I watched a very moving video by Amanda Palmer (marketing genius, wife of Neil Gaiman, and former member of The Dresden Dolls), during which time she was speaking to attendees at a recent TED Conference about “The Art of Asking.” She explained how she began her “punk cabaret” music career as a silent street performer—a statue dressed as a white bride. When a passing stranger would give her a dollar, she would hand him or her a flower. Some people would react graciously, and some would walk away either indifferent or uncomfortable. Furthermore, some passersby would ridicule or yell at her offensively to “go get a real job.” But Palmer felt this was a “real” job. She was providing a service (entertainment), and people would donate what they thought she was worth in return.
However, even more important on a human level were that these encounters beget an almost “intimate” moment between this “white bride” and her benefactors. When they would give her a donation, Palmer would nod her head as if to say, “‘Thank you, I see you.’” And their eyes would say, “‘Nobody ever sees me; thank you.’”
Palmer’s ability to connect with people personally followed her into her music career, which eventually escalated into her successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign, which rose over $1 million through “crowdfunding” for her new band The Grand Theft Orchestra’s record, art book, and tour—receiving both mass acclaim from music marketers and media, as well as backlash from paranoid critics. This form of “give and take” between her and her fans has enabled a regular girl armed with nothing but her charisma, her music, and her fearlessness to create an “army” of fans propelling her into a self-sustaining music career in which she no longer has to rely on a major record label to fund her projects. And it’s all because she wasn’t afraid to ask for help. As a musician myself, I’ve got to respect that. When I need your help, I will ask. And in return, I will give you all it is worth, and then some.
Learn more about Amanda Palmer:
Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra – Watch YouTube Video for “The Killing Type”
Credits: Photo still from Kickstarter campaign video by Jim Batt