SMURF-TITS & SCIENTOLOGY OH MY (the KICKSTARTER Q&A part 2)
hola my dear comrades.
in case you missed it, this is a cross-post from my blog.
same txt, i just wanted to make sure you all saw it since it's more kickstarter q&a (part two to the post i made the other day).
there's another update around the bend (tomorrow, hopefully) so enjoy this while you wait……
at the moment i'm posting this blog, the kickstarter totals:
8 DAYS TO GO
it's gone pretty well, i'd say. eh?
the weirdest thing right now is that everybody KNOWS about it. i'm now famous for my kickstarter.
which is a little depressing. i wish that i could steal all that enthusiasm and high-fiving i've getting from strangers in the street (literally) and re-route it to the album when comes out.
i don't want this album to be remembered as "the kickstarter record."
i do want this record to explode. and i want this record to explode because it is awesome.
anyway....jesus, i'm not complaining.
this kickstarter is a fucking game-changer.
what i did NOT expect to happen was to come under fire from so many sides.
while 90% of people out there are so supportive i want to cry most of the day, there's a lot of bitching.
the bitching can be broken down into three categories, in order from least ridiculous to most ridiculous:
- people bitching that i shouldn't be using kickstarter and i should leave it "to the artists who need it".
- people bitching that i'm just shameless and tasteful in general and "begging" for money for my record.
- people bitching that my kickstarter campaign is actually a front to siphon money into the church of scientology.
(i love that last one).
some of the bitchings above will hopefully be covered in the answers below.
except for the scientology one, which i'll answer with a naked picture including smurfs at the end of this blog.
the most common question i got was THIS: "are you rich now?? what are you going to do with ALL. THAT. MONEY?"
i already answered that one...and if you missed it, i suggest you read that (link below), then go pee, grab a second cup of coffee, and return here for part two.
WHERE ALL THIS KICKSTARTER MONEY IS GOING, BY AMANDA FUCKING PALMER
now, to the nitty gritty:
Sounds like 100K was too little. How much did you really need and what were your actual expectations for first week?
Even knowing how awesome your fans are, did you have any anxiety about not hitting the initial goal?
A: i picked a goal that i was 99% sure we would exceed. if you do the math, and you look at my sales history, it wasn't a big stretch of the imagination.
i knew that we had people excited to buy house parties (we've been getting emails asking ALL YEAR) and i knew that the radiohead EP alone got about $100k worth of orders when I put it on sale. so making the goal $100k was a nice, big, round number that we knew wouldn't look too low or too high but was still, in itself, pretty random. when i met last week with my business manager, i asked him to remind me what i'd sketched in a few months ago as my "realistic estimate" of what we'd hit on kickstarter, so he could know for the cashflow report. i'd told him $480,000.
I'm not buying anything until I can at least hear it.
A: HA. i just released a track. fund me.
Jones, from the blog:
Q (of sorts): Believe me when I say I have a great deal of respect for you Amanda, and maybe I am a huge cynic - but right now I am among a group of musicians within the south west in the UK who living a very different reality to the seemingly wonderful opportunity of crowd-funding for music making/distributing.
I'd be really interested when you've had the time to make and put out the new record to read the blog you write with links to unknown musicians for whom crowd-funding has been their start and success. At the moment, for us, it's a new form of Payola where there is no immediate benefit differential from indepedently funding and distributing our work through any means available to us.
A: payola? payola is BRIBERY. this isn't bribery. this is artists taking control over their own work and distribution. it's NOT a magic bullet. if your band or the bands you know can't crowdfund, it's not because anybody's muscling you out of the game. i'll tell you one really huge thing: you need to have a small fanbase first. if you don't have that, crowdfunding WILL NOT WORK. you can't crowdfund without a crowd. you have to have some sort of audience already built and ready to help you. what you're saying to me doesn't sound that different to any other complaint a smaller band has when it comes to getting shit done. it's WORK. you have to play a shit ton of shows, you have to play for free, a lot, you have to slave, you have music people care about, and THEN...THEN you have to ask for help. nobody is going to fund a band they don't give a shit about.
as for an example: i'll hand you tom dickins. he's teeny compared to me, but i've been watching this kid working his ass off for the past three years. he quit his day job, has been living at the poverty line, playing every gig he can fucking get, getting in his shitty broken down car and driving all over australia to play house parties for his few fans, and growing things bit by bit by bit. he just launched an australian crowdfund for his new record - GO HERE FOR IT - and hit his goal of about $10k in the first few days. and if you emailed him and asked him for advice, i guarantee you he'd answer. because he's a sweet fucking guy who likes helping people. which is a huge part of why people are lining up to help him back, alongside the fact that his songs are great.
