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Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra are putting out an album. Pre-order it / get more info on the art book & gallery tour, here!
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Amanda Palmer

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.

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.



    1. Creator Sandra Nichols on May 22, 2012

      Well said AFP.

    2. Creator Bob Earl on May 22, 2012

      Pretty sure Korby is correct, there have to be taxes on donated money. This isn't a charity! I'm not a tax expert, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the 35-50% range.

      I just looked, and KS says:
      "Will Amazon send me a 1099-K tax form?

      Amazon Payments handles transactions conducted through Kickstarter. Amazon Payments will file Form 1099-K to report unadjusted annual gross sales information for people who meet both of the following thresholds in a calendar year:

      • More than $20,000 in gross sales, and

      • More than 200 transactions.

      You can read more about this on Amazon Payments' tax reporting information page (…). We also recommend that you speak to an accountant or a financial advisor for more information."

    3. Creator Bob Earl on May 22, 2012

      Pretty sure Korby is correct, there have to be taxes on donated money. This isn't a charity! I'm not a tax expert, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the 35-50% range.

      I just looked, and KS says:
      "Will Amazon send me a 1099-K tax form?

      Amazon Payments handles transactions conducted through Kickstarter. Amazon Payments will file Form 1099-K to report unadjusted annual gross sales information for people who meet both of the following thresholds in a calendar year:

      • More than $20,000 in gross sales, and

      • More than 200 transactions.

      You can read more about this on Amazon Payments' tax reporting information page (…). We also recommend that you speak to an accountant or a financial advisor for more information."

    4. Creator kai charles on May 22, 2012

      Thanks for the education Amanda.Ill admit to not being a huge music devotee, books are my thing, but I always put my money towards what inspires me. I wish every person who ever wrote a song, book, comic, or made a piece of art had the freedom you are cultivating for yourself and your fans. Best to you! Keeping my fingers crossed that ypuget a million from backers!

    5. Creator Cousin Artaud on May 22, 2012

      Posted to my fb page. Hopefully some of the people who helped out at the DD show when we were doing Rocky back in 2006 will become aware of it and join in. Keep it up are truly inspiring!

    6. Creator Daniel Evans on May 22, 2012

      free 24 hour Circus brunch bar in a church sounds pretty fucking cool. i'll up my pledge a notch. no but the most important thing about what you're doing, and Kickstarter in general is highlighting and helping to eliminate the plight of even the most successful artists - the money making machine that was and still is the commercial music industry is a crock of shit. i am more proud of you, afp, than i have been ever before, and i didn't even think that was possible. xo

    7. Creator Kayci on May 22, 2012

      Dear afp: you are amazing, and I am so glad to be part of this history making venture that you're masterminding.

      Also, I think we should start a Kickstarter for that church idea.

    8. Creator Daniel Carney on May 22, 2012

      I love you, Amanda Palmer. No Really!

    9. Creator Alexey Vasilyev on May 22, 2012

      boo hoo love you afp

    10. Creator Kramer Davis on May 22, 2012

      I must be the epitome of naivety... are people that busy already trying to count your KS money? Boo to them.

    11. Creator Chaz Carlson on May 22, 2012

      You are the epitome of intelligent and decisive fucking awesomeness. Thank you :)

    12. Creator Tiara & Adrian Agresta on May 22, 2012

      This message is actually what inspired me to donate at the level I chose. The transparency and your commitment to making art is inspiring, and I'm excited to support you directly. Best of luck!!

    13. Creator Margie Yu on May 22, 2012


    14. Creator Atarun on May 22, 2012

      I already knew you wouldn't get loaded through this Kickstarter... :(
      And I wish you did. You totally fucking deserve to get fucking loaded!

    15. Creator semiriot on May 22, 2012

      give 'em hell, ms palmer

    16. Creator honeybird on May 22, 2012



    17. Creator MattG on May 22, 2012

      Besides... I also don't care if anyone is "loaded" or whatever. It's the person that counts! And I hope you make money with this project. As much as possible, so you can continue doing what you do best :)

    18. Creator Korby Marks on May 22, 2012

      Thanks for all your lively updates. I may have missed this in your budget's breakdown, so please correct me if I'm wrong but, don't creator's also have to pay taxes on money generated through kickstarter...on top of everything else? That's another hidden cost most may not be aware of, if it's true.

