For some artists, asking fans for money is a bridge too far. But if they'd followed the career of Amanda Palmer, who has raised more than $2.8 million by "making art" and forging a genuine relationship with her fans, they might feel differently.
Way back in 2012, Amanda Palmer used Kickstarter to raise $1.2 million from 25,000 fans for her "Theatre Is Evil" album and tour. Her "Art Of Asking" Ted Talk describing her experience and deep connection with her fans is a must watch with 9.4 million views. She's even released a book, "The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help."
For the last three years, Palmer has focused most of her fan monetization efforts on Patreon. Her page on the fan patronage site currently boasts 11,115 paying subscribers who cough up cash everytime she creates, often exclusively for them. That has included 2 LPs, 4 EPs, 6 webcasts, original and cover songs, videos and podcasts.
To date, 20,600 patrons have paid Palmer $1.58 million via Patreon, according to data from her team.
Lest you imagine that Palmer is using all this cash to fly private (though she may, since she's married to author Neil Gaiman), creating that much content comes with many costs attached plus a salaried team, office space, commissions to a manager and agent, taxes and much more. "I am good at business," Palmer told Billboard. "But that's not why people are giving me money. They're giving me money because I'm good at making music."
"this system is punk as fuck"
Can other other musicians replicate Palmer's success?
A few have, but the vast majority of the Top 50 Music Creators On Patreon are also successful on YouTube, often delivering a steady stream of cover tunes. Still, from some Patreon, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services can be a valuable option.
"[It is the ethos of] not selling it out, putting on shows in basements, forming your own label, and fuck the man," says Palmer. "I have found it so bewildering bands feel all this shame around crowdfunding, this system is punk as fuck."