The Details Behind Amanda Palmer's Amazing Impromptu Music Video

from the connecting-with-fans dept

On Friday, we posted a guest post from singer Amanda Palmer, all about her thoughts on connecting with fans. If you didn’t get a chance to read the whole thing, at the end she included a music video that she did. However, the story behind that music video is so good that it deserves a separate post of its own. We already know that Amanda has been a big fan of using Twitter to reach out to fans, and she did exactly that in this case — but not to film a video. Just to hold an impromptu “flash gig” on the beach with two days’ notice. Cool idea. Other bands should try that as well.

And then… one of her fans suggested the morning of the gig that she learn this song by Cat Stevens. So she did. And she went to the beach and a bunch of her fans showed up and she played some music and everyone was happy. And then they realized that the setting was great to film a music video. One of the people there was Danna Kinsky, who hardly knew Amanda, but is a filmmaker, and had her camera. Another person there was Lindsey Barnes, a photographer, who agreed to shoot some photos of the group. And, with the help of Kirsten Vangsness to corral and organize people, they created an impromptu music video…

The whole thing was thought up, organized and completed in 20 minutes. There was some after the fact editing and sound work, which appears to have taken a few weeks, but the end result is really amazing. It’s a better music video than an awful lot of expensive professional music videos… and it was a spur of the moment thing. As the video notes at the end, musicians shouldn’t fear Twitter, but learn to embrace it:

It’s really an amazing example of what you can do by connecting with fans. We’re so thrilled that Amanda is taking part in our CwF + RtB experiment, that this week’s special promo is that you can just buy her book and CD by itself (the book is signed by both Amanda and Neil Gaiman), or for a little bit more, you can also buy the whole Techdirt Music Club and get a bunch of other stuff as well. If you just want the Amanda Palmer stuff separate from The Music Club, it’s only available until midnight August 10th, so don’t miss out…

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The Details Behind Amanda Palmer's Amazing Impromptu Music Video”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
50 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Sean, actually, #2 is relevant. CwF is important, but when you have connected, don’t you want to push your product (your music) rather than someone else’s work? Of all the music that Amanda Facepalm Palmer wrote in her career, this is the one the fans felt would give the best connection?

It isn’t exactly simple.

Oh yeah, your #3 is sort of true as well. Mike is working very, very hard to promote his little club, dedicating about 1 in 10 posts to promote it. It’s almost comical at this point, it’s not CwF, as much as making fans tired of the shilling of the “product”. But hey, his blog, his way, whatever.

pjhenry1216 (profile) says:

I’ll admit, Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman were the main reasons I purchased the Music Club. I’m not upset about the purchase, but I have to say that I may have purchased only this if it were available at the time. Just goes to show how much I was willing to spend to get something of that nature. Fans really will go above and beyond retail prices for something that they consider valuable. When NIN had its ultra deluxe limited edition release of Ghosts I-IV, I jumped on that as well. Whilst there are few folks I’d dish out that much money for something, those few I’d spend quite a bit on.

I have to admit, I am looking forward to the other artists’ offerings in the group as I’m not extremely familiar with any of them.

Albert Nonymouse says:

What does Yusuf Islam have to say about this?

Will he sue because it’s a violation of his “intellectual property” or is he cool with it because it all “hippie” and stuff?

Just asking. I like the video just fine, but since it was a tune that is under “copyright”, I couldn’t help thinking that if Coldplay and Joe Satriani could accidentally (or deliberately and maliciously) “steal” the music of Mr. Yusuf Islam, what does the future hold for Ms. Palmer?

Is he cool with it and all is well? Does she have a deal to feed him the royalties he is due?

Or is this a big “f**k you”, Mr. CopyRight I. Property – We just sang this song because we love it and you should be happy we remember your work.

I honestly don’t know what to think about this.

Interested Reader says:

Re: What does Yusuf Islam have to say about this?

If I’m not mistaken, you can cover songs by other artists, you just can’t claim them to be your own. That’s the problem with Coldplay and Joe Satriani. Coldplay claims “Viva La Vida” as an original song and Joe Satriani says they stole the riffs from his song “If I Could Fly”.

