Spotify + Patreon — Label = A Brand-New Success Model

Spotify isn’t signing artists, and neither is Patreon. Which is exactly the point.

If you aren’t a die-hard Amanda Palmer fan, you probably didn’t even notice.  But since smashing Kickstarter records in 2012, Palmer has effectively built a ble, high-revenue direct-to-fan enterprise.  In the process, Amanda Palmer the artist has evolved into Amanda Palmer the business.

And here’s the quick history of Amanda Palmer, Inc.  Back in 2012, Amanda Palmer shocked the industry/world with a $1.2 million Kickstarter crowdfunding feat.  She then parlayed that success into other crowdfunding, fan-supported initiatives, including an ultra-successful account on Patreon.

In total, Palmer says she’s made nearly $1.6 million through Patreon in just three years, thanks to thousands of die-hard patrons who pay money for every creative product that she releases.

So what’s the only problem with all of this?

It turns out that there’s one giant, inconvenient truth lurking behind all of this success.  Amanda Palmer started out on a major label.  Which explains why there aren’t thousands of other Amanda Palmers out there.  They didn’t have the upfront capital, the marketing infrastructure, or the distribution required to climb out of obscurity.

Sure, a die-hard Amanda Palmer fan will contest this simple fact.  Because it disagrees with the romantic direct-to-fan narrative that Palmer herself created.  But the real irony is that most Amanda Palmer die-hard fans wouldn’t even exist without the upfront capital of Roadrunner Records and its then-distributor, Universal Music Group.

Amanda’s ‘evil label’ lost the PR battle on this one.  You see, Palmer is as brilliant a businesswoman as she is a self-promoter.  And one of the biggest aspects of promotion is spinning the right narrative.

Palmer’s narrative goes something like this: big label signs an impressionable artist, exploits her, demeans her, then somehow — bam! — not-so-impressionable artists escapes the clutches of major label prison and truly expresses herself!  It’s what marketers call a ‘compelling narrative,’ and it’s one that Palmer has exploited to help make millions of dollars.

Like I said, Amanda Palmer’s pretty damn smart.  Which means none of this would have happened without her ingenious, courageous, and risky approach towards building her career.  But even a highly-tuned sports car can’t get over 50 mph on a bumpy dirt road.