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Interview: Amanda Palmer

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  September 25, 2008

So you don't feel a need to give a big fuck you to an audience defining you or whatever?
Oh, no. I don't really get much of that, so I don't really need to feel defensive. One of the things that I've been really trying to pay attention to, apropos this last thing we're talking about, is how real and fundamental my relationship with my fans with, and how direct. The internet has made that possible. It used to be totally fucking impossible. With my blog, with the way music is distributed, the way everything happens, our fan's ability to get the word out instead of relying on marketing and promoting. I mean, it really has fundamentally changed in the last eight years. And for that, I feel insanely grateful, and all I need to do is, if things aren't doing well with the label, or with some publicity thing, or some sort of detached amorphous promotional something from above, all I have to do is remember that I have a mainline to all of these people, and that that is so much more valuable than getting press in Rolling Stone or being on MTV or, you know — those things, they're so meaningful. But they're becoming more and more antiquated. Like I'll talk to bands at my level, and we'll have this discussion where I'll say, "Oh, you get so much more press than the Dresden Dolls, you're always in Spin magazine," and they'll turn to me and go, "Oh, but you're selling twice as many tickets as we are." And we'll sit there looking at each other and go, "Hmm." Well, who's actually the lucky one, right? And it's hard to wrap your head around because you just need to look at the solid numbers and the actual dialogue going on with the fans and remember that what's being dictated, that we're so used to the charts telling us what's going on, and MTV telling us what's going on back when I was a kid, the radio telling us what's going on has less and less and less to do with reality. And I said as a child of the '80s where there were megastars and a very defined pyramid of success and fame and popular bands, that's all gone out the window, and I just get to sit here and cherish the thing that we've built and appreciate it, and that's been blowing my mind lately, you know?

Yeah, it's kind of like the recent brouhaha over Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead leaking their own albums, it's like if you have a certain cult thing going on, you're relationship to The Biz doesn't mean anything —
— What it means is profound!  What it means is "You can do it!"  It doesn't "mean," in quotes, anything! Except that this is possible, and musicians no longer have to rely on the system and the machine to reach out to their fans. But with that also comes this responsibility of, "You have to run your own business, you have to take care of your fans, you have to create your own entity." And that whole fantasy of being on a record label and getting in a limo and going to a show, that just doesn't exist, you have to banish that from your list.

Do you think that this change has affected the general work ethic that it takes to "make it"?
Well, I've obviously met tons of bands and lots of musicians of all kinds, and —

You can feel free to trash talk.
Well, there's no one that I really want to trash, but I — especially musicians that I really, uh, you know, admire. I'll get into conversations with them about what they're doing, press-wise, how they're running their business, and how they're running their MySpace, and how they're taking care of their merch, how they're running the show, and they will sometimes be so clueless, that I'll feel this sense of desperation for them, because other people can only maintain for you for so long. I've definitely hung out with musicians who really weren't taking responsibility for keeping their show together, and you definitely watch it screw them.

Yeah, it's like when you watch Behind The Music, all these '70s acts, "Our manager screwed us," over and over again.
Yeah, you let your manager screw you! And when you look back at the '60s and the '70s, with people literally getting screwed to the wall, making millions of records and not seeing a penny, even from their touring, just nothing nothing nothing, you have to remember that the information didn't exist. The cards had been stacked against people and there was no world wide information network and there weren't shelves of books on the music business.

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