I think I’ve heard several artists speak about covers in the past, and as long as they don’t claim it to be an original song, it’s fair game.

I could be wrong but I believe that’s what I’ve heard.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Will there be a backlash?

I’ve cited Palmer myself a number of times. She’s very good at what she does. But given the way PR tends to work, is there a chance citing her endless times as the “new music business model” will start to work against her? There’s a certain level of fatigue that sets in when people hear about one artist over and over again.

Any thoughts? And I’m not inviting the trolls to comment. I’m interested in hearing from people who follow music PR and music news closely. I follow the pre and post-SXSW coverage each year. So many bands are talked about heavily around that time and then they seem to disappear from sight in six months. So there’s a certain risk in being the buzz band of the moment.

Is there an equivalent risk in being the tech-buzz-artist of the moment?

Lucretious (profile) says:

Re: Will there be a backlash?

There’s a certain level of fatigue that sets in when people hear about one artist over and over again.

really, people are still buying that regurgitated written-by-committee shit that Britney Spears puts out despite that “fatigue” you’ve stated.

I’m curious as to what the limit will be for someone as talented and much less annoying as Palmer.

There’s another aspect that never gets addressed here but I imagine some of these musicians are doing it because they’re artists. Most are happy to just pay the rent and have enough food for the week so they continue doing what they do….creating. It’s enough.

Yeah, it’s hippy shit but not everyone is out to make a million. thank christ.

R. Miles (profile) says:

Re: Re: In addition to being a member of the alphabet connection...

OH! I forgot I had Adblock Plus!
[stands to give a standing ovation for such a stupid, stupid reply]
Gee, as though 90% of visitors to this site wouldn’t know about this handy little add-on.

But what about those who don’t use Firefox, genius?

My request was for those users. Given your brain’s inherent problem (memory issues already? Get help!), it’s no wonder you skipped the point of my post.

See you around, although you won’t remember me.

Debunked says:

This story doesn't add up...

Mike quote
“And then they realized that the setting was great to film a music video. One of the people there was Danna Kinsky, who hardly knew Amanda, but is a filmmaker, and had her camera. Another person there was Lindsey Barnes, a photographer, who agreed to shoot some photos of the group. And, with the help of Kirsten Vangsness to corral and organize people, they created an impromptu music video…

The whole thing was thought up, organized and completed in 20 minutes.”

I’m sorry but count me as a little skeptical about this story line that, magically in 20 minutes a videographer, and stage manager and the lighting is perfect and it all just came together.

Details that don’t add up
1. There is a guy with a tuba- sure that’s what I would take to the beach with no planning
2. People have those fake picture frames that HP or someone used in ads. Sure that’s what I grab as I head off to the beach or a beach concert!
3. I am sure that I would have so many helium balloons that a heavy helium tank would have to be hauled to the beach with no premeditation

I am sure people here can find lots of other examples of premeditation to counter the above kool-aid mythology of it all just happened.

***As a footnote, The video is fine I just don’t like to be led on about no premeditation. Just trying to have some fun here and get everyone to wake up their powers of observation.***

indeciSEAN (profile) says:

Re: This story doesn't add up...

such a detective, you are!

still, i gotta give you credit for managing to find something i hadn’t preemptively put down above.

in all fairness though, you’re apparently not a fan of amanda (or at least haven’t seen her live/followed her career too much) so let me explain:
amanda attracts people of all types, shapes, and sizes. many of those people are artistic (musicians, actors, performance artists, writers, etc), and many of them love the opportunity to “put on their costume” and bond with like-minded folks…when she puts out a call to head to the beach and “see what happens” (often how she plays her shows, too) people are gonna bring random stuff (i.e. tuba, frames, balloons, etc.)

in the past when amanda has done random twitter gatherings, it’s been a chillier affair….rainy afternoons before a gig, during the winter/spring thaw, etc…even then people showed up with instruments and oddities. it doesn’t surprise me one bit that in california people poured in with fun junk.

