Deep inside Amanda Palmer’s crowd-powered, naked creativity machine

From Fast Company:

To spend time around Amanda Palmer is to feel lazy. She seems to work all day, every day, with a blazing sense of mission. On this summer afternoon in New York City, her room in a swank Soho hotel looks like a teenager’s bedroom, with clothes and gear and flotsam strewn everywhere; she chomps on a hunk of watermelon as she scrolls through the to-do list on the laptop that serves as command center for her whole life. Highlights include:

Work out how to break up the verses in “Burning Down the House” when David Byrne guests at her show the following night.

Make a mix for playwright Tom Stoppard.

Write the intro for Cory Doctorow’s book on copyright wars.

Earlier in the day, she finished an intro for a different book, a collection of her best friend’s short stories. Tonight she will visit a used bookstore to personally pick out and buy 100 books for the gift bags for a Kickstarter-backer gallery show later in the week. In the hotel room tomorrow, she’ll play keyboard into a MIDI for the Theatre is Evil sheet music; “pretty much everyone doesn’t do that,” she says, “they just have a dude listen to the chords, but I want the fans to know how I actually play these songs, not just what the chords are.” Throughout all of this, Palmer continues to steadily tweet and blog and maintain her dedication to the principle that every single person who emails her gets a response. “Sometimes they don’t get an answer for four months, but no matter how stupid the question, how small the outlet, how teeny the college fanzine, they at least deserve an answer.”

Influential music industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz, who has been following and corresponding with Palmer about her methods, recently summarized her greatest differentiator in his widely read blog. “You’re just not willing to work that hard,” he told his readership. “If she sleeps, it’s not for long … But that’s what it takes to make it today. Hard work. Are you prepared?”

Palmer, 36, counters that her drive and her work ethic are nothing new, and that’s why she is careful to remind people that the Kickstarter campaign didn’t come out of nowhere, but was the realization of a long-term vision. After graduating from Wesleyan University, she formed the Dresden Dolls in 2000 as a piano-drums duo–a kind of gender-swapped White Stripes in corsets and eyeliner–with Brian Viglione. Palmer financed the band’s early efforts with a series of jobs including work as a street-performing living statue called “The Eight-Foot Bride,” nude model, clothes-check girl at an illicit loft that threw sex and fetish parties, stripper, and professional dominatrix.

“I proselytize a lot of this stuff, but I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m up on a soapbox saying that everyone has to tweet and blog and Kickstart and run their careers like Amanda Palmer,” she will say a few weeks later. “Every generation clearly has its advantages and disadvantages for different styles of artists, and I just happen to be really lucky that my personality and my predilection for being super-social are going to work for me now because the world is what it is.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on Fast Company