You can wait around for the Gatekeepers to recognize you and reward you. Or you can build your business on your own terms. Amanda Palmer decided to build her business on her own terms.
Amanda Palmer- Almost $500,000 pledged for her new record, Art Book and Tour.
This is what she said about it(from Bob Lefsetz’s Mailbag)….
Since getting released, i’ve been waiting to put out – on my own terms – a big, legit solo album.
For THREE YEARS i’ve waited….three years of tweaking and agonizing over the perfect online self-release system, the perfect management team.
When i fought to get off roadrunner (my old band the dresden dolls signed in 2004; i tore off and went solo in 2009), my main problem is that they had NO IDEA how to work WITH ME.
They didn’t understand why i didn’t want to spend money and energy on stupid shit, wasting time where our audience and potential audience WASNT…opening for vapid bands, putting our songs on lame film soundtracks to sub-par horror movies. our audience was too smart for that shit.
They didn’t understand why i wanted to spend marketing budgets on what they considered “unnecessary” things….like hiring an internet marketing team, building giant web systems to showcase my fans’ art and homemade videos….like spending money and time on the online fan forums.
And i was always told them: “REALLY? you don’t get this? you don’t get why it’s not only important, but why it’s going to MAKE US MONEY? ok FUCK IT, we’ll pay for it ourselves.”
So we did. i was happy to spend the money out of our pockets: this shit OBVIOUSLY had to be done. and we were starting to make money on the road by then.
I remember one freezing chaotic day in minneapolis, on tour with the dolls in 2005….leaving soundcheck, picking up my cell and asking a frantic favor of a friend in new york (the only friend i had who was adult enough to have a checkbook at the ready, i didn’t have one on the road).
My internet marketing guy had called me, freaking. when we’d signed, the label had agreed to cover his monthly fee. now he was expecting an over-due check from the label, had been waiting six weeks, and was about to be evicted from his fucking apartment if he couldn’t get ahold of $1000. i begged my random friend to write out and mail a check it to my internet guy, promising i’d pay her back when i got to new york in a month…so he could pay his rent. i knew better than to call the label. they’d just lie and say they’d cut the check. i’d been through this 12 times already.
A few months later the label told me they wouldn’t cover our internet marketing team AT ALL while we were “between records”. they didn’t think paying someone to run our myspace and fan forums was NECESSARY unless “we had a record actively being worked”.
They didn’t get it. at. all.
THEY SERIOUSLY DIDN’T THINK THE INTERNET WAS NECESSARY UNLESS YOU HAD A RECORD TO PUSH.
They didn’t understand the value staying connected ALL THE TIME, every day, from the road, from the spaces between.
And this was 2005/2006. not the dark ages.
But still….LOST. they didn’t understand why we’d want to put the majority of our resources into connecting with our fans online.
Were they on the road with us 300 nights a year? were THEY emailing & chatting online and off with these people EVERY DAY? fuck no. but i was. i knew. our fans were all geeks and gays and punks and young weirdos. ALL ONLINE ALL THE TIME. i knew the connected we did throughout the year would result in the sales later.
Now, after three years OFF THE LABEL, and after ALL these collected years of talking with fans after every show, twittering daily, staying connected, singing hard, touring constantly, and answering thousands of fan emails….the result?
$250k in a day.
Seriously: I can’t imagine why i’d do this any other way.
Amanda Palmer clearly gets it. Who needs gatekeepers to tell you what they think is best for your career, your art, your music or your business when you have people…your fans…those who actually pay your bills… who are willing to back you themselves?
And why should you buy into the fact that you need anyone else other than those who already love you to create a business for yourself? Why?
This is relative in so many ways even if you aren’t an artist. The key is to have an idea, create something, and be able to put it in front of the people who believe in you or would like to believe in your idea. These guys not only support your world view, they want to be a part of your experience.
So how do you get there? How do you get to the point where your “fans” can easily discover you? The first step is to actually have something worth something to someone (anyone), for starters. The next step is to actually be discoverable and see if there is more than one “someone” who relates to what you are giving. The last step is to let them in on your experience along the way.
Of course, the trick is patience. We view success stories in the here and now. We don’t see the rejections, the weeks where nothing happens…the weeks when bad things happen…the months where they wanted to give up.
And chances are good that when you are doing it, you can’t recognize the fact that you are building things one customer at a time. You wake up one day and see that 100′s of people are suddenly sharing and believing in your experience with you.
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