5 Lessons For Artists (And Fans) From Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer talked to BuzzFeed about her new book, The Art of Asking.
The musician (who formerly worked full-time as a living statue) talked to BuzzFeed about what she hopes artists and fans will take away from her experiences.
1. There is no "right" way to make money as an artist.
"I think the key is just a general kind of allowance for artists to use the tools they want, connect with the audience in their own style and unique way, and I think the world would be best served backing off a little bit with all of this extreme judgement — 'U2 is doing it wrong' and 'Taylor Swift is doing it wrong' — and instead just take the wider perspective that we're all just doing things differently. Every artist has a different relationship with their fans, with their business, and the playing field is very wide. So I support Taylor Swift's decision to take her music off Spotify if she wants to — it's her prerogative as an artist — so if she wants to take her music off, good for her, as long as she doesn't judge me for keeping my music on Spotify."
2. You can absolutely make your own opportunities.
"I actually just did an interview in London about a research project that found that women are far more successful at crowdfunding than men are. I found that fascinating, especially in a world where industries can be very sexist and women find themselves locked out of opportunities because it's a boy's club. It's great that they can sort of skip that hurdle and say, 'Hey, crowd, I don't need the system — I have you.'"
3. Remember that artists need fans as much as fans need artists.
"One of the best house parties was when I drove to Portland from Seattle, stuck in a traffic jam and right before I left, I got my first death threat. It was right around the time of the Boston marathon bombing and I had written an entry for a blog that a lot of people really hated, and on the website someone wrote that they were going to track me down and kill me. I wasn't really scared of some wacko but it wasn't a pleasant feeling, being stuck in traffic for seven hours with that. By the time I showed up to the house party an hour late, there were all these wonderful people in the backyard already drinking and bonding and loving each other and I just totally needed them more that night than they needed me."
4. You also never know who might become a friend.
"There's a chapter in the book about me and a massage therapist named Courtnee. I was just in Courtnee's car, getting a ride to the airport and when you get to that chapter, you'll understand how significant that is because she was a huge Amanda Palmer hater. It was right after the Boston bombing and life was really shitty and I was getting a lot of hate from a lot of sites for a lot of reasons. It was my birthday, and Neil [Gaiman, author and Amanda's husband] and I were in Seattle to deliver a couple of house parties and Neil decided to treat us both to a massage for my birthday. He booked randomly online and an hour later, we walked into this girl's office and when she saw me ... she said, 'When I saw your names, I thought it was my friends playing a practical joke on me. I need to talk to you. I am a person who's been writing horrible, excruciatingly mean things to you on my blog and you might not want to get on my massage table.' And I got on her massage table and she massaged me for an hour while I lay there and cried. It was just this moment of total dual forgiveness. And we've become friends."
5. Never be afraid to ask.
"Ask where the benevolence is and don't spend your time dwelling on anger and resentment toward the people who aren't inclined to help you. The world owes you nothing and as a musician, you're not entitled to anything but you can most certainly ask for what you need and see who is heeding your call."