Amanda Palmer Sells $15,000 Worth Of Music & Merch In Three Minutes

from the damn dept

We’ve talked a lot about Amanda Palmer’s various business model experiments on this site, as well as her efforts to connect with fans in new and unique ways. She’s also written a guest post, participated in our own CwF+RtB program and done an interview with us where she announced her Radiohead Ukulele project. And, of course, she was recently (ecstatically) dropped from her record label, which is why she can do fun and bizarre things like playing Radiohead songs on a ukulele.

While we saw some people in our comments mock the Radiohead Ukulele project, and insist that it would be a clear failure, it seems that’s not true at all. In fact, the early results suggest it’s been an astounding success. In the first 3 minutes, the project brought in $15,000. Yes, 3 minutes. $15,000. And, of course, it continued from there. The offering included a “pay what you want” for the music, but also a variety of other tiers. Most of the packages sold out within hours.

In the link above, Amanda’s tech guy (and regular Techdirt reader and commenter) Sean points out that they did the whole thing themselves, basically involving a team of four people and using some simple internet services like BandCamp (which, if you haven’t been paying attention, keeps making strides in being a fantastic platform for musicians). I’m sure we’ll start to hear folks explaining why this is an exception or a one-off or something like that. But, given how many times we’ve seen successful business model experiments like this, at what point are people going to realize that there are so many “exceptions” that it’s now the rule?

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Comments on “Amanda Palmer Sells $15,000 Worth Of Music & Merch In Three Minutes”

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Richard (profile) says:


Of course it is an exception – because all really successful musicians are exceptions – always have been – always will be.

We have to accept that making a living from music is always going to attract more aspirants than can ever hope to be successful.

BUT it seems that there are more of these “new style” exceptions than there ever were of the old kind.

jjmsan (profile) says:

Re: Exceptions

I don’t think that is neccessarily true. What you are using to define success is the corporate or financial definition of success. What the internet is now allowing is that the creative person gets to define his or her own level. So while I agree most people do not get rich, it may be that more people than we think are getting what they want. If you look at it from a business point a view a small business meeting its goals is just as successful as a large corporation meeting is goals.

Gwiz says:

Re: Re: Re: TAM

I too had this trouble at first. There is a person who used to post under the name The Anti-Mike (or TAM) and now posts as an Anonymous Coward these days. One can usually figure out who he is because he uses no capitalization and very little punctuation and always opposes anything Mike says just to oppose Mike. He is also referred to as “Lower Case Coward” or “ee trollings”.

darryl says:

Not $15k in 3 minutes, but $15k in many years of hard work.

selling something in 3 minutes is a pointless measure, its not like she make $15,000 in 3 minutes.

And it says nothing about what happend in the next 3 minutes or the 3 after that, if it is sustainable.

She did not produce the product in 3 minutes, it would have taken her hours and hours learning her skills, and learning those works. Then hours producing, refining and creating a product worthy of sale.

sure, she sold some quickly, and made a small amount of scratch, but not nearly enough to pay for her efforts.

If you just want to make out that selling it in 3 minutes is a good thing, then not mention what happens in the long run. and if that level of sales is sustained. And the profit is enough to pay her staff, and her own living while developing this ‘project’.

If I spend 10 years building a boat, and then I sell it, if the sale took 3 minutes to complete I cannot say I made the money from my 3 minutes effort, I made my money from the years of work in building the boat.

sure, I sold it quickly, great, does not mean that im capable of making that kind of money all the time, as I do no have the resources or time to build lots of boats.

Same with music, it takes time and skill to learn how to play an instrument, usually many years, if that time was spend on another persuit you may have made more money, or less.

But that is not what you wanted to do, and expecting musicians or artists to do something different than what they want to do is not right.

They do not have to modifiy their business model to allow for illegal file sharing, or to allow people to not live by the rules.

As for record contracts, its not compulsory, and they are not forced into deals, its a contract both sides agree, so who are you to be critical of an agreement between two parties that you are not a PART of.

jjmsan (profile) says:

Re: Not $15k in 3 minutes, but $15k in many years of hard work.

If you sell $15000 in three minutes you have made $15000 in three minutes. You can switch to average per hour or any other measure you want but it is still $15000 in three minutes. Your life experience argument is badly done and ignores the fact that everything we do has to be learned. No one bases hourly rates or income on the time you spent in grade school acquiring basic skills.
If you sold the boat why don’t you have the resources to build another? That is supposed to be part of the selling price.
Also the last three paragraphs of your post just do not make any sense. They don’t follow from your initial argument and are really just off the wall. You might want to repharse them so they are understandable.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Not $15k in 3 minutes, but $15k in many years of hard work.

