an open letter in response to amy, re: musicians, volunteering, and the freedom to choose.

hola comrades!

i am so happy that many of you are deeply loving the record, the response has been absolutely out of control….just amazing. glad that everyone’s getting their kickstarter stuff.
more on that later. for now….

this is my response to a letter that was posted a few days ago from a musician named amy, who was upset that i’ve put the call out for volunteer horns and strings for my upcoming tour.
you can read her entire letter here: http://amyvs.weebly.com/1/post/2012/09/letter-to-amanda-palmer.html
please weigh in with your own comments. as always: discuss, discuss, discuss. please be kind to one another. there’s a million issues at play here, and per usual, i’m loving hearing everybody’s opinion.

…………

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

p.s. cello-fiend and friend zoë keating wrote “I would not be where I am today if not for years of playing concerts & opening slots, for free or for expenses” (and a lot more) on her twitter (follow her at @zoecello) AND Unwoman‘s guest editorial HERE for SF Weekly was a lovely musing about all these shenanigans.

p.p.s. if you want a perspective from someone else from the classical music world explaining why they were happy to volunteer, this just came in and is a good read: http://whatbettyknows.com/2012/09/13/why-i-volunteered-to-play-with-amanda-palmer/

p.p.p.s. amy, if you’d like to come watch our show in portland on september 28th, we’d love to have you. drop us a line if you would, and we’ll put you on the list.

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  • http://twitter.com/FelixMarques Félix Marqués

    A perfect aswer, as always. There are many thoughtful people, and there are many kind people, but you are both and that’s a bit more rare.

  • lentower

    You nailed this issue.

    Have the team make sure the NYTimes writer has the link?

  • Tal F.

    Amen.

  • http://twitter.com/TomJohnson314 Tom Johnson

    Interesting discussion, as I missed the actual “argument”. Living in MA and close to Boston, I’ve slowly started hitting shows, mainly at Toad and Club Passim. That and listening to WERS, has put me in touch with not just local bands/singers, but others across the US, most not as well-known as you. I will admit most play solo shows but some in bands and I’ve seen them ask for help or whatnot as they travel across the country. Twitter makes this easy. I don’t know, not being a musician I’m not sure what I can add to this. I’m not sure I see a problem with this. These people know what they are getting into, and know at least at your shows there should be a good-sized crowd. Is this correct? Selling merch, passing a hat may actually make more money than being paid. Regardless of the amount there’s also the press or face-time they get. Maybe I’m missing something, but as an aspiring author I’d be ecstatic to have some of my stuff just out there.

  • Emily Ruth

    I totally agree. Had you needed any flutists, I would have jumped at the chance to play on stage with you free. In my opinion, it’s all about the experience. Not the money.

  • Anmorata

    Well said, Amanda. Well said.

  • http://twitter.com/TrustMeScience TrustMeI’mAScientist

    If this is what you truly believe, then you should become a non-profit.

    But you’re not, so therefore is currently no accountability built into your system, only pleasant rhetoric. I say this with best wishes and all respect.

    I recommend the following from Seth Godin, a person, who I am certain a master marketer like yourself is familiar with: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/12/the-appearance-of-impropriety.html

    “Marketing is actually what other people are saying about you.

    Like it or not, true or not, what other people say is what the public
    tends to believe. Hence an imperative to be intentional about how we’re
    seen.

    It may be true that the effluent from your factory is organic,
    biodegradable and not harmful to the river. But if it is brown and
    smelly and coming out of an open pipe, your neighbors might draw their
    own conclusions.

    I know you washed your hands just before you walked into the
    examination room, but if you wash them again, right here in front of me,
    all doubts go away.

    Yes, Ms. Congressperson, I know that lobbyist is your good friend, but perhaps someone else should host you on vacation.

    Your brother-in-law may very well be the most qualified person on the
    planet to do this project for us, but perhaps (unfair as it might be)
    it would be better marketing to hire the second-most-qualified person
    instead.

    Sneaking around is a bad strategy. You will get caught. Ironically,
    it’s also a bad strategy to not sneak around but appear to be.

    You will never keep people from talking. But you can take actions to influence the content of what they say.”

    Now that, I believe.

    • TrustMeI’maDoctor

      I’m sorry…. I have 13 years of post high school education and work in a field where conflict of interest is constantly evaluated and my income is based on my reputation….what are you trying to say??????

    • Mariah

      …but the band is called The Grand Theft Orchestra and she explained from day one that it’s called that because they’d be crowd-sourcing local musicians for each show. how is that sneaking around?

      • disheartened long time fan

        because now she’s paying for orchestras in larger cities and claiming she cannot afford to pay them. honestly the “hey i can’t afford to pay you guys” part is what comes across as cheap. the album is #5 on amazon and #15 on itunes before counting in merch and ticket sales. if it had just been couched as “this is a croudsourcing experiment i want to try”.

        it would seem a lot more genuine than saying “i can’t afford to pay people to tour with me” or offer out the option of paying pro musicians per city instead of having a dedicated touring band.

        it all just seems disingenuous when painting one’s self as the anti label rebel who is the musician’s musician who doesn’t want to pay other musicians

        • Salacious

          She didn’t say she couldn’t afford to pay them, she said that the tour budget didn’t allow for it – you can’t (or more precisely shouldn’t) budget in prospective funds from the album and the merch, because what if it didn’t make that money? Relying on ticket sales would mean putting the ticket prices up to cover the costs.

          The musicians that are taking her up on the offer are getting the opportunity of a lifetime, and quite frankly the sort of exposure that musicians would actually pay for.

          • disheartened long time fan

            she is partially in charge of the tour budget, no? she could opt fancy costumes out for pay for musicians if she wanted to. The kickstarter (which was set up to help fund the tour in addition to releasing the album iirc – and yes i did donate to it before it’s just assumed i’m some all out hater or anything) outperformed and exceeded expectations. if you make 1MM more than you’re asking for, how the hell can paying musicians not be in the budget? and again that is before counting additional digital sales (the album is ranked high on itunes and amazon) merch, and ticket presales.

            and no, the musicians aren’t getting the opportunity of a lifetime. they’re getting a fun night, for sure…but as she’s noted, she’s PAYING PROFESSIONALS for the big dates, and those are the ones that would garner up and comers the most exposure.

          • Gaba

            Why do you feel so entitled to dictate how she spends money? You readily transfer HER funds from the costume dept to the volunteer horns dept, just cause you feel that’s fair? Maybe you don’t care for a recent video and so you should proclaim that its budget be transferred to the people who buy her food on tour? Did the whole kickstarter thing had the “…and Amanda will be your bitch” clause attached to every donation above 5$? I’ve opened for Amanda for free (including cost of travel), and it was my choice. Even though I know how much she (sometimes) charges for a show, because my friends attempted to set up a gig for her in Poland (they couldn’t afford it). But that was MY decision. I would not play for free if a local club said “Come on in and get some exposure while we get money off booze at the bar” because I’m not at that stage anymore here, locally. I travelled to another country and played for free, sang backup in a song, hell, even animated a puppet elephant. For free. Why don’t you fight for my rights a little here? No, wait, don’t – because that’s what I chose to do. Everyone draws a line elsewhere at a different moment. I do it every day – do I play at a charity show (yup, in a few weeks)? Do I sing backup on a friend’s record for free (oh yes)? Do I charge lots and lots of cash for a corporate gig elsewhere (a few times this autumn)? How much is my time and work worth? It changes.
            I totally understand why we are discussing this, the whole unionizing and artist-solidarity urges are rightful …and heartwarming. But I draw the line at character assasination, and treating another human being as someone who should act exactly the way we find right, just because we invested our time (or money) I them, voluntarily, at some point (say, through kickstarter.). Let It Be.
            The moment we start treating other people like companies who owe us stuff, we play into the heartless system which ultimately destroys human relations.

          • disheartened long time fan

            she can do whatever she wants with her money, i’m not dictating it, but i am disagreeing, especially since i was someone who funded the album/book/tour. i think it’s entirely within my right to not agree with this, especially because it goes so counter to her original stance about musicians deserving to get paid. here’s a refresher http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/why-i-am-not-afraid-to-take-your-money-by-amanda/

          • http://twitter.com/Kambrieldesign Kambriel

            “she could opt fancy costumes out for pay for musicians if she wanted to. ”

            Just on this one point ~ I’m pretty sure the costumes being used thus far on the tour are self-sourced and definitely wouldn’t qualify as expensive/fancy… In Philly, Amanda wore a vintage slipdress she’s had and worn for years, a bra with pants and a waist cincher or a white cotton t-shirt with Frank Sinatra on it ~ the GTO all wore simple white outfits. The only piece I know of that was custom made for the show itself that’s being used is one I just created for Amanda where we actually still kept costs down by repurposing a coat she already owned, to which I added loads of chiffon.

          • disheartened long time fan

            oh it is totally her choice to spend her money however she chooses to, but i guess (for me) as someone who did fund the project, i’d rather see more musicians get paid vs cooler videos or costumes. obviously this is totally something new for everyone when it comes to investing in projects like this.

          • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

            I agree. I think that even a token guarantee would have garnered a lot of goodwill. The musicians still get an awesome opportunity, still get a line on their resume, and still get exposure. But they also get paid for their time. Looking at her budget on the Kickstarter page, she proposes adding $20k to her video budget because she can now afford it. Why not use that to pay musicians instead? If I’m planning a party and one area is lacking in funds, I’m going to find a way to find those funds in another area if something is important to me. It’s like cutting down on flower arrangements if you want a really kick ass band at your wedding reception. She doesn’t have to take musicians on tour. The same model would work, getting to work with guest artists, while also paying them a pittance. Coming from a musician who has paid her dues, all these excuses as to why she won’t pay other musicians is very off-putting and comes off as extremely entitled.

    • http://twitter.com/GeoffreyBrent Geoffrey Brent

      Your parallels are not good parallels.

      The reason we’re wary about politicians schmoozing with lobbyists is that politicians have been entrusted with the power to distribute *other people’s money* and make laws affecting other people’s lives; they are required to represent their constituents’ interests, not merely their own. AFP is not in such a position; nobody is forced to pay taxes for her or perform in her shows if they don’t feel like it. Nobody is going to catch a disease because of whether she pays or doesn’t pay contributing musicians.

      I’m also not sure how blogging about it at length constitutes “sneaking around”.

  • Zooter

    Amanda, you’re in a wonderful position where you can ask musicians to play for free, and they’re willing to do so. They love and appreciate you and your music, and they’re willing to bypass a paycheck for the experience.

    Of course art isn’t all about money. We’ve all taken gigs for free because the opportunity was that delicious, or it helped out a friend, or hell, because making music is a BLAST. I love it. But it’s a very rare occasion that I’m not offered even a small amount – gas money, maybe – as compensation, even when I didn’t ask for it. I might turn it down, I might not, but I’ll know that my time and efforts are appreciated. It’s not about the dollar amount – it’s the acknowledgement that my time and talent have value. The acknowledgement that art can actually put food on the table. Whoever offers the money is willing to sacrifice a little bit of their take to show me so, and that goes a very long way.

    But then – I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can afford to take the time for some incredible volunteer opportunities in the arts. So many of your fans – some of whom are amazing musicians – are not. They know that the time & effort involved in getting to your show (transportation, parking, possible lost revenue) makes a volunteer gig with you a virtual impossibility. Even a token offer might open up the opportunity for these folks to share in an amazing opportunity.

    • Lynz

      Wouldn’t they be going to the show already? They would have to pay for all the things you mentioned anyways? Why not bring your violin and get out of the crowd?????

  • http://twitter.com/RavynsGuide ♡ Ravyn Stone

    I honestly don’t see what the problem is – you’re not forcing these volunteers to play for free, they have made the decision to participate, why should others judge and condemn them for that?

    It’s the volunteers’ time and talent, they know what is best for them not some random person who can’t understand that decision.

    Well done Amanda, if I played horn or string I would jump at the chance to be able to put something like this on my resume (and the honour of playing with you)

    Art is art. In the words of the Beatles: Let it be

    • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

      The issue I have is that many times musicians have to make this same choice week after week. They have to play for free just to be able to play. Or play for merch and tips, which can vary from gig to gig from a few dollars to a few hundred if you’re a small operation. My favorite is when a promoter or venue includes exposure as part of the deal. Except that they won’t promote the show to their patrons, meaning you have to bring your own people…who already know your music. Yeah. Great exposure. And even if you decide to not play those gigs anymore, there are always going to be musicians who are going to play those gigs. So then nobody wants to pay, because why even offer it if you’re still going to be able to get someone to play for free? I don’t judge musicians who have decided to volunteer for this. But I do look askance at Amanda for not at least offering some guaranteed incentive, even if it’s small. This isn’t about dictating to someone how they should spend their money. She opened it up for discussion, and I hope that by “discussion” she didn’t just want validation in her decision, but wanted to hear different viewpoints and possible solutions.

      • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

        Don’t take this as an attack… It’s something I’ve been thinking through as I read through all these posts, and isn’t meant hatefully in an way…

        Is there a point where one of the decisions the musician has to make is whether or not to be “a musician” (as opposed to someone who plays music as a hobby). Quite a few posters seem to think that they are somehow entitled to get people to pay them to do this as their living. Don’t get me wrong, I love music and musicians…( I give them about half my disposable income), but some things are hobbies (I knit for example, and played soccer) unless you are REALLY good at them, why isn’t that the case here?

        Also, in what respect is the experience not an “incentive”?

        • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

          You’re right, some people may not be looking to make their living as a musician, in which case they may just see this as an awesome opportunity to have fun with one of their favorite audiences. I also believe that even a professional musician can take away the experience only as an incentive. But others, well, as much as they would love to have the experience and not be paid, gigging may be their livelihood, and that time could be spent making money. I know people have said that some of these folks would have gone to the concert anyway, but I also know plenty of musicians who turn down going to shows because they are playing a show.
          I think my biggest turn off is the implication that the incentive of the experience SHOULD be enough for people. It’s just as bad as saying that everyone should want to get paid. I just think that a reasonable combination of some kind of tangible compensation plus the compensation of the experience would still make for some damned good shows. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive. This idea that musicians that want money are soulless and only in it for money is ridiculous. It’s okay to get paid for something that you love to do. It doesn’t make you put less effort into it. Many times, it leads to the opposite, because you’ve got to show people that you’re worth it and will continue to be worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/ChristelAdina ChristelAdina

    As I said on Twitter, in reply to Zoe, I think the main issue here is the perception of worth or value. It is one thing to perform (or in my case, write) for free, or for trade and opportunities, because you, the artist, are receiving something in return that you feel is worth your talent and your time. It doesn’t matter whether that return is tangible (meals, access to someone else’s skills, travel, etc.) or intangible (the experience of playing with artists you admire, the chance to meet people you wouldn’t meet otherwise, the positive feeling you get from doing something without obligation, etc.

    It’s another thing entirely to give your time and talent for free because *someone else* does not think you and your work are WORTH a certain amount… of money, of time of respect. This is the devaluing Amy is worried about. It is the consequence of the negative perception of worth.

    There is nothing wrong with asking for contributions of talents, or giving of your own talents. It’s only when the person requesting is asking for freebies in a way that takes advantage of the artists while giving nothing themselves, or when the artists feel that they are giving everything and receiving nothing that it becomes wrong. If an artist feels his or her worth and work are being devalued, then they probably are being devalued. But if they feel like there is something of an equitable exchange occurring, even if it can’t be compared dollar-to-dollar, then they are not being devalued.

    Another person’s perception of your worth, or the value of a particular skill set, is always going to be different than yours, and sometimes their assessment of that worth will be inadequate. Your perception of your own worth is yours alone. Others’ perceptions of your worth are irrelevant.

  • Ictus75

    What’s the big deal? The Violent Femmes had a volunteer horn section years ago and no one gave them shit…

    • http://twitter.com/TrustMeScience TrustMeI’mAScientist

      From the Violent Femmes Wikipedia page, regarding the “Horns of Dilemma”:

      “The group did not back up the band in the way that a traditional horn section would; rather, they provided a free-form noise jam”

      And it also said it was made up of “local acquaintances, famous or otherwise, friends, relatives, or associates of the band.”

      *Completely* different scenario. Not a parallel at all.

      Amanda wants professionals or aspiring professionals with real training, who can play real good, who she’s never met before to send her audition tapes.

      Then, she wants them to learn the songs in advance, and arrive punctually for a rehearsal and a high-profile live concert for which she has or expects to sell out of $30 and $60 tickets.

      Totally, completely, 100% different. This is what is called “work.”

      Amanda knows full well that for many people who have dedicated their lives to this art, this kind of gig is always known as “work.” It is Amanda’s music, not theirs.

      It may be fun work, just like what Amanda does is fun work, but it is work nonetheless.

      I think Amanda is hard-working, don’t you? Now what about her musicians?

      I understand where he justification is coming from, and I’m sure Amanda doesn’t realize she’s being unethical.

      But what can be construed as charmingly “DIY” at one scale becomes impropriety when you take it up to another level.

      That’s what is happening here. At this scale, it becomes unethical, and it is certainly not the kind of volunteerism I do with actual, legit non-profits every week.

      For more on this point, try here:

      http://justincolletti.com/2012/09/13/in-response-to-amanda-palmer/#.UFJrBfSqpK8.twitter

    • disheartened long time fan

      I’m assuming it’s the proximity between the request for free players and the heavily touted kickstarter success

  • http://twitter.com/kidsleepys Kidsleepy’s

    You spend a lot of time justifying the behavior, under a “culture” umbrella. But let me ask you. If Amanda Palmer© were a company who had an internship where interns were expected to work for free because “the exposure is good,” would we be applauding you? Methinks not. Exposure doesn’t pay the rent. And since Amanda Palmer is not only a musician but in a PR sense, a brand, you are clearly worried about your rep. Otherwise you wouldn’t have bothered with such a long apologia/defense. I think the rest of the musicians (and those of us who love music and support musicians rights) would have a lot more respect for you if you used your creativity to figure out how to pay the musicians on your stage. Because right now regardless of how well-meaning it sounds, you are still exploiting their talent just so YOUR music can be all YOU want it to be. You can try to justify it six ways till Sunday ‘I paid my dues, you should too, don’t judge me, we ALL do it, thems the breaks, it’s an honor to play for people regardless, just sell merch like the rest of us’ but if you are honest with yourself, the truth is, you aren’t giving anyone a break or giving them exposure. So yes PLEASE keep figuring out a way to pay the people who make your music come to life. Otherwise you’re no better then Bain, or a sweat shop in Thailand.

    • I mean, really?

      So, those of us who’ve gone to AP’s shows, seen opening bands or guest performances and bought their music aren’t responding to the exposure? Really?

      I think that Amanda Palmer should probably ante up and pay her collaborating one-night strings and horns people a small cash fee but she IS giving musicians associated with her performances exposure very consciously and vocally, and she’s been doing it since early Dresden Dolls shows.

    • http://twitter.com/dmobley David Mobley

      Wait what? In what world do you live where interns get paid? They don’t in my field, we get them for free and they love doing it for the experience, connections and exposure. We get a TON of applications, and we’re not even a big enough company.

      This isn’t much different.

      • Kevin

        Unpaid internships are technically illegal. (Though an unpaid internship that offers school credit is an exception.)

        • http://twitter.com/dmobley David Mobley

          If you’re getting paid, it’s not an internship. It’s a job, although perhaps one that you should re-evaluate because if a job calls it an internship for a post-graduate… something is horribly messed up there. Way worse than asking for volunteers to play 2 songs on stage.

      • I mean, really?

        There’s a huge amount of discussion about discontinuing these kinds of internships unless they’re related to school credit, actually…

        • reagan9000

          In the off-off broadway theater where I’ve worked, no one on or back stage has gotten paid, except the theater owner.

      • Jon Kiparsky

        I work in the technical side of the financial services industry in Boston. For what it’s worth, at my company, interns are paid about double minimum wage, and that seems to be a fairly representative rate for the area and the industry.

    • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

      … I’m so confused … I managed unpaid journalism interns for years, and thought they were so lucky, they were accumulating a valuable clips portfolio before they even graduated. I wished I had had the cojones to do that when I was in college, it would have jump-started my career in a big way. You really can’t tell the difference between that and Bain or sweatshops? Or are you just trolling? It’s so hard to tell in this discussion …

      • Eric Londaits

        Unpaid internships are a very common but really awful practice.
        If I’m not mistaken, under US labor law an unpaid internship can’t generate profit to the employer:

        http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm

        see “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;”

        otherwise the internship has to be treated like a regular job, with a minimum wage.

        • reagan9000

          Given that the musical skills of her volunteer musicians according to her vary substantially, one could argue that on-stage operations may actually be impeded on some nights!

        • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

          This was more years ago than I’d like to say, so maybe laws have changed, but we fought to have an internship program and were able to create one because it did not have a budgetary impact (if our proposal had included pay it would not have been approved at all). We made sure the kids got clips and made contacts on and off the Hill and in newsrooms around Washington, as well as working with their school requirements to make sure they got credit. For some of them we provided or helped hook them up with housing or part-time jobs to defray costs. Then we went on to hire many former interns once they had graduated. It’s ludicrous to describe it as in any way “awful.”

          Sorry to rant off topic — but is it? Maybe it’s another take on all the other ways to measure the value of a person’s time …

          • HappyHappyJoyJoy

            Interns are not being asked for here. Professional”ish” is being required. Plus pre-existing resume and other proof such as video/audio links.

            Your interns did not come and work for one day to build up their portfolio either. They KNEW there would be benefit to themselves, guidance, and future credible, professional recommendations from the business in which they invested their time.

          • http://www.facebook.com/tammy.dalton.967 Tammy Dalton

            It sounds like your company went above and beyond (kudos to them), but I doubt that’s the common standard practice.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            You don’t think putting in a full day’s work to ensure that the media will continue to be the private playground of the rich and powerful is awful? I think it’s pretty awful.

        • Kevin

          Very true; sadly, that hardly ever happens.

          I did an unpaid internship a couple of years ago. I’m glad I did it, because the people I worked with were some pretty cool folk, and I learned a few things along the way. Had I been aware that unpaid internships are technically prohibited, though, I probably wouldn’t have applied for it, since I’d already finished school by that point.

      • peregrine

        Interns receive training. Training doesn’t happen in the course of a one-night engagement.

      • Jon Kiparsky

        If you thought unpaid interns were lucky to be working for free, you certainly were and are confused.

    • Lucia

      if amanda palmer was a company it would pretend to rape its interns on stage. in front of an audience. and then laugh about it.

    • jj

      “When the saxophonist gets paid and the concert is… over, you have my permission to die” I know you meant Bain Capital, but I couldn’t resist.

  • watchmeboogie

    I’m just so conflicted about this. This post hasn’t really moved me one way or the other. I do know that you have a good and genuine soul. I know you produce great music that I have supported and will continue to support. That you put on a kickass show that I have paid to see and will continue to do so. Yet this whole thing still makes me feel a little queasy in a way that’s difficult to articulate.

    Love you anyway.

    • http://twitter.com/TrustMeScience TrustMeI’mAScientist

      Well said.

      I for one, don’t want to brow-beat Amanda. I just want her to understand that she’s in a different league now.

      What works when you have no income to share becomes very different when the checks start coming in, when people have come out in droves to show their support, and when fan expectations begin to rise.

      What’s charmingly DIY at one level quickly becomes impropriety when you bring it up to a larger scale.

      When you’re selling out Terminal 5 and have a million dollars more in the bank than you planned for and are in the top ten on Amazon, it’s not the time to cheap out on your hard-working musicians.

      …Or to use the excuse that she can’t “afford” musicians. That’s simply not true. She just doesn’t want to.

      • http://twitter.com/GeoffreyBrent Geoffrey Brent

        You’re confusing turnover with profit. As she discussed in an earlier post – which she linked to in this one – “raising a million dollars on Kickstarter” is not remotely the same as “million dollars in the bank”.

        • disheartened long time fan

          right but again, that million in kickstarter doesn’t include album sales outside of kickstarter (especially digital copies on amazon and itunes) ticket sales or merch.

          • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

            I disagree wholeheartedly with the “different league” argument. In the NPR interview, Amanda explained that when the Dresden Dolls started the boundaries blurred between their fans and their friends, and she wants to preserve that feeling or she won’t like her job. I want Amanda to like her job no matter what league she is in.

          • David

            In an ideal world, everyone would like their job – and their job would not be done for nothing.

  • AB

    I have done my share of volunteering my time and talents. Even doing things not expecting money, you can get burned just as badly as when you are expecting return. It’s the experience that makes the difference. I would (and have) put all of myself into a completely unpaid gig (meaning I’m lucky if I even get my name in the program) if I know just the experience alone is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.

    My talents are in costume-making. I’ve only been paid somewhat decently once. Due to location and the fact that most of the theater here is community only, there aren’t many paying costume jobs. I’m passionate about what I do. I cry when I see a costume I worked so hard on come alive on stage. Am I thinking, “they better fucking pay me for that!”? NO! I’m proud of that piece and totally loving the joy and hugs from the actors. I’m looking at the entire experience and thinking ahead about what it will lead to.

    Money cannot be the only driving force. Sometimes you just have to get out there and just allow yourself to do it for love and growth. I applaud you for giving musicians the opportunity to step into a new world and explore. I can’t wait to see it tomorrow!

    BTW, my husband met Zoe in San Francisco many years ago when she was busking on the street. He stay to listen to her a long time and talked with her. He fell in love with her work and bought her CD. When he came home he couldn’t wait to share her music with me and tell me all about meeting her. If she ever plays near here, I’d love to see her, too!

  • disheartened long time fan

    Ok wait, so for a larger stage show, one that might have more scrutiny (especially in light of the relatively negative public reaction to the call for free musicians) you chose to -hire professional musicians- instead of opt for the free and enthused fans? If you are essentially saying “don’t judge music or musicians based on the price you have to pay for it” then -why- are you choosing to pay for strings/brass in larger cities/venues/whatever? That seems super hypocritical to the fans AND musicians in the cities where you opt to go the free route since even though you are saying that enthusiastic fans willing to play for free are awesome, in the same breath you’re choosing to pay musicians in certain cities. After arguing that price doesn’t equal professionalism or quality, why are you doing just that in cities where this experiment is going to get more exposure?

    And as for people playing with you to get exposure, come on, you know that hardly works. Half the time people tune out the opening band, let alone pay attention to the back up musicians. Unless you write up a blog post for every group of people who play with you for free, the chances of them legitimately benefiting from the experience in a professional manner is pretty slim. I mean, how many stellar session musicians who play back up for top 10 bands can most people list off? Now scale that down to indie levels, and scale it down again to 1 regional venue.

