Monday, September 10, 2012

Amanda Palmer, Theatre is Evil, & How Things Are Done



Amanda Palmer’s new album Theatre is Evil officially comes out tomorrow. But if you were one of the thousands of Kickstarter backers for this project (like me) you should already have your copy (like me).

I held off giving money to her Kickstarter campaign at first because I was a little put off by it. I’m a late bloomer to the Amanda Palmer party. I’d heard of the Dresden Dolls, but never got around to them. Somehow I heard a song or two from her solo release, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, and fell in love with it and have loved her ever since.

But one thing that always irked me was her stance as this uber-independent doing it all on her own artist when, in reality, she was on a major label for quite a while and no matter what happened there, it doesn’t change the fact that being on a major label that gives you money to tour and promote yourself certainly helps to build a fan base that can then turnaround and give you over a million dollars to make your next album.

(run on sentence much?)

Of course, I’m sure Amanda Palmer worked her ass off pre-major label just to get signed in the first place. It’s all perspective, I guess. Also, this goes without saying, but kudos to her for acknowledging her very dedicated fanbase and knowing that they will support her in any way they can to hear new music by her.

This irks me even more when there is an artist out there – Ani Difranco – who really has done it on her own since the very beginning and probably could do a Kickstarter and raise millions if she learned how to utilize the internet better. Obviously, this is no fault of Amanda's. It's more of a: My god, lady! Look what you could be doing, too! Use it! Use us, your fans! WE WANT TO HELP YOU!!!
 
SO…

Major label or no major label, the woman is a workhorse, a hell of a songwriter and performer, and really knows how to use the internet and social media to get her brand and her message across and you just can’t overlook that. It’s incredibly inspiring. And daunting.

As someone trying to get my music out there from scratch and at an older age than an 18 year old Ani Difranco back in 1990, finding the time to throw myself into all of this is not easy. I’ve already given up most of what I can in my life to even get a couple of records out. The dream to become a working musician these days goes way beyond having good songs and talent. An artist’s image came to importance with music videos in the 80s. If you didn’t look the part, people didn’t want you. And now you have to be an ace business person excelling at marketing, promotion, writing, public relations, finance, website building, schmoozing and often you have to be good at directing and producing your own videos.

The people who can do all of that are few and far between.

Amanda Palmer is one of the few.

And she has the music to back it up.

Her new album is taking some time for me – though I’ve only had it for just under a week. It’s big. Very big. It is a Grand Theft Orchestra, after all. Lots of big verses and big choruses and big arrangements. The songs are long; shifting constantly, their moods changing and altering just as you settle in with where you think the songs want you to be. On the surface, the depth that you’d find in her previous recordings seems to be missing – replaced with dance beats and 80s synths. But just dig out the lyric book and you will find it there. The words still cut and catch you if you listen.

It’s been on repeat in my car for the past week. I haven’t had the chance to really sit with it – I mean, really sit and listen to it – yet. Mainly checking out songs that peaked my interest in the car when I can. I hope to put the headphones on and sink into it soon.

Or crank it in the living room while I clean. Because it definitely has a dance around the house vibe to it.

 The point?

Go buy Theatre is Evil. And go buy some Ani Difranco albums, too. I put links there to make it easy. Support independent music. Support the arts. Support inventive new ways of doing things. Go see some live music. It's often the only way musicians make money anymore. We'd all love to make a living doing what we love. You're already listening to music and you need something to do on Friday night. Go see bands at the bars in town. There. Now you're also supporting local business.

And, if you have anything left over, you can get my albums here: http://nikibecker.bandcamp.com/

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