Umm… Amanda Palmer lives a fantastic lifestyle, funded by her fans. To date, the only album she didn’t make money on was WKAP, which she had a record deal from. Said record deal didn’t even cover her costs from making the album.

And she did make $15,000 in three minutes. Also, if you bother to click on the link, you’ll see that almost everything sold out in just a few days, just like almost all of her offerings do, because she is an awesome musician.

K says:

Re: Re: Not $15k in 3 minutes, but $15k in many years of hard work.

Actually I don’t think they did make any money on the sale of the Dresden Dolls records, they made all their money from touring and merch.

I think this is fantastic and I hope it paves the way for many more musicians to be able to take control of their careers.

It isn’t necessarily about becoming rich, I don’t think that was Amanda’s intention with this AT ALL. It’s about creating and maintaining a sustainable career and it appears as though she is definitely on the right path.

Success isn’t necessarily measured by HOW much money you make… Someone could make $1b on something, but their profit is only $100, where as someone can make $15,000 and their profit is $10,000. Plus for someone like Amanda who doesn’t need $1b to conduct her career, $15,000 is success.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Not $15k in 3 minutes, but $15k in many years of hard work.

I don’t think anyone said she made $15,000 in 3 minutes. However, since the record industry bases everything on first day and first weekend sales (movies?), it is reasonable to use a similar comparative measure.

If you want to lay it out across the time to produce the work, $15,000 is, well, $15,000 more than all of the un-recouped artists that made $0 for all of their hard work. So, here is a business model that cut out the record company and put the money directly into the hands of 4 people (including the artist) that did the work. That sounds a lot better than the artist getting nothing and losing the rights to their work at the same time.

Oh, and if you include “time and skill to learn how to play an instrument”, I have to ask you what you do for a living that required no learning earlier in life. I hope you do not use any writing or math skills for which the learning of you are not compensated. If you do that, the guy that makes $9 per hour flipping burgers (perhaps you?) makes a heck of a lot more than I do because I had to learn things like math and English to do my job and he was trained to flip the burgers in about 15 minutes.

journeyman artist says:

re: Not $15k in 3 minutes, but $15k in many years of hard work

sure as an artist, it can take years to learn a craft, but when I sell a sculpture, I don’t charge for the 10+ years of training.

Sure, you will always get flippant folks who say “it took you an hour to make that, I’ll pay for an hours work”, but my response could easily be that I could charge you for the 1 year of training in that one technique to make it. Neither option gets to the heart of the issue. Music is art, and people will pay what they pay. Some music may take years to create, and if you sell only one song, that’s a really expensive song. But it you sell 100,000, then the average cost per song is less. Again, the costs matter most to the artist, but the buyer will only pay for the enjoyment or emotional value they derive from the art.

Congrats to Amanda.

Anonymous Coward says:

so AFP sold 15,000$ in 3 minutes. and so what if it took 10 years or 5 minutes to make the song/album. some musical artists spend lots of time studying their instruments and in the end, it doesn’t sound good and no one can relate to it. the bottom line with music: if it sounds good, if people can relate to it, AND IF you can market it to a large number of people… will sell.
that’s why her fans work hard to spread the word and she is working hard in her own way to market the album. you HAVE to get it out there and make it known. if its good, and people know about it, people will buy it.

Call me Al says:

That is great to see. I adore Amanda Palmer. Her blog, videos and music is hugely entertaining and seeing her live was the most enjoyable gig I’ve been to. She connects with her fans so successfully that you feel that you personally are truly helping her to continue to work and perform and create. This connection makes you appreciate her music all the more.

I’ll be buying the album this weekend and I’m very much looking forward to it.

jsf (profile) says:

What's the cost breakdown?

What I would like to see is a cost breakdown in addition to the revenue numbers. As has been shown many times here and elsewhere the amount of money a brought in by a record/movie/etc has little to do with what the artists(s) actually get. Thus it would be nice to see who worked on the various aspects of this project and what each of them got paid.

It would probably also be useful to other artists to have a description of the process it took to bring this project to fruition. That way up and comers can get some ideas about how to do things and how much they should cost. Such as studio time, vinyl pressing costs, t-shirt costs, shipping costs, etc. The lack of availability of this kind of information is why many musicians just sign the record deal with a label, because they just don’t know what it takes to produce and distribute recordings.

Note I am a Dresden Dolls fan, not so much solo Amanda. I really like the dynamic that Brian brings to the stage.

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