Sunday, November 29, 2015

Amanda Palmer is creating Art


well, here we are.
the next frontier.
here i am again, asking.

it's been almost five months since i launched this page and there's over 5,000 people here, supporting my weirdness - i'm in awe. and really grateful.

if you're just showing up here for the first's the lowdown.

if you're a fan of mine and want to support me in the creation of new songs, film clips/music videos, long-form writing and more random, unpredictable art-things (comics? podcasts? random ninja public performances that require a huge budget?.....who knows)....this is your chance.

since march, i've released about a Thing per month...including two new songs, two beautifully-produced webcasts, and a strange animation. all the content is on a list here:
the feedback has been really great. it's working.

the backstory:

i've been struggling since i got off my label in 2008 to find the right platform for ongoing support, through which i can release constant material (and get paid). i think this is it.

i've gotten to know myself. as a creator, as a songwriter, and as a recording artist, i thrive on instant gratification and a direct mainline to my audience without having to go through labels, distributors, the machine, the mass media. i love making things and instantly sharing. and i know my fanbase: you're smart, kind, supportive, future-embracing people.

we've all started learning how to trust each other with kickstarter, pledge music, indiegogo. i think subscription sites like patreon are a new revolution in music-release and art patronage.

i'm planning to release pretty much ALL MY ARTISTIC CONTENT for free: on youtube, bandcamp, my site, wherever.

it's yours, it's everybody's, you can take it, you can share it.

but i need support, true patronage, from you you YOU if i'm going to take the plunge and have money to live and make this art.

i'm friends with jack (the CEO) and the fine folks at patreon, as i was pals (and still am) with yancey over at kickstarter. i really believe in what these people are doing, and i've been really astounded and inspired to see what all these other artists, from writers to cartoonists to singers, are doing with crowdfunding.

it isn't making world news, because it is what it is: a quiet, underground network of artists connecting directly with their fans, bypassing the entire commercial system. this is AWESOME.

it is, in these days of negativity and tumblr outrage, the bright side of the net: it is how the internet can really save artists and the art they make. it also means YOU need to step up and support the artists you love, the political cartoonists you want to see bravely satirizing the system, the painters you want to see reflecting their realities, the musicians you want filling your hearts and your speakers, the journalists you want to see writing about the state of the world.

almost 25,000 of you supported my kickstarter, and i don't expect those kinds of numbers here - this is more of a commitment: though you do get to road test it if you're scared (you can pull out before you're charged at the end of any month - so it's risk-free).

my kickstarter was a one-time all-in deal, this is more of an ongoing commitment to me and my music and spontaneous art-making. kickstarter was like a serious date, this is like....going steady.

more backstory? i've been flailing (often happily, for sure) since i left my label in 2008. self-releasing and distributing vinyl & CDs isn't easy. giving my music away for free online has been an adventure, but not as profitable as i expected. you may be surprised to know that "theatre is evil" - even with 25,000 backers and rave reviews in the press - sold relatively few copies in stores.

i really believe that putting content up for free on the internet is Fundamentally Good: it means everybody can share....but i honestly don't make enough through pay-what-you-want alone to support a recording studio and video-making habit...there are months when my revenue from bandcamp and my website combines totals less than a few hundred dollars. that means the only way to pull in money is to tour, sell merch, do yet another kickstarter to call upon everybody's support and goodwill. that's what i've been doing.

the problem with kickstarter is that, while it's great for huge projects, i don't want to do get repetitive and exhaust the fanbase with "HEY I'M MAKING YET ANOTHER RECORD, PRE-ORDER HERE. AGAIN!."

i just want to be able to go into the studio, make music with friends, call a film director, make a video, take a few months off, write, record, and press PUBLISH when i'm done, the way i can with my blogs. bam, bam, bam.

i also don't want to have to think up clever merchandise (i know we love fuzzy posters, and t-shirts, mugs and tea-cozies....but how much Stuff is too much Stuff before we don't need any more Stuff cluttering up landfills?)

don't get me wrong: i'm not going to give up on physical or merchandise (i mean, manufacturing my own vinyl and nudie pens brings me great joy) and i'm not going to give up on collecting my music into "albums".

