Amanda Palmer Talks About Connecting With Fans: Fans WANT To Support Artists

With our CwF + RtB experiment in full swing, we’ve asked some of the participating artists/authors to provide some guest posts about their own experience with new business models and new promotions. Amanda Palmer, one of the artists involved in our Techdirt Music Club, is someone you’re hopefully familiar with by now. She’s really been at the forefront of experimenting with these sorts of business models and agreed to write a guest post about her experiences.

As part of this, we’re also doing an early announcement of the special promotion that we’ll be running next week only. If you don’t want the entire Techdirt Music Club, you can just order Amanda Palmer’s part: the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book of photographs and short stories — signed by both Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman — and Amanda’s signed CD as well. That’s available now… but only through August 10th until midnight PT.

And here’s Amanda’s post:

i’ve been talking with a lot of folks lately about “why this works”.
the things i find myself saying over and over to people is that
twitter and the new networking technologies are simply new tools for
artists who have been super-connecting with their fans all along.

i started my band in 2000. we didn’t play rock clubs. we played in our
friends houses, in our own houses, in art galleries, in lofts, at
parties. then we gradually brought the party indoors, into clubs that
would book us once they knew we’d bring in 50 drinking/paying bodies.
i treated our email list like gold. i obsessively stayed up all night
and added named after every show. we took the time to meet every
single fan who wanted to meet us after every show (i still do this,
and i know that brian does it in his current punk band, world/inferno). but this wasn’t because i felt it was mandatory….i did
this because we LIKED it.

i got into music-making in the first place because i was so hungry to
to me, the meeting&greeting was part of the reward, not a chore. but
not all bands think like this. we were lucky. we liked it.

i’m still lucky, because i STILL LIKE IT. i actually love sitting down
for an hour or two and bantering back and forth with my fans on
twitter. they’re all intelligent, funny, cool people. very few of them
are mundane or obnoxious. very few of them ask stupid questions.
there’s a huge amount of respect between me and the fans and between
the fans themselves. i feel proud that my music has brought all these
freaks together, and i still like attending the party.

for artists who have NO desire to do this, it’s quite a quandary
nowadays, because many fans have come to expect it.

it’s a slight catch-22: it’s impossible to hide and it’s impossible to

and artists who have huge walls about what they’re willing to share can
end up seeming irritated….and letting someone else tweet for you is
the kiss of death.
the last tweet a fan ever really wants to see is : “hey THE ARTIST’S
fans!! check out THE ARTIST’S new single, available now on itunes!!!”
people hate that shit. not when you know you can go somewhere else and
get: “fucking hell, let me share with you guys i’m feeling…”

re: the connecting to fans, and giving them a reason to buy….

what i’ve found is that once people trust and love you as an artist,
some percentage of them will buy ANYTHING if they know the actual
is to simply put money in the artist’s pocket. case in point: when i
did my hock-weird-shit-from-my-apartment webcast auction a few months
ago, fans wrote in
asking if they could bid on the glasses and wine bottle we were
drinking from. the answer: fuck yes. why not? they sold for a few
hundred dollars each.
the reason? these fans knew that it wasn’t the objects themselves that
were important. they knew that i was raising rent money, and they
wanted to help; wine bottle was pure symbolism.

another fan tweeted in that they’d love to get involved by buying a
signed postcard for $20…would i do that? when i told them that sure,
i’d do it, 70 other fans wrote in and wanted one for themselves….
and most of them KNEW that i have a section of my website that states
clearly that if you simply send me your address, i’ll send you a
signed postcard…FOR FREE!

but they wanted to help. and be involved. and involved them i
did…before ending the webcast i read off a list of all their names.
i knew they’d dig that…and i hadn’t promised anything.
i just knew that being recognized means so much when you’re sitting
randomly alone behind your computer, watching a webcast, feeling only
slightly connected.

connecting with fans, if they LIKE YOUR ART, automatically gives them
a “reason to buy”, even if it’s NOT ART, because they want to SUPPORT

i think we’re going to see more and more of that as fans come to
realize that the music is free but comes with the emotional price-tag
of supporting
the artist in any way the artist puts their proverbial hat out (merch,
mementos, special packages, literal/web-based tip jars…or wine

how much do you think the hardcore fans who buy the $300 vinyl/art-print bundles would simply buy a random pretty book of monochrome
prints by an unknown artist in a bookstore?

my guess: they will look at the bundle book a few times, admire it,
appreciate it, put it on the coffee table or the bookshelf. and they
will listen to the vinyl….probably.
but are most of those people vinyl-philes? art print collectors?
the point is, they will get two other things that are more important:
bragging rights and the knowledge that they were singlehandedly
involved with and supporting an artist’s personal enterprise.
because they love the artist, and they want to support him/her, period.

but the nature of fandom & its responsibilities is going to have to
change to the same extent that the musicians are going to have to look
at their lives & livelihoods (as “working musicians”) more honestly.

as musicians rely more and more on fans/listeners/audience within this
kind of honor system, the fans/listeners/audience will have to ante up
or the system just won’t work.

my hope is that the future culture of music will equate the pleasure of hearing a brand new band in a
teeny club with the moral responsibility to toss them a few bucks to keep
going, instead of just walking into the night, feeling lucky.

p.s. i created this video about a month ago with my fans at the beach
at the tail end of a twittered flash-gig in LA. watch it, it’s awesome.

Thanks Amanda! To get the signed book & CD check out the Amanda Palmer Special, or get the entire Techdirt Music Club for just a little more. Or, if you want to go all out before midnight PT on Monday the 3rd, if you buy both the Techdirt Music Club and the Techdirt Book Club before midnight PT, August 3rd, we’ll throw in a free Techdirt hoodie, or a free lunch with Mike Masnick.

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