Share this project


Share this project

WE ARE THE MEDIA! With your backing, me &
The Grand Theft Orchestra released "Theatre Is Evil" in September
2011, hit the billboard top 10, toured the world, played 25 house parties &
made a MASSIVE book with album-inspired art from 30+ artists!
WE ARE THE MEDIA! With your backing, me & The Grand Theft Orchestra released "Theatre Is Evil" in September 2011, hit the billboard top 10, toured the world, played 25 house parties & made a MASSIVE book with album-inspired art from 30+ artists!
24,883 backers pledged $1,192,793 to help bring this project to life.

all you ever wanted to know about all this kickstarter money & where it's going.

Posted by Amanda Palmer (Creator)

my dear comrades,

GREETINGS FROM my desk in boston, where it's raining and the birds are going crazy and i'm tied to my computer crank crank cranking on the artwork and the tour prep.

lots more to come. we've almost hit 17k backers and i'm oozing with joy. 

so you know: i'm cross-posting this backer update to my blog as well. i think it's important shit. i'm going to be reading the comments in both places, but the majority of discussion will probably be going backy-forthy over on the blog site, if you want to join the conversation over there. HERE is the link. the text is exactly the same.


this is a long update, but i have something important i’d love for you to read first.
save it for later if you have to, but READ IT. (a lot of you, especially the music-biz types, probably already have.)

it’s a now-famous piece of writing from the early 90’s by producer steve albini, entitled “The Problem With Music.”
in it, he basically explains why a famous touring band on a label is still fundamentally FUCKED once you do the math.

click HERE to read it.

everything he says is true. i lived this reality on roadrunner records.

if you compare his numbers to my numbers (below), the similarities are striking, but that shouldn’t be surprising.
it COSTS REAL MONEY to manufacture and distribute a record, to have a staff and a publicist, to promote an artist and tour a band.
that will never truly change.
but now, because we can reach out fans directly without the machine, artists are empowered to call the shots and keep whatever’s leftover…not the labels.


lots of people have been asking LOTS OF QUESTIONS. why we set the goal where we did, and who the fuck do i think i am doing this anyway, blah blah blah.
and i’m working on answering A LOT of big life-altering questions for my next blog, including why my kickstarter is actually NOT a front for the church of scientology. 


this question from @MaleahArvieux on twitter merits its own big-ass answer, and it’s one of things i’ve been asked CONSTANTLY.


“so, are you loaded?”


well, you tell me. depends on your definition of “loaded.” 

let’s say this kickstarter hits a million dollars in pledges by may 31st. 

TRULY? first i’ll run naked through the streets, yelling hallelujah.
because this WORKED.

but financially, realistically?
first i’ll pay off the lovely debt - stacks of bills and loans and the like - associated with readying all of the stuff that had to happen BEFORE i brought this project to kickstarter.
for the past 8 months or so, i wasn’t touring - and therefore wasn’t making much income - but every step of the way, there were expenses. so, during that time, i borrowed from various friends and family who i’d built up trust with over the years.

i had to pay my staff and crew to get this album ready as well as keep the ship afloat and headed in the right direction. i also needed to come up with the cost of the recording itself (which was pretty whopping), and any other expenses the band racked up in the meanwhile.
to put a number on all of that behind-the-scenes stuff which just got us to DAY ONE of kickstarter: $250,000.
terrifying? damn straight.
but to do this the way i knew it needed to be done, that was just a bet i had to take against myself.
i’m a truly lucky person to have been able to float myself without having to simultaneously tour and break my back.
i’ve also worked my ass off for years to build the kind of trust that built me that line of credit with people.

let’s subtract that from the $1,000,000 we theoretically make on kickstarter.
that takes us down to about $750k. 

here’s some very back-of-the-napkin costs to manufacture the goods, with a rough estimate of about what we’d have sold if we got to a million.

