Amanda Palmer

After being called an idiot by Steve Albini, and then apparently NOT being called an idiot by Steve Albini, Amanda Palmer has responded. Not to Steve Albini, however, but to a fan and classical musician, Amy Vaillancourt-Sals, who posted her own reaction to Palmer’s request for unpaid volunteers to sit in with her band on her current tour. Vaillancourt-Sals’s criticism was a bit more cogent than Albini’s: She made no references to selling meth and blow jobs at a mud pit, instead pointing out the ways in which Palmer’s actions could negatively affect the greater music community. Among other things, Vaillancourt-Sals wrote:

Artists are feeling desperate. I confess, I have found myself giving free performances in order to get ahead and perhaps have something notable to put on my resume. You’d think that this would help, but it doesn’t and in fact it’s made my position worse. Volunteer opportunities have effectively lead to more volunteer opportunities. Very very seldom have I found it leading to compensating gigs.

Palmer responded with a 2,800-word open letter explaining her choice; it’s far too lengthy to summarize in a few lines, but at its center is this declaration from Palmer:

your concern reminds me of the complaints i’ve seen from musicians who insist that i’m “devaluing” their own recordings by giving my music away for free and encouraging people to pay what they want for it (which is how i just released my new record). i get the impression that they see me as a force of evil who is miseducating the public to think that “music should be free.”

here’s what i think about all that, and it also applies to this paid/non-paid musician kerfuffle:

YOU HAVE TO LET ARTISTS MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT HOW THEY SHARE THEIR TALENT AND TIME.

Palmer’s letter is included below in full so you can judge for yourself. (I also strongly encourage you to read Vaillancourt-Sals’s letter.) Before getting to that, though, I did want to draw out and spotlight one notably SMH-worthy section of Palmer’s letter:

there were cities like new york where [string arranger Jherek Bischoff] –- and everyone in the band –- really wanted to make sure we had a 100% tried-and-true string corps. he didn’t want to bank on possibly risky volunteers that night. chad raines, my guitarist, who’s also in charge of wrangling the horns, agreed on that front as well. so we called our more professional horns and strings friends in new york, and we freed up the budget to pay them. we’re doing that in some cities, and in some cities it’s a total grab-bag of strangers on stage.

it’s very important to me that we clarify that – not everything you see on stage is black and white, and those specific musicians in new york (and in some other cities) who got paid shouldn’t be put in the same category as the volunteers. WE called THEM personally because we had lots of experience with them and knew what we were gonna get … the upshoot? every single city is totally different. sometimes paid. sometimes not. it’s sometimes messy. sometimes not. sometimes slightly risky. and therefore, in my opinion, fun.

I love that. New York? Call in the pros. Spare no expense. Can’t fuck up in NYC. CANNOT. Des Moines? Whatever. Somebody there must want to sit in on fiddle for a couple hugs/high-fives, right?

Anyway, grab a coffee, settle in. Here’s Amanda.

dear amy,

first of all: thank you so much for writing your letter. it’s definitely got me (and a lot of other people) thinking and talking about what it means to ask a musician to volunteer their time.

if my years working as as street performer taught me anything, they taught me to accept help in every way, to never be too proud or afraid to ask for it. i never got pissed at a passerby for not throwing change in my hat. i stood there knowing that maybe 15 people later, maybe 20, maybe 100…someone would. it’s literally an opposite strategy from someone deciding that they, on principle, won’t gig for free.

i’ve built my life as a musician, like many many people in rock and roll, playing for free….a LOT.

or playing for beer.

playing for exposure.

playing for fun.

playing just to be able to sell merch.

playing to do somebody a favor.

playing a benefit to help a cause.

sometimes even paying for my own travel for the privilege of playing with my idols. (the dresden dolls lost a lot of money in order to travel around opening up for nine inch nails. and good lord, were we grateful to lose that money…it won us a huge bunch of fans).

