Financial breakdown of Amanda Palmer's million-dollar Kickstarter

Musician Amanda Palmer, whose Kickstarter project for an all-singing, all-dancing tour plus album plus art book plus videos extravaganza is heading for the $1,000,000 mark, explains where all the money is likely to go, and how much she'll make, and what she sees as the future of things. It's a really good look at the economics of a "deluxe" self-funded entertainment product. One thing I think she's missing from this is the extent to which all this stuff is more expensive and time-consuming when you're doing it for the first time, and the likelihood that her next project will be a lot simpler/more streamlined when she's only inventing one or two new things, rather than the whole shebang.

in no fucking case scenario do i get a check for $1,000,000 and laugh my way to the bank, then book a private jet to ibiza where a limo filled with hookers and blow will be waiting to escort me to a slamming nightclub called “la uno percento” where i then spend my time contemplating my handsome nose job in the darkened mirrored bathrooms (probably weeping).

and you know what else? if i wind up truly loaded someday, it means i’ll probably buy an abandoned church somewhere and turn it into a free 24-hour circus brunch bar for everybody. cross your fucking fingers. we’ll all win.

stay tuned.

this is just the beginning.

we’re all investing, dollar by dollar, pledge by pledge.

investing not just in the future of my little record and band, but in an idea whose time has come.

and this is a good thing.




  1. Kickstarter will soon be gone as more and more people realize it’s one giant black hole that people through money in. 

    Has anyone done a survey to see what percentage of funded projects actually do anything?

    1. Of the 12 projects I backed that got funded, 9 have done something, 2 are still working on it, and 1 failed to do anything. So, modulo that the plural of anecdote is not data, 11 in 12?

      1. This. Venture Cap funds need like a a huge ROI on their investments that succeed, because most of their investments fail. Kickstarters certainly will not all succeed, but I bet they have a much better rate than vcs.

      2. If I remember correctly, VC for the most part expect 9/10 startups to fail. However the 1 that is successful is usually incredibly successful and grows very rapidly.

    2. Well, I’ve funded about a dozen Kickstarter projects over the past year. The earlier ones have all produced the items that I pledged for and the most recent ones seem to be on their way to doing so.

      So personally, I’ve yet to have any of them go bad, but I completely recognize the risk associated with funding any Kickstarter project.

      Edited to add:
      Nyya, I didn’t see your comment until revisiting this page after comments were closed. I was totally happy with the quality of the items that I got and that they were a great exchange for the money I pledged for them.

      1.  Have you been happy with the items you received and did you feel they were a good exchange for what you gave?

        I’m asking because I finally decided to really look into this Kickstarter thing because of this thread and am interested in not only funding interesting projects but possibly also doing my own Kickstarter for a photography project that I have been wanting to do.

        I really like the idea of connecting artists directly with people in this way and I hope Kickstarter continues to be successful.

  2. who the fuck is amanda fucking palmer and why the fuck are people giving her all this fucking money? fuck.

    1. The Googles sez…
      “Amanda MacKinnon Gaiman Palmer, sometimes known as Amanda Fucking Palmer, is an American performer who first rose to prominence as the lead singer, pianist, and lyricist/composer of the duo The Dresden Dolls”

      PS: Married to Neil Gaiman…which doubles the awesomeness…

        1. Wait, has it ever occurred to you that she might not want to take handouts from her husband?  That she might want to earn her own damn living, thank you very much, by offering people a service or product in exchange for commensurate financial remuneration?

          1. Its not really a “handout” if your married.  Although their financial arrangements are a private matter anyway. My question is would all these people be paying this much attention to her if she weren’t married to NG? I think not. And the fuck every other word thing is REALLY tired.

          2.  I can’t reply to Sandy Ogilvy directly, but hey Sandy, FYI, a lot of people were paying a lot of attention to Amanda Palmer long before she was romantically involved with Neil Gaiman. Ever hear of the Dresden Dolls?

