names at the end of the webcast and thanked those
people for supporting us. here’s how the sales broke down:
all the items were signed by moi and hand-packed by beth and kayla._ the items and highest bidders were as follows:_ hilary, ukulele used on the european tour: $640 _jake, “guitar hero” plastic guitar controller used in album promo shoot: $250_ lary b, copy neo2 magazine, plus two post-war trade slap-bracelets & a crime-photo set: $230_ devi, glass dildo, with subtley-sordid backstory: $560 _liz b., “hipsters ruin everything” t-shirt, made by blake (get your very own here!!!!): $155.55_shannon m., my bill bryson book, a short history of neary everything: $280_ nikki, huge metal “the establishment” sign, used at rothbury festival for the circus tent i curated: $450 _j.r., purple velvet “A” dress used in the dresden dolls coin-operated boy video shoot: $400_ jessie & alan: who killed amanda palmer vinyl: $100_ nikki: wine bottle, auctioned BY REQUEST!!! $320 _shannon w., torn-to-shit vintage stockings used in the who killed amanda palmer/ michael pope video series: $200 _jodi,
school-note-book break-up letter, written to amanda from jonas woolverton in 7th grade (i still haven’t emailed him about that….): $250_ daryl, ANOTHER wine bottle, by request, that we had LYING AROUND: $320
reto emailed, having barely missed the wine bottle, and asked us to send him “something funny” for $129.99. we sent a heath ledger statuette.
total made on twitter in 3 hours, including the postcards, was over $6000.
again, total made on my major-label solo album this year: $0
TWITTER DONATION-ONLY GIG, $1800
a few days later, i twittered a guest-list only event in a recording studio in boston, to take place a week later.
the gig lasted about 5 hours, all told, with soundcheck and signing. i took mostly requests and we had a grand old time.
first come, first served. the first 200 people to ask got in, for free. i asked for donations and made about $2200 in cash.
i gave $400 back to the studio for the space and the help. we sold some weird merch. i think we should call it an even 2k.
total made at last-minute secret twitter gig, in about 5 hours = $2000
major-label record blah blah blah = $0
…..and for fun, and to thank my fans for being awesome, i’ve been doing some twitter perfomance art, including answering their questions by magic-markering my body until it’s covered, and displaying time-lapse make-up application advice….but that’s another story.
TOTAL MADE THIS MONTH USING TWITTER = $19,000
TOTAL MADE FROM 30,000 RECORD SALES = ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
turn on, tune in, get dropped!!!!!
amanda fucking palmer
There are so many different examples buried in there of both connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, it’s worth reading multiple times. So, go on, naysayers in the comments. Point out, yet again, why this is the exception, and explain why other artists can never do their own creative means of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. We’ll chuckle, and watch as more and more figure it out.