Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on the Art of Asking. AFP totally pwned TED at their most recent conference in Long Beach, CA. Watch her handle this crowd. As I sat in front of the screen in serious worship mode, I wanted to point out that Amanda isn’t the original when it comes to crowd sourcing and bringing music to the people who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance.
In 1973 Olivia Records formed as a collective to bring “womyn’s music” to the scene.
n 1973, the collective put out a 45 with Meg Christian on one side and Cris Williamson on the other. Yoko Ono responded and said that she wanted to do a side project with Olivia, but the collective politely declined. Without making themselves dependent on any high-profile person, they made $12,000 with that 45, enough to put out singer Meg Christian‘s first record, and soon after, Williamson’s groundbreaking album The Changer and the Changed.
Meg Christian’s first song for Olivia
I can’t find a video for “If It Weren’t for the Music,” (the flip side) which you can hear on Chris Williamson’s album “Circle of Friends” but here is the theme song of the radio show I did for 5 years on WEFT…most of it from 6-8am on Saturday…in fact, the show I co-host with the Birdie…one of my oldest friends…is called Womyn Making Waves (duh…look at the name of the blog) which it started when WEFT 90.1fm,” listener supported volunteer operated radio” started, back in 1981, and WMW is one of the oldest women’s music shows in the United States.
Chris Williamson’s “Retrospective”
Holly Near is another woman in the early days (1972) who wanted people to hear her, so she started her own label.
In 1972, Holly was one of the first women to create an independent record company, paving the way for women like Ani DiFranco and others. Her goal was to promote and produce music by politically conscious artists from around the world, a mission that Redwood Records fulfilled for nearly 20 years. Often cited as one of the founders of the Women’s Music movement, she not only led the way for outspoken women in the music world, but also worked for peace and multicultural consciousness. Throughout her long career Holly has worked with a wide array of musicians, including Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Arlo Guthrie, Mercedes Sosa, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Harry Belafonte, and many others.
It brings us back to Amanda F (for fucking) Palmer.
… 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). And it’s interesting to consider why. As Laurie Coots suggests: “The idea was heckled because we didn’t understand the value exchange — the whole idea of asking the crowd for what you need when you need it and not asking for more or less.”
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.”