What does an out of the box artistic success look like?
It looks like Amanda Palmer.
Amanda Palmer is a musician and artist whose Ted Talk titled “The Art of Asking” made its glorious online premiere on the first of March. With over 500,000 views after being online for only about a day and a half [91K at publishing], it’s clear that her singular message sounded far and wide.
I have not been so impressed and inspired by another artist in quite a long time. Her message was not only courageous and innovative, but a direct challenge to the old regime—offering aspiring artists a new possibility: to stop taking sh*t from the Man and instead forge a road for themselves.
Rather than re-hashing her talk… go watch it and listen to the awesomeness for yourself.
The most profound insight I gained from the experience was that by being totally authentic and true to yourself, whatever that may be.
By dedicating yourself fully to whatever task it is you choose to accomplish, you can find a path to success.
Being an artist myself, I know how challenging it can be—not only to get your work out there, but also to make a living off of it. That’s the big dream isn’t it? Do what you love and get paid for it. It’s a bold choice to make, but nowadays, because of the power of the internet and social media, anything is possible.
Artists, entrepreneurs, or anyone for that matter, can communicate directly to their clients and fans. The usual role of the middleman, to promote, represent, sell, distribute, etc. is on its way to being obsolete.
I mean, why would you pay a bunch of money to someone else to do the work that you can do yourself? Yeah, the work is hard and there is a lot of it… but the rewards are definitely worth it.
It is clear by listening to Ms. Palmer’s story that she has always marched to her own drum. Sure, she had to tackle fears and doubts and faced pitfalls along the way—we all do at some point in our lives. But she remained true to herself, followed her own unique guidance and has become not only a successful artist, but she has achieved cult status as a leader for change.
Her business model completely goes against anything that is considered normal. She gives her music away for free online—she doesn’t make people pay for it.
Instead… she simply asks: “join us.”
She created a Kickstarter campaign asking for $100,000 to fund her album, and ended up raising almost 1.2 million dollars, making hers the highest paid Kickstarter campaign to date. It’s pretty mind-blowing, actually.
For an indie artist, she has an enormous and loyal fan base who are beyond thrilled to help her with just about anything. I follow her on Twitter, and personally watched my feed blow up with tweets from her fans, promoting and supporting her—it was amazing. But she made a massive effort to forge those relationships, out of a true connection rather than simply seeking adoration.
She says: “celebrity is being loved from a distance.” What about just being loved?
Amanda Palmer is an inspiration. She has proven, in a very grounded and practical way, that you can live out of the box. You can do your thing, be your own boss, and be successful. Will this exact model work for everyone? Not likely.
Why? Because she did what uniquely worked for her.
Be uplifted by her boldness—but go and find your own way.
Personally, Ms. Palmer has really made me think. It’s great because all of the “weird” ideas floating around in my head don’t seem so weird anymore. I feel like a fire has been lit under my ass and I am ready to go for it.
You only have one life, so live it. Don’t hold back. We hear that kind of stuff all of the time. It sounds wonderful and brings butterflies to our stomach as we daydream about all the stuff we really want to do… but do we do it? Sadly, the answer to that is more often than not, No.
It’s definitely not easy to live true- I would argue that it’s probably the most intense rollercoaster ride you’ll every go on, but if you were ever going to give your dreams a go… there is no better time than now.
Amanda Palmer did it.
You can do it. We all can.
Natalie Avakian is a black sheep Armenian girl born in Hollywood, California. She is a Five Planet Gemini who loves to write, make music, take photographs, and teach yoga. When presented with choices, she opts for the road less traveled and moves to the beat of her own drum. She loves the sun, the color pink, ice cream, hot showers, the ocean, red toe nails, and roller skates. She has recently returned to her home in Venice Beach, California after spending the last year traveling around the world with her husband. She believes in magic. You can find her at The Divine Disco or follow her on Twitter @thedivinedisco.
Asst. Ed. Caroline Scherer