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No, I Am Not Crowdfunding This Baby (an open letter to a worried fan), by Amanda Palmer on Medium

Stashed in: #TED, Crowdfunding, economics, Medium, Letters

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I've never heard of Patreon before. It sounds amazing.

A few months ago I joined Patreon, a crowdfunding website sort of like a hardcore, ongoing-style Kickstarter that allows fans to support artists on a regular basis by pledging to pay a certain amount of money — a dollar, three dollars — every time content is put out: a piece of music, an article, a video, a page of comic book art. It’s basically a trusting subscription to my general art-channel, true new-school patronage.

Since March I’ve gathered about 5,500 patrons, and whenever I release something, the community pays me about $35,000, which I then use to pay for my office, my small staff, my rent, my life, and the technicians and collaborators who help me make the art. Earlier this summer I worked with a great artist, Avi Ofer, to create a short animation using a found iPhone voice memo recording of weird shit my writer husband says in his sleep. Three weeks ago I went into the recording studio to make a record of cover songs with my dad. The other day I did a piece of bizzaro living-statue performance art + book-drive at the New York Public Library, filmed it, and will put that film out as a piece of patreon content. Nobody’s complaining yet.

All this is honestly a huge relief after wondering if I was going to have to mount a kickstarter campaign every year to release music, cover the bills and support my generally spontaneous art-making addiction.

As many artists are finding out, Kickstarter campaigns are thrilling, but a lot of work. It’s a lot of concrete stuff to put in the mail; it’s a lot of admin energy spent NOT making art. With patreon, I think shit up, I do my work, I put the content/music/video up for free for everyone to enjoy, and I still get paid. It’s great. In a TED talk I gave called “The Art of Asking” a few years ago (and again in the book with the same title) I argued for a possible future where we don’t punish people for sharing content.

Taylor Swift may disagree, but I’m still committed to the fact that neither Spotify nor iTunes is going to be the salvation of the modern musician. There’s just no proof that those giants are committed to the survival of the smaller artists. The way I see it, we’re better off using the new tools of the internet to exchange with each other, rather than rely on a different set of middlemen who are possibly even less committed to the true sustainability of artists’ careers than the major labels were.

I like this part of her rant:

If you are a touring indie musician, your life is NOT compartmentalized into neat little financial sections.

When you’re a crowdfunding artist, it shouldn’t matter what your choices are as long as you’re delivering your side of the bargain — the art, the music. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re spending money on guitar picks, rent, printer paper, diapers, college loans, or the special brand of organic absinthe you use to find your late-night muse…. as long as art is making it out the other side and making your patrons happy.

We’re artists, not art factories.

The money we need to live is often indistinguishable from the money we need to make art. We need all sorts of stuff to make art with. MAYBE I EVEN NEED THIS BABY TO MAKE ART. Who knows?

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