Just so we’re clear on current events, here’s the story: Amanda Palmer raises over one million dollars on Kickstarter to fund a massive project, announces that she’s going on the road and wants to have horns and strings in every city but is NOT going to compensate those musicians, and suddenly everyone is at her throat because WE ALL KNOW that she’s hoarding millions of dollars while other musicians are starving, and it’s just not fair.
First of all, let me say that I don’t get worked up about things very often. I really don’t. But right now, I’m angry. Angry enough to give everyone boycotting Amanda a piece of my mind.
If you are furious at Amanda’s so-called selfish behavior, please realize that you have no idea what you’re talking about. You have no idea how much it costs to make an album, let alone put together a show of the magnitude Amanda is attempting. You have no idea how little money – if ANY – will be left over by the end of the project. And you have no idea how insulting it is to her – not just as an artist, but as a phenomenal entrepreneur – that you are questioning her spending.
You may THINK you have an idea, but I’m going to venture that you don’t.
Take a trip with me back in time to one year ago, when I was beginning my own Kickstarter project. I set the goal at $20,000, even though I was quite aware that I would not be able to make the album I wanted to make without reaching at least $80,000. The support from my fans, however, was overwhelming – $104,000 – more than I was even willing to hope for. But here’s the great thing about having a public budget: everyone wants a piece. The reasonable $80,000 budget that I had put together did NOT leave room for all of the extra expenses, nor for the fact that most people charged a primo rate for their services. Not that I BLAME them, mind you. I would have done the same had I been in their shoes.
Sadly, in many people’s minds, I will always have most of that $104,000 because I probably only needed $20,000 to make the album in the first place. I mean, how much can making an album really cost?
Let me tell you how much it cost: $150,000.
I opened FOUR credit cards, just in case my $20,000 of life savings wouldn’t be enough to cover extra costs, and boy, am I glad I did! I’ve been seriously in debt for the past five months, owing money to friends, parents and the bank. And I’m not telling you this because I want your sympathy (or your financial advice)! I knew EXACTLY how crazy I was to invest the largest sum of money I’d ever made on a project that guaranteed me zero return on my investment.
That level of financial disregard can only stem from an unflinching belief in what you’re creating.
So, to all of the people who are saying that it’s “not fair” that Amanda Palmer isn’t riding through the streets in her million-dollar carriage throwing gold coins to all the “less privileged” musicians, or that it’s “not fair” that I made an album with Kickstarter funds and then signed to a label, please let me reassure you: in the end, there will be nothing left from the monies raised. If we wanted to be rich, we wouldn’t be investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in art. Hell, if we wanted to be rich, we wouldn’t be musicians.
I will admit that the phrasing of Amanda’s advertisement could have been softer. But Amanda hasn’t gotten to where she is today by sugar-coating. She’s Amanda Fucking Palmer in case you hadn’t noticed. And I’m sure that she’ll do a far better job investing her funds than I did, primarily because no one expects her to be Amanda Generous Palmer or Amanda Sorry-To-Have-Offended-You Palmer. Jack pointed out to me that if she had made a category in Kickstarter where people could GIVE $400 to be a part of the show, everyone would have considered that incredibly generous of her. He is completely right: it’s all about presentation.
So in conclusion, whether or not you agree with Amanda’s tactics, you are not shareholders in her Kickstarter project. When you gave her your money, you decided to trust her to invest it wisely. So keep trusting her and keep helping her. She has a plan. A completely insane plan to spend one million dollars on her art. If that’s not generous, I don’t know what is.