7,000+ high-end CD-books & thank you cards cost about $15 a package to manufacture and ship. that’s $105,000.
1,500+ vinyls & cards, at about $20 to manufacture & ship…about $30,000
2,000+ art books (bearing in mind the shipping on those, every time they need to be shipped from the plant, to the distributor, to YOU, plus the signing, is killer) will cost us roughly $80,000.
PLUS we have to factor in about $15-20k to pay our design team to actually design all this stuff, and to make it super-duper amazing and worth your money. those of you who supported mine and Neil’s last Kickstarter know what i’m talking about here. this CD is gonna be a super-deluxxxxxe work of art.
the neil and kyle books are going to cost us a LOT of dough to create…(edited after speaking with kyle) let’s say about $300/copy for about 100 copies…that’s 30k.

if we sell about 100 turntable packages: ordering the tables, paying the artists to paint them, shipping all that stuff around: ballpark another $15k.
arts & crafts/7-inch packages, if we sell about 300 of them, adds about another $30k (we’re planning on spending roughly $100 each on the packaging for those, including not only the vinyl but the fun arts-and-crafts activities. oh, and postage/shipping x5)

to take the band on TOUR to six cities and install the art shows is probably going to break even, but if they don’t sell out (looks like some won’t) we might eat it a little bit on that art tour. let’s say we wind up not selling out berlin and LA. we still have to pay to fly the band, gear, art (carefully!!!) and crew to each city. that difference might sink us about $10k.

i’ll be able to wrap some of the house parties into a regular tour, but a lot of them i’m going to need to fly to or otherwise get to. 35 parties. let’s assume i crash on couches and with friends and don’t even stay in hotels…and let’s assume the flights are cheap and i only have to fly to 20 of the 35, with average airfare from place to place being $500. that’s $10k.


now we’re down to $420,000.

i have to pay the VISUAL artists who joined this amazing art party. i commissioned them all to paint their art, they own it. i’m only BORROWING the art for the art gallery tour — and using the “likeness” (the digital copy) for the album/book/etc. packaging – and then returning the art to the artist to keep. still, i paid them all. add another $20-25k there. i feel very good about giving them all that money.

which puts us at $395,000.

this is a good time to talk about commissions (get ready to be bored):
me and my management team are doing this all 100% by ourselves (globally). because this IS the way it should be - putting control back into the artist’s hands - there’s a shit-ton of work involved. this is not a bad thing, i am not complaining, but it means a pretty big staff (including my lawyer) needs to be in place to DO THIS.
they’ll take about 15% of everything.
my business manager, who gets everyone paid and acts as the accountant for all my cashflow, also takes a 5% cut of everything i earn (which is very fair. hi patrick!!!).

for you business majors, since you’ll ask: some of this commission is after expense, i.e. on the net. some isn’t. good questions. let’s continue.

so do the % math: on a million dollars, give or take, that means that about $150,000 of the kickstarter money will go to the commission pile.

down to $245,000. 

we had budgeted about $80k for four to five music videos, which are fun and we all love (and which also provide work for more of amazing artists). i might up that to $100k now that i know we can afford it.

that’d take us to $145k.

there’s expenses i’m not even TALKING about here…the cost of our new website designers, my full-time staff (i have two: superkate and sean), the tour equipment, band costumes, gear cases, stage backdrops, and gazillion other incidentals. the mind boggles. you should see my email inbox, as we try to sort all this stuff…it’s hilarious.

and wait, fuck….i forgot. kickstarter also takes 5%. and so does Amazon (who handle the credit card processing fees, turning pledges into actual moneys). so we have to lop off $75-100k for them.

(are you starting to get the idea here…?)

are we at under $100k yes? why, yes! how the fuck did THAT happen?

not by accident. 


all business choices. all art choices.

none of this is surprising to ME.

i can tell you two things for sure:

ONE…we are committed to doing amazing things for all of you who pledged. sure, it’s going to cost more to make things extra fancy (and for us to ship things for FREE all over the world), but making this stuff amazing IS THE POINT. if i skimped on making the packaging and actual products INCREDIBLE, i’d be an idiot.