    I mean, I’m not saying that this is wrong per se, but I feel like you are being absolutely obtuse when it comes to the massive negative response this experiment has gotten in the music industry. You did the same thing when you mocked the disabled feminists who didn’t dig the concept behind Eveyln Eveyln, and again when you mocked some dude in Australia who gave your show a negative review, and went so far as to post links to videos of -his- band so that your fanbase could go white knight for you on his youtube page.

    i get that you are doing your own thing, and when i like what you do, i like it a lot. but honestly over time it just feels like you are relying on the ardent love of your fanbase to do everything they can for you, and are sort of creating this false sense of intimacy via twitter. It’s really sad because I do think you are super talented, I like a lot of what you stand for, but I feel like this pretend dialogue you have with your fans is a joke.

    • http://twitter.com/kandigurl Jessica Wagstrom

      I have discovered some of my favorite bands because they opened for the act I was going to see.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/libbyking punksocks

        i don’t get how this comment got negative votes … i get both sides, but i don’t get zealots.

        • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

          Yep! Positive votes for I agree I get… But surely negs should be for something properly wrong or bad…

          • https://twitter.com/#!/libbyking punksocks

            It demonstrative of the loopiness around here lately.

        • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

          Yup. Oddness abounds in this discussion!

        • not impressed

          probably people vote it down because they think it’s irrelevant in the overall conversation since the musicians in question are not opening with their own act, they are playing Amanda’s music as a working no-name musician.

          • disheartened long time fan

            it’s not irrelevant because openers garner more attention than backing bands, and considering how often openers get ignored, lose money being openers instead of touring on their own, how are we supposed to believe the rewards reaped from being a backing band are going to be any better.

      • disheartened long time fan

        to be fair i did say ‘half the time people tune out the opening act.’

        • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

          Wait, people show up for the opening act?
          In all seriousness, I’ve had friends resort to not publicizing individual set times in order to get people to show up for the first two acts in a night of music so that no one plays to an empty room.

          • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

            Yeah. Never seen an empty room (or the lack of a line that’s already around the block an hour before doors). I think skipping the opening acts at an AFP show is kinda like only showing up for the 9th inning cuz that’s when you see who wins. It’s not like other shows, where it’s here’s this band, and now here’s this band. It’s a performance that builds, usually with opening act members showing up later with the band or Amanda coming out early to do a surprise number with the opener.

          • Kevin

            I’ve actually gone to shows specifically to see the opening act, but not the headliner.

          • Kevin

            I’ve actually gone to shows specifically to see the opening act, but not the headliner.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            yes, they do, thank you very much. I take great offense to that. sure, sometimes they suck, but it’s part of the evening! some of the concerts I’ve been to the opening act was BETTER than the headliner, so don’t think just because YOU don’t and no one you know doesn’t, that no one else does. ask any musician who’s played Australia. very different audiences. America and its people is not the be-all and end-all of everything that is to be known.

          • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

            Dude, whoa. I was being facetious.And I think you completely misread the second part of my comment, or didn’t read it at all. A lot of people don’t show up for opening acts. I DO, and I try to get my friends to go to the bands that play before the act we’re going to, and as I said, when we’re promoting shows, we try not to be too specific with set times, just door times, so that everyone has a chance to play to an audience. Chill out. It’s not that serious.

          • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

            Also, what the hell does this have to do with America? You’re the one that brought that up, not me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.r.meyers Andy Ramesh Meyers

      yes– the fact that she is hiring musicians for the high profile gigs is even more distasteful. Volunteers are good enough for boise, but not good enough for nyc. why? are the audience members in nyc better people?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dtmasterson Damian Masterson

    Hear, hear!
    Looking past all the silliness about who’s getting paid what, I’m heartened by the much better story about how many awesome people there are on this tour willing and eager to gift their time and energies in so many different ways.

  • J.G.

    Hi, let’s knock down the strawman once and for all: of course people sometimes play for free, for love, for an experience. Everyone knows that. I personally don’t care that much about people joining you on stage. I get it. The show probably feels a little quirkier, more “organic”, etc. (at least in those “smaller market” cities, right?) The larger issue is this: it struck a lot of people as odd when you said you did not have “enough” to pay for a backing band (the strings and horn sections). Because people rightly thought: “but she had a surplus of funds. How can she now not have enough?” You raised enough money to, apparently, pay off
    $250,000 worth of debts and estimated still having $100,000 left over
    (by your calculations). It’s deceptive to use the language of a
    potlatch to describe your tours, which are profit-making endeavors. (People cooking food for you is a nice scene. But a scene that has more to do with the issue at hand is what the payout at the end of the night looks like). If you’re going to wave the flag of transparency, you have to back it up. What people are trying to highlight is that
    “crowdsourcing” can become predatory. There’s a lot of things Bieber’s
    fans would do for him. That doesn’t mean
    they’re all automatically good things. It doesn’t mean it’s not possible
    for him to take advantage. When people in power exert their power, they always talk about “freedom”. That goes for “rock stars” too. People are not upset about “jam sessions”, they’re upset (among other things) about the disconnect between the rhetoric and the actions, the failure to take ownership of your privilege (privilege of stature and means) and the re-appropriation of community values for one person’s gain.

    • Lynz

      She is not taking advantage of anyone. Why don’t people get this? let me break this down for you… Amanda says ” hey FANS (A person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art or entertainment form, or famous person.) we are on tour and if you want to play with us when we come to your town we need VOLUNTEERS (A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.) Fan says “Holy shit!! YES!!! I get to play with AFP and the GTO!!! ahhhhh i was going to go to the show anyways!! now i get to create music with them! OOOHHH the memories” What is the problem with this? there is no hidden agenda here at all. and a million dollars is really not that much when you think of all the art, music, videos, touring, feeding, lodging and kickstarter packages she GAVE BACK TO HER FANS…this is her job people, not her hobby, not her weekend gig. some people win way more than that on the lotto and don’t do anything with it at all. her fanbase paid her what they felt she deserved out of their own pockets. bah!

      • Lauren Platt

        She is taking advantage of people, and their goodwill. She’s asking for people to work for free whilst she makes money selling tickets for those self-same gigs. She should be immensely embarrassed by this, and playing the “I was once a poor muso, and I would have done this” card isn’t helping. Perhaps she could hire an accountant, or ask her husband for a nice definition of “stupid, greedy, egotist”?

        • cranky

          right on the money with this: greedy and full of herself, and by now largely irrelevant. it’s bank account stuffing time for the Palmer household

        • Lynz

          She is not asking anyone to work for free, she is saying hey, if you rock at your instrument and you like my music and you want to VOLUNTEER… do you not understand the difference? And as far as her playing any sort of card that is BS because she has actually done many free gigs and has been working her ass off for the past 20+ years to get where she is right now. we were all given free will, why are you people so hell bent on trying to ruin other peoples experiences? And as far as asking her husband for anything besides love is not in her character, as you can see she doesn’t need the help because her fans WANT to do that for her because she truly gives back to us. If you ask me the haters are the ones who are greedy screaming that the people that want to play with her should be asking for money for a gig that was clearly stated as a volunteer oppertunity. I give blood on a regular basis, for free, blood I MADE…FOR FREE. I could go somewhere else and get paid for it but you know what…i do not. are they exploiting me???? I really don’t care if they are, i know they go and sell my blood to hospitals but i feel good about giving FOR FREE.

          • http://www.facebook.com/seth.hamlin.37 Seth Hamlin

            Blood is something God gives to everyone. Playing your ax is something you acquire yourself through lots of hard work. There is no more cynical argument than saying that because a musician wants to be paid he must not be in it for the love of music. And as for your “oppertunity”, yes there is a difference between what AFP is asking people to do and what she does herself. Amanda Palmer is a brand name. Brands go around giving out free shit all the time to promote what has already been established. Your random instrumentalist sideman is not a brand or a name, he is a schmo trying to make it in this world. No one is going to see him onstage and say “hey, I’m going to hire that schmo for my next xyz high paying gig”. I can tell you from experience that doesn’t happen. It’s not like in the movies.

          • Lynz

            this “schmo” trying to make it in the world is like everyone else trying to make it. Schmo actually has the best seat in the house onstage with AFP, and the pure satisfaction of playing with an artist they admire. they are not being forced into this. i am well aware that reality is different than the movies, i don’t know why you thought i was confusing that issue at all… why be mad at people for wanting to do this?if you don’t like it or dont like Amanda then why bother putting your energy into this? don’t support her then, she has enough from her fans anyways.

          • peregrine


            this “schmo” trying to make it in the world is like everyone else trying to make it. Schmo actually has the best seat in the house onstage with AFP’

            For the last time, so fucking what? Every time I read this letter I get even more pissed off. She, and apparently fans like you, are living in a universe where people can have orgasms from giving Amanda Fucking Palmer free stuff. Where in the letter does she even try to approach the question of what she’s giving in return?

          • Lynz

            music. derp.

          • http://www.facebook.com/seth.hamlin.37 Seth Hamlin

            Blood is something God gives to everyone. Playing your ax is something you acquire yourself through lots of hard work. There is no more cynical argument than saying that because a musician wants to be paid he must not be in it for the love of music. And as for your “oppertunity”, yes there is a difference between what AFP is asking people to do and what she does herself. Amanda Palmer is a brand name. Brands go around giving out free shit all the time to promote what has already been established. Your random instrumentalist sideman is not a brand or a name, he is a schmo trying to make it in this world. No one is going to see him onstage and say “hey, I’m going to hire that schmo for my next xyz high paying gig”. I can tell you from experience that doesn’t happen. It’s not like in the movies.

          • disheartened long time fan

            actually most hospitals don’t buy blood. also when donating blood you are saving people’s lives, which is rather different than the situation at hand.

      • peregrine

        If *she* were playing for free, this would all be fantastic….but on top of the 1.2 million dollar Kickstarter she told us would pay for expenses related to the tour, she’s selling tickets and pocketing the money. She’s using her fame, her brand and star power to persuade classical musicians, most of whom aren’t anything like David Byrne, nor in a band like Ronald Reagan, to help *her* make money.

        The reality about classical music: you usually make less in your lifetime than your parents pay out for your training. This gets worse every year as the market for classical shrinks. So sure, it might make some college student’s year to be ONSTAGE, LIVE with Amanda FUCKING Palmer, but he didn’t pay for that training (or hasn’t yet), doesn’t know the value of his own skills, and has no idea how hard it is for people trying to make it in classical music full-time. I guess Amanda Fucking Palmer thinks some people are born able to play horns and strings, and it’s on them to share their gifts with the world freely…especially with her.

        • Lynz

          how is she persuading anyone? all she did was ask if anyone wanted to volunteer to play with her…why are you making it so shady? it’s not…and considering she has been working her ass off for 20+ years with music i am sure she is aware that people don’t just pop into the world holding an instrument.. as a kickstarter backer myself i am quite happy with the money i donated and i will give more at the show on merch and with the ticket i bought. what is it that you are so unhappy about? she is doing everything she said she was going to. you realize that this is her career, right? i work 40 hrs a week for my money as well and i will be the first to tell you that the money she makes from this one tour will not stretch to support her like the money from my job does. if she wants to give people the opportunity (which is exactly what she is doing) what is so wrong with that? i would get up there and draw maps for her (my profession) for free just to have the experience, i am no college student anymore either.

          • muddiemaesuggins

            But our culture doesn’t ask you to “draw maps for free” all of the time because your work isn’t valued – do you get that? Artists rarely make a living wage and are ALWAYS asked to give their work for free. As an artist Ms. Palmer is well aware of this and should bloody well know better than to set this precedent.

          • Lynz

            I get what you are saying, i really do BUT the thing is that she isn’t offering anyone anything other than a chance to ply a show with her. and people will, they will enjoy the hell out of it because most likely they were going to the show anyways and instead of standing in the sweaty crowd they get to be on the stage playing their music with an artist that they admire. what is the harm in that? why get mad at someone for willingly doing something for free because they enjoy it? an i know that no one will ever ask me to draw maps, i just used that because that is what i do, it wasn’t literal.

          • http://www.facebook.com/andy.r.meyers Andy Ramesh Meyers

            what is wrong with it is she could afford to pay them, and if it has value to her, she should pay them. I would have a vastly different feeling about this if she was a band touring in a broken down van selling home burned demos. then all the participants would be living in similar circumstances. Of course she can put out this offer, and people can take her up on it, and enjoy the experience. But the simple fact is, she is embarking on a plan that is also provoking a lot of considered and strongly negative responses.

          • Lynz

            everything in this world provokes negative experiances, if you don’t like what she is doing then don’t go see her. People get so pissed when someone has money, she has worked her ass off for nearly 20 years to finally get the appreciation she deserves. Her fans are loyal and will gladly take this opportunity to play a few songs with her and she will make them feel greatly appreciated. Sometimes money is not the driving force behind something.

          • muddiemaesuggins

            I appreciate your response Lynz. I’ll try a hypothetical – you get paid to do your job. That pay provides you with goods and services you need to live. Now image if people were lining up to do your job for free, because they wanted the fun, privilege or experience and since your company is willing to use the free workers to save their bottom line – why not? More profit for them – your paid work is no longer needed, unless you would like to do it for free. Great for the company, not so much for the worker. Musicians pay for their education and training, especially classically trained musicians, they are professionals. Their works has value. They should be compensated for their work. The precedent Ms. Palmer is setting with this endeavor devalues the work of artists because there will always be people willing to do it for free – but that doesn’t make it right or equitable. Ms. Palmer is not a non-profit organization – she is a for-profit capitalist.

          • muddiemaesuggins

            sorry – imagine not image

          • Lynz

            But what she is offering is not a job. she could do her job without these people. she is offering a chance for some people to play with her and the band for a few songs. people will be honored to do it dispite what anyone says, they don’t feel raped by her at all. i wouldn’t. she’s not forcing anyone to do anything. if i could play one of the instruments that they need i would be there in a heartbeat with a smile on my face.

