It Takes A Fanbase: Amanda Palmer’s Tips For Kickstarter Success

Amanda-palmer-kickstarterAmanda Palmer continues to raise the bar at Kickstarter after breaking the record for crowdfunding music. Palmer’s always been open about how she does things, it’s part of her approach to both art and business, and last week she shared her insights on Kickstarter crowdfunding with both the O Music Awards Blog and Techdirt. Plus, her behind-the-scenes helper Sean Francis shares his view from the trenches.

As I work on this post early Monday morning Amanda Palmer: The new RECORD, ART BOOK, and TOUR, her awkwardly titled but extraordinarily successful Kickstarter campaign, has passed $565,000 in pledges. And for the “hella rich,” she’s launched The Loanspark Collective so they can loan her even more money. She’s setting a powerful example of success in the new music industry.

Here’s some of what she told the O Music Awards Blog:

Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter Tips For Bands

1). You have to have fans before you can ask them to help you

2). Show, don’t tell: HAVE A GOOD VIDEO

3). Don’t just reward the rich: keep every level rewarding

4). Be honest: You’ll be amazed at how helpful people really are when you talk straight with them.

5). No tool is a deus ex machina: ANY platform can work.

Furthermore: “Your music must be good, you must respect your fans, and pretty much without exception: YOU HAVE TO TOUR.”

She elaborates more on all these points at OMAB but she also shared quite a bit with Techdirt about building a fanbase including the following:

How Amanda Palmer Built An Army Of Supporters

“I’ve been tending this bamboo forest of fans for years and years, ever since leaving roadrunner records in 2009. Every person I talk to at a signing, every exchange I have online (sometimes dozens a day), every random music video or art gallery link sent to me by a fan that i curiously follow, every strange bed I’ve crashed on…all of that real human connecting has led to this moment, where I came back around, asking for direct help with a record. Asking EVERYBODY…And they help because…they KNOW me.”

“The basic tenets of success in music are still true: have good songs, touch people, work hard. But as far as getting around from place to place… musicians are no longer traveling by limo with one-way glass protecting them from view. Now we’re all going on foot, door to door, in the open sunshine… with the internet as our magical, time-space defeating sidewalk.”

Sean Francis has been a behind-the-scenes force on Team AFP for over five years. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“For several years, I’ve watched and aided, as Amanda’s interwoven strategies predicated on those two things – pioneering and connection.”

“As she’s toured, written, recorded, and Twitter’d away, we were privately (and sometimes publicly) playing with puzzle pieces which are culminating in the release of this new album…Team AFP have spent hours on the phone and sent literally hundreds of emails, every week (sometimes daily)…and with the launch of our Kickstarter this past Monday, the public is seeing what several years of work can do.”

“While you were sleeping, Amanda Palmer built an army.”

There’s more at Techdirt as well as on Hypebot.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) maintains a business writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. 1 – Marry a really famous dude known for dark, “rebellious” imagery catering to a wide audience of Hot Topic shoppers and Nine Inch Nails fans.
    2 – Cater to said audience through a series of “provocative” songs, albums, tours, etc., all while throwing it in everyone’s face that you did it yourself without a label (despite having a decent management team, booking agent, and arguably one of the most impressive pr agents/imaging consultants outside the “mainstream”), all while boasting numerous times in the press how fans will “throw money at [you].”
    3 – Play impromptu gigs, like at Occupy Wall Street (not playing original songs, mind you, but cover songs that may or may not pertain to the actual cause) or ON THE FUCKING R TRAIN DURING MORNING RUSH HOUR! EASILY THE WORST TRAIN RIDE EVER, and I’ve seen dudes shoot up on the F train and shit themselves.
    4 – Bask in the fact that there are several generations of misunderstood Hot Topic shoppers who stopped listening to (or may still do so) Mindless Self Indulgence for their own Bon Iver.

  2. ^that.
    I’d like, just ONCE, for this marginally-talented chick to publicly thank her manager and publicist.
    And honestly, maybe point out a few folks at Roadrunner Records who actually bent over backwards to help her when she was signed to them.

  3. Some people will never mention by name the people on their staff. Though she obviously got some attention for one of her staff on the Techdirt post.
    But making it appear that there’s a seamless direct connection between herself and her fans is part of the marketing strategy so I imagine her team is focused on that strategy. Which means not talking about them except at rare moments.
    If people at Roadrunner want attention they need to tell their own story. She says she left under unfavorable circumstances and that’s how things get left. That’s year ago now. Decades in web time.
    Besides, the majority of people I’ve helped in this world thanked me than and didn’t even seem to remember months later what I’d done. That’s how humans are. Get over it and get working on your own brand, “Spanky”!

  4. this chick is brutal. so tired of her. i support the above sentiments about her being of medicore talent, annoying attitude, and disingenuous about her actual “indie” status given all those working around her.
    labels exist for a reason. artistry needs to always exist independently from business (be it marketing, distro publicity etc). As an artist, you can never immerse yourself in business the way Palmer has. It just doesn’t work. That’s why her upcoming album will probably be forgettable and devoid of any good songs. can’t wear all hats.
    im sure emotionally maladjusted frumpy chicks who have been wronged by men at various points in their life will feel empowered by her music. im not buying this shit, though.

  5. I spend a bit of time in my class talking about Amanda – from the 19k weekend to the guerilla eukelele show at Dublin International Airport (terminal 2) and now this Kickstarter. I haven’t listened to her music since I saw her in a church at SXSW several years ago – that was magnetic and tingly and cool – but i don’t think that matters here -this album is already un-forgettable for the people involved in helping to make it happen, this is already a watershed event – and, frankly, having been so dissapointed by old punks looking for deals or selling butter – this is inspirational to this old punk fucker.
    I’m lecturing today about Punk itself – connecting it back to Woody Guthrie (3 chords are too many!) and now, I’ll connect it forwards to Amanda.

  6. I really agree with what JB said. The art is secondary to Palmer, always has been – she can’t read music (she admits it readily) and having heard her try and sing at an event recently I suspect some of her funding is going to go directly into vocal chord surgery (I’m a professional singer and trust me, this woman CAN’T sing). She’ll be pulling an Adelle any minute. I went back and listened to the KS video – REALLY listened. Hear for yourself, she’s been “Sweetened” so much bt still you can hear.

  7. Of course no one should CARE. it’s just one of the many ways she shows how sloppy she is about the actual execution of her artistic work. And Fred, she is – dropping lyrics, screwing up chords. Check her out on You tube and see if she ever gets through a song completely AND in tune. All of that has been fine, up until now – but now that she is trashing the industry that supported her for a while, maybe even you could call it moving into the ‘big league’ I don’t know how much a wider audience is going to find her uproffessionalism ‘endearing.’

  8. wish i could put together something that would allow me to move beyond barely surviving while creating—be they noted photos of seminal events/performances and praised artwork/poetry/etc…or whatever—the Arts & Arts funding have never had enough support…school programs onward…anything to help or provide any guidance and support from Amanda’s efforts/model? Something positive that we could learn from?

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