TWO…a LOT of our income for the next year WON’T COME from this kickstarter. it’ll come gradually, over the following year: from the touring show, from the merchandise we sell on the road, from money we get in donations when i make the tracks available online, from the money i get from iTunes from the people who are sometimes lazy (like me), and so forth. it’ll be a slow burn, like it always is.

if we keep our expenses down, and keep the tour pretty practical and the video budget way down, i could probably put $100k of this in the bank personally. which would be great.

but i might just be close to zero as i head off on tour this fall.

and you know what?

that’s FINE with me. it’s almost even THE PLAN.

if i break even on this project, i still see this as a massive win. do you see why?

first of all, this kickstarter and its success is going to open the door for a lot of other artists, especially major-label refugees like me.

i’ve never denied the value of getting a boost from the old label system. but that was then, this is now. 

and we’re being shown PROOF POSITIVE that it’s just not necessary anymore. paying now for value later is what historically would’ve been a label’s primary purpose. now YOU are able to bankroll and finance and KEEP CONTROL WITH THE ARTISTS. showing that this WORKS…that’s simply great art-karma, and awesome for everybody, including me. and all my art-making friends.

and almost DEFINITELY: all the buzz around this kickstarter will mean the record itself will get more attention when it comes out for real, commercially.
and the record itself is AWESOME. it is. it is awesome. which means i have a feeling it’s going to do really well aside from this pre-order.
and that’ll make me real money when i hit the road in september. 

don’t forget: i’m CHOOSING to spend all this money making the packages fancy as shit….and i’m CHOOSING to tour this way. EXPENSIVELY.

i could send you all cheap-ass jewel case CDs, fire my staff, make a cheap book on xerox paper, and tour just with a solo piano…with no crew, no band….and RAKE IN THE DOUGH.
i mean: i could potentially do that and walk with close to half a million dollars. but the products would suck and the tour would be a solo piano tour. and nobody would ever trust me again.

i’ve been running my life this way for years, bouncing up and down financially and just making sure i always had enough money to do WHAT I WANTED, and do it RIGHT.

it may be what makes me different, fundamentally, from a lot of pop artists. i’m almost never looking at the monetary bottom line, i’m always looking at the creative bottom line. the happiness index of my life and creative self, not the amount of dough i’ll have in the bank at the end of a project. (it can drive a manager crazy.)


to answer the question:

i’m loaded.
loaded with awesomeness. 

in no fucking case scenario do i get a check for $1,000,000 and laugh my way to the bank, then book a private jet to ibiza where a limo filled with hookers and blow will be waiting to escort me to a slamming nightclub called “la uno percento” where i then spend my time contemplating my handsome nose job in the darkened mirrored bathrooms (probably weeping).

and you know what else? if i wind up truly loaded someday, it means i’ll probably buy an abandoned church somewhere and turn it into a free 24-hour circus brunch bar for everybody. cross your fucking fingers. we’ll all win.

stay tuned.

this is just the beginning.

we’re all investing, dollar by dollar, pledge by pledge. 

investing not just in the future of my little record and band, but in an idea whose time has come.

and this is a good thing.



Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Dana on

      Dear glob. I pray that one day Amanda will open up a circus brunch bar.
      I'm an aerialist/contortionist. I'll work for hat money.

    2. Missing avatar

      Michele Treffi on

      I love how you acknowledge the fact that you might only break even on this project...& you're ok with that. It's not about the's about your passion for the art itself! And it's not just about your have brought so many creative people into this project in hopes that doors will open for them to find an audience for their art as well. Your level of commitment to your supporters & the artists that have contributed to your success is so heartfelt & genuine...I wish I had more money to back you. The world needs more Amanda Palmers! I have been a fan & supporter of your art for quite some time now & I am proud to be a part of this project. I have no problem spending my hard earned money to contribute to your put your whole heart into everything you do & you have helped so many others along the way! Thank you for all that you do & for just being you! <3

    3. Missing avatar

      Teagan Blyth on

      SInce you have now hit the $1m mark will you now be running naked through the streets yelling "Hallelujah"?
      I foresee much amusement, and backer appreciation if such imagery was included in a music clip for one of the songs from this new album! Perhaps with smurfs hiding censored parts :P

    4. Ashlyn Williams on

      Well all in all I am happy that you brought this to kickstarter even though it is taking a lot of time and money for you to do it. I am excited for my digital download and may be able to up to $5 or $25 depending on how the rest of my week goes

    5. Missing avatar

      Lewis butler on

      How high does the kickstarter need to go before you get to takl a check for $1,000,000 on a private check to ibiza? Because, you know, that would be kind of awesome. But circus brunch bar could be cool too. I'm in!