but i know me and i'm addicted to PUTTING OUT THE THING NOW. i've seen what's happened to me when i'm able to slave all night on something and wave it around immediately the next day online or at a show. without that drive, 8in8 (the all-night record i made with ben folds and damian kulash and neil gaiman) wouldn't have happened, and i don't think i ever would have written "gaga, palmer, madonna" if i hadn't been able to upload it directly to YouTube that night. the immediate thrills me.

i don't find it as inspiring to work for two years on a bunch of songs, knowing that i'm going to have to spend TONS of time raising funds for a record, a few more months (or years, in some cases) going through the record-biz "album cycle".

i just want to MAKE STUFF AND PUT IT OUT.

and get paid.

and then keep going. does it mean i won't ever get a grammy? yes, it does. but who cares? who am i making music for, or the grammies committee? right.

here's the key: THIS IS A HUGE EXPERIMENT.

we can keep tweaking this as we go. if the patron levels seem too high, too low, aren't working....we can shift and change them. the community has already proven to be really great at giving me feedback. if anybody comes up with a brilliant idea of what would be wonderful to include in a new level, we can ADD it. if i decide that i want to spend a year doing cover songs, we can build in a system by which i can take requests from all patrons. et cetera.

this is a platform where we can be in constant communication.

if you guys know me, you know i LISTEN. we're here to make this sucker work together, and we will.
even if you're a one dollar backer, i want to know what you're digging about the platform and what's bugging you.

every patron who's supporting me is important to this community, YOU'RE who i'm creating for, and
i'm glad you found me here.

whether you're backing me for a dollar or ten dollars...THANK YOU.


let's DO THIS SHIT!!!!!!!!


p.s. if you're just finding out about patreon and you're like JA JA JA JA OMG, here are a few other artists/creators i suggest you look into:

neil degrasse tyson (making a startalk podcast!)
monica byrne (writing a column about pop culture)
the doubleclicks (makin musical songs & videos!)

p.p.s. if you're not familiar with MY music, i've made a great primer page to acquaint you, it's called "a walk through amandalanda" and has streams of my biggest records and best videos:

THE FAQ (frequently asked questions)
if you have questions, please submit them on twitter, on facebook, on my blog, or here on the patron stream once you sign up.

Q: "i'm kind of confused by the Things you keep referencing in your video. what other Things are you talking about besides songs?"

A: well, videos is the obvious one. making music videos can be way more expensive than recording music, and i still love making them. one of the first songs i'm released here on patreon was "bigger on the inside", a song i'm really proud of, featuring zoe keating on the cello. i see a really beautiful music video for it in my head, but i can imagine it costing at least $20k to film when all is said and done. i'd also love to experiment with what art and patronage really is....maybe i'll write something, maybe i'll decide to do a marathon recording webcast, maybe i'll start doing an interview podcast with special people i meet or know, maybe i'll decide to lock myself in a room and spend five days creating a painting using content from the feed.....i really have no idea. i think i'm going to push the limits and see where the pushback happens (if any). it's this lack of knowing that makes patreon so exciting to me. i like not knowing things.

Q: "you asked about charging Per Thing versus charging Per Month in your blog, and I want to pay Per Month, it's easier! Why Per Thing?"

A: i thought hard about charging Per Month instead of Per Thing, because patreon lets you do either, and a lot of artists are successfully charging per month. however, that makes me nervous: what if i'm traveling and touring and/or taking off time for three months in a row and don't have output to share? i'd feel guilty. i know me well enough to know that i don't work consistently: this isn't a weekly web comic, i'm a sporadic weirdo. Per Thing seemed safer. here's the way I figured it: patreon has a MONTHLY CAP, so if you want the security of only EVER paying $10 a month, because that's what your budget allows, you can CAP at $10. that way it's like paying $10 per month, WITH the added advantage that if i decide to post No Things in a given month, you'll be charged NOTHING. so it's technically better for you, and i won't feel guilty, ever.

Q: "but if i cap my backing at $10 a month, does that mean I won't get ALL THE THINGS? i want ALL THE THINGS"

A: lucky for you, i'm treating everybody equally. you don't lose access to ANYTHING when you hit your cap. you'll still get EVERYTHING emailed to you if you're backing at the email level, and access to all streams even if your cap is $1 a month. you don't get punished for capping.