in regards to the “lighting”? you’ve gotta admit california has “perfect weather”……in the times i’ve been to LA (and to the beach) it’s looked almost identical to that at around 4 or 5…….the only thing “planned” in that department is that you can count on it looking like that daily and it’s a good time of day to do that kind of thing. people are out of work/school, it’s not too hot, and it’s not too dark to see anyone.

i’m not trying to say “amanda palmer is INFALLIBLE” (and i apologize if i’m coming off like that) i just don’t feel there’s too much to be gained from being so cynical. it’s not a video of the loch ness mosnter, and there (from what i can tell) are a few dozen people in that video who could verify and account for it being what it was: spontaneous fun that turned into something cool.

indeciSEAN (profile) says:

Re: This story doesn't add up...

such a detective, you are!

still, i gotta give you credit for managing to find something i hadn’t preemptively put down above.

in all fairness though, you’re apparently not a fan of amanda (or at least haven’t seen her live/followed her career too much) so let me explain:
amanda attracts people of all types, shapes, and sizes. many of those people are artistic (musicians, actors, performance artists, writers, etc), and many of them love the opportunity to “put on their costume” and bond with like-minded folks…when she puts out a call to head to the beach and “see what happens” (often how she plays her shows, too) people are gonna bring random stuff (i.e. tuba, frames, balloons, etc.)

in the past when amanda has done random twitter gatherings, it’s been a chillier affair….rainy afternoons before a gig, during the winter/spring thaw, etc…even then people showed up with instruments and oddities. it doesn’t surprise me one bit that in california people poured in with fun junk.

in regards to the “lighting”? you’ve gotta admit california has “perfect weather”……in the times i’ve been to LA (and to the beach) it’s looked almost identical to that at around 4 or 5…….the only thing “planned” in that department is that you can count on it looking like that daily and it’s a good time of day to do that kind of thing. people are out of work/school, it’s not too hot, and it’s not too dark to see anyone.

i’m not trying to say “amanda palmer is INFALLIBLE” (and i apologize if i’m coming off like that) i just don’t feel there’s too much to be gained from being so cynical. it’s not a video of the loch ness mosnter, and there (from what i can tell) are a few dozen people in that video who could verify and account for it being what it was: spontaneous fun that turned into something cool.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This story doesn't add up...

I think the problem is that even to the untrained eye, this isn’t 20 minutes. This is some planning. To have the cameras, to have the people, to hit the sunset. Heck, LA nothing is 20 minutes away (except maybe the street corner). She didn’t learn the song in 5 minutes. All of it adds up to a more well planned event, all set up to take advantage of the number of people in the area on twitter, add in some fairly obvious plants, have everything ready to do, and for those fans who did come as a result of the tweet, they have an experience that appears to be spontaneous.

It’s called marketing. Amanda Facepalm Palmer is good at that, it seems.

Debunked says:

Smoking Gun did not learn song that morning

Mike quote:
“* The song itself was learned that morning “

Then how would you explain a quick YouTube search where there is posted Amanda singing the same exact song dated 6/10/09 and wearing a totally different outfit (312 views). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAgTSIepxD4

The date on the YouTube video Mike posted above is 7/1/09.

I think there is some myth making going on here. I understand you are just going by what is presented to you but this was as carefully scripted event as the parade that magicly forms in Disneyworld seemingly out of the blue.

If you are going to report what other people say then start it off with something like “according to Amanda…” rather than give it so much weight as if you had researched it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Smoking Gun did not learn song that morning

Not my point – my point is she is doing the exact same performance over and over again, in “flash mob” situations that look just a little too set up. It appears to be much more of a pre-rehearsed and well setup marketing ploy, and not anything particularly spontaneous.