Are the donations tax-free income?
A: this is a good question mostly because of the way it's worded.
to answer: no..all the money i'm making on CD and LP (and book, and everything) sales via kickstarter is taxable.
these aren't DONATIONS. that drives me crazy. they way we generally define "donating" is that you are giving something without any return: it's a selfless, one-way gift to a cause. this is not that. every single person who's backed the kickstarter is getting a product or a service (like a show) that they've paid for.
it's more of a pre-order than a "fundraiser." the language here gets important. it makes me cringe to read in the press that people have "donated $600k to amanda palmer's kickstarter." that makes it seem like i'm getting away like a bandit. as you can see above,i have to PAY for and manufacture (and pay the staff to help me create) all the products that are for sale. it's almost as ridiculous as newsweek proclaiming that "people donated over $56 million dollars to apple in order to own the new iPhone 4G". that would sound DUMB. this is a marketplace. an art marketplace, but still. it's a real exchange. i have A Thing (it's A Weird Thing, but still) and people are buying it....via the vehicle of kickstarter.
deep/pressing: Doesn't it scare you just a TINY bit? The overwhelming success? (I'm a total chicken, I think I'd have freaked)
A: hi gaba. you're a musician, so this isn't a theoretical question - i know you already know what it feels like to play in front of a thousand people. and you are not a fucking chicken.
I AM AMANDA FUCKING PALMER, I AM SCARED OF NO THING.
well. lies. ok. a little bit. but my scared-ness has to do with one very specific thing, and it doesn't have to do with the kickstarter as much as the success of the record as a whole. it's so good.
i've talked with a lot of my indie-band-comradery who zoomed overnight from 700-seat to 3000-seat venues and found the transition miserable (mostly, you lose your connection to the awesome-ness of your hardcore fanbase, because flake-y fairweather fans who don't know you trample out the old-school ones who hate your new fans and don't want to see you in a 3,000-seat venue because Fuck That). i don't EVER, EVER want that to happen. that's the only thing that slightly scares me. that if i got too big too quick there would be a loss of quality in the fanbase. but i have a feeling i'm clever enough to deal with it well if it happens. my team is strong, i am strong, i think our collective arms are strong enough to open and hold a lot of people and bypass the bullshit.
When was the earliest in your career you would have attempted something like this, and why?
A: if you go back to my grumbly response to jones above, who was in turn grumbling about this not being viable for his band community, you'll see i already sort of addressed this.
if i got back to the dawn of the dresden dolls, this would have been PERFECT for us. i was already crowdfunding back then. i borrowed the money we needed for our first record from six different people (including some relatively well-off fans who'd come to see us play 12 times and were happy to loan us five grand). if i'd been able to simply plug into our boston fanbase and ask them for help, i would have. but back in those days (2003) we couldn't. but it would have worked, of that i'm certain. you're talking to someone who's been passing the hat for various opening bands since the dawn of touring. it ALWAYS works. sometimes it works great, sometimes not so great. but it always works.
When did you decide that KS could be a viable solution for financing a new record? After or before last year's tour?
A: i tried out kickstarter for the first time about a year and a half ago, when i produced tristan allen's record (you can see it, here). it was funded to the tune of about $8,500 and had only 437 backers (but we ran it for a VERY short time). after that, and feeling the direct connection with the people who'd supported, i was SOLD on the process. there WAS a question about whether to just do a sort of DIY-crowdfund on my own website. i could have done that and saved the 5% commission that kickstarter takes. but i'm convinced that people trust kickstarter as a system and are less shy about jumping on board a big ship than a little speedboat. also, kickstarter in ITSELF is a little community. a lot of my friends are using it, and it's really nice to have a common template, a common language, a common system.
Deep question: how long, how much time have you invested, to get to the point where this is possible?
A: i could answer this two ways.