          • harmonicakev

            Yes, this is what makes me uncomfortable. I am blessed to be able to make a living, however meager, from making music. Srtill I get a handful of calls every year from folks asking me to donate my services to their event, the vast majority of which I turn down. What AFP is doing is shaky ethically. Where is the solidarity?

          • http://claimid.com/allgood2 allgood2

            Actually, in our culture almost every profession I can think of is asked to work for free, frequently—doctors, lawyers, computer techs, programmers, nurses, educators, (maybe not administrators), and yeah, even map makers. Maybe, artist have it worse than most, but I’m certain there are professions that will argue with that. Definitely, I know that within the broad scope of artist, each denomination argues who has it worse, musicians vs writers vs painters vs…

            This reminds me of the argument of should graphic designers and website designers do spec work. Some see no problem with, others are up in arms that artists should never work for free, and most fall in the middle ground—we know when someone’s trying to use us and we say ‘no’, and we can see and hear honest appeals, and we weigh them against: time, commitments, potential exposure, and just how much fun we think it may be.

            Not even a few months ago, I was approached to step in to complete a website design that could have fetched me $10-$20,000, if not more. That’s important, because I have people, bills, and services to pay for, regardless if I have any design work coming in. I was asked to do it for free, and in 1/3 of the time, I would normally do such projects. The cause itself, was one I care about but have no particular passion for. The person who approached me, I like and admire and they were seriously desperate.

            The decision maker for me was the combination of desperation coupled with the potential to test myself in some technologies that I hadn’t played much with. So I said, sure, gave them some warnings about lack of skill in certain areas, but willingness to give it a go, and went full speed ahead into the $20k pro-bono project.

            The irony is not even a week beforehand I turned down a request that would have taken far less time, been far less of a donation of effort (maybe $500), because I knew the nonprofit could afford to hire someone to do it, but just didn’t think the work was valuable enough, even though the component breaks down all the time and stops their staff from getting things done.

            We all make decisions about what’s valuable to us.

            It’s hard times out there for almost everyone, who isn’t a multi-millionaire. I’ve done projects with our local branch of Classical Revolution. They are seriously awesome folks. The volunteer their time and energy, and we volunteer our efforts to get them as much exposure as possible. We’d love to pay them to workshops or events, but we don’t pay anyone.

            It’s not hypocrisy or deceit to ask other artist if they want to be part of the show for free, especially when the show will go on, with or without their contribution. Personally, I think its great that she’s sharing the wealth of her exposure, many artist don’t bother. She’s not calling up local artist and saying ‘hey donate your time to my show,’ and has stated that when they do do personal outreach to an artist that person gets paid.

            I personally respect artist who play, play, play for the love, skill, and sheer joy of it, and who don’t take the stand no pay, no play. Why, because, I don’t make enough to host a live-in artist, but I will buy albums, merchandise, pay for tickets, and donate money directly to artists, who say, ‘I’m doing this, pay or no pay. I want to make a living doing this, but I’ll need your help.’

          • muddie mae suggins

            It is great that you provide in-kind services to non-profits. Good for you aren’t you generous. Yes “arts administrators” (we are a profession contrary to what you may think from your dismissive tone) are asked and do provide time and talent for free, and gladly do so to help out non-profit organizations and emerging artists. I generally don’t get a lot of requests from for-profit businesses or commercially established artists. Do you understand the difference? This would be a very different story if Ms. Palmer herself was taking no pay but just performing for the sheer love of performing, the good times and beer – or doing it for charity. But she is not on this tour is she? She is promoting herself and her new album. She is charging for tickets, paying tech staff and certain members of the band. She raised 1.2 million to do this – good for her. She is setting precedent by asking skilled string and horn musicians to come, learn her music, practice, transport themselves to and from the show all for free – oh and for the “exposure” and “good times” and free beer and hugs. Really? That is patronizing at best and exploitative at worst – and there are musicians who will do it. But that doesn’t make it a good practice or good precedent to set. It devalues the profession. Why should anyone pay for art or creativity – it has no monetary or professional value – artists will work for beer and good times and high fives! Try that form of payment at the next trip to your doctor, or to pay your mortgage. I’m sure they’ll have no problem accepting it because well, you’re an artist and that is your currency – beer, high fives and merch – good times! Perhaps I just don’t understand the cult of her personality. But I do know many professional string and brass musicians who appreciate the offer of a paying gig – not the expectation of working for free.

          • M

            Yes, this. I have a profession, and I’m skilled and lucky enough to make a living at it. Earlier this year, I was approached by a successful contracting firm to participate in a project for no pay at all. This firm makes millions of dollars a year and they pay people like me to do work like mine – people the company also approached to participate pro-bono. I chose to do the work because it built a relationship and gave me a foot in the door on a potential contract (incidentally, it never materialized), it gave me some much-needed additional experience, and the project was interesting and had an altruistic mission.

            I made the decision based on what was valuable to me.

          • Lynz

            thank you for this, i didn’t see it until now becaus ei had to leave this blog after being beat down.

          • http://twitter.com/__menthol Dave

            you are unfathomably idiotic. stop talking forever.

          • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

            Sorry, it gives me gigglefits to see that from the person who has never posted on Amanda’s blog before ever to the longtime fan. Yeah, @disqus_HxXcYqS967:disqus , stop interfering with poor @twitter-131359519:disqus’s enjoyment on his first visit! :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            PMSL!! you guys rock, <3

          • Lynz

            That may have been my favorite response yet. So much thought behind it. Thanks Davey.

        • Seriously?

          A lot of these comments just smack of extreme jealousy for Amanda Palmer’s success.

        • Kevin

          If you go back and read her breakdown of where the Kickstarter $ was going, it’s very clear that the only touring expenses that were included were the ones for the shows coinciding with the six art shows, not for the full tour we’re currently discussing.

        • lennbob

          The only tour expenses “she told us” the Kickstarter money would pay for were the ones related to the six performances held as part of the art shows.

      • yourGross

        Read J.G’s comment. maybe that will help you understand.

    • http://twitter.com/TrustMeScience TrustMeI’mAScientist

      Well said, JG.

      Here’s the question in my mind: Should musicians play what are traditionally high-dollar “we made it!”
      kind of gigs for food-scraps, in the hopes that they’ll someday “break through”?

      Because if they do, they just might find that they *have* in fact broken through… And that the going rate is now “food-scraps.”

      I know that Amanda understands what it feels like to be exploited by people who have the power to pay you. She’s written about it herself, in posts like this one, which she has since removed from her blog:

      http://troubledsigh.tumblr.com/post/31522460703/why-i-am-not-afraid-to-take-your-money-by-amanda

      It’s like Spike Lee says: Do the right thing, Amanda.

      • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

        … she hasn’t removed anything from her blog … the site was redesigned, but the archives are all still there …

      • not impressed

        “in fact, i ENJOY being the slightly crass, outspoken,
        crazy-(naked?)-chick-on-a-soapbox holding out a ukulele case of crumpled
        dollars asking for your money so that someone else a few steps behind
        me, perhaps some artist of shy and understated temperament, can feel
        better and maybe a little less nervous when they quietly step up and
        hold out their hat, fully clothed.”
        Haha — or having that shy, fully clothed artist with an understated temperament play your concert and then nameless disappear back into obscurity with absolutely no payment. Whatevs, right? either way.

        THIS IS ABOUT POWER DYNAMICS AMANDA. You have a lot of power that you are not acknowledging or taking responsibility for.

        Also, the bit about crowd-sourcing food does not make this sound better. It sounds like you use your fame and popularity to get more stuff from the very people who support you already. Even if your fans want to do these things; that doesn’t mean you’re respecting them or the imbalance of power in the situation.

        • Raina

          I love Amanda. I think the power dynamic is one which she may have overlooked. Or decided that it did not apply to her and charged ahead. Perhaps these are bruises she chose to wear to preserve her concept of art. But her higher visibility is a new element in the world of Amanda Fucking Palmer which clearly has ramifications. Getting the next step up means having a mantel of responsibility thrust upon her, whether she realised it or not. The simplicity of the old model, when it was just a cosy little AFP club, is hard to retain when more people are looking. Its a little like (my schoolgirl’s understanding) of quantum physics: the act of observation calls something into existence. Can the simplicity still exist now that observation has added complexity?

    • yourGross

      WORD UP!

    • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

      Very well put. Some people can go out on tour and pass the hat around for gas money to the next town and rely on generosity and caring. I know a lot of people in a lot of bands who do just that all the time. They’ve been doing it for 30 years in the underground rock scenes around the globe. It’s the way things work in certain scenes.. Maybe they get to a size where they can make 50 or 60k a year selling records and touring relentlessly. Most don’t, but some, like Botch or Seaweed, to pick a couple of my home town favorites, can do ok by themselves after a while. But none of those people could have raised a million dollars on Kickstarter to fund their endeavors. If they could and they were still mooching meals, couch surfing, and passing the hat for gas money, they would be exploiting people. And when they were out relying on the community to support them, they were sharing the wealth. Local bands would pay for the touring bands because they knew they’d need to have the favor returned some day. whatever money got made was split equally to pay for everyone’s needs. That’s not what Amanda Palmer is doing. And that’s why it’s different.

  • Nick

    Speaking as someone who has a paid job but spends more time some weeks working as a volunteer than I do for money, I don’t see any problem with asking for volunteers.
    If you volunteer for something its because you like doing it, or want to help someone out, or its going to be fun.
    Life becomes just that bit more enjoyable than it would be if you only did stuff for money.And sometimes you get to meet people who you might not otherwise.
    No one is forcing people to volunteer their time, if they don’t want to do it they don’t have to.

    Also I do always listen to the support acts, and have found some great music that way. So maybe those of you who don’t should give it a try.

  • You Fraud

    “YOU HAVE TO LET PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN DECISION TO BE EXPLOITED BY ME! IT’S NOT MY FAULT MY FANBASE IS SO LOYAL THEY LET ME EASILY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM! THEN AGAIN, IT’S SUCH AN HONOR MERELY BEING IN THE PRESENCE OF AMANDA FUCKING GENIUS PALMER THAT THEY SHOULD REALLY BE PAYING ME!!!!”

    • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

      I’m finding it interesting that 5 posts in a row, pro and con, are all named “Nick” …

      • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

        Hmm, and the names of the Nicks have now changed. Perhaps it’s just a glitch on my end? ;)

        • http://www.facebook.com/james.w.roy James William Roy

          Okay. How’s this. Amanda is insulting both musicians generally and also her fan base in particular by attempting (probably successfully) “Tom Sawyer” them into painting her wall of sound for her, for free. It sucks. It’s a scam and she’s a scammy scammer for scamming them.

    • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

      That’s a bit of a trolly all caps rant but… What if they WERE paying her? I’m willing to bet that lots of people would… Paying to engage with an artist seems legit (why else do people go to live performances, especially these days). At what point does this become a product that she is legitimately “providing”, as opposed to “labor” (in the sense of being an alienating act which you need to be enticed to perform with money).

    • Hoppy

      Wowza. If you don’t want to volunteer, you could just not volunteer.

  • The Bagman

    You should pay musicians, at least when they work for you at gigs for which you’re selling tickets.

  • Eric Londaits

    I love what you’re doing, love where you’re coming from, where you’re heart is and as I stated in your tumblr I would pay to join you on stage…

    … Were it just for you and your crowdfunded orchestra this discussion/debate would probably make no sense. But the world is a harsher place. Interns generate profit and don’t get paid, artists are abused and have their work taken from them. Very often intellectual or artistic work is expected to be done for nothing or “the experience” while manual labor will rarely be performed without pay (just ask any graphic designer…). Artist’s unions and a kind of “defensive culture of self-preservation” evolved out of a history of huge excesses by those profiting from their work. And even today, and even if things got a lot better, artists are still being taken advantage of.

    … So, even though I’m not sure you’re in the wrong, I think the question is worth asking not because of your intentions, your possibilities or the specifics of your show, but because you are part of “the music business” (or “the community of people producing and/or selling music” if the word business gives the wrong impression of what I’m trying to say). It’s harder to figure out because that these artists were happy and eager to perform, and we tend not to consider things we do happily and eagerly in the same category as work we have to do for a living… but it’s still work and the same rules should apply (e.g. you’d expect them to be insured if a lighting fixture falls on them while onstage… well, I don’t know how’s in the US, but in Argentina a personal insurance would be mandatory).

    … And yes, it’s art, and we like our art without bounds… but art got in bed with business a long time ago and so we got copyright, royalties, unions and a lot of things that have nothing to do with creating freely. You can create in an environment outside of their reach, but the moment you use the regular channels (live shows, records, etc.) you lose some freedoms.

    Once again, I’m not sure if it’s wrong to crowdsource the band for these shows… thankfully you have a lot of thoughtful, intelligent and loving people to listen to and the hearts and brain to listen to them and figure it out.

  • oy vey

    In all honesty, I am totally surprised by the negative reaction to this idea. If Amanda was asking people to play for free, then people bought tickets to see those people, and Amanda kept all the money… that would be exploitation. But she does not monetarily benefit from any specific musician (and, in fact, she could sell out her tour without any extra musicians) other than herself and her actual band. She is also not asking these musicians to pay her, which would also be outrageous. As many people below have posted, people are adults. If I played an instrument well, it would be a lot of fun to play with her. If I needed the money more than I needed to have fun, I would take a paid gig somewhere else or pick up an extra shift at work.

    This is why I try not to read comments… but just when I get out, they pull me back in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reuben.danger.james Reuben Danger James

    I totally get what your doing here Amanda, and I have to commend you for this. Your lust for life is amazing and i dont think you need to change a thing!

