Amanda Palmer delved into the roots of her crowdfunding strategies earlier this week in a TED talk titled “The Art of Asking.” Recounting her days as a street performer and the twinge of shame she felt when people shouted at her to get a job, Palmer discussed how the couchsurfing she did while touring with the Dresden Dolls led to a broad network of people willing to contribute everything from food and shelter (and a neti pot) to stage equipment. “Couchsurfing and crowdsurfing are basically the same thing,” she said. “You’re falling into the audience and you’re trusting each other.”
Palmer also talked about how a disagreement with her label and a guilty fan’s repayment for burning her CD from a friend led her to mount the largest crowd-funding music project to date, which brought in $1.2 million to record her most recent album, Theatre is Evil.
“I got a lot of criticism online after my Kickstarter went big for continuing my crazy crowdsourcing practices, specifically for asking musicians who were fans if they wanted to join us onstage for a few songs in exchange for love and tickets and beer,” Palmer said. “And this hurt in a really familiar way. People saying you’re not allowed to ask anymore for that kind of help reminded me of the people saying get a job. Because they weren’t with us on the sidewalk and they couldn’t see the exchange that was happening between me and my crowd, an exchange that was very fair to us. But alien to them.”