Amanda Palmer’s history with crowdfunding is long and storied? The former Dresden Doll drew criticism for soliciting volunteer musicians and asking fans to let her crash at their homes for free after raising $1.2 million on Kickstarter; she later started paying the volunteers and offered to help Morrissey with any prospective crowdfunding ventures. (Also, Steve Albini thinks she’s dumb and gross.)
Now Palmer has launched a new adventure in crowdfunding: Using the Patreon platform, she’s asking fans to pledge money per “thing” she creates. Essentially, instead of funding individual projects one at a time, she’s asking for ongoing funding. And it’s working! She’s already attracted 1,654 patrons, good for 14,461.19 per creative endeavor. Thirty people agreed to pay her $100 per “thing” (along with the right to receive weird postcards from Palmer). She even got two donors to commit to $1,000 per! Those people also get to have dinner with Palmer and chat by phone intermittently, which I guess is priceless if you love Amanda Palmer, but goddamn.
Among the projects on her docket: Recording an album with producer John Congleton, recording a collection of German-language songs in Berlin and a French-language album in Paris, releasing and shooting videos for some backlogged singles, making a collection of recordings with her dad, and starting a podcast. As her pitch explains, “kickstarter was like a serious date, this is like….going steady. it’s not exactly like getting married, because…yeah. it’s not that hardcore. (maybe someday i’ll start bandmarriage.com and make a killing.)” Make a killing indeed! Here’s Palmer’s pitch video and her lengthy written appeal:
well, here we are. the next frontier.
if you’re a fan of mine, and really 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? who knows)….this is your chance.
here i am again, asking.
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.
last year was eaten writing and putting out “the art of asking”, and this year i want to GET BACK TO MAKING ART.
i have lots of plans, lots of projects, lots of ideas for videos. i want to get back into the studio with john congleton (who produced and engineered “theatre is evil”, the kickstarter record, and just WON A GRAMMY for his work with st. vincent).
i want to finally get to berlin and make a collection of songs in german.
i want to do the same thing in paris, and make a bunch of french-language recordings.
i want to finally release “bigger on the inside” (which i just recorded with zoe keating on cello) and “the thing about things”, and i want to make videos for them (maybe int he UK this spring, hitting up the BBC for a tardis or two).
i want to finally, as i’ve been promising, do a collection of recordings with MY DAD.
i want to put all this music out on the internet.
i want to start a podcast.
i want to do a LOT of things. they’re gonna cost money.
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 learned 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 their patreons.
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. it’s not exactly like getting married, because…yeah. it’s not that hardcore. (maybe someday i’ll start bandmarriage.com and make a killing.)
now, backstory: i’ve been flailing (often happily, for sure) since i left my label in 2008. self-releasing and distributing vinyl and CDs isn’t easy, and isn’t always super-profitable. 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 “theater is evil”, even though it had 25,000 backers and was given nothing but rave reviews in the press, sold very few copies in stores. that wound up sinking me financially…even though it was the best record i’d ever made.
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 that method alone to support a recording studio and video-making habit…there are months when my pay-what-you-want 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, or…to do 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, or exhaust the fanbase with “HEY I’M MAKING YET ANOTHER RECORD, PRE-ORDER HERE”…..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, and photo books, and signed things, and mugs and tea-cozies, and and and….but how much Stuff is too much Stuff before we don’t need any more Stuff cluttering up the earth’s future landfills and want to just get back to the music, which was supposed to be the point, right?)
don’t get me wrong: i’m not going to give up on physical or merchandise (i mean, manufacturing my own nudie pens has been the highlight of my cold winter) and i’m not going to give up on collecting my music into “albums”…i think that’ll make itself clear once i’ve recorded a bunch of stuff for patreon and released it. i’ll be HAPPY to use kickstarter or other forms of crowdfunding to see what the demand is for “ALL THESE SONGS AND MORE on VINYL”…that’s easy. then if 1,600 people want vinyl, i’ll make 1,600 vinyl. no problem.
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. there’s a kind of thrill.
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”…..dude, it’s boring. i mean, all respect to the artists who do it, and i may choose to do it with one project or another, but mostly, fuck it, 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 anyway….you, or the grammies committee? right. back to the point: i like fast, now, bam. getting paid for doing things Fast Now Bam is usually impossible. now, patreon.
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. 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.
this is a platform where we can be in constant communication.
i’m hoping to drop my first piece of content (a newly record song) within a few weeks, and do my first webcast (for patrons of $10+) in about a weeks time.
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.
i’m really excited to see what happens with this, guys.
whether you’re backing me for a dollar or ten dollars, i am so glad you’re here.
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.
ALLL THE THIIIIIIIIIIINGS!!!
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 i suggest you look into:
hans rickheit (makes disturbing comics!) https://www.patreon.com/user?u=432003&ty=a&pat=1
sam buckingham (an australian singer/songwriter!) https://www.patreon.com/sambuckingham
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 planning to release here on patreon (i just recorded it) is “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 consisteantly: this isn’t a weekly web comic, i’m a sporadic weirdo. Per Things 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 you don’t want to think about it, and that’s what your budget can afford, 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: “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. (http://amandapalmer.net/music/)
Q: “i love you. i just wanted to say that.”
A: “i love you too. here’s a hug ((((((((((())))))))))))”