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Musician Amanda Palmer says she learned about trust and giving when she was a street performer. (TED)

How Do You Get People To Pay For Music?

by NPR/TED Staff
May 17, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Giving It Away.

About Amanda Palmer's TEDTalk

Don't make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer, she examines the new relationship between artist and fan. Palmer believes we shouldn't fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable — and suggests that artists who give away their music for free can and should be directly supported by fans.

About Amanda Palmer

Alt-rock icon Amanda Palmer believes we shouldn't fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable — and suggests that artists can and should be directly supported by fans. Known for pushing boundaries in both her art and her lifestyle, Palmer made international headlines when she raised nearly $1.2 million via Kickstarter (she'd asked for $100,000) from nearly 25,000 fans who pre-ordered her album, Theatre Is Evil.

But the former street performer, then Dresden Dolls frontwoman, now solo artist hit a bump the week her world tour kicked off. She revealed plans to crowdsource additional local backup musicians in each tour stop, offering to pay them in hugs, merchandise and beer per her custom. Bitter and angry criticism ensued — she eventually promised to pay her local collaborators in cash. Summing up her business model, in which she views her recorded music as the digital equivalent of street performing, she says: "I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. In order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them."

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