“Through the act of asking,” musician and artist Amanda Palmer writes in her book, “The Art of Asking,” “we created that community.”
She is referring to an artists residence and commune in Boston, but that tribute to asking as easily applies to her career and her fanbase. Asking allows her to crash on couches of fans while touring, brings her loaner musical instruments, and helped Palmer raise almost $1.2 million for a new album on Kickstarter.
In exchange, Palmer’s body of work, including albums as a solo artist and as a member of the Dresden Dolls, has connected with a wide range of fans throughout the world.
amNewYork caught up with Palmer in advance of her appearance at Barnes & Noble Union Square.
What is the biggest factor, in your experience, that stops people from asking for what they want?
It’s fear, basically. The thing that prevents people from asking the most is fear of something. What I’ve noticed is that it’s either the fear of being judged or the fear of being unloved. And sometimes those two things are wrapped up next to each other.
As your stature and fame has grown, have you noticed a difference in the ask-receive dynamic? Has being famous changed how some react to you asking for help?
Unfortunately, it has. Things used to be so much more simple. It was just me and my community. There was nobody from the outside world watching. I never thought twice about asking my fans for this or that. It was an easy relationship. Now, because people have this perception of me as this rich and powerful person, I find myself constantly judged. But it’s also been my life’s work to make sure that it doesn’t change my composition. ? I’d rather allow someone to feel useful for being able to bring a guitar to a gig and have that human interaction with them rather than open up the Yellow Pages and rent it. A lot of that is about the good feeling that we all get when we help each other out.
The “ask” you may be most famous for is raising more than $1 million on Kickstarter for an album. Is that the future of the music industry? Is there even a singular business model for artists anymore?
One of the main setbacks has been the constant assumption that we’re all going to figure out one giant shiny, golden way to move forward. And that’s just not going to happen. I think the solution is much more diverse and subtle and has more to do with artists and audiences who don’t take painting or sound and sculpture for granted, as if it magically appears without somebody making it. These entities are going to have to consult each other, because the middlemen are scattered, and progress will come from an understanding between artists and the people who want their art.
IF YOU GO: Amanda Palmer is appearing at Barnes & Noble Union Square on Friday at 7 p.m., 33 East 17th St., 212-253-0810.