Friday, August 28, 2015

Italy, Motherhood, Art, Business, Amanda Palmer, lots of rambling.

Ah, Firenze! I remember you.
I want to go to Italy. I want to go to Florence because it reminds of me of days when people cared about art. Days when artists had patrons and weren't afraid to spend money on elaborate sculptures. I know, I know, it wasn't all roses and art back then, but goodness, the music business is rough.

I have been toying with joining as an alternative to crowdsourcing, but I still have a hard time asking for money. It's a very American mindset of me: that my music business isn't sustainable means I must suck at making music. 

Then I am reminded that back in the day when people bought albums, I sold thousands of albums. Every time I play a show, I see people dance and smile and thank me for struggling to do what I do. I'm just in an expensive art that an entire generation is now in the habit of getting for free. The model has changed, and I have changed with it (you can get all my music for free on Seriously, there are seven albums and EPs up there, all for free ($30,000 worth of studio time!), though wouldn't it be cool if you donated some of that daily soy latte money to an independent artist. Doh! I didn't mean to guilt trip you. Sorry. I'm a Jewish mother by blood. Just take the music and smile.)
Get my music from Bandcamp. ALL of it!

Anyway, I am not terrible at business. I know I could teach more (I have a wait list of 20+ students). I just also like to sing songs I wrote and maybe even record some new songs and all that.

So wouldn't it be nice to have a patron? Or even a few hundred dollars a month to record just one song ... just one song a month? Le sigh.

I read that Amanda Palmer article this morning, and it's gotten my wheels turning (here is an article sort of summarizing it). I don't know much about her, to be honest. I know some of my smart, artistic friends despise her. Some of my smart, artistic friends adore her. (Pretty much the case with any famous woman, I suspect.) I see snarky tweets, and I see loving retweets, both from respectable, intelligent, kind women.

To summarize, Amanda Palmer is an indie musician (and former label artist, but aren't we all?) with 1 million followers on Twitter. She's had incredible success with crowdfunding, and has announced a pregnancy this year (after being something of an icon for the child-free happy businesswoman, as I gather). One of her fans asked her if this meant she is crowdfunding her baby. This is so unbelievable offensive it makes my blood boil. The fact that a woman asked the question is even worse. Doesn't every working mother use her salary to support her family?

I won't go into more details (but do read Amanda's open letter if you're intrigued), but let's just say it's got me thinking even more about motherhood and art and women in business. So many more thoughts, but I'm getting annoyed with the world. I shall stop (for today). I shall go back to drooling over how few Delta skymiles it takes to fly to Italy these days.

David in Florence.


  1. Since you don't know Amanda Palmer already, I thought I'd provide some context. Amanda used to sell stuff over Twitter to fund her lifestyle, items including empty wine bottles and sweaty t-shirts. On tour, she had her staff organize fans to provide home-made food for her. (She was very specific in her asks; it had to be healthy and vegetarian, to start.) You may be aware that she raised over $1 million dollars on Kickstarter, then requested her fans to play as her supporting band for free. In other words, she has constantly expected involvement from her fans in ways that trangress healthy boundaries.

    In this light, this particular fan's letter wasn't actually so nut-job as it might first appear. Multiple fans wanted to know after she announced her pregnancy if the birth would be considered a "thing" on Patreon (and therefore worth $35k to Amanda). I was surprised when Amanda said "no, it wouldn't," but of course this is multimillionaire Neil Gaiman's baby too and perhaps he had a say about this. It's disingenous of Amanda to ignore all the boundary violations that got her to this point with a fan, and instead jump straight to being a victim of sexism. And, I feel for the fan because $35k for yet another adolescent ukulele ditty sucks.

    1. Thanks for this, anonymous. I should clarify that I don't know her music, and i don't feel like I know that much about her. BUT I have read about her asks for years, so I did know most of what you've mentioned here. While I obviously have my own issues/troubles with crowdsourcing (I haven't done it yet, which also explains why I haven't out a new album in years, though I have supported many other artists in their campaigns), but I don't begrudge someone whose fans do support them financially. A lot of people buy, let's say, Dave Ramsey CDs, and I disagree with that, but, hey, their dollars to spend.
      So while I agree some of her asks seem presumptuous, I still think it's completely sexist for someone to ask about the baby being crowdsourced. A man would never have been asked that. (I also think she has taken more slack about her asks to begin with because she is a woman.) Women have enough troubles with business when they have a child, particularly self-employed women. This type of question before the baby is born just irks me even more. Then there's all the comments that will come after, when she wants to tour with a baby (which she SHOULD! Oh how I wish I earned enough on tour to bring my boy. I would have been touring so much.)
      Lol at the 35k for a ukulele ditty. I have several ukulele ditties I would gladly take $35 for.
      Anyway, I appreciate your comments and context. Thanks.