    19. Creator MattG on May 22, 2012

      I didn't know people where asking these questions... well to be honest, I didn't really go through many comments. It's weird that you have to explain these things :-/. At the same time it's interesting to get this insight in how much costs what in this business (and frightening...). Good to know!

      Anyway, I think yours is an awesome project and my favorite KS campaign so far (never heard any of your songs before and you convinced me in not even a minute :)).

      Rock on & let's see how far we can get !!!

    20. Creator Daniel Miner (deleted) on May 22, 2012


      Way to Keep Amaze and Carry your Balls Amanda. This is the start of something new and exciting. Any artist who would be afraid to do what you did/do/will do isn't sure of their art. Love everything about the way you do things.

      PS- If you need a short order cook for your Circus Brunch bar I can do some things with eggs that some people consider art... : )

    21. Creator Anomalee on May 22, 2012

      LOL... *awesome* breakdown. But don't forget to add %10 for the Things Invented to Cost Me More Money That Haven't Even Been Dreamed of In My Bizarrest Fantasies... it should be a line item cost, really!

      Good luck and thank you! xo

    22. Creator Jos Yule on May 22, 2012

      You already have shown, time and time again, your support for all the people you work with, and enabling them to _have_ work. In light of that, this is a little project which i think is interesting, specifically around Kickstart-ed projects:

      I don't know what your take on it is/would be, and it doesn't matter to me if you dig/don't dig it (as i know that you already support so many others), but thought you might be interested.


    23. Creator Callie on May 22, 2012

      This also runs with the assumption that every pledge goes through when the Kickstarter is over. I've seen breakdowns of other Kickstarters that mentioned that a portion of their pledged funds have credit card denials, etc, so that takes out a chunk, too.

      I love seeing the breakdowns of costs, too. When you present a business plan, Amanda, you present a Fucking Business Plan, and I love it. :) Thank you for sharing all this with us.

    24. Creator Alejandro Suárez Mascareño on May 22, 2012

      @Eric Leslie: She has, for sure, a "lower profile" plan. In any business you have to be always ready for the worst. So in that case the packages would probably have been less awesome and cheaper (also less packages to deliver), etc... everything would be less ambitious. But she has spent a lot of time getting ready for this, I think she was expecting at least half a million.

    25. Creator Lee Sweeney on May 22, 2012

      For the last week, when I try to go to the Blog from my iPad I get a network error.
      Rest of the pages work, just not the Blog.

      Contact me if you need more info.


    26. Creator Donna Lordi on May 22, 2012

      I always love seeing artists talk about their costs, never mind one of my most favorite.

      Even if you do get loaded, lady, you definitely earned it. You are truly awesome! You love everything you do, and it shows 110% or even more.

    27. Creator Terry Hancock on May 22, 2012

      This is a very useful kind of analysis, especially for people wanting to follow your example.

    28. Creator Jeremy Price on May 22, 2012


      that is all

    29. Creator Emiliano Sasal on May 22, 2012

      You're fucking awesome!!!
      I love you ;)
      Greetings from Argentina!!!

    30. Creator Gwenaël Jacquet on May 22, 2012

      Tanks for sharring this with us.

      One day, maybe, we are going to drink together, with some other real fans, in a church or any other place.

      Creativity ask a lot of money to touch the audience. Hopefully kickstarter is a good place for that now.

    31. Creator jesse on May 22, 2012

      can you call up regina and convince her to do this? she's always talking about how she wishes she could release an album more than once every five hundred years, and i wish that too.

    32. Creator Shannon Babu on May 22, 2012

      This is really fascinating. For decades we've been consuming music and not comprehending the machinery behind it, like any other industry - if you're not personally involved, the product seems to just magically appear out of nowhere. Thanks for the break down on the details, this will def be collected as part of our personal economics/art curriculum.

    33. Creator Lee Sweeney on May 22, 2012


      So if each of us pledged a few extra dollars, would that help to smooth it out?
      Seems a bit unfair that this has a chance to be a break even after all the hard work.

      And if it comes out better, just use the extra to start the next one.

      What do the rest of the backers think, say a 2 dollar over pledge to keep the ball rolling?