    If i was talented in brass or strings, I would jump on your stage in a heart beat and have a gas! in my eyes, music is about the experience, and for me money does not enhance that experience. I have sung in a few bands in my time and would have been paid for less than half of the shows I have done. I dont care about money, it is not what makes me happy. Sure enough it makes life easier, but also alot more difficult at the same time. It is a double edged sword. One with which we all must deal.

    I admire that you live a life that offers experience and connection to people at large, one that is about giving as well as receiving. Giving and receiving music, inspiration, experience, joy, discussion, thoughts and apparently anger.

    I dont think it matters if you made a million dollars or one hundred dollars. I would be happy to perform with your band free of charge, as the experience would be payment enough.
    That said, If you are coming to Adelaide in Oz next year as i suspect may be the case, if you want to borrow any musical instruments, you let me know.
    If you and the band and any friends need feeding, you let me know. I used to be a chef, so i can cook!
    And lastly, if any of you are in need of a place to crash, again, you let me know.
    Because what would life be like if we can not be kind and generous to one and other. Sharing experience and experiences it what keeps us connected.
    KICK ON BABY!!
    Reuben Danger James xxxx

  • http://twitter.com/rainbowziggy Leslie McJagger

    I can’t believe this is even an issue, honestly. You’re asking for volunteers. You’re not shaming anyone or forcing them at gunpoint. If people want to play a show for free and have an amazing time, they will. If they’d rather hold out for a paid gig, they’ll do that.

    Obviously everyone will have their own opinion on something so unorthodox as this, but I don’t see how it’s anyone else’s place to judge.

    Of course these musicians’ time and talent is worth a whole hell of a lot, but sometimes it’s amazing to do art for the sake of art and know you’re appreciated and loved. Sometimes that’s enough.

    I went to school for theatre and, while I haven’t had any paid theatre jobs, I work on shows anyway, because I know it’s not always in the budget to pay the stage manager, and I know that I feel a million times more fulfilled working on shows than not.

    So good for you. Good for you for doing something different, and good for you for writing this. Hopefully it’ll make those more conflicted people understand where you’re coming from.

    • Claire Max

      Well said.
      I’m an aspiring clothing designer, and if one of my favorite designers said, ” hey, come work on my fashion show. I won’t pay you but you’ll get to hang out with me and it’ll be fun”, you can bet your ASS I would be there in an instant. Would it be even better if I got paid? Obviously. But that’s not the most important thing to some people.
      Amanda isn’t calling up musicians and begging them to come play for her for free. She’s ASKING for volunteers. Anyone who doesn’t like it doesn’t have to do it. Welcome to America.

  • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

    “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.”

    This.

    As a fan, this is how I feel. Part of the ongoing thrill of being an Amanda fan is seeing magic happen before your eyes again and again, and feeling like you are part of something that couldn’t really just have happened. The spontaneous t-shirts you suddenly have to have because you happened to be on Twitter for the right 15 minutes. Seeing her do the Time Warp with Richard O’Brien because she happened to run into him in a coffee shop.

    Jherek’s opening act is a magic show. Here are some people he just met, who’ve practiced literally for minutes, and they blow your mind. Same with the horns — at the DC show we had a euphonium and a
    flugelhorn. The fantastic randomness of it added immeasurably to the
    fun. And part of the magic is knowing those people are having the time of their lives, and you get to share this moment with them.

    It seems that from the other point of view, I am the music-fan equivalent of a bloodthirsty Roman coliseum-goer — it’s less magical for me if the musicians aren’t being exploited and used and horribly mistreated. Pay them and it’s a yawn-fest, I need to see the pain.

    But Amanda put it exactly right. What’s important to me is that they are happy and enjoying themselves, which presumably means they are happy with the transaction. Whatever they are getting out of it, even if just the psychic equity of getting to jam with Amanda, balances in their personal cost/benefit analysis for the time and talent they are giving.

    One of the lessons fans — musicians or not — learn from Amanda is that
    being open to what the universe gives you and taking risks pays
    dividends both financial and otherwise. I remember being inspired and amazed by the leap of faith the Danger Ensemble made opening for Amanda on a passed hat. I suspect they made out better than they would have if they had been paid. People who may have balked at paying $5 more for a ticket, only a fraction of which would have gone to the opening act, happily gave $5 directly to the band when asked. Not everyone, but more than you might think. Because being a witness to magic is priceless.

    • bunnygirl

      Yes yes! Whenever I go to an Amanda show and that hat comes around I always put something in. Also, her opening acts are ALWAYS amazing and I end up buying their merch at the shows! i.e. Sxip Shirey, Jason Webley, Nervous Cabaret, Jherek. I mean, that’s such a great way to find new and exciting music.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      “Whatever they are getting out of it, even if just the psychic equity of
      getting to jam with Amanda, balances in their personal cost/benefit
      analysis for the time and talent they are giving.”

      youre right — and as a musician we’ve all made the call to do these things or not — but youre evading the crux. What galls is that AP seems to be planning and banking on fans to make their personal cost/benefit
      analysis in her favor. Thats presumptious and narcissistic on her part. Keep in mind that AP needs them too, but when all she’s offering is her mythos/brand /persona as currency, thats ego run amok as well as contemptuous to the musicians.

      The other elephant in your room is that the kind of magic and spontaneity you crave does not require nonpayment in order to happen. My trio focuses on a lot of spontaneous interplay and improvisation, but we dont exploit each other to do it.

      • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

        So, the crux is not that Amanda exploits musicians but that you don’t like her ego, her narcissism or the “presumption” she is able to make that her fans will continue to support her. I do like those things about her. So let’s just agree to disagree here.

        • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

          no. I didnt say the two were mutually exclusive.

          As i’ve posted elsewhere, I think that when you twist the goodwill and love of fans into service and labor for your benefit and all youre offering in return is the currency of your persona, that is exploitation. It doesnt matter if you volunteer to do it or not. No one forces you to join a cult, either, but there’s plenty of exploitation once youre in — and the more i study what she does, how she works, what she says, the more similarities with cultish behaviors and social dynamics appear, to me.

          Thats just my take, and we can agree to disagree,as you say.

      • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

        Umm… Yes… But every musician is banking on their fans making a cost/benefit analysis in their favor – every time they ask them to buy a ticket. That’s how this thing works. The “better” you are as an artist (I mean “more entertaining” or “more able to build a strong fan base” here) the more often it works out in your favor.

    • Howlin’ Hobbit

      oh yeah! this too!

  • reebism

    So, you’re going to be promoting everyone who volunteers at your shows, right? Advertising their music, putting links to their websites or music profiles, right? Announcing their names and treating them with the same respect that you would give any other “professional-ish” musician?

    Because that’s not what you’re describing, at all. You choosing to play for free, as an established musician, making your own gigs, and with your own healthy instinct for self-promotion, is a whole other story. Asking for volunteers at a “professional-ish” level instead of negotiating with professionals is a way to get out of paying professionals what they’re worth.

    I call a spade a spade: this isn’t crowdsourcing music, this is you using your fanbase to cut costs for you. If you really want to play music with your fans, buy everyone a damn kazoo.

    • disheartened long time fan

      that is honestly a great point. most of the ninja gigs tend to happen when amanda is in town doing promotion or a paid gig in the first place, so it is all about self promotion. these gigs won’t lead to that for these performers.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Seb-Edwards/1516376211 Seb Edwards

        I don’t think that follows, actually. Of course Amanda plays ninja gigs where she is at the time, and of course when she’s touring that means doing them in a city in which she happens to have other shows.
        I have no idea what the figures are like for how many fans she gets out of the little, unexpected shows, but I’m very sure that whatever concern she has for that type of promotional advantage is far outweighed by the shared fun the ninja gigs produce.

    • Mark

      She just advertised several of the volunteer musicians right here in this post with links and specific names, explicitly stated that she announces their names and gives them props on stage, and also posts promotion of them elsewhere including her Twitter, which currently has 600,000+ followers. So, to answer your question, yes.

      • reebism

        Um, no, she really didn’t. She advertised the friends of hers who showed up and got paid in DC and NYC, because she cared about the gigs in those places not smelling like week-old potato salad. Try again.

        • peregrine

          This. The only unpaid musician she mentions is Unwoman, who in her account relates how happy she was to have the privilege of paying an extra $250 to fly in and play one of AFP’s shows for free. Neither she, nor AFP, realize how negative this really sounds.

  • bunnygirl

    Thank you Amanda! Well said! I have done my share of performance art, local theatre and singing – for FREE. I did it because it is something that I love to do and makes me feel valued and good about myself. For me, money would have been a bonus, however I did the performances because I wanted to. Looking back, I don’t know if I had been told “Here, will you do this for us, we will pay you” if it would have been as much fun and as rewarding to me or if I would have been able to make the connections that I have in my community. I was part of the Dirty Business Brigade for your show with the Dresden Dolls in Philly back in 2007 where I just walked around singing old jazz songs and scat acapela in the bar area. I volunteered to do it, I loved it, it is something I will never forget, and it has stayed with me as a very fond memory and proud moment. What it really all comes down to is someone’s ability to make their own decisions and decide for themselves. “Do I want to VOLUNTEER for this because it’s going to be fucking amazing and a great time for everyone” or “Yeah, I really don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, but she said she’d pay me for my musical skills, so I’ll do it for the money and possibly have a lousy time and not give it my 100%” Just an FYI – has anyone else looked up the definition of VOLUNTEER lately? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/volunteer

    -Do what you love and you’ll always love what you do – Billy Joel

    ~Namaste~

    • Sherry Holub

      I apologize if this point was brought up before because I have not read through every single comment but here’s my 2 (long) cents …

      Volunteers are, well, volunteering their service. Amanda and Co. are not forcing anyone to play for them. Volunteering is a choice and usually one makes it because they’re driven by passion, not payment.

      I grew up in the Southern California music scene – everything from punk, to metal to the whole rave thing (in fact I was a DJ in that scene for many years and yup, there were a number of times I volunteered my talent). The grass roots aspect is that a lot of stuff was done for free – from playing to promoting. Small bands and artists helped each other out and so did the fans of those small bands and artists. I did graphic design for merch and album covers for years and usually did it on a free-pay scale. I also worked in the music industry for years and got to see, in a round about way, how record labels actually operated and how much money music artists DIDN’T make. In fact, it’s still that way. I know musicians now who, even with some popularity, are just squeezing by and making their mortgage payments just like all the non-music artists out there. Most musicians don’t make a lot of money.

      When Amanda and her previous label parted ways, I know she blogged about that and it was a good thing. Then she DIY’d it with the Kickstarter. Already having a HUGE fan base (as she said, mostly built up over the years of her performing) was a mega help and yes, she broke the 1 million mark, but do some of you out there complaining have ANY idea of the costs associated with: marketing, studio time/mastering/etc., pr, publishing and touring? Just think about how much it costs YOU, the fan, to fill up your car with gas these days and drive to a show. Now imagine what it costs in just gas alone to fill up a tour bus and drive hundreds of miles. Just the travel expenses for a whole band and roadies is crazy. And touring is pretty much the ONLY way most musicians make money. Merch costs a lot to produce, so they’re not making a hell of a lot on that and even with digital downloads they have to pay large percentages to the services doing the downloads (iTunes, Amazon, etc.). The fact that she was able to produce and put out her own album with the Kickstarter money at least helped pay for all the cool things the fans are now enjoying.

      I read one comment where someone mentioned interning at a large company and not getting paid. Again, an internship is volunteer position. No one is forcing a person to intern. And they’re usually doing it to gain valuable experience. There’s even a time in the professional world where someone could offer their talents and expertise for free – pro-bono – because they CHOOSE TO or because they’re passionate about it, or any other number of personal reasons. My own company (a small graphic/web design firm) usually does 1-2 pro-bono jobs a year and we’re very selective about what we choose to work on and yes, it’s usually something that’s either close to our hearts or something so awesome we’d chomp at the bit just to be involved with.

      I also don’t feel this is a “fake dialog” with the fans. I’ve seen enough of Amanda’s antics to know that she has no problem having a dialog with anyone and being honest about everything she does. She also seems to have no problem sleeping on the floor at a fan’s house or doing a free show on the beach or getting naked in a crowd. In other words, I think she’s pretty legit and if she chooses to put the word out for volunteer musicians and musicians choose to take her up on it, what is the big fucking deal?

  • Eric Bailey

    Just so I understand what the bashers are saying… Their argument is that artists shouldn’t have freedom of choice in how to present their art, correct?

    The situation reminds me a bit of a could of cases in the film industry, where prominent, if maverick, directors were pretty much pushed out of the Directors Guild for making artistic choices. Robert Rodriguez chose to give comic book artist Frank Miller a Co-Director credit for his film adaptation of Sin City, because he used the comics as the storyboards. As every shot in the film was therefore designed by Miller, Rodriguez thought he deserved credit. But, that was breaking some rule, and the Guild threw a fit.

    The most famous case was George Lucas, who was pushed out of the Guild for making the artistic choice of putting the credits at the end of The Empire Strikes Back instead of the beginning. Strangely, they didn’t object when he did the same thing with Star Wars, three years before.

    Of course, there was a big difference in the situation from one film to the next.

    Lucas had merchandised Star Wars quite heavily. He did this so he could finance The Empire Strikes Back himself instead of having to depend on the Corporate guys running Fox, and therefore have complete creative control, something the Suits at Fox didn’t like.

    Funny how, when an artist goes DIY, and challenges the power of the Suits, the unions that are supposed to protect the artist against the corporations immediately go full force against the artist.

    Makes me wonder whose interests they’re actually serving.

