On The Record



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 10 times better than that target. By the time the campaign came to a close, her fans had donated $1,192,793.

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 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 that those who’ve drunk the FIY Kool-Aid rarely note.

Palmer’s success highlights another disadvantage of this innovation – not every artist has the huge, devoted fan base 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 fan base was originally developed 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 an example of how independent acts can work in the brave new music business world, but in some ways, the FIY model suffers from the same problems as many other new music business schemes in that 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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