    34. Creator Mark Pumphrey on May 22, 2012

      I have a question, seeing as how you are now your own "record company" as far as the expenses go.
      What is you feeling about your new album being "pirated"?
      Just asking... not doing.

    35. Creator Ryan Nohr on May 22, 2012

      Could we start a Kickstarter for the Church Circus Brunch Bar? Because that should probably happen sooner rather than later.

    36. Creator Lauren on May 22, 2012

      I DONT CARE I dont neeeed explaining to....take the money and make art..i am in MY studio now, in Hull, on the south coast of Boston, and hear the rain fall and the birds chirping and that sound of waves in my back yard...make art and do art and money is like the ocean, in waves and flows, it comes and goes, think of all the folks you are supporting with all the dough you are spending..GOOD WORK!! can't wait to see you at the concert in boston, I can sew a straight line and you can find me at you give me power LUV U lots...Lauren

    37. Creator Christian on May 22, 2012

      Those are some scary cost. Its freaking amazing that you do all this for your music and fans. When ever the tour is ,I hope I can see you in Los Angeles again. You are a goddess of music. If I wasn't a broke student I would give so much more, you deserve it.

    38. Creator Christian on May 22, 2012

      Those are some scary cost. Its freaking amazing that you do all this for your music and fans. When ever the tour is ,I hope I can see you in Los Angeles again. You are a goddess of music. If I wasn't a broke student I would give so much more, you deserve it.

    39. Creator Lauma on May 22, 2012

      I think a lot of people are only just beginning to open their eyes to how strangely major art distribution companies work in regards of the artists. And how strangely and illogically value gets attached to stuff due to that (and a billion other reasons). And it's not just music, but all types of art, really.
      I love what you did here. A shining example of how the world is changing at last.

    40. Creator Amanda Palmer on May 22, 2012

      @ Jeff Gupton: That's in there! "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." - Sean (Team AFP)

    41. Creator Transylvanian Flag on May 22, 2012

      you are amazing and brave. fuck all the people that are asking "who the fuck do i think i am doing this anyway, blah blah blah" they should mind their own business and stop snooping around creating drama. the best thing about kickstarter is that you can back the artists that you want and if you don't want to then move along... keep up the amazing work AFP and Co. i love you all.

    42. Creator Renee Perry on May 22, 2012

      You know, I didn't even want the breakdown, but thanks for laying it all out there. I don't think most of us think about how easy it is to burn through what looks like piles of moolah when you're actually making something, paying yourself and other people a reasonable amount of money.

      Stuff just costs.

      If you do the circus brunch thing, think about a zeppelin. ok? thanks

    43. Creator Bart DS on May 22, 2012

      Also, congratulations on reaching 800K!

    44. Creator Michael Prince on May 22, 2012

      Amanda I am so glad I backed this just to read your thoughts and see this all unfold. You are an amazing and inspiring woman and I cant wait to hear the whole record! (The costs are hella scary tho') I greatly appreciate the extra care you are taking and I wouldn't expect anything less after following you for the last few years :) xo

    45. Creator Jeff Gupton on May 22, 2012

      Don't forget the cut Kickstarter takes for hosting the project and the cut Amazon takes for collecting the money.

      Thanks for mapping all that out, but really, I knew you weren't in this for the money, its about the art and music, which is why I supported you.

    46. Creator Eric Leslie on May 22, 2012

      So in your opinion, having done this math, would you still have been in good shape if the project had just hit the $100K mark, rather than having far exceeded it? I mean, obviously not *as* good, but solvent?

      I ask because you clearly view this as hopefully lighting the path for other artists to do likewise, but obviously not everyone can expect to exceed (or even hit, but that's a different topic) their funding goals.

    47. Creator Bart DS on May 22, 2012

      I did wonder what this money would go towards exactly, but I never thought you'd come out "loaded". I'm slightly shocked people asked you that.

      So, what will the eventual budget for promo presumably be? As I thought that was the goal of this kickstarter.

    48. Creator Kelly Dunn on May 22, 2012

      Bring on the Abandoned Church Circus Brunch Bar!
      Hope this project is wicked successful - love the updates.

    49. Creator Graham Wilson on May 22, 2012

      You had me at 24 hr Brunch Bar. please take all of my moneys!

    50. Creator Michelle Park on May 22, 2012

      that's so depressing. thanks for giving that background and i hope people keep pledging!!!!