          3. In reply to snow.
            Yes. I have and had heard of them. I still think her wedding doubled her fan base and a million dollar kick starter wouldn’t have been possible previously. Sorry if that irritates you. And its possible that I might not be rolling my eyes at this woman if she didn’t spew the word fuck every time she opens her mouth. Its NOT edgy. Its just crass. As creative as she seems to be I would think she could come up with a better catch phrase.

    2.  I don’t think anyone knows for sure who Amanda Fucking Palmer is. I personally think she is a space alien come to save the Earth. She is absolutely brilliant, but I would imagine many people wouldn’t get it.

      Why do people give her money? Probably mind control.

  3. “in no fucking case scenario do i get a check for $1,000,000 and laugh my way to the bank, then book a private jet to ibiza where a limo filled with hookers and blow”

    … well, maybe just a *little* blow.

  4. If you’re Kickstarter raises a million bucks and you don’t net $100,000 for yourself then you are doing it wrong…I’ve said it a million times and will say it a million more, artists are dreadful in business…

    1. Please tell us exactly what the correct profit margin for artists is.

      Show your work. After all, Ms Palmer did.

      1. really? what “work” did Ms. Palmer show us? from what i saw, all she did was throw out a bunch of numbers without actually showing any supporting documentation.

        what Amanda did was describe a pipedream and somehow convince people to buy into it without showing any proof of the costs she so casually listed.

        ps. i’m an accountant. and this entire scheme is ridiculous.

        “oh, i’m going to throw 35 parties and show up to 20 of them, so please pay me to party my ass off while people in less privileged areas of the world starve to death from malnutrition”.

        for REAL, people. wake up and smell the 1%.

        1. I am sure that you allow your clients to carefully audit your books so that they can determine if your practice’s profit margin is reasonable. I can’t imagine why you would not allow them to do so, unless you have something to hide from them.

          I am certain that your accountancy practice has done amazing things to relieve malnutrition in less privileged areas. Please do tell us all about them, with verifiable documentation, of course. Your tax returns would be a great place to start.

    2. If she were leaving money on the table because of her own ignorance, you might have a point. But you’ve seemingly missed the bit where she explains that she could’ve extracted more personal profit and why she chose not to. “Not motivated by money” and “dreadful at business” are not the same thing.

      I’ve said it a million times and will say it a million more, business people are dreadful at anything that’s not “MAXIMIZING PROFITS!!”

    3. I think a lot of her profit comes from actually selling the album and the tour afterwards. Except for the higher priced pledges, there’s no “here’s a ticket to the show.” She’s trying to paying off the majority of expenses before the tour as opposed to be in debt. At least that’s the way I figure it. There’s still a ton of money for her to make on this tour even if she gets $0 for herself from the initial kickstarter.

  5. Amanda is, for all her craziness (and I love it), one of the most warm and open and down-to-earth performers I’ve ever met – I got the chance to chat for just a bit with AFP and Neil both for just a couple of minutes after a show in Brooklyn – a show that STARTED with her carried through the crowd on the shoulders of a marching band, and only got rowdier. Amanda and Neil both took their time to speak to anyone that wanted, sign autographs, laugh at stories, ooh and ahh at tattoos – Overall, much better than the ‘oh great thanks, where’s me beer’ I’ve gotten from a lot of other folks.

    I’m definitely in for a few bucks.

  6. Don’t scare me like that – I totally took it to be the other possible meaning of “financial breakdown” for a second and thought something was wrong!

  7. ah yes, the completely arbitrary “financial breakdown” of a minor celebrity’s pipedream money-making scheme. with absolutely no supporting documentation. that she has somehow managed to swaggle close to $1 million USD out of her idolaters is AMAZING.

    1. Well, the live CD & tour Kickstarter that she did previously went quite well. Those who attended the tour seemed to have a great time and those who got CD’s were happy with them. The CD packaging was quite nice and facy and because the project was such a success she put together a cover album of Lou Reed & The Velvet Underground covers and included the extra CD despite not listing that with the original rewards.

      There’s always a certain amount of risk with any KickStarter project, but she has proven herself that she can pull it off and seems to be more interested in creating a high quality product that people hopefully will enjoy, rather than rip people off.