Q: " I want to join your Patreon, but I don't have any idea how much to donate. I want to do it for about $25-35/month. You say it's donating "per thing" - how often do you do those "things" - so I can get an idea how much to donate per thing. For example, if you do a "thing" every 3 months, I will donate $100 per thing.
so: guidelines on "thing" timetables... at least roughly?" (from samaire provost on facebook)

wow - that's really generous. the $100/month option is full right now, and i'm trying to figure out what to do about that. right now you have two options: you could just back me at $10/thing, which is the closest denomination (in general i put out about one thing a month and haven't put out 2 or 3 yet... but might!) and i'd cap your donation at $30, or $60, or $ you never pay more than you're happy with. OR if you're feeling more generous, you can actually "write in" a higher amount per thing (i.e. you can write in $20/$30/$50 at the $10 level) and that extra dough per thing, until you hit your monthly cap, is just considered generous gravy.

Q: "when are you going to put out an Actual Record I Can Touch? call me old school, but i just want to buy a simple record."

A: i dunno. check back in about six months. meanwhile, you can purchase one of the gazillions of physical records & CDs I've released if you're super keen on touching things:

Q: "um....what if i want to just donate money to you once? this is weird."

A: um. that's fine. you can make a one-time donation to my site's music page here...down to the right where it says "support my art". thanks. (

Q: "i love you. i just wanted to say that."

A: "i love you too. here's a hug ((((((((((())))))))))))"

Pledge $1.00 or more per thing
1294 patrons
you're supporting me, and that's huge, and plenty. thank you. you'll get access to the patron-only feed, where the community centralizes and everything gets posted and talked about. so you know: your voice is just as important as some well-off mofo giving a grand.
Pledge $3.00 or more per thing
1691 patrons
you're supporting me even more, and you are awesome. thank you. you'll get access to the patron-only feed, as above, where we hang, and you'll also be DIRECTLY emailed keepable/playable/readable downloads of any content (PDFs, Mp3s, etc).
Pledge $5.00 or more per thing
1943 patrons
you're supporting me a LOT, and $5 a song (or Thing) is really generous. thank you. you'll get all of the above, plus you'll be in the "random surprise" group. i'll email you random surprises every once in a while, including more personal blogs that i don't want out in the public, photos and poetry that aren't for everybody, etc. this one's an adventure. let's see what goes down.
Pledge $10.00 or more per thing
1284 patrons
this is a lot of money to spend on an artist, and you are really showing me some serious art-love here. THANK YOU. i'll try to make it worth it: you'll get all of the above, random surprises + photos and all, plus access to intimate webcasts in which i'll chat/perform live with you top-tier patrons, take questions direct, talk about life, the work, and generally get jiggy. note: the patron base has voted to make these generally later available to the public, because everyone here is pretty generous. but you'll get to interact live, and you'll usually access get the archive before the public'll be a members of the smaller group with whom i discuss deeper issues, business/patron strategies, and so forth. i love doing these, but not with thousands of people. i'll do the monthly webcast even if i haven't made any art, so you may be getting free webcasts if i'm in a funk, and we'll just talk online about how unproductive and depressed i am. FUN!
Pledge $100.00 or more per thing
30 patrons (All 30 sold out!)
(inner circle - limited to 30) - you're an angel investor. i love you. because you clearly really want to support me and my endeavors. you'll get all of the above, including random surprises and webcasting, plus i'll thank you personally via email or phone (and chances are, i already know you from shows or ye olde kickstarter days). i'll also send you weird postcards from weird places i wind up, or i'll draw original postcards for you (a few times a year, at least). i just bumped the amount, and may even add a higher tier, so watch out. i need to keep it limited enough that i can actually pay attention to everybody / give them guest list / VIP access to all shows, so i can thank people in person when possible. YAY YOU.
Pledge $1,000.00 or more per thing
3 patrons (All 3 sold out!)
i'll call. we'll talk. we'll have dinner. all the things, pretty much. thank you (holy shit).

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