Amanda Palmer: Ask Without Shame

Last year gave us an inspiring talk from author Neil Gaiman about being creative. Make Good Art, he told us.

This year, we have another great talk for artists, but this is from Mr. Gaiman’s wife, Amanda Palmer. Last year, she raised over $1 million US dollars through crowdfunding on Kickstarter to release her album and fund a tour. She’s raised some eyebrows (no comment on her own) with some of her choices and has generated a lot of conversation online, much of it passionate and opinionated, both pro and con.

Wherever you stand on what she’s done and who she is, the point of her talk is salient to all in the arts and that point is how you interact with your audience. She began as a busker, someone who performs on the streets, her income literally at the mercy of passers-by. She has brought that same sensibility to making her living, unashamed of her artistic past and who she is.

What Amanda Palmer has done is not only encourage sharing her music through torrents and free downloads, but she has also asked that her fans give what they can, if they want to. She doesn’t force anyone and only asks them to contribute if they can, and she ultimately respects the choices of those who are her fans. It’s this exchange that has come under fire.

As artists we create, but often the world expects us to produce this art for free, and then scoffs “Get a job!” as if the living we are attempting to forge isn’t adequate. Amanda Palmer’s choice is to know the value of what’s been created, ask, and the rest will follow. Don’t demand, ask. Ask without shame.

A few highlighted quotes from her talk:

[cquote]People would yell at me from their passing cars. “Get a job!” And I’d be, like, “This is my job.” But it hurt, because it made me fear that I was somehow doing something un-joblike and unfair, shameful.[/cquote]

[cquote]I maintain couchsurfing and crowdsurfing are basically the same thing. You’re falling into the audience and you’re trusting each other.[/cquote]

[cquote]we made an art out of asking people to help us and join us[/cquote]

So whether you agree or disagree or haven’t even heard of the woman, it’s food for thought: How to interact with your audience, how to connect and exchange and thrive.