Amanda Palmer, who says that she’s been getting criticism for making money from her webcasts, has one hell of a manifesto up on her blog called, subtly enough, “Why I Am Not Afraid to Take Your Money.” She’s got a pretty convincing and simple argument as to why artists shouldn’t be afraid to ask their fans to support them:
“artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.
artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye.
artists will now be coming straight to you
(yes YOU, you who want their music,
their films, their books) for their paychecks.
please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.
dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it.
i do not claim to have figured out the perfect system, not by a long shot.
BUT … i’d rather get the system right gradually and learn from the mistakes and break new ground (with the help of an incredibly responsive and positive fanbase) for other artists who i assume are going to cautiously follow in our footsteps. we are creating the protocol, people, right here and now.
i don’t care if we fuck up. i care THAT we’re doing it.”
My first reaction, to be honest, was to be angry at her. The consumer in me hated this. That guy who spent his youth downloading stuff from Napster thinks there has to be some other way. The Internet should make everything free, damn it, while at the same time making everyone rich. That was it’s promise. That’s what it was meant to do.
But that other guy — that guy who spends his nights collecting rejection letters from lit mags like my Grandma collected statues of elephants and his days working a job in which he does nothing but count other people’s checks — hopes she’s onto something. He really hopes she succeeds in finding a model that will work for other artists, even ones that are still figuring their art out.
So the question becomes: Will non-artists, who may have no frame of reference as to how much this can suck financially and who have the option of getting art for free through the Internet, agree to pitch in?