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Home » The Art of Asking – TED Talk by Amanda Palmer (Transcript)

The Art of Asking – TED Talk by Amanda Palmer (Transcript)

Amanda Palmer

Alt-rock icon Amanda Fucking 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….


Amanda Palmer – Musician, blogger

So I didn’t always make my living from music. For about the five years after graduating from an upstanding liberal arts university, this was my day job. I was a self-employed living statue called the 8-Foot Bride, and I love telling people l did this for a job, because everybody always wants to know, who are these freaks in real life?

Hello. I painted myself white one day, stood on a box, put a hat or a can at my feet, and when someone came by and dropped in money, I handed them a flower and some intense eye contact. And if they didn’t take the flower, I threw in a gesture of sadness and longing as they walked away.

So I had the most profound encounters with people, especially lonely people who looked like they hadn’t talked to anyone in weeks, and we would get this beautiful moment of prolonged eye contact being allowed in a city street, and we would sort of fall in love a little bit. And my eyes would say, “Thank you. I see you.” And their eyes would say, “Nobody ever sees me. Thank you.”

And I would get harassed sometimes. People would yell at me from their passing cars. “Get a job!” And I’d be, like, “This is my job.” But it hurt, because it made me fear that I was somehow doing something un-joblike and unfair, shameful. I had no idea how perfect a real education I was getting for the music business on this box. And for the economists out there, you may be interested to know I actually made a pretty predictable income, which was shocking to me given I had no regular customers, but pretty much 60 bucks on a Tuesday, 90 bucks on a Friday. It was consistent.

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