i’ve passed the hat for myself at shows and events where i wasn’t officially paid, and a lot of times i’ve encouraged my openers to pass the hat to supplement a small or non-existent opener budget.
in 2008, i took the danger ensemble – four australian performance artists/actors and a violinist (lyndon chester) – on tour with me for no salary. i made sure they had places to sleep (usually with fans) and food to eat (usually brought by fans). they passed the hat every night at the gig. it worked really well. they were happy to take the risk.

i’ve played a ukulele to hundreds of people on a beach for hours, for free. and i’ve been paid thousands of dollars for a one-hour show at boston symphony hall. i don’t consider one more legitimate than the other. in fact, i believe that the two experiences feed, inform, and compliment one other. pretty much every seasoned rock musician i know has a pretty locked-in sense of what their time and talent is worth, and it changes day to day, moment to moment. david byrne came and sang with my band a few months ago. we never had a formal arrangement…we paid him in thanks and beer which i’m not sure he even drank. a few nights ago we played at bard college and the opening student band, dr. skinnybones, asked if i would sing a song with them during their set. i drove over to their house and practiced it with them the night before and hopped up with them for five minutes the next night, before my own band went on.

i didn’t ask them to pay me, and everybody knew that wasn’t what it was about. it was about me thinking that it was going to be fun, and them having the guts to ask me to do it. i could have said no and spent that extra time in my dressing room, getting ready and hanging out with my band. i don’t think they would have been pissed at me if i’d declined. but i played for free. i was happy to do it.

now: YOU don’t have to play for free. but i hope you won’t criticize me for wanting to. and hope you would try not to criticize or shame other musicians for making their own decisions about how to share their talent and their time.

there’s also been a general misunderstanding that i need to put to rest: every person on my stage gets paid differently – and not EVERY musician up there, even in the string and horn corps, is a strict volunteer. when we mapped out this tour a few months ago, i sat down with jherek bischoff, my touring and recording bassist (along with being the string arranger AND my opening act). jherek is, like the other permanent touring members of my band, on a salary. part of his job is that he’s in charge of email-organizing the string section, as he’d also be using them as his quartet (as an opening act), and he wanted to make sure we got the best we could get for what we could afford given our tour budget.

there were cities like new york where jherek – and everyone in the band – really wanted to make sure we had a 100% tried-and-true string corps. he didn’t want to bank on possibly risky volunteers that night. chad raines, my guitarist, who’s also in charge of wrangling the horns, agreed on that front as well. so we called our more professional horns and strings friends in new york, and we freed up the budget to pay them. we’re doing that in some cities, and in some cities it’s a total grab-bag of strangers on stage.

it’s very important to me that we clarify that – not everything you see on stage is black and white, and those specific musicians in new york (and in some other cities) who got paid shouldn’t be put in the same category as the volunteers. WE called THEM personally because we had lots of experience with them and knew what we were gonna get.

so you know (and because a photo of them has been circulating), in NYC, they were: sam kulik (who i know from our co-touring days with nervous cabaret), matt nelson (who’s also in tUnE-yArDs), kenny warren, phil rodriguez, and “moist” paula henderson (aka Secretary). as many people saw, they ripped it UP on the webcast. sam and paula also showed up to play our kickstarter celebration (and were paid in money…AND beer).

in new york and in DC, three of the eight or nine horn and string players were actually from our opening bands: kelly and alec from the band Ronald Reagan hopped in on sax duty, and jessie from The Simple Pleasure volunteered to play viola at any gig she was at. in DC, we had a combination of people from the opening bands, a couple of horn players who were strict volunteers, and three string players from Classical Revolution who also volunteered their time.

the upshoot? every single city is totally different. sometimes paid. sometimes not.
it’s sometimes messy. sometimes not. sometimes slightly risky. and therefore, in my opinion, fun.

and sometimes there’s a grey area. Ronald Reagan is getting paid to be our opener, but they also happily volunteered to join our horn corps on top of their opener duty…plus they’re making money selling merch, and we donated two bunks on our tour bus so they could travel with the band and not have to follow us in a van. does the math all work out? who knows. but we’re all happy with the situation. we feel blessed to be on tour with people like Ronald Reagan who are willing to make it up as we all go along and play this many-hats game on stage. those are the people i love playing with.

