TED Talks are always a little awkward (I remember someone once tweeting that they are occasions "where business people and academics pretend to like one another" - who was that?), but this talk seemed awkward in a somewhat useful way, introducing the typically staid TED audience to the glories of edgy performance art and cabaret-punk. It has not been without controversy--last year, Palmer ran into some public criticism of her essentially anarchist business model in terms of paying guest musicians, and how she addresses this controversy in the TED talk has been a matter of further discussion in the blogosphere.
I am more interested, though, in what all this says about fandom and its place in the sales and marketing of music in the digital age. Are fans rebels or ultra consumers? What are the right and wrong ways to recognize their devotion? Who, if anyone, should own crowd-sourced work? How might such questions help us to rethink (or rediscover) the participatory nature of arts? There is a lot of thinking out there about these questions, of course, from Liza Potts' investigations of Palmer's fan base to Henry Jenkins' wide-ranging work on new media distribution to Lewis Hyde's thinking about gift culture and the commons. Looks like a good new undergraduate seminar, no?