  • Karenatasha

    Of course the musicians were happy to donate their time. There’s nothing that musicians love more than to play, and they know that exposure with a name performer can help. But the fact that they’re willing to do it does not make it non-exploitative. As an academic, I’ve done several articles for free for academic press anthologies, and I resent it. But the credit matters, so I suck it up. And THAT is the exploitation: knowing people are so desperate they’ll do it for nothing and taking advantage. And sorry, but when someone like David Byrne, with his success and his financial security, donates his time to join you in a set it is NOT the same as when a budding musician does. Byrne is assured of being highly paid in another instance; the musicians you’re using cannot. And one of the reasons Amy takes what you’re doing personally is because when you get musicians you need for free, they’re replacing musicians you would pay.

  • ray hatfield

    Some people don’t seem to understand that it’s fun to play music and it’s fun to be a part of a show and it’s fun to participate.

    When cheerleaders yell “GIVE ME AN A!” do these people shout “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”?

  • pepes

    There is a lot more nuance to this and it is not black and white. I’ve been a professional musician for about 15 years now and opened for Amanda Palmer twice and played with Zoe Keating as well. it is becoming harder and harder to make a living at this because of people’s perception of how to value things. The line between professionals who spend a lifetime perfecting what they do and people who do it for fun is getting blurred. I think that is just the paradigm of the day and the growing pains of internet media where everything is instantaneously available for free. Amanda Palmer has worked hard and i don’t at all grudge her for being successful for having money. Being successful in music in the end comes down to being lucky…I’ve played in front of thousands of being who thought we were great and played the best most inspired shows of my life in front of disinterested people who couldn’t give a fuck. The problem with Palmer is that now that she is successful and chooses to live the unfairness of the current way of things rather than help sustain the culture of music as a viable way to support a family. There are millions of musicians far more talented than Amanda Palmer and work just as hard…she got lucky. Which is fine…no reason to begrudge her because that’s life and how it works. I just think that she would be a better person if she gave back the musician community instead of feeding into everything that is wrong with our current way of viewing artists. I don’t respect her at all for this.

    • peregrine

      THIS, this this this! I do volunteer work for bands myself, but usually with the understanding that no money will be made on the venture (even successful bands can fall in this category if their label refuses to pay). I would never volunteer my time when I knew the money was there, or coming. The days when I could say I needed experience that badly are long, long over.

  • Bulleit

    wait. who says touring is a profitable endeavor? i toured for years with “successful” bands who lost every dime on tour. touring is expensive. the band gets their cut after everyone else is paid off.

    and album sales equate profit and money in the bank? releasing an album requires marketing, distribution costs, manufacturing etc. etc. remember when the labels used to pay for all that and MAYBE the artist started getting a small check if the album recouped expenses? not to mention these days- the number of units necessary to chart is significantly less than before. records don’t sell like they used to. artists don’t see profits here the way people think they do.

    and if you are releasing your own album….you are eating every single cost along the way out of your own pocket…

    the money in the bank excuse is a poor argument here methinks.

  • Kafkainspringtime

    I’ve paid hundreds of gigs over the years, some paid, some free. I’d give my right arm to jam with Amanda and the Grand Theft Orchestra. Why? Because they fucking jam, that’s why. If you’re all bitter and twisted about this, perhaps you need to really reevaluate why you’re in this game at all. I, for one, am in it for the music.

    • bunnygirl

      Thank you!

    • Puffer @ digitallofi

      It’s not a “jam”. A jam is musicians improvisng together, contributing their own ideas, creating something new in a collaborative environment. This is playing someone else’s pre-arranged music at a gig where they’re getting paid and you are not.

  • http://twitter.com/kdavidsonmusic Kim Davidson

    While I can see where Amy is coming from in her letter–overall the system is corrupt and often works against musicians, and this tour feels like an extension of the principle–I do think that in this situation, AFP is providing genuine exposure, and any musician volunteering their talent could certainly leverage that in any way they like (whether AFP shouts their name from the stage or in her blog or not–they are free to do their own publicity before, during and after the show). It is NOT the same as being told by the local bar down the street that you’ll get “exposure” when that exposure is five regulars on bar stools watching the game on TVs at the side of the stage. In those situations, you are gaining nothing, while the bar gains free entertainment which may or may not sell additional alcohol for them. On stage during the AFP tour, I think there’s a lot more value. And, of course, as she states–it’s for each musician to decide for themselves. We ALL play for free at some point in our lives, and we all hit that wall where our self-worth (and budgets) demand that we take a stand. But that doesn’t mean we don’t make exceptions when they are worth making–and that’s a personal choice. It’s just like movie stars appearing without credit in a movie they really want to be in. They avoid crashing the film’s budget, but lend their talent for the sake of the project. It may seem like an easy luxury to afford when you’re already successful, of course, but the underlying principle is sound, and one that can actually line you up for success. Take each performance on a case by case basis and follow your gut.

  • Rebecca Ore

    I heard you were giving away a thousand free tickets at the venues where musicians would be playing for free.

  • Puffer @ digitallofi

    There is a huge difference between playing one’s own music for free or at personal expense and being the unpaid backing musician for someone else’s commercial musical endeavor. To conflate the two is disingenuous.

    “Who is that saxophone player? I totally want to get her CD. I wonder if she’s playing any shows locally.” – no one at an Amanda Palmer concert.

    • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Umm. That’s exACTly what happens. I can only conclude you’ve never been to a show, and you’re writing with a cynicism born out of ignorance of Amanda and her fans.

      • http://twitter.com/dookdookdook Benjamin Hawk

        my ASS that happens. i’ve been to a show. it doesn’t. at all.

        • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

          Maybe YOUR ass doesn’t respond that way, because of the cynicism you bring in the door with you. MY ass now has chamber music and belly dancing events on its calendar that I never would have known or cared about if it weren’t for shoutouts at Wednesday’s show. And I’d say 80% of the people I follow on twitter — meaning I am invested in following their careers develop — are people who have opened for, played with or otherwise been associated with Amanda. More than half of the Kickstarters and Pozibles I’ve supported (with cash money, woo) are by that group of people.

          My ass feels just a little bit sorry for your ass.

  • http://twitter.com/Kambrieldesign Kambriel

    Funny how there’s a phrase, “Money is the root of all evil”, but no such correlating phrase about ~art~, music, etc… O.K., maybe there’s a new one for Theatre ;)

    Yes, humans have made $ necessary (though it’s interesting & important to note that humans are the only animal on Earth that require it). I believe we have a collective need for something vastly deeper than $ ~ things like a sense of genuine connection & thriving off of our shared enthusiasms. I may have a lot of “hippy ideals”, but ideals are… ~ideal~. If one gets to the point where they can scoff at such things, they’ve already given up to some extent.
    Keep building those new bridges Amanda. I know it’s a lot more effort than using the existing, well-trodden ones, but in doing so, you’re being one who still believes that personal ideals are something worth working for, that still sees the possibilities in creating something new.

    • disheartened long time fan

      but you’re a capitalist, you make awesome clothing, and you sell it across the country. i’m not sure what your gifting policy is, but i’m assuming (and correct me if i’m wrong) gifts are going to go to more high profile individuals or friends than not. but then who even draws the line at what or who is high profile and what is fair? and honestly, while i’m all for gifting and collaboration, i also know if you gave away all the awesome stuff you made, you’d be broke, and pretty quickly, which would be unfortunate since it would halt your production of awesome clothing.

      so yeah, money is the root of all evil, but people do need it to survive, especially artists starting out in their field. so i find it baffling to see established artists acting like it doesn’t matter.

      • http://twitter.com/Kambrieldesign Kambriel

        Hi! First off, thank you for the kind words about the clothing I make :) I actually didn’t say I believed that “Money is the root of all evil”, just that there is a phrase for it, while there’s no such correlating phrase for art or music, and to me, that was an interesting distinction. Since humans have made money such a necessary thing (and believe me, if we could be more like the other creatures of this Earth and get by without it, I’d happily do so), it can be used to do good, kind, compassionate things as well.

        I actually have been known to surprise people of all sorts with random gifts, I actually just did that the other day when someone (who I’d only just met for the first time) tried on an item, loved it, and so I let them keep it. I do it as much as I can because I know how much it can mean to a person to experience those random acts of kindness. Could I have sold it instead and was that a loss of income I could have really used? Sure. But it made my day to see them so happy, and hopefully it helped make a little more of their day too.

        Even in what I do, financially it has meant sacrifice, since I could have a “normal” job working for someone else, and I’d likely earn *much* more, have a stable income, health insurance, and even days off & the occasional paid vacation sick day. I willingly gave up those things in order to be able to offer what I do, and whereas it means loss in several other areas, it means I get to express myself creatively in a way I likely wouldn’t be able to elsewhere.

        Also, I’m a musician. I’ve played in bands (even made an appearance playing violin on the cd of a somewhat well known friend of mine) and never for money. Sure, if that had been my full-time job, I’d need to earn $ from it in order to get by, but even if I did, I would still in my “free time” (pun intended), enjoy practicing/playing/writing parts for other projects I personally enjoyed just for sheer inspiration/artistic refueling.

        Just like my clothing ~ there has to be the “bread & butter”, enough to get by (and that can also mean needing to creatively get by with ~much less~ than someone at a “typical” full time job with a salary or regular paycheck), but I need other artistic outlets just as much, as a means to keep up the passion, to refuel, to be part of something unique that might not otherwise happen.

        I’ve seen a couple of things regarding this situation that ring true ~ one is there’s a difference between “playing for free” and “not getting paid” (where one had the expectation of payment that didn’t pan out). Also, there’s a difference between “playing for free” and “playing for tickets, backstage pass, merch… and appreciation”. Also, it is a completely *volunteer* situation.

        I just drove 20 hours this week to help Amanda with a project, and I have no intention of charging her for that time spent driving. She asked for my help with something I was happy to do, and was good enough to offer to cover car/gas/etc… The time though? Sure, that’s the equivalent of a full week at a part time job, but I ~wanted~ to help, I wanted to see the show, and it had the bonus of spending some time with people I really like and don’t see enough of. That sort of thing helps fuel me, so I have even more creativity/joy to bring back to my other work and to my heart, is worth something far beyond $.

        • disheartened long time fan

          Oh believe me, I totally get a lot of what you are saying (also you really do make awesome stuff, you made a friend of mine’s wedding gown and it was beautiful). I guess for me, the sticking point is the concept that larger cities (which will promote more press) will get the full of paid professional treatment, and assumedly smaller venues are the ones that get the experiment. To me that sort of feels like putting a specific value on some scenarios, and another one on others which kind of feels awkward (to me) to see explained to both the paying fans and the volunteer musicians.

          And I really do totally get the idea that people volunteering for this are doing so because they want to, and that partaking in art is great fun. i live in socal now and the burning man ethics regarding gifting are pretty strong around here, and honestly i do think that when gifting or bartering is an option, it’s an awesome option to take. it gets a little stickier when fame is involved though (in my opinion) especially since I’ve seen a couple comments of “i wouldn’t do this for most people, but i’d do it for you Amanda” which seem to be coming from people who don’t know her (this is relevant later in my little monologue ;)

          But in the same vein I have many other friends in bands that have reached or surpassed Amanda’s success/fame/notoriety and are for the most part all doing it on their own and they still manage to pay everyone, even if it’s just $50. Like I said in another comment, I used to dj at manray and ceremony and yeah honestly there were a lot of times where I totally would’ve done it for free because I love music, I love sharing, and the opportunity to get my foot in the door was worth it, and hell I’ve dj’d a few friends weddings for free as a gift. But there were a lot of times where getting paid honestly did make a huge difference between whether I’d be eating ramen that week or something more substantial. Plus djing for free was sort of different in that the attention was squarely on me in those instances so I would be guaranteed a lot of exposure (unless i sucked) where I can’t help but feel like backing musicians (in smaller markets) aren’t really going to benefit as much in most cases…and again there’s still the weird disparity of “we’re going to pay some, but not all musicians” especially when the kickstarter had budgeted the tour and album at 100k and then went on to make 1.2MM.

          Honestly I wish the “i can’t afford to pay the musicians, or at least not most the musicians” explanation had never seen the light of day. if this had been presented solely as “we’re gonna grab musicians from wherever we can and get them on stage and rock out and have fun” it would’ve seemed a lot more organic. when I first heard about that concept (which i think was on twitter waaaaay before this drama started) i thought it was a really cool idea. i still do, but i don’t like the fact that as opposed to it being done for the fun/community element, money is now being blamed…especially when amanda has proven time and time again that she can raise tens of thousands of dollars in a few hours either through kickstarter or trough webcam fundraisers.

          It’s just got to be very hard when you’ve reached a certain modicum of success but want to keep applying the same cost cutting modalities in place that were helpful earlier on, especially when said modalities involve gifting or volunteering when it’s totally possible the money could be there.

          • http://twitter.com/Kambrieldesign Kambriel

            That’s great you used to dj at both ManRay & Ceremony ~ I wouldn’t be surprised if our paths crossed at some point :)

            And thank you for being so thoughtful with your response, I certainly can’t speak on Amanda’s behalf, but I think what happens a lot of the time is due to her connectedness, hands-on involvement, and direct/unfiltered way of communicating (i.e. not just having a PR rep providing layers of insulation & giving researched & “palatable”, but potentially hollow responses to smooth out any potential missteps), we’re all experiencing/witnessing the learning curve she goes through in any given situation ~ both highs & lows. On the bright side, because of this involvement, and genuine care for what people are thinking/saying/feeling, I feel people at least know that unlike a CEO of some mega-corporation, bank, government “representatives”, etc… (many of whom of course deserve to be taken to task on a vastly grander scale, but are usually left to their own devices/not held accountable, due to well-guarded inaccessibility) Amanda is reachable, aware, reading, and contemplating everything being said (even at last night’s show, she took time out to talk with the audience directly about this, as she has with the volunteer guest musicians themselves backstage to get ~their~ honest take on this) so the possibility of being heard and on occasion when warranted, enacting change is there.

