Welcome to the second installment of the Renegade Queen Profiles.
Today we’re taking a look at someone who challenged the current music industry paradigm and has been called “the most hated women on the internet”.
Amanda “Fucking” Palmer. She’s an American singer-songwriter, artist, innovator, and musician who shows artists that you can create your own vision and be successful. She is married to author Neil Gaiman and the mother of a young son. Her TED Talk about “The Art of Asking” inspired a book and challenges our ideas about asking and receiving support.
When I sat down to write this profile, I had no idea it how far down the rabbit hole it would take me, and just how perfect of an example of a Renegade Queen Amanda “Fucking” Palmer is. After a week’s worth of research I’ve come to greatly respect and admire this bad-ass women and the way she’s stood up for herself and her creativity in the face of the record industry and the media hate mongers.
Amanda Palmer embodies everything a Renegade Queen is. She courageously takes a stand for herself and what she believes in. Knows who she is and what she is here to do; and flies her freak flag high and proud as she makes her own rules for life.
Amanda Palmer grew up in the Boston area and got her start busking as a human statue-The Eight Foot Bride- where she was a familiar sight in in Harvard Sq (Cambridge, MA). She wore a long dress, painted herself white silently handed out flowers to the people who tipped her. I next saw her in early 2002, at a small club in Boston, as part of a Punk-Cabaret duo called the Dresden Dolls. It was a fun show. It was clear that her fans loved her theatrics and inclusive performance style, inviting other musicians and performers to join her on stage. She built up a cult following and was known for forming a genuine relationship with her audience.
Eventually she was signed to a record label, got some publicity and media attention behind her and had the opportunity to perform all over the world. Unfortunately, It didn’t turn out to be a very supportive relationship. She was not willing to conform to their ideas about beauty or perform music that didn’t feel authentic to her renegade soul.
After a very public feud with her record label about whether or not she looked fat in a video and if her material was marketable, she publicly asked to be let out of her contract because they didn’t respect her and understand who she was.
“right before the european tour i went to the new york offices of roadrunner to say hi and check in. my a&r guy (my main contact at the label) sat me down in his office and said he wanted to discuss the “leeds united” video.he told me that there were certain shots that they wanted to either cut completely or digitally alter to “be more flattering”.
my favorite quote from that meeting:
“i’m a guy, amanda. i understand what people like.”
to which i reply: where have you been for the last five years?
do you have any idea who i am, what band i’ve been in, what kind of music i write, who my fans are….who didn’t send you the memo that i’m not britney spears? i’m not TRYING to look hungry. i’m trying to look HOT. there’s a difference.”
She wanted her freedom and to be able to experiment and make the art she wanted to make. Being true to herself was more important than following the traditional path of working with the record industry. Being true to herself was more important than conforming to sell lots of records.
“i never wanted to sell millions of records as my primary goal, nor did i want to be a pop star.i am very fucking happy with what they sneeringly call my “cottage industry” life.
so i think the relationship is rather doomed, from a creative standpoint. i asked to be dropped a few weeks ago, so i could move forward in freedom.
Eventually she was released from her contract.
This story is such a great example of AFP putting on her crown, owning who she is, and taking a stand for what she is here to do. She was willing to walk away from the traditional way of doing things and forge her own path based on what she knew was true for her. She goes on to effectively rule her world by setting her life up to fit her perfectly.
Here’s is the video where they said she looked fat-
Now, Amanda Palmer challenges the current music industry paradigm by giving her music away for free and encouraging people to download and share it, and then asking people to pay what they can for it because they want to support her and her work.
She is successful because isn’t afraid to take a risk by honestly communicating with her people about who she is and what she wants to be doing, and asking them to support her.
She took a risk and trusted that her people would be there for her when she walked away from the record label and put together a Kickstarter to fund the album (Theatre is Evil), Art Book and Tour she wanted to create. Her project turned into the most funded music kickstarter in history surpassing her goal of raising $100,000 in a mere seven hours and going on to raising almost $1.2 million dollars for her project.
In her TED Talk- The Art of Asking – She calls out the new art paradigm and suggests that artists should be directly supported by their fans . Her talk lead to a book– The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help – where she invites us to think about risk versus trust, giving and receiving fearlessly and how to ask for what you need without shame.
She continues taking risks and trusting her fans to fund her art on her Patron Page.
“the idea here is that i want to spend my time MAKING ART, WRITING, RECORDING, PUTTING THE CONTENT FREE OUT INTO THE WORLD and getting PAID FOR IT because some of you out there think it’s worth it.”
It’s working for her! She has over 7,700 patrons and makes over $32,600 per “thing” she makes. Clearly, her fans love and support her. I’m inspired by her courage and boldness when it comes to asking for what she needs and doing the work she is called to do. She clearly knows her purpose.
But there are those who hate her too. The more visible she became in the media, the more viciously she was attacked and judged. She’s offended the media at least seven times, been been called the “most hated women on the internet” and villainized for being too loud, too self assured and too ambitious in a uniquely gendered way.
“It’s worth noting that the actions for which Palmer is attacked most often and most harshly tend to be the ones that conflict with what public femininity is supposed to look like — behaviors and traits that would often sit differently on the shoulders of a male performer.” Rachel Edidin
It’s interesting to notice, as her fame grew, she was attacked more and more for her personality and looks, and not acting like a “good girl” should act versus people talking about her music and artistry.
“The fact of the matter is, a woman in her mid-thirties wrote, performed and released an album that was musically relevant and probably her best work to date; we responded by talking about her body, her personality and who she was sleeping with. We called her too loud, too self-assured, too ambitious. We wondered why she couldn’t simply live off her rich husband’s income, as if that isn’t a question that feminism has been in the process of answering for the past five decades. We affirmed that the artist’s persona mattered more than the quality of their work, and we affirmed that female ambition or self-confidence was a crime: That if you were a loud or aging or difficult woman, and you wouldn’t let us ignore you, we would turn our attention on you full-force, in order to burn your life down to its foundation.” Sady Doyle
Through all of this criticism, Amanda Palmer has stayed firmly anchored in who she is and what she stands for. She doesn’t cower down or hide in shame. She openly responds to attacks and flies her freak flag high and proud. Here response to the Daily Mails comments on a wardrobe malfunction is classic.
No matter how the media tries to villainz her, Amanda Palmer is an inspiration to all women who reject the status quo and are looking for more purpose, authenticity and fulfillment in their own lives. She perfectly illustrates the power of putting on your crown, flying your freak flag and ruling your world.
She makes me think about the importance of knowing and owning who you are as you become more and more visible, and staying true to yourself and your definition of success. She’s unapologetic about what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for help achieving it. This is a lesson all Renegade Queens will benefit from learning.