Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter windfall shows limits of FIY model

Congratulations Amanda Palmer, you are now a Kickstarter millionaire. She set out to raise $100,000 for a new album and tour via the fan-funding site, but ended up doing ten times better than that target. By the time the campaign …

Fri, Jun 8, 2012, 10:00

   

Congratulations Amanda Palmer, you are now a Kickstarter millionaire. She set out to raise $100,000 for a new album and tour via the fan-funding site, but ended up doing ten times better than that target. By the time the campaign came to a closer, her fans had donated $1,192,793 to the Palmer cause.

Naturally, the artist was cock-a-hoop about the outcome and who can blame her? At a time when all artists are looking for new ways to make a living, this was a huge, positive result. It was ample proof that an artist like Palmer can use the fund-it-yourself model to bypass the traditional way the music business usually goes about raising funds.

The important thing to note, though, is that we’re talking about “an artist like Palmer”. We’ve written many times before about new funding models like this and have pointed out various pitfalls which those who’ve drank the FIY Kool-Aid rarely note.

Palmer’s success highlights another caveat to this innovation in that not every artist has the huge, devoted fanbase which she has to tap into. While Palmer proclaimed that Kickstarter campaigns were “the future” for former major label acts like her, she neglected to mention that her fanbase was originally developed with thanks to such a label. Roadrunner Records released her first solo album and was also home to Palmer’s band The Dresden Dolls.

Palmer has become a much quoted example of how independent acts can work in the brave new music business world, but it’s incongruous to overlook Roadrunner’s part in building her audience.

In some ways, the fund-it-yourself model suffers from the same problems as many other new music business schemes as it benefits acts with established audiences. For new acts, it’s a different kettle of fish. Meet the new model, then, same as the old model?

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