            Random aside – Last night, an audience member came onstage to hold a flashlight for some live videography that was happening, and she was so excited to help take part… No pay, just the joy of being involved in the show ~ of crossing that line which usually exists between audience and participant ~ a line that barely exists at all in Amanda’s shows where people don’t tend to just passively watch, but be one of the active ingredients ~ helping to directly determine the mood/energy and in this case even lighting (like when many of us held flashlights for one of the songs while the rest of the houselights were turned down), literally supporting her during a crowdsurf that spanned the venue, etc… This whole show is incredibly interactive, so I really think the guest volunteer musicians while an odd/distasteful option to some is perhaps to Amanda an organic extension of the way her shows live and breathe with an open spirit of inclusiveness.

            I keep thinking back to this Summer’s art shows & how before each show, Amanda went to local, independent bookshops and generally bought at least 100 books at each shop to sign & give the Kickstarter backers who were attending the shows, while at the same time, supporting local small businesses. She really does put the $ back into things like this that others might not consider. She easily could have bought some cheap books in bulk on Amazon, but it was important to her to help support the small retailers in the towns where she was performing. None of us can make decisions that are right for every perspective at all times, but I do believe she is genuinely ~trying~ to support others along the way, whether it be through $, helping them have more opportunities to gain new fans of their own, things like KickForward where she shares links to other Kickstarters in hopes of giving them added visibility/more success, or the immeasurable value of personal experiences and memories.

            Thank you again for sharing your thoughts about this with me, as well as for indulging my own tangents ;) I agree, it’s hard to *not* immediately think in thrifty/creative ways, when you’ve lived your life needing to be that way in order to get things done (goodness knows I’m that way!)… and *at the root of things*, it’s a fun/cool/inclusive idea… Of the shows I’ve seen on this tour thus far, the volunteer guest musicians have been really enjoying themselves :)

  • Carolyn

    This is an eloquent, thoughtful and enlivening response, AFP. You’ve, again, made something beautiful out of something ugly (not meaning Amy’s letter here). I’m sad it was necessary for you to write, though, especially the day after your record release.

    Love and respect back. I’ll toast to you tonight x

  • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

    this hasnt changed much for me. I still stand by my assessments on the other blog post. At best, your whole affair is misguided, confused and naive — and thats giving you a lot of leeway, frankly.

    If your tour cant pay for itself through merch and tickets, then you dont have the financial maturity or the sales draw to be doing it. Be professional and plan and budget better. Whether the strings/horns tour with you or are picked up locally is a red herring; the honorable thing to do is to budget appropriately and pay in either case. That you pay in some cities and not others is an easy out and suggests you think some fans are more deserving of a more polished show than others. Thats contemptuous, and to post about it and still expect players or cooks to bend to your will without compensation is narcissistic.

    “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.”

    Don’t evade the issue. They can still get paid.

    Artistically, i get this…I did a fair amount of free improv/jazz fests in Europe in the 90s, and some interesting , purposefully unplanned pairings with other players in front of the whole crowd happened on occasion. . but guess what? we were all paid.

    Spin it any you want –about the comraderie, the experience, the hang, everybody’s happy and loves it, the new “different model” with “different rules” etc — the fact is you are transforming goodwill and love from your fans into service and labor to further your for-profit enterprise, knowing full well (and actually relying on the fact) that they’ll gladly do it and that you wont have to compensate them beyond your persona. Perhaps you may not even see that dynamic for what it is.

    If that’s how you and your followers roll, that’s everybody’s right or choice, but to me that’s exactly how cults operate.

    I hope some day you transform from this .

    peace.

    • JJtoob

      I’ve been reading a lot of comments and this comment echoes perfectly what I think of the situation. Apparently this deal can be seen as unethical, being as people doing this for free puts down the efforts of everyone who is “proffesional-ish” enough to play at her concerts. Putting that aside, I think the way she is going about asking for the help show astounding self-entitlement. If you look at the kickstarter, she makes a list of collaborators, including herself, but in first name alphabetical order, so she ends up on top. You don’t do that! During the whole video she holds up signs to ask for money. That’s quite impersonal. I get it, she wanted to do it her own way, but could use some lessons in public relations.

      Now, I just think she didn’t plan her kickstarter too well. I mean, she crammed a lot of stuff in there that apparently even though she’s gotten $1.2 mil (and doesn’t she still get royalties from the music she’s already made? I mean, I see her music on iTunes, is she not getting much out of that?), she can’t afford to pay musicians for the tour. Unless she planned on having volunteers help her out all along, which she didn’t state on the kickstarter. So, again, you are right on the mark when you said “If your tour cant pay for itself through merch and tickets, then you dont have the financial maturity or the sales draw to be doing it.” What sucks is that she’s already promised these events on her kickstarter, and I figure at this point some tickets have been sold. But she did mention that the more money she got, the better things like the tour would turn out, so, she’ll have to do the best with whatever volunteers she gets, but given the response so far, this is going to get ugly anyway.

  • DDDDAVE

    Amanda, I wish I was more of a string player otherwise I’d come help you out…how about if I sample a string part and DJ it…

  • Lucid Revolution

    This turned out longer than I expected… but it needed to get out of my head as it started brewing days ago when I was at the Webster Hall show and Amanda explained part of the situation near the end of the show… It got me thinking about my own art, and my endless history of shooting concerts without any real financial incentive (outside of rare situations where I end up making a good connection and they use my work for their album or PR needs), and how I keep doing it and why.

    As a photographer who has been buying a ticket and shooting every possible show I can attend, and doing this because I love and respect the artists involved and want to help capture those amazing moments that everyone in the crowd has come together to enjoy… I’d like to note that I have been happy to do this because:

    -I know my photos are actually seen by the people involved and when it works out, made useful… or

    -At the very least fans of the people involved who may in some cases even be IN the photos (especially when people get to go up on stage to dance or sing or hold up Meow Meow’s microphone, and so forth) will get to see them and use them… and yes I have been offered money by fans and refused it without hesitation.

    -Because there are moments that need to be captured by someone who is NOT on the stage and NOT distracted with other tasks… and lasty

    -I LOVE everyone in the room with me for being awesome and unique multicolor neon sparkle snowflakes of kickassery, regardless of if I know them personally or ever will.

    I’ve been in bands, done theater, dated touring musicians (so some vicarious experiences there), and been an artist in some capacity since I was very young… I’ve played most of my shows for free (including paying for our own drinks in most cases), photographed endless shows for free without even a guest list spot, done album artwork and photos for PR use, headshots for my actor & musician & comedian friends, endless favors in helping put up websites and blogs for those who don’t know how, making logos and graphics for this or that… All of this I’ve done free, or for way below market rate at a price they could afford… I’ve done just about anything within my power to help support the artists in my life… Recently I even donated an endless supply of free photoshoots for a good friend (who is a great musician) to use for his fundraiser after his college loans fizzled out leaving him unable to start in the fall without finding a way to make up the difference they didn’t cover. Guess what? He started in the fall and I’m proud that I helped make it happen, even if it means most of my free time will be sucked up by doing sessions I won’t be paid a dime for. And at no point did I think “gee I should make him give me some of that money, since he’s 20 bucks over his goal…”. All I knew was that he was in a bad spot, considered doing a crowdfunding type thing but didn’t know what to offer outside of his own songwriting ability… and so I offered my own skills in hopes of being able to accomplish this goal.

    So much like my friend’s situation… AFP was in a bad spot (not being able to reasonably bring an entire orchestra on tour within their budget), made this known, and people who were interested and able to help out offered that help knowing there was no payment at the end of the double rainbow. If I had been able to play one of the needed instruments and could sight read sheet music (sorry, piano teachers of my life… it just wasn’t meant to be!) I would have been happy to get up on stage with AFP and her amazing bandmates who are completely mindblowingly awesome musicians and exceptionally talented in many ways… perhaps I just have abundant amounts of respect for everyone involved but I’d consider it an honor to even be considered for such an opportunity and can’t understand all this petty squabbling over payment… We do favors for our friends, don’t we? How do you put prices on friendship and admiration and respect? Why does it all come down to green? And just think, if pink is evil, then green is probably to root of all evil…

    So it’s all about money… and I suppose that money is nice. We need it for -some- things. But to me… Experiencing life is worth sacrifice, and time isn’t something I can put a price on… so I enjoy ANY opportunity to use my photography and my love of concert photography to be an active participant in a community that has been nothing but incredible. I’ve made friends who are completely amazing, from all sorts of places, and look forward to when AFP brings us all in the same room.. often involving crazy amounts of travel… I once went all the way to SF to see the DD’s play on NYE and when acquiring a ticket was even offered a place to stay and a guided tour of some surrounding areas… yes that’s right… A RANDOM PERSON I met on the forums who sold me a ticket and was willing to let me stay in their home and hang out with me purely based on our common interest in the DD’s/AFP and the music/art they create. Outside of Burning Man (and AFP fans are there too… a block from my camp this year I caught a girl singing along with the Ukulele song being blasted from the speakers at her camp, at the top of her lungs and dancing in the dusty “street” and had a huge smile on my face the whole time)… I can’t think of any other large group of people who is more accepting and open and loving and creative and fucking crazy amazing times infinity.

    More importantly, AFP will always be an inspiration to me as I know how hard it was for her to get where she is now and how much time and energy and hard earned money from odd jobs and random shit helped her survive until she was at a point where there was even the glimmer of hope of being able to build what is even now only the foundation of the tower of HOLYFUCKWEDIDIT! Sometimes there is a great honor in being part of something bigger than yourself, and that’s what being an active “fan” has garnered me. Sure, I’d love to have my name in lights and maybe with a few more years of hard work I will be able to direct people to my latest gallery showing, or even find myself back on a stage somewhere doing something or at least playing with fire… but whenever I feel exhausted and overworked and underpaid and unappreciated I think about how hard to was for the infamous Amanda Fucking Palmer to get from point A to point Wheeeeeee! and know that with the right combination of paying dues, doing things for nothing or very little outside of exposure, busting my ass working several jobs, and trying to keep expanding my reputation in a positive way… that perhaps I will someday inspire someone who worries they can’t possibly be successful because of -insert whatever reason/crutch/blame game here-, and give them the wisdom that I felt the same way, and used the struggles and success of others I admired to help keep me focused. You can accomplish anything within reason if you really put your mind to it and are willing to work wholeheartedly without seeing instant growth or progress… and the only thing that will hold you back is yourself. AFP isn’t the only place I’ve gotten those moments of clarity from, but she is certainly one of my favorite examples of someone who worked hard to get where she is, and works hard to maintain what she does, which is essentially a service where she sacrifices a lot of comforts so that she can create music and art and live shows and perform them for us when she is able to get to where we are.

    The reality of the life of a touring musician is far from luxurious for most people I have met… it’s hard on relationships, hard on your own emotions, stressful for any band or group since even the nicest of people can have moments of strain from being trapped together in close quarters with no sleep and constantly moving… and yes, that’s what they all signed up for… but my point is that regardless of the success of the kickstarter… that money needed to last for a rather extensive tour that requires a lot of people to make it run, and those people are being paid using that money, not including loans that were made using the collective and hence proving the need for more money than the kickstarter could provide in order to support the actual financial needs of this endeavor. Last I checked the average price for a plane ticket to say… Sydney from NYC… was about $1500 on a cheap day… multiply that by the entire crew and that’s JUST the plane ticket cost for one trip to one destination… that doesn’t take into account the other expenses of travel (including whatever the baggage costs are, or renting things upon arrival to make up for things that didn’t come along). So no, I don’t honestly think there is a huge pile of money hiding in Amanda’s closet back home somewhere, and I cannot fault her for reaching out to other musicians who are in the position she once was, when she was offering to open for other acts who were willing to give her a spot but not able to pay her enough to cover the expenses involved… but the EXPERIENCE and EXPOSURE is worth more than anything… those are the things that get you fans and followers and the means to find success independent of some greedy abusive label. Those are the invaluable rewards for contributing your skill and talent without financial reward, and you find the most amazing creativity when it comes from the heart and soul of a genuine artist… and with continued perseverance the potential for growth becomes exponential.