………..

your concern reminds me of the complaints i’ve seen from musicians who insist that i’m “devaluing” their own recordings by giving my music away for free and encouraging people to pay what they want for it (which is how i just released my new record). i get the impression that they see me as a force of evil who is miseducating the public to think that “music should be free.”

here’s what i think about all that, and it also applies to this paid/non-paid musician kerfuffle:

YOU HAVE TO LET ARTISTS MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT HOW THEY SHARE THEIR TALENT AND TIME.

especially in this day and age, it’s becoming more and more essential that artists allow each other space to figure out their own systems.

the minute YOU make black and white rules about how other artists should value their own art and time, you disempower them.

anyone is allowed to crowdfund a record.
and anyone is allowed to crowdsource a musician.
or a pair of socks. or a place to crash. or a meal. anyone.
the band at the local pub can do it, i can do it, tom waits can do it, and justin bieber can do it (his fans would FLIP to be up on that stage making music with him. i’m imagining a crowdsourced belieber playing violin on “boyfriend” right now and loving the image, truly. it’s also fun to think of tom waits wearing fan-knit-socks.)

i could ramble on about my million-dollar Kickstarter and where that million dollars actually went (actually, i already did that, in a blog over here)…and i could tell you that i wish i had enough money to hire a second tour bus and put eight full-time musicians on salaries. but the funny thing is: i actually don’t. i don’t wish that. not right now.

because this isn’t about money. for me, this is about freedom. and about choices.

you see, with this tour, i originally fantasized that we’d write super-easy-to-learn parts, and then musician volunteers – of varying backgrounds and skill level – would join us to play them, in every city. as an experiment, as the concept behind the grand theft orchestra. we are the media. we are the orchestra. it sounded like a really FUN way of doing a tour, and so far, it really has been. it has worked out great for all involved. it’s pretty much worked out the way we envisioned, with some changes here and there (using paid pros in some markets, using our openers, etc).

here’s another good way of thinking about it: we constantly crowdsource food. across the world, our fans volunteer to spend a whole day, sometimes more, cooking and arranging to get warm food to the venue: it’s a truly magical feast sometimes. and it’s a simple exchange: we ask them to volunteer, they volunteer joyfully.

these people (some of whom are real-life professional chefs) have to actually lay down money, sometimes hundreds of dollars, for all the food they cook and bring us. they choose to spend their talent, time, (and money) cooking for the band. then they come eat with us. our gratitude is huge. we don’t have to order take-out from the falafel joint next to the venue, we get to meet cool people instead. i’ve made some great new friends like that. it all works out pretty great.

is it always perfect? hell no. do we sometimes end up with a five-course gourmet feast one night, and a sad/bland potato salad the next? hell yeah. is it worth it, and do we eat our sad potato salad with a smile? you bet we fucking do.

i’ve never come under fire for crowdsourcing food…but can you see the parallel? you could call us out for not putting our money to the local falafel joint, or for not hiring a cook for the tour. but that’s not the way we see it. we just see the joy around the table backstage as the rider wine flows and everybody involved has a good hang.

it’s an inexact, unpredictable science. and that’s part of why it’s great.

the volunteer musicians have been the same. we’ve been doing this for over a year now.
sometimes we get seasoned pros, sometimes we get people who barely play at a high school level.
sometimes it’s a lot of work. and every night, we work with who and what we’ve got.

and it’s a risk, a game we love playing. it isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. and i wouldn’t have it any other way. i’ve met some fantastic people through it.

and honestly: i’d take a less experienced horn player who was overjoyed to be on stage for the fun and experience over the pro who’s clocking in to get paid and doesn’t care about me or my band any night of the week.

i talked with jherek about this a lot yesterday, and he noted that there HAVE been a handful of people who he’s reached out to – friends of friends – who’ve responded in the vein of “love to do it if it was a paid gig…but here’s the email of someone who might be game!”
jherek always invites those helpful folks to be on the guest list anyway.