    6. Mary Hill on


      I figured if I wrote it in caps you might see it easier. SO. Since it looks very unlikely that the art shows will sell out, does that mean that when the kickstarter ends you might put the tickets you set aside for the rock shows would be put back on the market? (since the funders who pay for the art show also will get tickets to the rock show)

      student who cannot afford the $300 art show no matter how much she wants to go.

    7. Missing avatar

      Katie Narduzzo on

      Looking forward to the 24 hour circus brunch in a church. Just upped my horrendously-poor-art-student-in-debt contribution of $1 to $5 in the vain hopes of someday having strawberry pancakes served to me by a burlesque firebreather or somesuch at 3am probably somewhere near Harvard Square.

    8. Missing avatar

      Jason Brosious on

      AFP = Absolutely Fucking Passionate or Amazing fucking Person

    9. Missing avatar

      Tristana on

      Great Amanda! you're inspiring =)

    10. Stephanie Storfer on

      I'm actually backing because of this update as well! Rock on!

    11. altruism on

      I never heard one of your songs. I am your backer because ... well ... as this update shows: you are awesome.

    12. Missing avatar

      richardt001 on

      Amazing post & amazing project ... let's hope that tons of other artists get pointed this way, read this post and get inspired to follow ...... btw - did I mention it is all just amazing !

    13. Missing avatar

      carlos palomino on

      you are amazingg!

    14. Diana Reid on

      Amanda, you're absolutely the perfect person to live through vicariously. You're honourable, creative, capable, and daring. Please don't compromise any of that.

    15. Missing avatar

      Kelly Irene Corson on

      thanks for the morning goosebumps AFP. You're the best. Thank you for your bravery.

    16. Jerry H. on

      AFP: ". . . for the past 8 months or so, i wasn’t touring - and therefore wasn’t making much income . . . a LOT of our income for the next year WON’T COME from this kickstarter. it’ll come gradually, over the following year: from the touring show . . ."

      MM: "I am a bit surprised on how much the CD production cost and how you earn nothing while touring"

      Bwuh?! This is why one shouldn't shoot from the hip in comments. (I know, I know: Welcome to the Internet, right?)

      At any rate, the transparency is certainly appreciated (and, yes, as many have already noted, please don't forget about the taxes because the government certainly won't).

    17. Missing avatar

      Thorne & Erin

      You love your fans as much as we love you. I think both you and us are the luckiest people in the world :-)

    18. Missing avatar

      Erik Smith on

      You're very brave, and I'm excited for you! I've honestly never listened to your music before, but I've donated and look forward to hearing it!

    19. Shervyn von Hoerl

      Thank you. For answering the questions, for doing this, for being you.

    20. Manuel Warum on

      Amanda: other than backing your project and spreading the word, are there any other ways we can help?

    21. Missing avatar

      Heather James on

      Can't wait to see the book! I just donated :)

      What an excellent breakdown of the finances it takes to run this. Thanks for taking the time. You have so much good work ahead of you, with many commitments. You work really hard!! And it's so great you're also creating opportunities for other artists as well. Wow! Truly inspiring.

    22. Missing avatar

      Ruth on

      The numbers don't surprise me at all, but now I have the space for it I have one key question: what about time?

      I think these things are AMAZING! I love the attention and love you give your fans. I just dont get how you will have time to do all these parts, the painting, the packaging, the art bundles, the flying all over the world. Like with the money I trust you completely, but if you have the time (lol) could you break down the time frame for getting all these things done?

      Also -you are awesome indeed!

    23. Michael Matzat on

      I am a bit surprised on how much the CD production cost and how you earn nothing while touring (i always thought gigs were the place were most musicians get payed these days). Interesting.

      Anyway, there is one number missing from the math if i have not over read it. Income taxes you will have to pay on the money you earned from this kickstarter. It´s something a lot of people forgot on the projects i backed.

    24. Missing avatar

      Brian Sweet on

      You ARE loaded with awesomeness!

    25. Michael J Sullivan on

      Amanda, I trust you completely and know that whatever you're involved in will be created with love.

