Music Marketing

Amanda Palmer: $15,000 In Merch Sold 90 Sec.

Yesterday marked the release of Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele. Reports from bandcamp indicate that this event "less resembled a record release than a coordinated strike of ravenous piranha." Why? Because in one 90 second period, her fanbase snapped up $15,000 in music and merch. That's why. From there on out: 4,000 digital EPs were sold, the vinyl sold out, most of the high end packages disappeared in minutes, and it looks like every other package will be gone in a matter of days. Miss Palmer's "go-to" digital strategist Sean Francis had these things to say:

"Ipiranha-eat-cows-1t was important for us to do this in as close to a DIY manner as
. If we were just usi
ng iTunes, we couldn’t be doing tie-ins
with physical product, monitoring our stats (live), and helping people
in real-time
when they have a question regarding the service. Being able
to do all of those things and having such a transparent format in which
to do it has been a dream come true. We all buy stuff on the iTunes
store – or AmazonMP3 or whatever – but it’s not THE way artists should
be connecting to fans
, and it’s certainly not the way someone is going
to capture the most revenue on a new release
." Read more.

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  1. What were the prices on the vinyl and the high end packages? I didn’t pay close attention before the sale and now there aren’t prices on the website anymore for anything that has sold out.

  2. All options came with an instant digital download, via Bandcamp.
    Any instance of vinyl in a package refers to the limited edition (1,000 made):
    * Vinyl = $20
    * Shirt = $20
    * Vinyl+Shirt+Button = $35
    * Kayla Oberlin Ukulele Bundle (contained a limited edition uke, vinyl, shirt, mai-tai glass, buttons, signed photo, poster, and a ton more) = $250
    * Amanda Palmer Ukulele Bundle (6 one-of-a-kind ukes painted by amanda, vinyl, shirt, mai-tai glass, buttons, signed photo, poster, and a ton more) = $1,000
    * iPhone Bundle (3 32gig black iPhone 3GS’, and all of that other stuff except for a uke) = $1,000 (at the time of writing this, these are the only options still available)
    P.S. If you’re curious to see what Amanda had to say about the bundles/pricing, you can check out her blog-post at – I should mention though, all of that info (as well as the digital downloads) went out first to her mailing list subscribers. If you think you’d like to hear about what she’s up to, once a month or so, you can subscribe at

  3. I’m glad this worked out so well for them: I love AFP, I love Bandcamp, I love transparent pricing, and I love that they were able to do this.
    (The EP is really good, too, which definitely helps.)

  4. $15,000 refers to the first 90 seconds only – vinyl would presumably have sold out thereafter.

  5. I’m wondering if Amanda’s love for Bandcamp will last once they start collecting their 10% cut. Let’s say she makes $40000 off sales… that’s $4000 to Bandcamp. And it won’t stop… there’s no sales cap! (unless, of course, they’re cutting her a break in exchange for all the great P.R.)
    Now what would a custom Paypal script and an Amazon S3/cloudfront account cost her? Pennies in comparison. (Use Soundcloud Premium to replace the widget) The Paypal script would be a one-time developer charge, and the Amazon fees are probably a few pennies per sale at most? She’d save thousands in the long run. Yeah, Bandcamp makes things quick & easy, but “quick & easy” always costs more one way or another. When you look at things from a business perspective their “fee” seems more like a tax on ignorance.*
    My solution? If Bandcamp really wanted to be “fair” to musicians, they’d charge a monthly fee based on bandwidth use – maybe even disclose their profit margin, similar to what Amanda did in her latest release. (As Amanda proved, people happily pay for a service or product they love) Users who don’t consume resources would get the free or minimal-costing service, and high-resource users would pay higher fees to cover bandwidth and support costs, similar to how web-hosts currently charge.
    * Low-selling hobbiests will do fine with Bandcamp because the royalty cut won’t likely exceed the monthly cost of any other solution. Just research the options and do your math, is all I’m saying…

  6. I love Bandcamp. Have used it for artists that I work for since it first came out. It is not only great for things like the AFP spiel but also for offering D2C packages to fans without a middle man.

  7. Your lack of awareness has led you to be so wrong in so many ways that it was difficult to figure out where to begin. I have tried my best.
    You started of complaining about the lack of sales cap. So…do you think if you buy a certain amount of any product the rest afterward should be free? Say you hired an architect to design a house, should their time be free to you after you’ve paid what you consider “reasonable” for their work? Bandcamp provides a service that requires a lot of effort on their end and they should be compensated for that. Compensation that is relative to what an artists earns from using their service is completely reasonable.
    You then went on to talk about how a custom paypal script would be a good alternative. I’m going to expand on Joe’s point above, what you aren’t considering is the effort required to make every artists’ site run so that every fan (or potential fan) can use it and feel like they are the only person doing so. Or make a site with infrastructure good enough that if a band gets big it can handle a hoard of fans eager to give them money. Not to mention that Bandcamp does this all while giving bands direct contact with their fans, something that Amanda Palmer has spoken about as being vital.
    “Yeah, Bandcamp makes things quick & easy, but ‘quick & easy’ always costs more one way or another.”
    As soon as this was typed you should have reflected on your position and deleted your comment. I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader to figure out why.
    “Users who don’t consume resources would get the free or minimal-costing service,”
    That is exactly the point of Bandcamp receiving a portion of what the user earns. If you are not making money from Bandcamp then Bandcamp does not make money from you. As soon as Bandcamp is contributing to your success you start contributing to Bandcamp. How is this unfair?

  8. yet she will soon complain about her bills and how she can’t pay them and her ‘lack of money’

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