1. all my life. for real. everything i've done and made and learned has brought me to the point where something this huge is possible.
2. every minute since 2000, when i started touring in the dresden dolls.
either way: a LOT OF TIME.
this kickstarted is the culmination of YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS of connecting with my fanbase and my community.
some people who read this blog have been following my movements for years, and don't need to hear this part. others are brand new and REALLY need to hear it.
in a nutshell: i have a connect-at-all-costs policy 24/7. brian and i, as the dresden dolls, toured for three or four years SOLID and signed after every. single. show. we hung out with our audience. we got to know people. we stayed in touch. we cared that they cared about our band and we showed it. the internet is an extension of that. the twelve years of blogging i've done and the 25,000 tweets haven't been for strangers. they've been ways of connecting with my crowd...all over the world. every city i've ever played a free show in, every house i've crashed in, every band i've hand-selected to open up for us on the road because i refuse to let the promotors have control over our night. every night off tour that i didn't go out to see a show, or hang out with my friends, or bother with a lover....because i was up to my eyeballs in emails with fans and bands about our next tour. i'd never do it differently, ever. because i was doing what i loved.
you know that 10,000 hours theory? i've spent more than 10,000 hours connecting with my fans, figuring out how to be with them. so i'm an expert in them.
deep question: didnt you feel guilty asking for handouts? like you should be able to get the money on your own somehow?...why not just do it low budget, release mp3s online, skip the expensive promotion stuff/etc and do it for 20 grand? why 500K?
A: as i said above, i wrote a huge BREAKDOWN of pretty much where all the money is going. if you really wanna know, go look.
as for, you, @cynicalinternet, your name is just perfect.
ask me that question again....slowly. and this time listen to yourself.
"like you should be able to get the money on your own somehow"?
are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?
THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I FUCKING JUST DID.
instead of signing up with a label, taking their advance money and enslaving myself to a contract.......
I GOT THE MONEY ON MY OWN SOMEHOW!
I FUCKING USED KICKSTARTER!
and as far as "why not just do it low budget...."?
well, i could've done that.
i could have recorded this on my computer. at home. on piano. alone.
and it would have cost nothing.
and you know what?
i didn't do that.
and you know what else?
MY RECORD IS AWESOME.
IT CAME OUT JUST THE WAY I WANTED IT.
MY BAND IS AWESOME. THEY KILLED IT.
THE RECORDING STUDIO WE RENTED WAS AWESOME.
I AM SO GLAD I SPENT MONEY ON ALL OF IT.
as you see, i don't have many regrets about this matter.
maybe i'll make the next one in my bedroom. if i feel like it. and that one will probably be awesome too. (and if it's not awesome, i'll probably never release it, so don't worry.)
Your Kickstarters have gone really well, but any advice for people kickstarting without an initial fan base to call upon?
A: yeah, see above, don't do it. seriously. not right away. most kickstarter projects that fail do so because people are screaming into a void.
HOWEVER: you may have a fanbase out there that you don't know about, or that you're not thinking about.
if you need to raise $1,000 for a project, and you can call to mind 16 friends or acquaintances who'll pitch in $50, and two relatives who'll pitch in $100, you'll hit your goal.
but really: i maintain that crowdfunding, at least for musicians, is for musicians who've amassed at least a small crowd already.
runaway projects on kickstarter that are offering a gadget, like the pebble watch (which has funded over 10 million on kickstarter) don't need FANS. they just need CONSUMERS who want their product.
but artists and musicians need REAL supporters. people who believe in their work and want to lift them up, who want to see them succeed and want to own a physical piece of the history that goes along with it. i think this is a subject for a longer blog someday, but you get the gist. do the groundwork first, the old fashioned way. in music, that's playing open mics, friends parties, touring endlessly, hanging out, opening up for acts and not getting paid, making decent youtube clips, connecting with your audience online....and so on....the same old story. it's work. and if you're good, you'll gather a little crowd who like you. then go ask them for funding. then check back with me.
Why the angst [from the outside world]? I think you and your art is great, why do people not agree so angrily?