and prompted by your letter (and the following avalanche of comments on my blog) i did what i always try to do: go to the source.
i had a great talk backstage at the 9:30 club last night with the three string players from Classical Revolution DC who’d volunteered their time.

jherek and i asked them point blank what they made of this whole issue. they said they firmly stood by their decision to come play the gig. they knew what they were responding to, and they didn’t feel at all violated. one of them told me he often plays violin for heavy metal gigs, for free. they were happy to be playing with us. and we were really happy to have them. and YOU’LL be happy to know we gave Classical Revolution (along with the players) a big shout-out from stage. we’re grateful.

as the musician in charge of the show, the reality – not the theory – is always more important to me.

this has been the onstage checklist since i first started touring, and it’ll probably never change: is everyone on stage happy – both the salaried musicians and the volunteers? does everyone feel welcome? appreciated? respected? is everyone enjoying themselves? and most importantly: does everybody have a drink????

the reality of the players and the feeling in the room is more important to me than anything.

i have close friends who are selling their albums on bandcamp for $10, whereas i keep my stuff at $0 or $1, and it doesn’t get in the way of our friendships: in fact, we compare notes about how business is going. we share, we muse, we know that there’s no correct solution, only a collection of thousands of paths.

this collection of paths, not a singular truth, is where the future of music and art is headed, i think. and the biggest service we can do for each other, as artists, is to respect the differing path of our fellow artists, because believe me…it’s going to start happening a HELL of a lot.

jherek and i (and my whole band and management team) are going to keep trying to figure out how to pay people how and where we can, as we have been already, and your letter will help kick our asses further in that direction. for that, i thank you.

and as my touring budget changes, i’m sure so will the onstage configurations, and every night will continue to be a work-in-progress. jherek has done GREAT on merch the past few nights (his new record is HERE and is incredible) has decided to give part of his road-merch profits towards the musicians each night until we are at a point that we can consistently pay, since he feels like he’s getting a lot of mileage out of the players. and i’ll keep looking at my own budget and paying people as much as i can, where and when i can. we may talk to the bands about hat-passing. and we’ll figure it out as we go. we’ll grow.

so, in closing:

i would never criticize or judge you for drawing your own lines and deciding how to value your talent and time.
more power to you, for real. it takes a strong commitment to do that, and i wish you luck.

in exchange, i’d ask that you not criticize us because we belong to a different culture, where we’re playing a different game, with different rules.

and we’re making a pretty joyful noise, and we’re happy to welcome those, with no judgement, who want to hop on stage and make it louder.

from one musician to another
with loads of love and respect,

afp

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Comments (66)
  1. she’s hideous.

  2. what a windy gasbag.

    • This is a new low for music and has just destroyed her image. Rather than admitting that ‘jamming with the fans’ is something best left for a charity gig rather than a expensive professional one she’s backed down on her position.

      I was a science major; I still do chemistry and biology tuition evenings and weekends. If a tuition agency told me to do that for anything less than fifty bucks an hour ‘to get exposure’, I’d burst out laughing. Playing music shouldn’t be any different. Sorry.

      • Then you wouldn’t play a gig with her, simple as that. I wouldn’t either, but I don’t see why people are upset. She’s not enslaving people. They are volunteers so they’re obviously going to be fine playing music with her without being compensated. Otherwise they wouldn’t. If Palmer and the musicians are both cool with the agreement, then what do the rest of us care?

  3. Amanda Palmer IS a fucking idiot. Albini should’ve stuck to his guns.

  4. Haven’t read the entire letter, but to your point about NYC, wasn’t NYC her record release show…?

    • FWIW she says they have paid musicians “in New York (and in some other cities),” but record release or no, it’s kind of a dubious remark, no?

      “there were cities like new york where jherek –- and everyone in the band –- really wanted to make sure we had a 100% tried-and-true string corps. he didn’t want to bank on possibly risky volunteers that night…so we called our more professional horns and strings friends in new york, and we freed up the budget to pay them. we’re doing that in some cities, and in some cities it’s a total grab-bag of strangers on stage.”

