The lead singer and pianist of the “punk-cabaret” duo Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer, has been making headlines with her recent YouTube rendition of the popular Radiohead song, ‘Creep,’ which she performs on the ukelele.
In one 3-minute period, the songstress had sold nearly $15,000 in online music and merchandise purchases, along with 4,000 digital EPs, vinyls, and just about everything else that was for sale on her website.
An interview was recently held with “the man behind the music,” Sean Francis, regarding Palmer’s new-found popularity and the way her fans helped get her cover over 140,000 views on YouTube. Listen to the ‘Creep’ cover, and read some extracts from the interview below!
Congratulations on the release! Is it true that you guys did it entirely independently?
Thanks, and that’s correct – no label, and no manager for the most part. This project has been handled by four people: Amanda, myself, Beth [Hommel], and Hayley [Rosenblum] – interfacing with various artists and professionals (like the producer) when and where necessary.
Are you happy with the way the release has gone thus far?
We couldn’t be happier. We hoped for far less than what’s happened, braced for the worst, and were floored by how wonderful it’s turned out. We’ve said that this is an experiment from day one, but to see such positive response from the fans, and to have so many people tell us that we’re doing things right? It’s hard for gross earnings to trump knowing we made the fans happy, but being able to see both of those elements walking happily hand-in-hand is GREAT.
So you think you’ll do better by selling this release directly to your fans first, as opposed to selling through iTunes or Amazon from the very start?
It’s nice to see a check roll in from those places, but in-between shuffling off a (large) percentage of revenue just for being on there, and the fact it would’ve been weeks (if not months) ’til we would’ve seen a dime…I don’t think we’ll make more money this way, I know we will, and I know we did. In six hours.
You decided to let your fans name their price on the digital EP, with the minimum set to 84 cents (representing the amount owed to Radiohead for playing their music, plus payment processing fees). How’d that work out? Are fans paying more than the minimum?
Part of the reasoning behind doing the release that way was that we wanted to lend some transparency to the system by which an artist (in this case Radiohead) receives a royalty check. We were urged by numerous parties to set our minimum donation to a higher price point – and I don’t think anyone would’ve been turned off had we set it to $3 or $5 – but we saw that people were more than happy to not only pay for the music, but pay extra for it: downloads are averaging around $5, and one generous comedian even paid $100.84.
What’s next for Amanda?
What’s literally next for Amanda is preparation for Cabaret – she won’t be doing any real touring on this EP, but will be performing with some longtime collaborators (virtuoso pianist Lance Horne, her high school drama teacher Steven Bogart, and Danger Ensemble impresario Steven Mitchell Wright) at the A.R.T. through September and October in Cambridge, Mass. After that? Well, we’ve told the fans to keep Halloween clear. Amanda may or may not have some obligations somewhere on the east coast to conjure up some friendly ghosts from the past and do a really special show. Maybe.
Read the rest of the interview here, and let us know what you think about Amanda’s cover!