Amanda Palmer

You’d think this Amanda Palmer-Steve Albini beef would just die a quiet death, wouldn’t you? Not just yet, if either of the two subjects have anything to say about it. (And they do! In fact, it seems they have A LOT to say!) To recap: First, Palmer solicited her fans to perform with her in exchange for beer and hugs. Then, Albini called her an “idiot” for making such a request. Then Albini apologized to Palmer for the way in which “the Internet” twisted his words, making it sound like he called Palmer an idiot. (In defense of the Internet, he did call her an idiot. Twice.) Then Palmer published a nearly 3,000-word letter in which she attempted to justify her request. Now, Palmer has addressed Albini directly — both his initial dig and its follow-up — and Albini has doubled down (heck yes that’s a deliberate poker reference!) on both fronts.

In an interview with Australian website Moshcam, Palmer said, “I adore Steve Albini and I’m a huge fan of his work, and I know he is a grumpy fuck.”

Palmer also said that Albini’s “apology wasn’t exactly an apology … I think his apology amounted to, ’Amanda Palmer isn’t an idiot, she’s just a dick.’ I don’t need to accept his apology and I don’t need to accept his insult. I just need to accept his Steve Albini-ness.”

Albini, meanwhile, did an interview with UK blog the Stool Pigeon, where he further expanded on his non-apology. Said the Engineer:

On the part of the fans, I totally understand and sympathize with this impulse [to want to play with an object of their fandom regardless of compensation]. That’s starkly different from a millionaire asking people to do things for free, under the guise that she is giving them something by indulging them. It’s cheapness repainted as generosity and it’s gross. Using people in this way, exploiting their good nature for one’s own benefit, is a cancer that taints many enterprises and it always reflects poorly on the exploiter. It’s one of the things I hated most about the old-school record business, the practice of fucking with people who loved music so much they would put up with endless greed and abuse just to be a part of it. A new music business paradigm, if it is worth anything, should strive to be free of exploitation and be honest about its motives … Nobody’s an idiot, some ways of conducting business are just uglier and more exploitative than others.

So, not an idiot, but: cancer, exploiter, gross. That’s some serious Steve Albini-ness for ya.


Do read both interviews in full: Albini here; Palmer here.

Comments (35)
  1. already tired of these two. next.

  2. I agree completely with Albini on principle. However, I don’t completely feel that this specific instance was worth the level of blow up that it created. I can think of far worse examples of the music industry exploiting fans for it’s own gain. I’m trying to think about what the solution would be for Amanda. Is Albini seriously suggesting that she should agree to pay all of the musicians that come up on stage and play along during a concert? that just sounds messy, and not really very realistic from a management standpoint. So, the conclusion would be, unless you can find a way to pay them respectfully, you can’t have them play along at all. And this would result in them just not playing along at all. Which would most likely just disappoint fans who legitimately don’t care about making money and just want to jam out with a musician on stage.

    Either way, Amanda Palmer /is/ gross.

    • Is Albini seriously suggesting that she should agree to pay all of the musicians that come up on stage and play along during a concert?

      Yes, that is exactly what he is suggesting. That millionaire Palmer should take some of that compensation she and her band are getting from ticket sales and share it with these musicians doing the exact job she is doing, playing along. It’s not messy, it’s remuneration.

    • In the full article Albini backs up his assertions. And I must say he’s totally right.

      Palmer pulled in 1.2 Million Dollars from her kickstarter. Albini points out that he usually records albums (not just for himself, but this is his actual job to record big time albums for people remember) for about $10K or less. Not only did she make a ton o’ money from fan donations, she just kept a couple $100K (according to Albini) off the top of that. So she could have easily made an expensive album (let’s say $50K to be generous) and still have almost ONE MILLION DOLLARS which to go on the road. Also, take into account that she MAKES money on the shows so how can she not afford to pay musicians out of what she makes then?

      The thing that’s gross is that she’s asking her fans to pay for everything up front so that she has no risk, but then begs for free labor after she’s got your money. I’d bet a lot of money many of the fans that would like to play have actually contributed to that $1.2Million so they’ll be paying her for the privilege of getting up on stage while she makes more money.

  3. Kids, kids, relax! You’re both right.

  4. Considering there’s already been two articles about this, there’s not much more to say. I say, the rest of this comment section should be gifs. Maybe get Palmer or Albini photoshopped in there to stay somewhat on topic.

  5. I typically charge $10. That covers the music produced from my recorder and my stage presence for about two hours. I will want access to snacks.

  6. Somebody needs to put them both in time out until they’re ready to shake hands and play nice.

  7. i don’t think Albini “doubled down.” I think he went “all in.”

  8. Weirdly I find myself agreeing with Steve Albini. I feel like I need to shower.

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

  10. It’s a nice and fun idea to give your fans the opportunity to place with you on stage. There really is not much of an argument to the contrary. If the fans/musicians don’t view it has a fun and nice opportunity then they will choose not to take up Palmer on her offer. Palmer’s act is getting paid for their from being an established act, the musicians joining them would not be getting paid that amount with accompanying Palmer and furthermore Palmer’s act is in fact doing more, not only because they will be playing a longer period of time and playing more difficult parts, but because they are touring. Playing a couple of songs at the start of the concert one night is not the same as playing night after night. Musicians might not have the hardest jobs/might not deserve their fortunes and of course it’d be nice to throw some amateurs some dough for playing a couple of songs (and bringing in soooo much more revenue from ticket sales) ticket sales, but that in fact would be generosity and why should that generosity be expected?

  11. Ahhh, PR & Marketing…

  12. I think Albini won this argument about three articles ago.

  13. she is ugly and has armpit hair…
    who cares about her?

  14. The only I disagree with Albini over is that Amanda Palmer isn’t an idiot. Asking fans to play for free after scoring over a million dollars off of them doesn’t make her an idiot, it makes her an asshole.

  15. Double down is black jack, no?

    • Ack, double down is totally blackjack isn’t it? God, how embarrassing. I meant “all-in”! (Which Rysn Sparks pointed out above.) I meant “all-in!”!

  16. Double down…all in…either way, I’m broke.

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