IN AMANDA Palmer’s gone-viral TED Talk, “The Art of the Ask,” she explains
how early in her career, as a street performer, she learned to understand the
human connection with her audience; she goes on to use this relationship as an
allegory for the music business. The heart of her talk: We are asking the wrong
question when we ask how we make fans pay for music. We should be asking, how
do we ask fans to support our art? The idea being, when you connect with
people, people want to help you.
To make this work, you must work hard to engender loyalty among your fans
and demonstrate why you’re worthy of support. And perhaps define success in new
terms. As Palmer notes, “Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a
distance, but the internet is about a few people loving you up close.” Does
this make you a web version of a street musician? Maybe. But why not make this
concept work for you?
The most progressive artists are trusting fans to find value in their art
and support them in ways that never existed before the internet removed
traditional barriers between musicians and their audience. Artists like Palmer,
Trent Reznor, and Radiohead have proven that this works on a large scale. How
have you made this work for you? Let us know.