“To me it seems absurd,” she said. “If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?”
Quite furious about the blinkered, privileged self-righteousness of Amanda Palmer this morning. The above quite comes from a piece the New York Times wrote about Palmer asking her fans to play in her touring band, with payment provided in the form of beer and hugs.
Trying to think of a way to phrase this without sounding particularly right-leaning: something that really bothers me about what Palmer is doing here is the idea that although she can’t afford something, she still feels entitled to it. If she can’t afford to pay these musicians, then she should have to think of a cheaper way around involving those instruments in the show— triggered samples, or something along those lines. It irritates me in the same way as when I see people on Twitter asking for free design work for a website or poster they’re making. David Thorne of 27bslash6 illustrates the absurdity of such working relationships beautifully with this set of pie charts.
It strikes me as gross abuse of a fanbase that are incredibly loyal and giving to her - to the tune of $1.2m via a Kickstarter project to fund her new album - assuming that being in her immortal presence will give these fans gratification beyond any financial recompense. Because who needs money when you have art? Oh wait, Amanda Palmer does.
Palmer’s deal has always seemed to be standing up for the oppressed, making a stand against injustice and prejudice, being a totem for the individual. By only paying her backing musicians by letting them bask in her glow, she’s engendering a world of exclusivity: not everyone can afford to take time off from their jobs to go and tour for nothing. The gold sparkle of Amanda Palmer’s hallowed artistic aura doesn’t pay anyone’s rent. I would have thought she’d be one of the first people to rail against artists being exploited, that heinous idea of working for free earning you “exposure”— one of the most pernicious forces plaguing the professional creative world.
As Raymond M. Hair Jr., president of the American Federation of Musicians, says in that New York Times piece: “Playing is work and there’s a value associated with it, and that value ought to be respected.” Amanda Palmer is clearly aware of the fact that music and performance has value, having asked her fans to contribute to making her record, so it’s a real shame and kick in the teeth for those fans that it transpires that she only sees her own contributions as being of financial worth. Besides – what the flip has she done with that $1.2m to not be able to pay string and brass musicians $35k for the duration of the tour? And she signed some sort of deal with Cooking Vinyl after running the Kickstarter— if these musicians are so important to her show, why aren’t they covering the costs? Not to get too personal: she’s a successful musician and she’s married to Neil Gaiman. I can’t imagine they’re particularly poor.
I wonder if this will be the undoing of Kickstarter.
Sean Adams from Drowned in Sound highlighted this post on the DiS boards:
“to post about the time i almost played trombone for her. was vaguely up for doing a london gig just for the fun of it, but her management/team seemed to want people to do her whole UK tour, and for free. when i asked about them sorting out transport to do a couple of the gigs, they stopped replying to emails. might have been coincidental, but when you’re asking people to do something for free, i think you should be a bit more polite.
i thought it would have been fun to do because she’s very charismatic and has very keen fans and the atmosphere would be good, but in retrospect its pretty muggy to do stuff like this for free without a very good reason
(if this hadnt been exactly what the thread was about, i would have gone into much less detail)”