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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.
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.
Amanda Fucking Palmer's next album is a big, super-duper extravanganza, with lots of bells and whistles funded by Kickstarter. She wants $100K. She's at 258K as of this morning. And I just kicked in:
hi folks, it's AFP. this is my first BIG, LEGIT studio album undertaking since breaking from a major label. i've spent four years writing the songs for this record, and more recently, putting together the perfect band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, comprised of genius musicians/arrangers/programmers MICHAEL MCQUILKEN, CHAD RAINES, and JHEREK BISCHOFF. in march, we locked ourselves up in a studio in Australia and, with the help of producer/engineer John Congleton (who's worked with a zillion amazing people including St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, and Xiu Xiu), we made what I believe is my best fucking album to date. it sounds...BEYOND EPIC. we laid down "The Bed Song", "Massachusetts Avenue", "The Killing Type", "Trout Heart Replica" and a slew of other tracks...some solo piano, but many featuring HORNS (locally sourced in Melbourne, Australia!), SYNTHESIZERS, GUITAAAARRRRR, and BIG BAD-ASS ORCHESTRAL ARRANGEMENTS that will blow your domepiece. we're working on finalizing the arrangements and mastering as i write this text. i expect great, big, giant things to happen when this record comes out in september. the band & i will be touring it across the globe ALL YEAR. here is me with the band, plus performance artists anthony cleave & jess daly, in melbourne right before taking stage:
NOW, about the ARTWORK. over the last six months i've been working in secret with OVER THIRTY visual artist friends of mine (full list below) to create a massive explosion of song-inspired album art, in all different kinds of media. some people took the project really literally and made super lyrics-specific paintings....some people went way abstract. the end result is an EXPLOSION of incredible art. here is the list of artists who made things (alphabetically by first name): Amanda Palmer, Barnaby Whitfield, Blake Brasher, Cassandra Long, Conrad Keely (...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead), Cynthia von Buhler, David Mack, Desi, DJ Spooky (Paul Miller), Empire SNAFU Restoration Project, Hans Rickheit, Heide Hatry, Judith Clute, Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses), Kyle Cassidy, Lee Barron, Meghan Howland, Michael Pope, Michael Zulli, Molly Crabapple, Neil Gaiman, Nicole Duennebier, Rick Berry, Robyn Hitchcock, Sarah Beetson, Shepard Fairey, Steven Bogart, Sylvia K, Tao Lin, Tony Albert, Vladimir Zimikov, Walter Sickert, and Zea Barker.
since i'm now without a giant label to front the gazillions of dollars that it always takes to manufacture and promote a record this big, i'm coming to you to gather funds so that i have the capital to put it out with a huge fucking bang. i think kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms like this are the BEST way to put out music right now - no label, no rules, no fuss, no muss. just us, the music, and the art. i'm also making sure EVERY PRODUCT sold through this kickstarter is unique to this campaign, to reward all of you who KNEW ME WHEN and were willing to support me from Day One.
Three minutes later, she had sold $15,000 worth of music and objects containing or celebrating music (vinyl records, various deluxe packages). As of this writing, practically everything else has sold out.
This model doesn't work for everyone. But it's worked for Palmer and various others, repeatedly. Just as not every artist can succeed in the studio, or can succeed touring, or can succeed performing covers, or can succeed performing original materials, not every artist can do this.
But the fact is that every commercially successful artist is basically a fluke. Most artists -- even those who've attained "success" in the form of a deal with a major publisher/label/etc -- do not find commercial independence there, and it has always been thus. As someone who helps support his family with his arts-related income, I'm here to tell you, if your kids want to pursue the arts, they should have some other marketable skill to fall back on (or chances are they'll fall back on you!).
And yet, what Palmer is doing is fascinating, because it involves spending less capital to reach smaller, more specialized audiences who willingly part with larger sums, from which Palmer gets to keep the lion's share. That looks a lot less like the old winner-takes-all model in which you get 100 or so acts who can fill a stadium and get rich, and a bunch of also-rans living on bread and water. In Amanda's model, individual artists gross much smaller amounts, but net much larger amounts, because they're not supporting a whole supply chain of execs, marketing people, giant buildings, trucks full of vinyl, radio DJs, etc.
What's more, she's made this work repeatedly, and there's every indication that it will work for her again.
Now, if your plan is to do what Amanda is doing in order to keep yourself in room and board, you will probably fail. But that's nothing new: practically everyone who set out to earn a living the old record-label way also failed (failed to get a deal, or, with a deal, failed to earn a living from it). The important thing here is that this can work, and work at least as well as the old system -- without demanding that the entire internet be surveilled, without making war on fans, without buying corrupt laws, or turning artists into sharecroppers.
That's a fine thing indeed.
Punk cabaret diva Amanda Palmer today released a 7-track digital album of Radiohead ukelele covers. Choose from 320k mp3, FLAC, and other formats, download for all of a whopping 84 cents. Includes many of my own favorite Radiohead tracks: Fake Plastic Trees, High And Dry, No Surprises, Idioteque, Creep, and Exit Music (For A Film).
(amandapalmer.net via Kristie Lu Stout)
I was at a dinner with Amanda a few weeks ago and we talked about this at length. She's not only incredibly interesting on the subject, but also insightful -- and successful at it.
i can't help it: i come from a street performance background. i stood almost motionless on a box in harvard square, painted white, relinquishing my fate and income to the goodwill and honor of the passers-by.why i am not afraid to take your money, by amanda fucking palmer
i spent years gradually building up a tolerance to the inbuilt shame that society puts on laying your hat/tipjar on the ground and asking the public to support your art...
i did this for 5 years, and i made a living that way. dollar by dollar. hour by hour. it was hard fucking work.
and for the last 10 years, i have been working my ass off in a different way: tirelessly making music, traveling the world, connecting with people, trying to keep my balance, almost never taking a break and, frankly, not making a fortune doing it. i still struggle to pay my rent sometimes. i'm still more or less in debt from my last record. i'll lay it all out for you in another blog. it's just math.
if you think i'm going to pass up a chance to put my hat back down in front of the collected audience on my virtual sidewalk and ask them to give their hard-earned money directly to me instead of to roadrunner records, warner music group, ticketmaster, and everyone else out there who's been shamelessly raping both fan and artist for years, you're crazy.