Amanda Palmer Puts Fans First With New App, Decides To Pay Volunteer Musicians

Posted September 20

Over the last few years, Amanda Palmer has become a true social media queen, relying on the support of her fans/followers to sell merch, records and even to create her new chart-topping release, Theatre Is Evil, with new band, The Grand Theft Orchestra. So it’s really no surprise that the ex-Dresden Doll is out with an artist app that centers around fan interaction.

Amanda Palmer the app — powered by Mobile Roadie — is out today via iTunes and Google Play. On the whole, it’s a pretty standard musician app, but it’s a pleasantly slick one nonetheless — and it includes a lot of opportunity for fans to interact with each other and share content.

When you first fire up the app, you’ll be greeted with an ever-changing array of snaps of the musician on the homescreen, as well as a sliding carousel of content below. There’s the general music app fare — news, videos, shop, Twitter, Tumblr, Discography, etc — but some of the icons feature some pretty cool content that’s been socialized quite expertly.

For example, the “Music” icon houses a ton of Palmer tunes, including Theatre Is Evil in its entirety. You can listen to any song in full (no brief samples here) and continue to listen as you surf through the app. It’s pretty cool that Palmer allows fans to listen to tunes wholesale — although there are “Buy” links — rather than as 30-second snippets. That choice makes it clear that the experience is more about engaging with Palmer’s music than selling things, a move that jibes with Palmer’s “I give music away for free” demeanor. Fans can also share jams via social networks, text or email, favorite them for later listening, or chat with other users in a handy comments section.

The “Tour” section offers even more opportunities for interaction — click on any date and you’ll be able to talk to other folks who plan to attend that show, add photos from the night, check in via Facebook and buy tickets. Naturally, you can also favorite a show or share it socially.

The whole social experience is centralized in a “Community” section, where you can share pictures and comments on a “Wall,” find other users to follow and message within the app, check out a map showing where other fans reside, and check out fan photos. Those same photos can also be found via a “Gallery” section of the app, which includes official snaps and fan art as well.

All of this social activity is summarized in “Your Account,” where you’re also assigned points and a ranking for engaging with the app. We’re not really sure what these points garner fans, but we’re guessing there’ll be people vying for the number-one spot, anyway, given Palmer’s ability to move the masses to her will.

We’d Be Remiss If We Didn’t Mention…

..the recent Amanda Palmer controversy surrounding her decision to crowdsource fans/musicians, asking them to appear on stage during select shows in exchange for beer and high fives. Apparently, this issue was recently resolved when Palmer announced that she would be retroactively (and from now on) paying those volunteers. Some background for those out of the loop:

Famously, Palmer used Kickstarter this past spring to raise more than a million dollars to fund her new album and her tour, leading many a pundit to crow about the power of the crowd when it comes to aiding musical endeavors.

However, all that praise turned sour when Palmer took to her blog and asked for local musicians to play with her on tour — for free. The Internet exploded with rage, wondering where that million dollars was going if not to musicians (even though Palmer broke it down at one point). Some outlets looked askance at the way in which Palmer was handling the money, and music heavyweights like Steve Albini spoke bluntly, calling her an “idiot.”

Yesterday, however, after much discussion with fans and detractors, Palmer announced that she would be paying these volunteer musicians (although she still doesn’t seem to think it necessary).

This state of affairs has little to do with the quality of the app, but everything to do with a musician’s connection to her fans — one that Palmer seems to hold in high regard.

Still, we’re interested to hear your take on Palmer’s recent decision — and the app — so please feel free to attack the comments below with gusto.