(Via TED Blog)
Amanda Palmer has caused a lot of media controversy over asking fans help for funding, among other things. If anyone who has listened and followed the Dresden Dolls, Palmer’s first band, they know that she has a wild and eccentric nature about her. She’s known for thinking outside the box and putting on fabulous, as well as entertaining shows. The controversy began with a Kickstarter project that Palmer began last year. She wanted to release a new solo album with her new band, Grand Theft Orchestra, and needed help funding the project. So, she asked her fans for help in return for a free download of the album (once it was produced) or a dinner with Amanda herself, depending on how much the person had pledged. She was quickly under fire from the media as people questioned whether this would work. She managed to raise 1.2 million, which is the most an artist had ever raised on the platform. After her album was released with a “pay for what you think it’s worth” system, it reached number 10 in US billboard charts in September 2012.
While there were questions about the model and the way Amanda went about it, this was a brilliant and memorable project. Why? Because fans had come together to help raise money to donate to the Kickstarter project and involved art exhibitions, house parties, her art book, and even some custom painted turntables. It made passionate people come together and “make art”, which was her kind of slogan for the whole project and it worked fantastically. Despite the media backlash, she stood behind what she believed in and now Palmer has taken to TED Talks to discuss “The Art of Asking.” The main focus of the talk is getting fans to trust her and Palmer showing her trust in return.
She first talks about her first job, which was a living statue and enjoyed the eye contact she could maintain with strangers. Once Dresden Dolls had taken off, she wanted to keep that closeness that she’d discovered and used Twitter to ask fans for help, whether it be food to share backstage or needing to borrow a piano for a gig. She tells countless stories of “random closeness,” where people would come to help her and she’d repay them with a small token such as a smoothie in a cafe or a free ticket to a show. Palmer admits she’s very much into couchsurfing and her band have stayed in places from mansions to punk squats. Trusting fans is something that is so important to her that instead of holding a hat out to people, she herself became the hat, and people want to help and donate because they love her music so much. She see’s risk as trust and views platforms such as Kickstarter and Twitter as the living statue and the hat below her at her feet.
The one thing that people can take away from Palmer, her methods and this TED talk is that there is no harm or shame in asking. Good things can happen if you ask for help. Not only that, but trusting people is imperative to her success. The music industry can be very superficial and focus too much on money and asking fans to buy music. Palmer talks about letting the fans themselves buy it through platforms such as Kickstarter, so they feel like they’ve connected, helped and participated. Palmer has managed to bring thousands of creative people together who are passionate about art and music. She’s brought herself closer to her fans, which has come with an array of benefits, such as helping others, learning and inspiring people. This is a single woman who has boldly stood up for art and what she believes in, and gave a very inspiring talk. If you want to see it for yourself, please watch below and visit the TED blog for a summary.