A bunch of folks have been sending over Amanda Palmer's latest blog post, where she discusses the importance of content creators today getting used to both asking for money and talking about money
. This came after a couple people suggested to her that she not be so open about money issues in talking about her various business model experiments
. Amanda notes that it's becoming the new norm to talk about money, and it shouldn't be seen as a bad thing. Part of the whole process of connecting directly with fans is that you take out the middleman, who had a variety of jobs, but one of them was asking for money. So if that middleman is gone, then the only person left to ask for money is the artist, and this shouldn't be seen as bad.
artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.
artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye.
artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks.
please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.
dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don't fight it.
unless you've been living under a rock, you've surely noticed that artists ALL over the place are reaching out directly to their fans for money.
how you do it is a different matter.
maybe i should be more tasteful.
maybe i should not stop my concerts and auction off art.
i do not claim to have figured out the perfect system, not by a long shot.
BUT ... i'd rather get the system right gradually and learn from the mistakes and break new ground (with the help of an incredibly responsive and positive fanbase) for other artists who i assume are going to cautiously follow in our footsteps. we are creating the protocol, people, right here and now.
i don't care if we fuck up. i care THAT we're doing it.
She goes on to compare the new model to her experience busking in the past. In a separate discussion I had with Amanda a few months back, she referred to the new business model, "power busking." I agree almost entirely with her on this... with one, perhaps crucial, quibble. I get a little wary of focusing too much on the "busking" aspect, as it feels a little too close to the give it away and pray
model, that isn't really a complete business model. I tend to believe that if you give people a real reason to buy
(i.e., something scarce and valuable, offered at a reasonable price), then it's not "busking" at all. It's not "asking for money" at all.
It's offering a great deal
that people want to buy
. It's the difference between the PBS telethon fundraising effort and people gleefully snapping up merchandise from a TV show or movie. It's not about asking for money. It's about providing a "reason to buy" in the form of scarce offerings that are made more valuable
thanks to the content that is being shared. From there, you're not begging for money, but you're offering up a great deal
to fans who are thrilled to exchange their money for what they get in return.
So, I absolutely agree with almost all of what Amanda is saying, and think it's great that she's being so open about her experiments (and, yes, I know, I've been bad about giving up the data on our own experiment
, which is entirely due to being too busy to just focus and write up what we learned... but it's coming soon!). But, I think that one way to get beyond the issue of "asking for money" and making that feel crass, is not to think of it as busking or asking for money or begging for money, but to focus on experimenting with ways to offer up scarce value that people simply want to pay for, rather than feel goaded into paying for it.