Falling Into The Audience

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I did like this new TED talk from activist-performer-singer-songwriter-blogger-provocateur (people who defy description make me happy) Amanda Palmer. She talks evocatively about the art of asking for support (financial and otherwise) from your following, and how that process can help build powerful connections with people. She calls it ‘falling into the audience’ which is a description I immediately loved.

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Amanda believes that music should be “as free as possible…unlocked…shared and spread”, and that “in order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them”. It should be, she says, an honor system, her recorded music being “the digital equivalent of street performing”. Amanda raised $1.2m on Kickstarter to support her new album, and has been on the end of some pretty harsh and unwarranted criticism for her approach. 

Kickstarter has seen $503m pledged to projects (at time of writing) for no equity return. Maria Popova (and many other content creators) are using tip jars to supports their efforts. Andrew Sullivan’s efforts to relaunch the Dish as a paid subscription-based site seems to be working (three weeks after the meter went into effect they’ve raised $611,000 against their goal of $900,000 for the year). It’s a myth that people won’t pay for content. But the path to establishing a new kind of relationship with your audience is not always the smoothest. So I applaud people who are trying.

I was always somewhat miffed that after five years of using Delicious, a service which stagnated under Yahoo and came close to closing down several times, I was never asked to contribute to something that I would have happily paid to maintain and make better (I’ve since moved to Pinboard). But as my Mum used to say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

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