      Do flyover residents get discounted tickets to watch “risky volunteers” instead of the “100% tried-and-true” pros warranted by NYC?

  5. As someone who works in a creative field, despite people telling you otherwise, sometimes it seems like you HAVE to do a bunch of free stuff before people notice you. I have no problem with that.

    It DOES, however, rub me the wrong way that Amanda Palmer is really really dead set on not compensating her volunteers. For me, it’s not that “no one should ever play for free,” it’s that because of her history & fan involvement, Amanda Palmer seems like she SHOULD be “one of the good ones.” We all know there are shitty predatory internships that basically amount to free labor & busy work, but there are also good ones that take care of you. I think we just expected Palmer to be one of the latter.

    • Well, yeah. This is not one of those times where a musician “has to do a bunt of free stuff before people notice you.” Palmer got over a million bucks from her fans, AND I presume, people are going to be paying actual dollars to go see these shows. There’s absolutely no reason not to compensate the musicians when the MONEY IS THERE. I mean, come on.

  6. She does the same thing with food? That seems weird. Admitting that people lay out “hundreds of dollars” to feed you? I don’t know, it just comes off really weird.

  7. At the end of the day, thousands of people buy her music. Thousands of people come to her shows. Thousands of people buy her merch. Thousands of people GIVE HER MONEY FOR NOT DOING ANYTHING AT ALL. Amanda Palmer has a devoted set of fans who hang off her every word, declare her every action a work of artistic genius and will buy whatever she offers them. She can afford to hire musicians and pay them in real money. There’s a difference between going ‘Wow, I have a loyal fan base’ and going ‘Wow, I have a loyal fan base. I wonder how much I can get them to do for me in order to minimise my own expenses.’ She’s doing the second one, and it’s more than a little rude, egotistical and manipulative.

    She needs to learn to use capital letters and paragraphs properly. And cut down on her word count, nobody has the time to listen to her witter on for 2,800 words.

  8. If I knew how to play a horn even a bit, I’d want to do this. It just sounds fun. Music is supposed to be fun, remember?

    • Yeah but if you were a “professional-ish” musician who was being asked to submit video to prove you could “ACTUALLY, REALLY PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT!” (these are her words and requirements), you might be a little frustrated to learn that this potential job was compensated with “hugs/high-fives.”

      • I thought initially she was going for the whole charm of less than pro vibe?

        • Ah, the classic “fun jobs don’t NEED compensation” line.

          • Is it actually a JOB, though? (In this instance, not being a musician in general)

          • Yes it is. All gigs are jobs. That is why this is a really unfortunate thing. I am exactly the professional-ish (if not leaning more toward professional side) variety, and I can say that the reason I am professional-ish is that I can’t afford to not have a day job. Nobody I know that plays music for a living can. It sucks, and Amanda doesn’t really understand how her choice is both a business AND a moral choice, and it fails on the latter front because she fails to establish it is connected to the former.

            So while I agree that, yes, she totally has the right to do what she is doing, her defense is pretty sad. If she admitted she were exploiting her fans to some extent, I would probably support that. But if she thinks this is a good direction to lead the industry she works in, then she’s wrong and is dismissive of her own development and role in the industry.

        • Jordan, this is excerpted from the original solicitation:

          “we’re looking for professional-ish horns and strings for EVERY CITY to hop up on stage with us for a couple of tunes … you need to know how to ACTUALLY, REALLY PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT! lessons in fifth grade do not count, so please include in your email some proof of that (a link to you playing on a real stage would be great, or a resume will do. just don’t LIE…you’ll be embarrassed if you show up for rehearsal and everyone’s looking at you wondering why you can’t actually play the trombone.)”

      • I think her original thought was that it’d be a chance to have fun on stage with fans but she didn’t really fully think it through.

        • I think her mistake was backing down on it now she has had time to do so.

          This is why union rates were invented: so you can’t persuade people to pay pro gigs for peanuts. Even working for Mitt Romney has better employer benefits.

