wears the trousers magazine

amanda palmer defends asking fans for money
September 30, 2009, 3:31 pm
Filed under: news, trouser press | Tags: , , ,

300908_amandapalmerArtist hits back at critics of her DIY approach

It’s an interesting thing, the relationship we all have with money. Is it vulgar for someone to talk about how much bacon they bring home? A lot of people seem to think so. Is it vulgar for Amanda Palmer to halt her concerts, which people have paid in good faith to see her play music, to auction off various items midway through the set, or to make creative use of the internet (Twitter, webcasting) to collect substantial amounts of cash from dedicated fans? Is it doubly vulgar for her to then disclose the amount? A few people seem to think so, and the answer is not clear cut. With the best will in the world, Amanda has a relatively small fanbase who are not an unlimited resource. She may be making $10,000 on a single webcast now, but what about down the line? Is her approach really all that sustainable? Amanda doesn’t have the answers, but she’s certainly got an iron will, as displayed in her most recent blog: “Why I am not afraid to take your money, by Amanda Fucking Palmer”

In her essay she makes plenty of salient points and explains that, while other artists are perhaps being a little less forthright with their money-spinning subscription schemes etc., her directness comes as second nature, a direct result of five years spent as a street performer who couldn’t afford to be shy about holding out her hat for change. As she writes: “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.”

Kudos to Amanda for being so open about her motivations for this; frankly, we think she needs to be, even if only to open the eyes of people who don’t share her same fearlessness when it comes to money and art. If she doesn’t face this enterprise head on – which, let’s face it, was never really going to be a question with Amanda – then the whispers and the heat between her critics stands a good chance of boiling over. Ultimately, common sense tells us that a large factor in determining whether Amanda’s approach will continue to work is people’s perception of when a venture crosses the line into greed and manipulation, and perhaps on the ratio between the personality that is Amanda Palmer and Amanda Palmer’s music contained in the bang they get for their bucks.

Alan Pedder


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