PLus it is called “Amanda Palmer Ninja Beach Meet-Up #2” – Hmmm.

http://www.polyvore.com/amanda_palmer_ninja_beach_party/set?id=10413886

“We were supposed to wear formal/prom wear and bring crazy props”

Hmmm. Spontaneous indeed!

indeciSEAN (profile) says:

Re: Smoking Gun did not learn song that morning

and if you’re going to naysay and point fingers about “mythmaking” you need to take 2.2 seconds and have links that back up your facts

you’re not paying very good attention and the info in said video you linked to as it points out that it was recorded the same day as the above “music vid”

the video is labeled 6/10 i.e. 6 out of 10 videos……nowhere did i see 6/10/09. don’t come huffing and puffing based on your sheer distaste of mike/amanda…do YOUR research

and by the by, i apologize in advance if i somehow got confused….i mean……it makes total sense i might’ve….and that the same uploader has a magic calendar wherein they saw tegan and sara play a show on “15/22” whenever the hell that falls in the calendar year

Anonymous Coward says:

In the end, there is enough here to suggest that the story as given (organized in 20 minutes) isn’t really truthful. It’s all marketing, nothing more. The myth of the flash mob is replaced by the reality of people getting warning far ahead, getting told what to wear, etc. Then Amanda takes the act on the road and repeats it in other placed. Spontaneous things don’t keep happening exactly the same way over and over again.

What is funny in the end it is likely Techdirt and Mike that have been “PNW3D”, becoming the unwitting accomplices that help to make the myths “real” by giving them coverage.

JJ says:

Re: Re:

> In the end, there is enough here to suggest that the story as given (organized in 20 minutes) isn’t really truthful.

Really? I don’t see that at all. The only so-called “evidence” that this was not accurate was a supposed earlier performance of the same song that turned out not to be true. There is zero evidence that the claims made in the video and the post are not true.

> The myth of the flash mob is replaced by the reality of people getting warning far ahead, getting told what to wear, etc.

The fact that it was two days notice was mentioned both in the blog post above and in the video. How is it a “myth”? And two days isn’t exactly “far ahead”. And the only thing that was announced two days in advance was the fact that there would be a gig on the beach. The video itself was what was planned out in 20 minutes.

> Then Amanda takes the act on the road and repeats it in other placed. Spontaneous things don’t keep happening exactly the same way over and over again.

They filmed videos elsewhere? I’m not sure if you’ve just never been around the music industry, but if someone does something that works well at a performance, they usually use it again. If she found that the crowd liked this particular song, why not play it again?

But the issue here wasn’t about playing this song. It was about the video – and you have presented no evidence at all that the story behind it was false. The only evidence you presented was shown to be false and you (I think it was you) claimed there were other earlier videos and someone asked you to prove it. Yet you didn’t. You just came back with more baseless assertions.

If anything that makes me even more convinced the story was real. There’s no evidence to the contrary at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“you have presented no evidence at all that the story behind it was false.”

Pretty simple, the link I posted before was from a guy who was notified two days before to show up “We were supposed to wear formal/prom wear and bring crazy props”. That wouldn’t be a requirement for just Amanda Facepalm Palmer pushing her book and playing the ukulele. It is very obvious that even at that point, it was clear that video was going to be shot, and that people with props and outfits would be needed.

It’s the setup that is key, there is obvious planning that went into this supposed spontaneous moment. Select the right time, the right place, you just happen to have a video crew, a stage manager, and a bunch of other required people on hand. You just happen to have learned a song that morning, yet you were inviting people 2 days before to dress up for the video?

Come off it. It’s a pure setup, wel disguised I will admit, but a setup, total marketing from end to end.

Jesse says:

I can’t believe you think she actually went through all this trouble to convince people that this video was planned in 20 minutes instead of 2 days.

“People were told what to wear” – If you knew anything about Amanda, you would understand how NOT NOTABLE this was. People dress up for Amanda’s shows *all* the time. I’ve been to two shows where she said via blog to dress up just so that everyone would look nice. The last time she had a Ninja Twitter Beach gathering, people brought cameras! (Can you believe it? How shocking!) Since there was obviously a high likelihood that people would bring cameras, Amanda told people to dress up. Suggesting people dress up because there is a HIGH *CHANCE* fans will bring cameras does NOT EQUAL PLANNING THE VIDEO. Pleas edon’t assume that your “evidence” exists for the SOLE REASON of supporting your case.