  9. I actually was on her side for a minute there (if one of my favorite bands/artists wanted me to play on stage with them, I would do it for free). That was UNTIL she mentioned that some got paid and some didn’t. To that, I call bullshit.

  10. This reminds me of another controversy from a book called Intern Nation, built around the use of unpaid interns in industry. The basic gist is, it’s exploitative (and probably should be illegal) to use people as part/full-time employees but to classify them in a category where they get no compensation, benefits, etc. Coming from someone who worked with the Occupy Movement as she has, this kind of shocks me — she should know better. Her excuse that she’s done the same rings true of most business owners today who use interns, because they themselves were once interns. That doesn’t make the position right. It’s still an exploitative practice to ask a group of people to take no compensation for the work they’re doing when you’re in a position to compensate them, especially when you raised as much money as she did. It’s a lazy and/or naive attitude to say, “Well, I got mine and succeeded, so I don’t have to worry about them.” You’re in a position to legitimately help people and your response is “I’m not interested in theory, just the reality.”? Seriously? Just because they’re happy doesn’t mean they aren’t being exploited.

    Also, putting up your opener in your bus isn’t the same thing as not paying the people who perform with you in Vancouver, or wherever; it’s even worse when you admit you’re stacking cities based on importance, so New York gets some paid players while other tour locations don’t. What does that say to the players in the lesser cities? “You’re not as important as New York, sorry.” The fact that she hides behind the idea that she’s “from another culture” as an out from this argument is probably what bothers me the most.

    • That, to me, is at the core of the problem. It’s one thing to ask people to pay what they want for your material. Here, Amanda and her cohorts are getting PAID for every show they do because they feel they earned that money and they’re asking to take on fans who don’t earn a wage at all. The whole thing feels exploitative because we all KNOW Amanda Palmer is not doing this for hugs and high fives.

  11. If you’re extremely successful, then you should share your monetary success with your collaborators. I don’t have any problems playing with people I know for free, but if they’re rich and famous for their music, they should share a cut of the profits. It’s the difference between college band Dr. Skinnybones asking for her help and vice versa.
    I’m sure her band was being paid for the NIN tour, even if the expenses ended up adding up to a higher sum. Nine Inch Nails helped her out by providing a paying gig with tons of exposure. She’s offering musicians no compensation and basically no exposure, as sidepeople.

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  13. what a fucking cunt. i have played live gigs since i was 15 as a drummer. I have played mostly free shows. i have never had merch to sell or if we did not much. This chick is fucking nuts to think this will help the volunteers out cause i can’t ever remember knowing who played the cello in a band i have seen. I have been to so many shows i cant even begin to count. i love music. I gave my life to it. I am broke and i eat once a day. i work shitty jobs. I have played on the street. she sounds like a fucking diva bitch who would be nice to you in person and then call the potatoes shitty after eating them with a smile on her face. fuck her. for real amanda palmer fuck you. you suck. its one thing to ask for volunteers but to talk about a bunk on a bus? are you fucking serious. i read your whole stupid letter and you look even worse. you should be riding in a fucking fifteen passenger bus. smelling farts and fucking dirty socks. too big for that? nah plenty of way better bands do that shit all the time. you are a lame chick. get fucked.

  14. amanda palmer – This backlash is due in no small part to the smug sense of self satisfaction that you display while proudly proclaiming to your followers that you are defining “the future of music.”

    Also, if you are “the media” you have clearly had a masochistic week.

    You are no longer the young, unique and promising talent you were eight years ago. You are also not in the same position financially. The point many of us are trying to make, that you are clearly too self absorbed to realize- is not that it is wrong to ask musicians to play for free, or that hosting a jam session isn’t fun for your fans, it’s that you made well over the amount needed to record your album and now claim you cannot afford to pay some horn players. Asking your fans to fund your album is one thing, but there is such a thing as going to the well too often.

