The Wisdom of Strange Sofas

Amanda Palmer has been making the rounds this week on the interwebs. She’s a semi-famous punk musician who has made some interesting comments on the future of music. If you haven’t seen her yet, check it out.

I really really like her energy and clarity. In fact I think I cried a bit the first time I watched this talk. I really connected with the way she processed the “is this fair” and “get a job” voices — I struggle constantly with getting over myself and being real and I liked her framing of asking as an art form.

I also liked her counter-intuitive conclusion for the music industry: the question isn’t how to get people to pay for music, but how to get people to want to pay for music. I think we can all agree that large scale collections of connected people clearly have different interaction models and I consider Ms. Palmer’s future of music to be important work in helping to figure out that new social terrain.

All that said, I find radical transparency and soul-baring to have their own complicated social inequities (um, not everyone can crowdsurf at the same time..). Punk rock and couch-surfing have a gimmicky charm, and like some of the other experiments in the new connected social spaces — crowdfunding, wikipedia, crowdsourcing, and other crowd-wisdoms — they seem more like new inputs than full-fledged answers.

So I say god bless Louis CK, and Mrs. Neil Gaiman — I will follow their experiments closely. While they provide a cool counterpoint to the world of “get a job” I guess sometimes I want to sleep in my own bed and hang out with actual friends.


2 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Strange Sofas

  1. Sherilee

    We’ve discussed Ms. Palmer… I rewatched the video–or rather, made it all the way through… the first time I lost interest mid-way, truthfully–and I’m feeling a bit more generous towards her than earlier this week. Though, I find her style of moving through the world (this whole “ask as an art form” and “draw on my naked body”) really naive. I know it worked for her to the tune of $1.2M, so I guess I’d say more power to her, but for the youngers who are coming up, it will be interesting to see if they can build a similar following… or is it unique to her “flavor?”

    I haven’t even mentioned those eyebrows. (I *did,* however, warn you that I’m petty.)

    I appreciated this perspective when I read it earlier this week:

    1. shelby Post author

      I liked the gawker link muchly, thx. I was new to the Thayer/Duns plagarism tussle which is another whole topic.

      re: Art monetization models, there have been a few over the years — hat on ground is one, definitely. But patronage has always been the dominant way artists make money AFAIK, whether by kings or churches or brands. And I’m not sure the mob patronage or king patronage necessarily provides more freedom. I have to think Palmer is now somewhat trapped inside her nakedness schtick, so I wish her good luck escaping that prison with her moneybags intact. Of course kings and churches and brands are famous for being restrictive too, but just like picking your mob, you should be careful picking your king because as an artist you’re stuck for a while in that mode.


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