Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Toward a Patronage Society”

Today, something perhaps a bit different….

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to free versus pay content.  Over the past few months, as I’ve used Twitter more, I’ve seen a lot of musicians tweeting about this—in fact, in its broadest implications, this is a huge issue for anyone involved in the arts.  & so, I have a video I’d like to share—a talk by cabaret singer/composer/pianist/uker Amanda Palmer about these very issues; & tho the talk is focused on the music industry, I think some of the general principles apply to online content from other art forms.

By the way, I should note that I was originally put onto this talk thru Twitter by blogger 9to5poet of everything feeds process, an excellent & frequently updated site about the creative process, complete with exercises 9to5poet assigns herself, & the results thereof.  You really should check it out; & I also should mention the fiction blog Soulless Machine—another writer I’ve “met” thru Twitter.  I know some folks have negative feelings about Twitter, but I'm finding that it has great potential as a networking tool.  & I will admit: it took me a while to figure it out at all.  The TweetDeck browser really helped.

Hope you enjoy this talk & spend some time thinking about the issues Amanda Palmer raises—& you might consider checking out Amanda Palmer’s brand new release Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele—84 cents or more  as a digital download!  You know I love all things ukulele.

Pic: Yours Truly & Tip Chick busking at the Council Farmer's Market last August


  1. I'll have to admit, I haven't used Twitter to it's full potential. You've inspired me!

  2. Interesting! There's much food for thought here.

  3. Interesting concept. Worldwide patronage. I listened to her music & really love her voice. Problem with downloading from her website is it isn't compatible with iTunes which is my medium. HOWEVER, she is on iTunes and I will download some of her tunes to my laptop. Loved "Creep".

  4. Hi Willow, Roy & Lizzy

    Willow: Neither have I, but I am starting to get the hang of it. If you don't already use TweetDeck, I'd really recommend that.

    Roy: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Lizzy: Thanks for stopping by! & hope you enjoy the music.

  5. There's an underlying trust issue for the artists then, that people support financially what they love. Humans to date have shown incredible willingness to take what they want. I have eternal hope that this can change.
    As I try to get my music on Pandora and iTunes, I hope that we independents can forge through the muck of music labels and industry that has seemingly collapsed into disillusion and disarray.

    To get excited to earn 10 cents per single, I shudder, and then smile, that I am part of the future. And ultimately I remind myself that I wrote these songs not because I wanted to get paid, but because I had something to say.

    So glad you posted this, John! I may share it too.

  6. I've mixed feelings about this John.It's a very important even funadamental conflict,I think it's excellent that you have raised the issue.My feelings are so complex that I couldn't do them justice here.I hope to blog about it.

  7. Hi Chris & TFE

    Chris: Yes, that's right--you know about this from the inside. I'd very much encourage you to post the vid!

    TFE: I'll be interested to read your thoughts. I think the point is for artists to make their own distribution channels & for art consumers to consider buying from artists as opposed to corporations.

  8. John, great post. Love the concept. Now listening to the album.

    We should all be doing more of the same.

  9. Thanks for the mention, John. :)

    I am so glad that you have been thinking about this, based on Amanda's work. I think that she is really groundbreaking, in the way that she envisions an artist's work life without the constraints of mainstream media. I personally like being able to vote with my dollars & support indie artists in that way.

    I also agree that Twitter has been a great tool for me as a writer. My husband (Soulless Machine)has had great success with gaining publication based on his connections in Twitter. I use it more as a sounding board and community, but he really works it.

  10. Hi Jessica: You're welcome--I've very much enjoyed everything feeds process & Soulless Machine. Interesting about how SM works Twitter for publication.

    Yes, you've hit it squarely with your comment as to what's compelling in this argument. & by implication, indie artists aren't just musicians--they're poets & fiction writers & visual artists, etc. Very important stuff, & again, thanks for stopping by.

  11. Hi Martin: Thanks! It takes some courage to say, here's my work & I'd like you to consider patronizing it in the financial sense. I remember when I first started playing music for $, my initial reaction was, oh, we can't charge too much--& I was told: no, charge what's fair to you & the customer. In rural Idaho, sometimes that's not very much. But there's still the point that we're offering a craft for people's enjoyment & even edification.

  12. Very interesting. She speaks a lot of sense in the clip and rightly identifies that it is almost impossible to turn back the process of technological change. Sometimes I wonder whether the change is even deeper than she suggests however as she still talks about the artist as though they were somehow a separate entity. The idea of a limited and distinct group of artists and a larger group of art consumers is the one which I see as being out-dated.

  13. Hi Alan: An interesting notion. It is certainly true that technological innovation has made it possible for more & more people to become art producers in a way that may gain an audience outside of friends & family. I think this goes to her point about cutting out the "middleman"--once the "middleman"--the recording industry, the publishing industry, the visual art industry--have less say in what is consumable art, the more the playing field will level. On the other hand, we're also all art consumers, including Amanda Palmer--if she weren't an art consumer, she wouldn't have known the Radiohead songs in the first place. The question then is, what's the ratio of consumption to production?

  14. I got to see Amanda Palmer in a living-room concert a few weeks ago. Her Radiohead uke covers are brilliant! Thanks for posting this talk, John, and for the provocative discussion.

  15. Hi Audrey: I was hoping you'd weigh in here. I think Cheryl mentioned something about the "living room concert" on FB--lucky for you! I didn't even know about her until recently.


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