    One might argue that the “free” ukelele shows you’ve done are merely ego boosts and wouldn’t necessarily constitute as a concert experience since they primarily consist of you drunkenly prancing amongst your admirers half-singing some songs and you know, giving hugs and high fives, *teehee*. Aren’t you precious? These events seem entirely less altruistic when considering that you benefit as much, if not more than the attendees. You are attempting to paint an inaccurate description of the free-spirit, struggling musician life you lead and this is not the case, especially after your kickstarter.

    You acknowledge that you are so generous as to pay players in select cities, and arranged for your professional musicians to be “100% tried and true” in cities such as new york, but not others. Can you explain why the same level of care is not shown for some other cities? Are tickets half off in those cities? i think not. It’s transparent that out of all the blowback that appears online, you choose to ignore the main issues that you are seeing time and time again. Your selectivity on this matter perpetuates my disgust, mistrust, and decision to no longer support you as a true artist. Although I am aware that greed is an art in and of itself.

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    • i dont know what you listen too or care but the music industry is evolving to met todays needs. i have friends who own record labels girl. they pay for records out of their pocket. literally. so if this bitch is your version of the record industry then yeah she might be revolutionary. but in real life cause thats where i live. she is using her fans to play music and then she gets paid. but doesnt pay them. its called exploitation. now i bet you wanna tell me about music. please do. because as far as pop music goes( popular) i would really like you to enlighten me. please. when i said music is my life i fucking meant it. amanda palmer is mediocre. at best. grow up read a book and fuck off.

    • voluntary servitude

    • I (and many others) beg to differ – anyone who thinks that Amanda Palmer is “awesome” and “revolutionary” should read the hell out of this.

      http://areyouahurricane.tumblr.com/post/31500468234

      I’m usually not one for Tumblr, but I think this sums up all of the problems with Ms. Palmer quite handily, and despite the typically memetic nature of Tumblr in general, every single point mentioned in the link above is easily verifiable from other sources (sometimes even from Palmer herself). Wanting professional musicians to work for her for free (and crying poor about it when criticized, to boot) is just the tip of the shitty iceberg with her, so to speak. And it’s been that way for a pretty long time.

      It boggles my mind that anyone can think of this horrible, horrible woman as a person to respect, or an ideal to which others should aspire.

  16. if you guys really want a music industry where every single player is compensated with cash, then go out and buy some fucking records

    oh wait, nevermind, sit in your room and torrent all day long

  17. or go to shows and buy merch. thats how bands make money. they tour alot. its a lifestyle. they dont generally make kickstarters. you can do that if you have a fanbase to fuck over. who does she think she is fucking guns and roses? who spends a millions dollars on a fucking record? thats absurd. nirvana recorded bleach for five hundred dollars and it is a classic.

    • there are about four false statements/incongruities in this comment that i can’t possibly touch on before i leave work in five minutes, but what i do have time for: bleach is just short of a classic record

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  19. Dude what the fuck is with people not using capital letters anymore?

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • If you’re writing a fucking 2,500 word letter to defend your position from all of your critics, detractors, and people who just plain don’t like you, I think at least following basic rules of grammar would help you. Palmer’s situation coupled with her writing makes the whole think reek of immaturity, and ultimately hurts her. So it always matters.

        And, the wolf’s name is Tunde, and he’s my bro.

  20. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  21. yawn, fart

  22. A lot of people are asking, basically, “who the fuck does she think she is?” I’ll tell you who she is. She’s someone who routinely plays for her fans for free. More often than not, she does a free ninja gig with her ukelele when she does a big paid gig. Anyone who dismisses that as just shameless self-promotion _is_ an idiot, for anyone that turns up to those is either already going to the paid gig, or can’t due to lack of funds, but gets to see her anyway, even if she’s mainly just goofing on covers and hanging out talking. For that is what its about, getting together with the fans.
    Its in that same spirit that she eats with her fans, either in their homes or at the venues, on food they’ve brought to share with someone they love. Its in that same spirit that she crashes on their couches and floors. Anyone who is so cynical to think that she does that because she doesn’t want to pay for meals and a hotel is to be pitied. In the Dresden Dolls days, the fans were part of the show, with their wonderful costumes, performance art, circus skills, and improv theater bits.
    This is just a way to extend that vibe to the current tour. As for the idea that just because she has money now means she shouldn’t do it anymore, that is just ridiculous. not as much as people think, if you read and understand how Kickstarter _actually_ works, i.e. its not donations, and the people that

