I knew Amanda Palmer’s talk at TED2013 was going to be good the moment she showed up to her rehearsal with a milk crate and flower in hand. Sometimes, you can just tell. Of course, Amanda is a performer and no stranger to taking a stage, but the TED stage is a bit different. Yet, she had her finger right on the pulse of what a TEDTalk can and should be. She’d done her homework and was ready.
As I listened to her rehearse, I was totally captivated. First off, her story is amazing. It’s an arc that begins with her performing as a street performer, goes through her experiences with the mainstream music business, and then talks about her Kickstarter project. But that’s not the meat of her talk. No, her talk is really a visceral answer to the question of what happens when you stop forcing people to pay for music and simply ask.
Of course, this is not a new idea. The Creative Commons just finished celebrating it’s ten year anniversary. Larry Lessig was talking about it for years before. Open Source software is an example that dates back much further. But, all of those conversations either suffer from being exceedingly technical, legalistic, or are otherwise unapproachable by so many of the people who need to hear it. Amanda’s story unlocked the idea so simply and so powerfully that it’s hard to ignore.
Amanda Fucking Palmer, you rocked it. Pitch perfect. Thank you.
After Amanda’s rehearsal, I was introduced to a man who was in the audience with a simple: “Oh, I’d like you to meet Amanda’s husband, Neil. Neil Gaiman.” Caught off guard, I blurted out, “Neil Gaiman, the writer? That’s awesome! Welcome! I hope you get to enjoy TED.” Neil was gracious and in a moment that says so much about their relationship, he responded modestly, “Yes, but right now, I’m simply here for Amanda.”
Watch Amanda Palmer’s talk at TED2013 on TED.com.