She only needed $100,000. And in May, when Amanda Palmer started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the six figures needed for her band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, to release a new album, she got it. But that’s not all that happened: one month later, when the project ended, she had raised $1.2 million—becoming the first musician to pass the million-dollar mark on the popular crowdfunding site.
Palmer, who had already successfully launched other projects in similar ways and is known for interacting with fans online, maintains that crowdfounding may be the future of the music industry. She didn’t always go the do-it-yourself route when it comes to music. As the former lead singer and pianist of the duo The Dresden Dolls, she was signed with Roadrunner Records—but, in 2010, after more than a year of disputes, she left the label. Since then, she has had the freedom to do everything from an album of Radiohead covers on ukulele; a tour with her husband, the author Neil Gaiman; and the musical project called Evelyn Evelyn, for which she and the musician Jason Webley portrayed conjoined twin sisters—all while staying active in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
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But getting rid of the record label isn’t the only change in the industry structure she predicts: in order to succeed within the DIY framework, she has found that musicians have to do a lot more than just make music. Sure, backers of Palmer’s project could choose to get a $1 digital download, a $25 CD or a $50 vinyl, all with exclusive Kickstarter content. Those are typical rewards for music-based fundraising drives—but on the other end of the spectrum was a $10,000 private dinner with the singer…during which she would paint a portrait of you. (Two backers went for that one.)
In this video, Amanda Palmer tells TIME about the future of the music industry and her advice for up-and-coming artists. She and the Grand Theft Orchestra have just started a world tour; the album will be released in September.