Amanda Palmer playing with the Danger Ensemble in Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of Michelle Matheny.
Written by: Jennifer Smith
With about a week to go on her explosive Kickstarter campaign, indie rock songstress Amanda Palmer is in no danger of reaching her $100,000 goal. In just one day, the project raised $250,000 and now it’s approaching $800,000.
And while the three-pronged record, art book and tour campaign seems like an overnight success to some, fans know this is just years of Palmer’s personal brand of social and DIY engagement paying off in a big way.
From the very beginning of her career, Palmer has emphasized the importance of connecting with her fans. From getting a ride with them or staying at their houses for the night, Palmer has built a following with one of the oldest strategies in the book for getting people to like you: asking them a favor.
In return, fans get to see the real Amanda Palmer. Her blog is meticulously updated with sneak peeks into her creative process and intimate reports from her life offstage.
Perhaps it’s this air of vulnerability that endears Palmer’s fans to her so much, but in any case, her following has become fiercely loyal. When Palmer reported on her blog in 2008 that her then-label Roadrunner cut shots from her “Leeds United” video because of her “fat”, exposed belly, fans started a “Rebellyon” and created a website of the same name to post pictures of their own bellies scrawled over with words of support.
To date, she’s cultivated more than a half a million followers on Twitter, where she’s quite vigilant about interacting with fans, organizing secret gigs, and sharing her followers’ projects. Long before her Kickstarter success, Palmer pulled in some serious cash through Twitter by creating a T-shirt on a lark. What started as a joke and hashtag turned into $11,000 in two hours.
Her other Kickstarter endeavor, An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer, also exceeded expectations, pulling in over $100,000 for a mini-tour of the west coast.
So the stage was completely set for this Kickstarter campaign to be a success, but not without the virtues of hard work. I believe Amanda Palmer has accomplished something, slowly but surely, that will prove to be just as momentous as “going electric” in terms of how we think about the music industry.
Like other musicians, Amanda Palmer has made her music available on a pay-what-you-like basis. She’s coming up with ways to monetize her music without spending a ton of money. She’s giving her fans personal content that they can interact with on a personal basis. Well worth the $1 donation.
In the words of Amanda Fucking Palmer: “This is the future of music. This is how we fucking do it.”