      1. my point is, what she posted was a blog post  with extremely vague descriptions of where the Kickstarter money *may* be going. It nowhere even remotely close to being a “financial breakdown”.

        THIS is what a financial breakdown really looks like:   

        1. If you honestly believe that Ms Palmer, who has had a fairly long and substantive career in music (whether you like her tunes or not) is going to simply run away with all the money and never do any of the things she says she is going to do with it… well, you are certainly welcome to that opinion. I’m not sure what it is based on it, but hey, that’s the Internet.

          For someone who claims to be an accountant, you’re really not getting that this is prepaying for a service, not an equity investment that is offering a particular ROI. The only risk to the person plonking down the money is that the product or service will never come through. People prepay for goods and services all the time; there’s nothing super-special about this one.

        2. Magnetiquewolf,

          You have vastly exceeded your quota for this thread.  Stop, please.

    2. So, which of her costs are unreasonable?

      This is the thing about Kickstarter: You pay money, you get a specific thing for it. You may not think that thing is worth as much as it costs; that’s cool. (I didn’t participate in her Kickstarter.) You may think that she’s not controlling her costs properly; you’re entitled to your opinion, although just stating it is not much of an argument.

      But this is not a matter of people just throwing money at her on stage; they’re getting something specific in return for it. I don’t demand supporting documentation when I have dinner at a restaurant; I pay what they ask, or I don’t eat there. I don’t see what the outrage is.

    3. Yeah, it’s that age old musician scam: write an album, charge people for it. It’s almost as bad as playing live shows and selling tickets. 

      1. Well, you can’t expect artists to actually receive money. They should play in the minstrel gallery for free while we eat our pickled quail brains and cluck our tongues about malnutrition. Doesn’t anyone understand social classes anymore?

    4. So every time you mosey down to Best Buy to buy a CD or head to the cinema to watch a movie or when you get around to consuming some art in whatever fashion floats your boat you get an entire financial breakdown from the artists to make sure they are using the money you laid out for your ticket/disc/gametime/etc in exactly the way you’d prefer? You use accountant super powers to check that they spent what you think they should on printing and touring and recording and whatever else?

      Man, your life must be exhausting…

  8. I would strongly prefer Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaimon to have no less than 1,000 children together, so that the fate of humanity will be a lot brighter and funner.  Complete with renovated church circus brunches, that will of course become commonplace.

    1. I think it would also be great if Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman can live the 500 or so years needed to do that (assuming a little womb downtime in-between twins). In fact, I will donate to the Kickstarter to accomplish that. Assuming the reward is one of the kids.

  9. We are doing a crowd funding campaign for the Transformoney Tree project, and in this case it will be very clear where the money goes: we don’t ask for money, but only for banknotes, and all banknotes received will be glued onto the tree……….

  10. “…a “deluxe” self-funded entertainment product”? If other people are giving her the money for this, that doesn’t really sound like “self-funded” to me; if it was self-funded, she would be paying for it with her own money – I guess I have a different definition of what “self” means : P

  11. I don’t know where she comes up with these manufacturing numbers. I can’t comment on all of them, but as someone who does a hobby record label, and worked for a moderate sized Independent label for almost 7 years, I can say the costs outlined for the 1500 vinyl copies of the record are completely absurd. You can very easily do 1000 copies of a record, with full color covers, for well under $5,000. The per unit cost also decreases the more copies you press, usually in increments of 500. To claim it would cost $20k to press 1500 records is ridiculous. Unless you are trying to claim you are recouping all your recording/production costs in just the vinyl pressing, the numbers make no sense. As for most of the other numbers thrown around, it sounds like she is basing her numbers as if everything is the resale price, not wholesale, and acts like none of the money is ever going to be recouped.

  12. Maybe those commenting on how Amanda Palmer is planning on misspending the funds by paying too much for certain things should contact her directly. After all, I don’t know that anyone “here” can do anything about it. But it’d probably be super helpful to her if she didn’t overpay for, e.g., vinyl pressing costs. Maybe she really doesn’t know, and has been simply overpaying for these things for years.

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