  23. Argh, hit tab while editing, and submitted prematurely.

    The fans didn’t “donate” money just to make the album. They paid money for goods and services, in this case a dollar got you a digital download of the record, and a substantially larger amount got you a lavish physical package including a big art book with original work commissioned from many different artists, and private gallery shows that included everything, that were just for Kickstarter backers.
    For this _is_ the future, and what Amanda is proving is that this model works, and can work for anyone, even if they don’t have a million dollar Kickstarter or a millionare husband. (The idea that she should ask him for money, which has been suggested, is absurd.) Anyone who is both willing to put in the work and who loves their fans as much as she does, that is.

  24. This is a really stupid topic to get up in arms about. No one is getting taken advantage of, or being forced to do anything against their will, so I don’t see why everybody’s so upset at her.

  25. Indignant moral outrage is the popcorn of the subculture masses.

  26. Seriously though, people are upset/disappointed because they expect that Amanda Palmer, at one point I guess an ‘indie musician’ or whatever the fuck, would not do something like this when she appears to very much have the means to take the high road. Everyone else is just happy to be irate over bullshit. There are lots of people with just as much if not more money abusing unwilling people every day. Come on.

  27. Didn’t M83 have an open audition for the bassist/back up guitar player? I’m pretty sure they hired them as an actual touring member though. The only complaint I have with this issue is that is it certainly near a grey zone of the industry. For example, say Radiohead or some other huge act offered to let a fan play trumpet or whatever onstage for a few dates of tour with them- basically getting a free/all expenses paid vacation and great experience. I doubt many people would get up in arms about that.

    The problem is this lady actually thinks itd be a good idea for someone trying to further themselves in the music industry to do this, when the benefits would most likely be very minimal. If you take your career seriously you shouldn’t do stuff for free. Also its funny that she used to be associated with occupy and now shes exploiting for cheap labor

  28. was gonna read that letter but…

  29. Amanda,
    I’m the guy who made the sad/bland potato salad, and let me start off by saying you get what you pay for. I would like to know what happens if a fan volunteers their time, and lets say for arguments sake this fan has been learning to play an instrument for a few years, is proud of how far they have come, but in many ways in not proficient. Perhaps they play out of key, or their timing is not on, what would you say to a fan who has come, volunteered, but will clearly diminish the sound of the band? Beyond that question, I’d like to point out that you are right in saying no one can tell you or force you to act a certain way, as an artist it is your choice. HOWEVER, in your situation it is my OPINION that your actions are not becoming of someone in your position of success. You do make a living, more so than most people in your position. To ask for money (kickstarter) for an album, great, you do what you gotta do. Can we assume that the money you raised with over 1000% increase was not just thrown away or ALL used to pay for the gifts?(do the math) Lets just say, for the record (pun intended) you’re left with a bigger chunk than planned. But to follow up that request with request for free food at shows, free players in your band, it starts to sound needy. It seems as if you are subject to the classic expression ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.’

    On the note of you playing for free in your earlier days and still for charity and what-not. I understand that this was the case, but can we not agree that all of your examples were done for your own benefit? Now I understand that one might think that playing in your band could benefit them, in some small way, to be able to add to their resume. But again, it is all for the benefit of you in the end, and that is what rubs me the wrong way. You are getting paid, they are not, and when someone of importance asks for help, it is usually for a cause different from personal gain. Being a singer I understand how getting up on stage and singing along side one of your idols or someone of importance could benefit you to be seen, but this position is not being offered. It is, as everyone knows, almost impossible to pick out a start from an orchestra unless they are given a solo? Maybe the distinction is not so hard for you, maybe not for some, but for most. And in the end it all just winds up sounding sad and greedy, that’s all.

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