    26. Missing avatar

      Emilie on

      I love this so much. It feels awesome to be able to be a part of this and be able to help make all this happen.
      Also, totally unrelated, but I live in Denton, TX which I know you and Neil were here recently (and i'm super bummed I didn't know about it until after), but I went to bar trivia tonight and they played Runs in the Family and Oasis during the game and I was so excited and I wanted to tell you. :) Ok, that's all.

    27. Shelby Koning on

      Pisses me off when people question integrity of an artist who historically has essentially given her work away & depended on the love and loyalty of her fans to make it at all (hopefully) profitable. Mad respect for you always AFP. I don't have much in the way of money at this point in my life, but I wanted to be a part of the greatness that is your music & vision and I know I won't be disappointed. Least I could do considering how many times your music has made me feel like I'm not alone at times when it would have been easy to feel alone and yes, a little part of me hopes that art Karma rolls back to me someday!

    28. Michelle on

      You couldn't have said it any better.

    29. Matthew Curley on

      I love you Amanda. Most people wouldn't give enough of a rat's ass to explain all of this as long as people were shelling out the dough. It says a lot about your character that you care so much about your fans.

    30. Missing avatar

      Elizabeth on

      This is why you are the best: "it may be what makes me different, fundamentally, from a lot of pop artists. i’m almost never looking at the monetary bottom line, i’m always looking at the creative bottom line. the happiness index of my life and creative self, not the amount of dough i’ll have in the bank at the end of a project."

    31. Bradley Hunter on

      This blog reminds me of a British comedy TV series from a few years back. I think it was called "The Young Person's Guide to Becoming A Rock Star". Basic premise... It followed this band as they went from obscurity to rock stars via a ₤1, 000, 000 advance from a record company. There was a "debt-o-meter" in the corner of the screen in every episode that turned over everytime they spent money. Basically, they used up their entire advance and then some before they even released their first album.

      PS Any chance of wielding the awesome power you now have to convince Kickstarter to expand beyond the U.S.?

    32. Missing avatar

      android654 on

      Just promise you'll plan out your next album this way, and this horde will gladly follow.

    33. Matthew Torrez on

      This is an amazing thing you are doing.

    34. Michael Foy on

      In addition, I believe that by yourself, you were an uncontrolled artistic atomic reaction, and your husband was a barely controlled nuclear reactor. But together, you and Neil, with your talented team, and the Grand Theft Orchestra, will be like a supernova, an immaculate fusion, that will create new elements of art and music, elements that were undreamed of by yourself, let alone the unsuspecting bystanders of the creative world. I hope people are begining to notice how big, and how much a change that is going to occur from the success of this heavenly endevour of yours. I for one am prepared to bask in the rays that come from your star, may it burn ever brighter in the new future of your creation.

    35. Michael Foy on

      The record labels were dying back twenty-five years ago when bands and artist could sell cd's and cassettes at their shows. The internet has made it possible for music to be published despite piracy, by every musician. Most will make some money, most will make more money than was available in the old obsolete music economy. Ms. Palmer, you are not just a revolutionary artist, you are making the breakthrough, that will permanently change how music and art is performed and distributed. What you are doing is not completely unique, self financing, crowd sourcing has succeeded before. But the difference is, your Kickstarter is evolving in a perfect storm of social media, internet finance, and media comjunications. This will be the paradigm shift in art. Like any scientific theory, technological development, or social cause, your team's project will be the event, the singularity that begin the explosion of media production through innovative finance and dissemination. Are you prepared for this to suceed? You will soon be on the cover of Wired and Fast Company. I'm sure Annie Lebowitz will be making your portrait for Rolling Stone in a fortnight.

    36. Missing avatar

      Claire Rowlands on

      And this is why we love you. Since your project I have supported a couple of other projects on kickstarter so you are indirectly helping a whole heap of other people as well as enriching our lives with your art. THANK YOU and see you down under

    37. Sean Hogarty on

      I just bumped my pledge up $100 to snag an art book - I love this whole effort, love your financial breakout, and love helping to fuel it all. Rock on.

    38. Missing avatar

      Steven Luna on

      You are the beacon the world has needed to help establish self-sustaining, independent artists as a force in the 21st century - plain and simple. Very proud to be backing you with my tiny contribution (which I genuinely wish could be more, but as a starving artist myself, well...;) ) and intending to back all of your future projects, too. Thank you for your energy, your hope and your happiness!

