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Amanda Fucking Palmer: "The System's Collapsed"

I’ve always admired the hustle of Amanda Palmer. Rabid blogger, intense Twitterer (hey AFP, shout at me some time, K?), and the creator of creepy, aching tunes that I can’t listen to arbitrarily without being transported to a world that I’m not always exactly ready to be in. Her solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, saved my life under no uncertain terms last Christmas, and her post-Book Expo America show at Highline Ballroom earlier in 2009 ranks as one of my favorite live shows of all time.

On the heels of her pot-stirring blog-gauntlet “Why I Am Not Afraid To Take Your Money”, which challenges, loudly, the current broken financial structure of art in society (sample quote: “it’s about empowerment and it’s about SIMPLICITY: fan loves art, artist needs money, fan gives artist money, artist says thank you.”), and in anticipation of her upcoming New York show at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg on Nov 14, soldout threw around emails with Amanda Fucking Palmer to discuss monetizing art, saving publishing, and getting a good one-word answer on the point of the Recording Industry Association of America.

soldout: You’ve been super-creative with your ways of turning your art into cash other than just t-shirts and records. I was really, incredibly struck by your “I Am Not Afraid To Take Your Money” post and this concept of virtual busking that seems to be prevalent amongst a handful of musicians right now-yourself and (former Throwing Muses singer) Kristin Hersh, to name two. Would you go into a little more detail, or just discuss, how you see monetizing the creation and playing of music playing out in the future?

Amanda Fucking Palmer: I think that the systen has completely collapsed. The major label game is OVER. I think the idea of trying to regulate and strictly monetize files that are so obviously freely shared by threatening people is simply not oging to work. Since I come from a street theater background, I have faith in the public to pony up, even to a very degree. A small degree is often all a good artist needs to stay alive. It’s a messy business, but it always was, wasn’t it?

s.o.: Given the above, and given your overlap into publishing right now (the “Who Killed Amanda Palmer” book, Neil [Gaiman, acclaimed fantasy author and current boyfriend],) and this blog’s overlap into music and publishing, as well as the fact that it seems books may/may not being going the way of the traditional C.D., any thoughts on how to save publishing?

AFP: No idea…you’ll have to ask Neil. Honestly, I think we’re in for a massive rude awakening planet-wide given what’s happening to the environment and whatnot. The idea that people will simply throw food and bedding at artists for relieving the general public of it’s daily woes in a few years seems totally believable, we’ll just have to face the fact we’re working for survival…not overbloated stardom.

s.o.: In the current musical landscape and having been around the block with labels, do you think the RIAA still functions as a positive force?

AFP: No.

s.o.: What are you listening to right now?

AFP:I’ve been listening almost non-stop to the new Tegan and Sara record, “Sainthood”. It’s excellent. It’s still not topping their last genius work (“The Con”) for me, but i’m giving it growing time, like a little plant.

s.o.: What are you reading?

AFP: I’m reading a few things, as usual. In the morning I’ve been reading The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope before I meditate. At night I’ve been reading Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl.
Buddha in the morning, strippers by night. It’s a well-balanced life.

Amanda Palmer plays the Music Hall of Willamsburg in NY Nov 14.