“What as an HD Camera crew doing at the beach” – There was no “crew” & I’m not sure how she ended up there; there’s two possibilities:

-There was a nice lady who had an HD video recorder with her. Is that… really so difficult to believe? That someone with a nice camera would… use it? She was at the beach and decided to film things. That’s not out of the ordinary. I’m sure that on any given day there are a bunch of people with cameras.

-She heard about the gathering via twitter. Bringing the camera would be obvious; Amanda has a very publicly open policy on recording her shows. And if she had the camera and was a director, why not? Again, this is not WEIRD and it’s NOT evidence of fowl play.

“She didn’t learn the song in one day.” Ridiculous point. Already dealt with.

“She told people to bring props” – Again, this argument is just a result of you not understanding Amanda and her community. People bring weird things to her shows all the time. The last show I went to had people blowing bubbles. Picture frames you speak of could have been a gift for Amanda. I assure you that something like that is completely normal for an Amanda show. If this had really been planned you would have a LOT more to complain about than some picture frames like in a commercial.

Jynx says:

Anonymous Coward - Think harder

So, I live about 7 hours away from LA, and I follow Amanda on Twitter. I’ve never been to one of her shows, but it’s pretty clear from her videos, from her blog, and from what she Tweets that Amanda has long been a favorite of the kind of “Circus/Cabaret/Performance Art type of people. She clearly invites people to photograph, film, and use her as a subject for art making. She regularly posts drawings and paintings that people send her, for example. I saw she was going to be in Southern California, saw the call for meeting at the beach, and that folks should dress up. I really wanted to go. I was going to wear a either a black lace formal dress or an orange 50’s prom dress. I was going to bring a light, large bird sculpture I have hanging around – something that sand and water would only improve, I’m sure. I expected people to come in fun, fanciful clothing, with props. I expected that because that’s the impression I have about Amanda and the events she’d like to create. Were my ideas “staged”? Would I have known there was going to be a video? No – I would have shown up expecting a fun time, and if someone w/ a camera showed up and suddenly another person was saying, “Stand over here and freeze for 15 minutes. We’re going to shoot a video”, I would have been delighted to be a part of it.

I didn’t go – my cat got sick. Such is life. But for you, Anon. Coward, in being so insistent that something like this was just a publicity stunt, completely ignore that fact that people like me might “get” Amanda’s intent – All of it: The fun, the publicity, the adventure, the “connection” that we wouldn’t have otherwise, and that doesn’t happen often enough.

I would have been, frankly, shocked if someone hadn’t shown up with some kind of video camera. Your comments about the light show that you haven’t been to SoCal – at least not often. And as others have said here, you obviously “know” Amanda palmer and her audience less than even I do, and I’ve never seen her live, or purchased her album or her book.

Your standard of spontaneity is laughable. Your cynicism is sad.

Emma (profile) says:

From the perspective of an attendee

I killed my car getting to this event. I have been following Amanda Palmer for a couple years. I drove from Ventura, Ca to Hollywood to pick up another fan whom I had never met, but via the power of the twitter and interwebs, and we drove to the ninja beach gig, by way of a thrift store to pick up prom dresses. Though it was twittered to wear prom dresses or ninja gear, having been to a number of Palmer gigs and being familiar with the artist, we would have shown up with props and been strangely clothed any way. Amanda Palmer attracts creators, dreamers, artists, the lost, the wondering, the hopeful, the fanciful, and the ordinary, and everything in between. It is in the spirit of art and fun and being part of unforgettable moments. This is typical of ANY Amanda Palmer event. When we arrived (rather late because I blew the tranny in my car) she was starting to play her impromptu concert, then she read from the book. It has to be remembered, and this is from the point of view of a fan. Amanda Palmer is doing two things at once here. OFCOURSE she is marketing, of course she is promoting, you have to if you want to make a living at what she does, even if its just to pay your rent and not make millions, at the same time, she is creating, challenging, and genuinely cares about what she does and her fans. She places value on HUMAN connection, and creation. As we were getting ready to take pictures, and just after the book readings I approached her and told her my situation. She put an immeadiate call out to the crowd to get the young women I had picked up back home, as I was unable to, and helped find me people with triple A in the crowd. Her fans, as always, being the sort of people we are, who will pick up strangers and wear prom dresses to the beach, and bring giant rubber duckies just to show her, and shower her with my little ponies and watermelons, responded to the call. We all moved on to take pictures, and it was thrown out there Hey, lets all get in the freezing water and make a music video to that song I just learned and played for you earlier, the one from the other Youtube video that caused momentary confusion here. It was fun. It was amazing to be part of it! We created something, which might be why we all love Amanda in the first place, the art of it. We clambered into the pounding waves, for our safety we were moved closer to shore. We laughed, and we froze, and we did three takes. The only corraling done, was to tell us to spread out further, do WHATEVER you want to do, but please be able to hold that pose for the few minutes we need for her to make it through the crowd. We brought our props, we did sily poses, and it was a grand time, being part of something like that with an artist we love. Total time from hey lets do this to finished was very much likely 20 minutes. We were not placed, or posed, there were no plants. Just us regular Palmer fans. ARE WE STUPID TO THINK THAT SHE DID THIS BECAUSE SHE LOVES US SOOOOOO MUCH???? Hell no. Everyone there knew we would probably be used as marketing and promotion to some degree. You’d be a fool not to. But the thing is, she does care about us enough to do a NUMBER of these gigs with no pay backs to her, but a connection to already tried and true fans, that she doesn’t have to win over, that she isn’t trying to sell to. We already come, and buy, and we continue to because she does these things bck for us. Because she answers our questions on Twitter, because she remembers us as she can and our stories matter to her. Because she cried with me, when I cried to her about just how chaotic my day had been, and that she genuinely thanked me and said I’m glad you did come today. This isn’t just my story, its hundreds of fans stories. She is involved with us. Because we matter, and the art she creates matters to her, we as fans are more than happy to help her anyway she needs. From impromptu photo shots, to personalized merchandise, to donations of food and love and shelter. We support her, we welcome the chance to being in these marketing things, these promotional things, and we do everything we can to spread it virally in our friend, family, and internet communities. Because as long as we keep doing that, her costs stay down enough that she can keep spending time with us, and creating the art that she does that we love so much. If she eventually gets rich off of it. More power to her, she deserves, as much as anyone who works hard to further themselves does. I hope to god she does see money from it one day. I say this from the point of view of a fan. Its not everyone’s cup of tea, and its not for every fan base. But the idea can be modified to meet the genre’s of artists/fanbases yes. And others it will never apply for. This isn’t about taste in the music, or cover songs, or wether it took twenty minutes or two years. It did take twenty minutes, give or take five, but what does it matter??? Its about the fact that the time and effort and connection she puts in, gets our time effort and connection back. And it just grows and grows from there. Its a hard road she has decided to take. I dont think I’d want to spend that much of my personal time keeping up with the thousands of fans that she does, putting in moments when she could be doing other things to randomly come out and play with us fans. I wish her the best. She has my support first as a talented musician a friend introduced me to, through a pirated copy of a Dresden Dolls cd. Not a record label, not an add,not the radio, but a die hard fan, who was introduced to the DD by…another die hard fan. From there, it might have been because of something a record label did, I can’t tell you. But I fell in love with what I heard first. As I explored it more, I feel in love with her as a person, because though she didn’t know me, I HAVE ALWAYS felt loved and appreciated as a fan. That makes all the difference in the world. And when an artist whom you really don’t matter to, who will move on to other things, be other places the next day, takes the time to help you out, and later have their eyes tear up for you as they here your struggles, and honestly thank you for being there, well. I’ll buy whatever she sells, so long as the talent remains to back it up, and I will always cherish what has already been created. Sorry for typos, sorry if its not relevant. I just thought an honest account, from a fan, there that day, might help some of you understand. For those that will argue, you’ll argue anyway.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...