Amanda Palmer’s Tips for Being an Artist in the Rough-and-Tumble Digital Age

Amanda Palmer is an artist who totally gets the power of the Internet. Encouraging fans to freely share pay-what-you-wish downloads of her music has endeared her to a certain percentage of the 99%, while another percentage (there may be some overlap here, folks) drubs her for leveraging her fame to crowdsource backing musicians willing to work for hugs, merch, and beer.

Her appetite for digital dialogue with admirers and accusers alike calls to mind fellow shrinking violet Courtney Love. Her refusal to let anyone but Amanda Palmer speak for Amanda Fucking Palmer has given rise to an army of trolls, who gleefully find proof of monstrous ego in her most innocuous of moves. It’s the price of allowing the public complete access to “Do It With a Rockstar,” if you will.

As noted in her keynote speech (above) at the recent Muse and the Marketplace literary conference, “with the internet you do not get to choose.” This applies whether one is generating content or leaving nasty comments. Her remarks touch upon her most recent firestorm, a direct trail leading back to “A Poem for Dzhokar,” a hastily composed and posted attempt to put herself in the shoes of the suspected Boston Marathon bomber as he lay in a boat, awaiting capture.

Clearly, someone with her experience does not slap such a hot potato online innocent of the consequences. She got plenty of lumps, and whether or not the majority of them were deserved is a matter of personal opinion. More than 2300 people quickly logged on to voice these aforementioned opinions, some supportive, some taking the form of mocking haikus, which Palmer appreciated, especially since it was, at the time, National Poetry Month.

It seems to me that any time her ass is hanging out her giant heart’s not far behind. Listen to her speech, and see if you don’t find her attitude ultimately inspiring, especially for those artists interested in connecting with a larger audience. (The presentation’s so restrained, you can turn your back on the screen, turn your attention to some pedestrian task, and enjoy her thoughts podcast-style. )

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Ayun Halliday will gladly wrap herself in Amanda Palmer’s “Ukelele Anthem”


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