    39. Gil Greening on

      Thanks for the updates, hadn't given a thought to the "extra" pledges over your target - in fact, I wondered how you and the band and everyone would even be able to eat on only the pledge! Those are some commitments in the coming months... Fantastic first track, can't wait for the rest. Look forward to your next visit downunder.

    40. Ryan Sweeney on

      Thank you for all your wisdom, Amanda. I saw you for the first time perform at coachella years ago in with the dresdon dolls. I still haven't forgot that performance. I am a sailor who is trying to get a musical career going and your kickstarter campaign has been an inspiration and a guide. The business side of things has never been my strongsuit as I just want to focus on the art. But an artist will never reach out to a larger artist without the business. I doubt you will be able to answer this question with the amount of people contacting you... but do you think you were able to find new fans with this kickstarter campaign? i assume that you were able to get such a broad response because you have been performing for years and already have a strong base and media connections.... do you have any online promotion techniques that you recommend for other artists with campaigns to get people aware of there campaign? any recommendations for new artists? let me know when you need that ibiza escort in a limo filled with hookers! so funny! LOL you rock, Amanda! thanks for all the updates.

    41. hedgenog on

      Thank you for making this so - to use the buzzword of the year - TRANSPARENT.

      Whether we want to admit it or not, behind the rock god/goddess fantasy is the reality that this is still a business and a LOT of people and work stand behind that person on stage who we love and idolize. The real issue is whether you do it with integrity and on that scale you are off the charts. What you are doing here is TRULY REVOLUTIONARY and will take DIY to a whole new level.

      But there's a more important question than "are you loaded?" and I think we all know the answer - "Are you having fun?" Because if you can do what you truly love and manage to pay the bills and even bring your friends along for the ride, then you are rich in the best sense of the word.

      Can't wait to see you in SF....

    42. Jesse Markham on

      I am suspecting/hoping many people who will attend the Art Opening/Backer Parties are simply waiting for their budgets to get a breather so they can pony up their pledges with confidence. This has probably also crossed your mind and/or has in fact been proffered by other posters whom I have not read, but I feel the post/invocation is appropriate, however redundant it may be. #yourock!!

    43. Missing avatar

      Margaret Levingston on

      Thank you for sharing so completely how the money is going to be divvied up! I really enjoy getting a behind the scenes peek at how this is all being put together.

      I think you are an amazing human being who makes amazing music, and I hope that more people in the world use you as a role model for how to use earned money to give back to the world, and make a truly amazing product. I've seen you live (only once sadly) and it was well worth it.

      There is always room for you on my couch next time you are in Perth (Australia)! <3

    44. Missing avatar

      Laura Parker on

      This post is why I love you. You are definitely rich in awesome, and you care about art and people. You are over all amazing, definitely my hero.

    45. Angel

      Every time I see someone ask what AFP is going to do with all the cash on Twitter, I facepalm. People are purchasing items in advance...actual physical items with actual costs involved in making them and do those same people walk into a store, make a purchase, and assume that cash is all profit? No. They don't.

      Kickstarter is essentially fans pre-paying for items that can only be produced if a lot of other people pre-pay as well. And a significant number of other industries/organizations have this sort of funding model in order to survive, lotteries and small farms being the two that immediately spring to mind, so it isn't like the public...and ESPECIALLY in-the-know fans...have any right to be ignorant.

    46. Missing avatar

      kassia on

      awesome. thanks. i hope you do get to a million.

    47. Missing avatar

      chris perram on

      Send an update to Lefsetz. BTW this is the most exciting thing I've participated in for ages. If only shareholders of the majors gave as much of a fuck about music and art. Keep it up Amanda

    48. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    49. Travis Buchler on

      ",,,NOT a front for the church of sciento...." eh whatthefuck?

    50. Josh Flint on

      I kind of love you, not just for all the joy and awesomeness you're responsible for bringing into my life but also for the way you choose to do it. Please never compromise that.

      (and if you could pass on a similar sentiment to NG, who totally changed my life, I'd be super grateful)