A: people hate change. this is making a lot of people really uncomfortable...especially because there's a long-standing shame around mixing ART and MONEY.
artists for ages have felt weird about having to mix commerce with their ART....their ART, which is, in essence, un-priceable. i mean, honestly...how do you put a "price-tag" on....MUSIC? it's MUSIC.
it's ridiculous. but we do, all the time. it's absurd when you think about it.
musicians of the past few decades have been especially prone to hide behind tinted-limo-windows and not get their hands dirty with the business of exchanging cash for products. and they haven't had to. a gazillion middlemen at labels, marketing houses, radio stations and record stores did the "dirty" work for them. but it's not dirty. there's nothing dirty about asking to get kicked back for giving someone your art. i made my living as a street performer for YEARS. we're the top of the line of happily taking cash in exchange for our art and feeling not a moment of weirdness about it. and after years of street performing, i can can tell you from first-hand experience how happy i've seen it MAKE people to give money to artists. people LOVE TO HELP. my major label used to laugh at me when i tried to convince them of this.
the music business for years has seen the fanbase as a bunch of faceless consumers who were going to have to be TRICKED into parting with their cash. whereas i see them as people who love art and want to help. attitude is everything.
watch. it's going to change. it's already changed. it's changing right now, in this moment. it FREAKS people out. and i love it. i mean it. i'm really, really, loving watching this happen.
people who are angry at me for doing this because i should leave kickstarter to "the people who need it" are missing the point entirely.
that's like telling U2 not play concerts in stadiums because there are coffeeshops all over the world who need people to go to their open mics.
or like telling an indie record store that they shouldn't stock the beatles because, like, everybody already knows the beatles and why the fuck should an indie store help them out.
EVERYTHING IS NOW POSSIBLE FOR EVERYONE.
THIS IS WHAT IS SO AWESOME.
and people will continue to go to stadium U2 shows (well, maybe) and people will continue to go to coffeeshops to hear acoustic guitar.
it takes all of this to make a music scene work.
Q: @meganbrophy11 Is it faith in yourself or faith in your fans that brought you this far?
A: both. big time. do you see? neither would work on its own.
music community is an ecosystem.
your opinions on sourcing music in an illegal fashion? (big fan by the way hello :D)
A: i think music should be shared. all the time. by everybody. i think it's pure insanity to make music filesharing illegal.
and with that said, i have, for years, encouraged my fans to burn, download and share all of my music with each other and with strangers.
and i will never stop doing that. all that sharing eventually comes back to me in all forms of income and goodwill.
how many CDs did WKAP sell in stores? (officially)
A: my last solo album "who killed amanda palmer", sold about 35,000 via soundscan, which is the retail-store way of tracking things.
in reality, if you count all the legal and so-called "illegal" digital downloads, plus the number of plays those songs have had on youtube...it's way way more. 100,000?
200,000? nobody will ever know. it's impossible the way things are set up right now...and that's fucking fine with me. this isn't a race or a contest. it's music.
Let's say that kickstarter works for every musician/band. Do u think theres any reason for someone to have a record company?
A: GREAT. yes let's say that.
YES, i think, but i think the nature of WHAT these labels do, and maybe what they're called, will change.
there's always PJ harvey. I use PJ as my default artist when trying to explain these things.
PJ will probably never blog.
PJ will probably never twitter.
and PJ harvey may never want to crowdfund a record.
but then again, she may look around at what people are doing in three years, when she's done with contract at epic or matador or merge whatever hip label she's on.
and she may ask herself (cue talking heads), "do i need to keep giving this company a huge percentage of my income?" and the answer may be NO.
if the answer is no, and PJ still doesn't want to blog, twitter or create a PJ-tastic tumblr, she still has a chance. YES! she can magically hire someone to take to the internet on her
behalf, cut her a distribution deal, and help her run her own business. which is what the VAST majority of artists nowadays are starting to do.
and you may see the likes of PJ harvey kickstarting a record, with a team not unlike my team behind her, helping her organize the giant task-list.
but she probably will not post naked pictures of herself. WILL SHE SUCCEED? WILL SHE FAIL? WILL SHE DECIDE THAT NUDITY WORKED FOR AMAND PLAMER AND POST ARTY NAKED TWITPICS FROM THE BLEAK BRITISH SEASIDE?? we will have to wait to find out....
p.p.s. that third-to-last line says "SMURF-TITS". fuzzy iPhone is fuzzy.