Interview with Amanda Palmer: “Artists are no longer at the mercy of their helpers”


From Midem’s blog:

In 2010, you told us the ‘traditional’ music business model would be dead within the next two years. Would you say that it is now?
AP: Pretty much, yes. There are old ways that have stuck around, and still work for artists, and there are new ways that are exploding beautifully. I think it dies and is reborn every minute.

> If so, which other artists do you think have been the most creative and successful in this sense?
AP: The old school: Trent Reznor. Radiohead. Björk. All three unfraid to experiment and fail, simultaneously clinging to old form while testing the waters. The new school? All of my friends that you’ve never heard of, and may never, and that’s fine. Tom Dickins. Kim Boekbinder. Zoe Keating. Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte from Pomplamoose are pretty amazing, they’ve founded a new site called that allows for rolling patronage from fans to support “free” content.

> Surely those who aren’t as active on social media as you are need the help of labels, managers and other third parties?

AP: Surely they do if that’s the kind of work they don’t want to do themselves. All artists need HELP. This is what we cannot forget. Social networking is great, DIY is great, Kickstarter is great, but no artist wants to sit behind a desk all day and make phone calls and crunch budgets and talk to distributors and printing presses. This is where HELP comes in. Call it a label, call it label services, call it middle management. The nice thing about the back and forth between artists and their HELP nowadays is that the artist isn’t at the mercy of their helpers. If you don’t like somebody’s personal, creative or emotional style of trying to help you, you can LEAVE! Unlike the label days, where you just wound up stuck in a miserable marriage for the kids’ sake.

> Would you not say some labels – indies, for example – have become far more creative in recent years, for example in terms of digital marketing?

AP: I would not not say that at all. Necessity is the mother of invention. A lot of labels are great and have very smart and cool people working at them, they’ve figured out these so-called “new” things right along with the artists who’ve gone independent and figured out the same “new” things. Hopefully we don’t see this as a DIY-Artists vs Evil Label competition, but rather as an ecosystem that can fit every style of business and work. The most important thing is that the artist be in control of the fate of their artistic life. While everybody scrambles around looking for the magic bullet, they’d be better off re-assessing their attitude towards artists. If I hear another person crucify an artist for “making the wrong move in this new digital marketplace”, I’m going to puke. Let artists use sponsorship. Let artists use crowdfunding. Let artists use patronage. Let artists ask for money directly, no matter who they are, how big or small (*cough Zach Braff*). Let artists return to their labels if they decide they want to (*cough Trent Reznor*). LET ARTISTS DO WHATEVER THEY DECIDE IS BEST FOR THEMSELVES. Everyone judges so harshly from their smug sidelines… it’s depressing. Let the artists break new ground, find new paths, fuck up, experiment, decide their own fate, change their minds. The marketplace is so wild, the least you can do is cut all these artists some flak for screwing around with different systems and changing tactics.

Continue reading the rest of the story on Midem’s blog