    I’m not perfect and no one else is either, but nothing sinister occurred here and I had to throw in my 45 cents since I’ve been doing exactly the thing that was frowned upon and wanted to be completely and utterly clear that I have been doing this without expectations, and out of love and admiration for everyone involved. I hope the people who are truly having a fit over this will be able to read what was written and understand that sometimes things are very simple and clear and exactly what they say they are. For everyone who was offended by this request to find willing pro bono musicians to help with these shows… there were also likely lots of people like myself who, if we could have, would have gladly helped out simply for the opportunity to share the stage with someone who we think is pretty darn awesome. I’d do it because I’d honestly be grateful just to be considered good enough to be a part of something bigger than myself even if only for a few hours…

    So, in closing… and on the topic of being grateful…Maybe I don’t say thank you enough… and maybe I’m sadly typical of many artists in that I am awkward and strange and moody and don’t always connect and network properly, or follow up on things… and I’ll admit I have plenty of moments where I feel like my efforts are pointless and I’m getting no where… but deep in my heart of hearts I know that you can’t make everyone happy all of the time, and though it saddens me to think people are judging Amanda’s actions and making assumptions about her motivations and financial abilities… I know that for most of us… the people who dress up, the people who play music or become statues outside a show… the people who bring their hoops, or paint their faces… the people who throw little paper airplanes at the crowd with messages like “ring ring ring ring BANANA PHONE”… the people who would let a stranger sleep on their couch after flying across the country to see the same band they went to see last night… or sing the Ukulele song in the middle of the desert hours from civilization with or without an audience but simply because that is what she felt like doing… these are also the people who will happily contribute photos, art, music, time, effort and maybe just smiles and hugs and kind words without any expectations. Those people are priceless, as is what they provide to the community itself that has clustered from the extended AFP family…

    So I extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone everywhere, from AFP and her current band and past collaborators (Including the DD’s with the ever fabulous Brian Viglione who is also really freaking awesome and wins the award for kickassery after using one of my shots from that SF NYE show for a poster), and all the people who keep things running behind the scenes like Sean & Superkate & Hayley, and wonderful hardworking folks at Girlie Action, the endless list of collaborating artists and performers (most noteworthy for me being Sxip Shirey who has totally been one of my favorite human beings since first seeing him at a DD show years and year ago and continues to amaze me with his Hours of Charm) who have been happy to show up and perform a song or two to support Amanda, or let Amanda come and do a few songs at their own shows… and even people like Kyle Cassidy who humored me with a brief conversation despite the fact I was probably unable to talk about anything other than being amazed that a photographer was willing to be friendly and helpful to another photographer (this has generally not been the case, and I realize I’m apparently just hanging around the wrong photographers), and tweeted a photo he took of me which was also pretty awesome just in and of itself. To people I know who have also selflessly contributed their time/effort/resources without any expectations in order to help support he continued efforts that provide us with music and performances that we wholeheartedly connect with and enjoy until the last note is played and the last drink is an empty cup on the bar.

    Thank you to everyone, because without you, there wouldn’t have been something relevant enough to start a crazy scandal over who does what for how much for whom and how much money they have and what they use it for, and other assorted tales of debauchery and vice. And I wouldn’t be sitting here going on and on about it, sharing my feelings and my story and my genuine love and appreciation for the entire community we are a part of. Thank you, even for your negativity, because I’ll use those negative reactions to continue to inspire me and make me proud when I contribute my work for reasons that mostly involve unicorns and rainbows and selfless love. So yeah. End Rant.

    xoxo,
    Lucid Revolution (@lucidrev)

    • Betsy1976

      Just curious as a fellow photographer how do you budget your time to be able to handle doing all that free photography with all your paid gigs? I find it difficult to find time to gift my work with my busy shooting schedule.

      • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

        Hmm, who wins at life, the one who takes chances and has a wealth of experiences or the one who doesn’t have time to do that because they are too busy making sure they only do work for which they get paid, even if it’s work that does nothing to inspire them or enrich their life?

        • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

          Wow, a lot of assumptions went into asking that question. Sometimes, gasp, paid gigs can also be monumentally awesome and inspiring.

        • ashok

          Well, you certainly win at the bandying around of ill-thought-out immature cliches that advance economic models that leave most workers without retirement funds, healthcare or rent money while a few people live comfortable lives.

        • peregrine

          If only you were talking about AFP.

  • Zobmie

    I really don’t see the problem here. No one is being forced to do anything against their will, right? Amanda isn’t backing out of paying people she has agreed to pay, right? Then what’s the problem with her asking for volunteers?

    I’m an actor. I’ve been acting as my sole profession for about a dozen years. When I started out, most of the work I was doing was free, or for meals. I don’t do that now. I value what I do differently now than I did then. I do occasionally take on gigs that aren’t big money for a myriad of reasons. I like the script, I’ve always wanted to work with someone, any number of reasons. But it’s my choice. I choose the experience over the remuneration.

    So what’s wrong with Amanda asking if anyone wants to do that? Some people will not, I’m sure. But some people will. Some people would be ecstatic to do so. So why not just let them.

  • Belle

    I find discussion a great tool for social development among artists, but it seems much of the criticism on this topic is in order for fans to recoup attention and perhaps what they perceive as a less vulnerable personal power balance against their crush-on-a-pedestal, which comes out sometimes (and unfortunately) by approaching the object of their affection negatively.

    This current topic could also be an effort to garner more attention for the tour and get people to think through why community collaboration is actually valuable as a point to the whole process.

    I’d be amused by the second theory were it true, but my hope is dim in light of the realities of general fan weirdness on the internet. We have an inherently strong, intellectually classy, free-willed musician here, who’s getting what could be passive aggressive attention and has chosen to expose that attention in what is possibly a means of sharing the stress out so she doesn’t have to handle it all alone.

    Those who want to publicly criticize a female indie artist who chose to turn away from a lot of advantages (and industry ineptitude) with undesirable strings attached, and judge harshly the many logistical creative alternatives she has developed, would be far more convincing as a cause group if they took their efforts at reform to something less commercially motivated (judging of an artist who chose not to tithe or coddle the traditional industry channels who hire media reputation and perception management agencies so vocal and tiring now throughout the internet) and instead focus on something more socially meaningful and truer to their stated cause, like fighting intolerance at the political front, volunteering their energy to starting programs to help artists get paid, or a million better ways to become the leadership they have sought, rather than placing the responsibility on one independent artist to take their complaints and comply in what some might judge a very antiquated and unequal assignment of capable young women muses into servants to the dominant social tradition. I get the feeling Amy would be equally unhappy to fall into the old camp, but might have a chance at finding her niche should she be willing to experiment as a forerunner, paid or unpaid, in the less scripted adventures of Amanda Fucking Palmer.

    I plan to use this topic to remind me there’s a new album out, so that I will go buy it, and pay what I can as I have for all her albums, not because I’m a particularly rabid fan but because I like her music enough to pay for it, and I donate to and buy from musicians making the world a richer place on a daily basis. I like her low-pressure philosophy and the fact that she’s in the world in general being a strong, positive voice and presence for other artists. As a consumer I respond to that far more effectively than the mediocre attempts at salesmanship that have made the larger and more traditional record labels increasingly less appealing as the years pass, and the artists become more empowered. I think she’s doing a marvelous job discovering what works, but then I’m busy doing the same thing in my own field, so I don’t regularly have time to comment on how amazing other artists often are. Perhaps more of us should, just to remind the internet it’s not just there to look pretty behind the glass.

  • Mab

    I’m truly loving the chance Amanda’s fans are getting to discuss an issue vital to both music and art, but life on a larger scale. But I’m, as the night goes on, getting frustrated that the conversation is being steered in entirely unrelated directions with no real way to hear the other side unless Amanda decides to begin ReTweeting ALL responses she receives; not a fair request of anyone I believe.
    So in honor of true dialogue and fairness I propose a Twitter hashtag so that Amanda’s fans (and those just throwing in their $0.02) can have a completely open dialogue.
    I propose #GTOdisc (Grand Theft Orchestra discussion).
    Let’s get this talked out.
    Loving how thoughtful and civil (for the most part) this discussion has been, and hoping Amanda is not taking any of our disagreements personally. We’ve all a right to an opinion, we’ve all a right to be heard, we DON’T have the right to that opinion being respected or followed!

  • Kevin

    Actually, you’re not really “crowdsourcing food”. When your fans bring food for you and your band, or host you for dinner, they’re giving you a gift. And you are receiving that gift.

    That’s not the same as asking for volunteer musicians—whom you are essentially requiring to have professional (“professional-ish”) skills—to play music at your shows. They may be giving you the gift of their talent for a couple of hours, but you are then making use of those gifts to make money—money that, based on your initial blog post, they’re not going to see any of, except in the form of beer and some merchandise.

    Unless you’re turning around and selling some of that “crowdsourced” food at the concessions stands or merch tables at your shows, I’m afraid the analogy doesn’t hold up.

    I think this sentiment of this bit you wrote above would have forestalled a lot of the criticism had it been stated up front:

    “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 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.”

    More information is always better than less. You know, full disclosure and all that. In the absence of that clearly stated intention, of course you’re going to open yourself to criticism.

    But please, don’t dismiss criticism on the grounds that “we belong to a different culture, where we’re playing a different game, with different rules.” I know you’re being sincere, but it just comes off as disrespectful, a variation on the age-old dismissal “you just don’t get it,” intended to stifle debate. Because you’re really NOT part of a different culture—you’re a human being, same as the rest of us.

    • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

      So anyone who is not seen on stage doesn’t count when it comes to getting paid? Making food and bringing it hot to the venue is a job, even if the only ones eating it are the band and the crew. Receiving that food for free is *exactly the same* as having a musician play for free, or a photographer make you photos for free, or someone drive you for free. Don’t devalue some jobs or some fans just because their skill set is not “musician”.

      • Kevin

        Uh, no, that wasn’t my point. You’re reading more into my comment than I was actually saying.

        AFP commented that she “crowdsourced” food, thereby implying that this was no different than asking for volunteer musicians to play at her shows.
        I was saying that they *are* different things—i.e. that:• with the people bringing her food, she is basically accepting gifts; whereas• with the people who come to play with her onstage, she is (at least, based on the initial post) taking the gifts of those musicians’ time and talents and selling them as part of her own product.

        • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

          But my point is, *everyone involved with the gig is part of the product*. That includes the backstage parts, like driving and moving stuff and making food. A musician, technically and financially speaking, is exactly the same as the cook. If you say food for a gig is a gift but music for a gig is a product, you’re devaluing cooks and putting musicians to a different standard.

  • Zach

    Matthew Barney doesn’t pay all of the volunteers he crowd-sources to be in his performances. My professor is an incredibly talented artist and foundry worker and volunteered her time to help run a furnace in one of his most recent performances. She didn’t sign up in hopes of getting paid, or for the recognition, she did so because she WANTED to be a part of the magic. At its core, this is the same case with AFP. These volunteer musicians want to be a part of the magic, the art, the moment, which in many ways is much richer than a pay check.

    I’m an artist as well. I have to pay an entry fee to enter my works into shows, which I know I WON’T GET BACK, even if I don’t make it into the exhibition. but the opportunity to get my work in the gallery and be a part of the magic that is a bunch of artists coalescing together in one space makes it all worth it. Yes, I do get exposure, and yes, I do hope someone out there will buy my work, but I’m in the same boats as these volunteer musicians. By playing on stage, they get exposure and recognition and the chance to network after the show. The chances of them getting approached by others to for work for future projects are MUCH GREATER because of that opportunity.

    I’m in a band as well. We often play house shows or other venues for FREE because we ENJOY getting the opportunity to play for others. I understand artists and musicians are starving and deserve to get compensated for their labor; in a perfect world, it would be awesome if we got paid for everything we do. but we don’t. that’s the way it is.

    and really, how many artists/musicians do you know that earn enough money SOLELY off of their art to support themselves.

    95% of artists have to take up second jobs to make a living: teaching at schools or piano lessons, running workshops, even working at restaurants. It’s shitty, but that’s the way it is.

    So cut AFP a break. and don’t forget why we’re making art in the first place. If it was about the money, we wouldn’t be in this profession, would we?

    p.s. And I’m not implying that because we’re artists, we deserve not to get paid. The sad truth is that in this day and age, the arts aren’t valued in such a way that allows many of us to make a decent living from our work. Which sucks. BUT as artists, we’re problem-solvers. It’s a part of the job. we’re resourceful, and we find ways to make ends meet, and to make it work out.

    and as someone said above, payment doesn’t always come in the form of money.

    • Kevin

      I’m not sure I agree on the exposure thing. One player in a thrown-together horn section at the back of the stage isn’t going to get any meaningful exposure unless that player is either featured prominently throughout the show, or plays such a kick-ass solo that people will be demanding to know his or her name, reviewers will specifically mention them in the next day’s newspaper or blog, etc.

      And I think you’ve hit the nail on the head re: the arts not being valued. I think that’s a big part of the criticism. Anymore, we pretty much expect society in general to not value the arts and artists; when a fellow artist appears to act the same way, it comes across as a betrayal. After all, who should know better than an artist what artists have to put up with?

      • Zach

        My line of thought–as far as exposure goes–is participating in something increases your chances of exposure exponentially more so than it would if you didn’t participate at all. That’s not to say playing at the AFP show is the only place you’ll get noticed.

        And I think it’s unfair to say Amanda doesn’t value her VOLUNTEERS just because she didn’t pay them. If she paid them, they wouldn’t be volunteers. I feel like she genuinely appreciates them and is thankful for their work.

        People volunteer their time for causes they think are worthy, from a soup kitchen to a rock show, because they believe they’re getting something out of it greater than monetary compensation.

        if the volunteers are happy and satisfied in the end, what’s the problem?

        • Zach

          it’s probably also important to note she’s crowd-sourcing FANS as the volunteer musicians, some who would probably even pay her for the opportunity to play with her. let them soak it up, they’re clearly having a ball.

  • http://aaronjshay.net/ Aaron J. Shay

    This was very illuminating. As a musician, I thank you for responding to the quandary that’s been revolving in my brain all day. You haven’t answered everything, but I’m glad to hear that you are, in fact, trying to pay the musicians as you are able.

  • http://twitter.com/Hanuman523 Bertwood Pendleton

    I think people should be able to make their own decisions about their own lives. If you don’t like that, that’s your personal choice, but not a choice that you can make for others. I thought this was a very thoughtful and well reasoned post. Best of luck on your tour, Amanda.

  • Facebook User

    In 2008 I was introduced to the start up scene here in Dallas. Since
    then I have become fascinated by their mode of doing business and the
    overarching meta-corporate culture that they have developed. It is a
    world in which small groups of people will spend very large portions of
    their time working very single-mindedly on a creative project which they
    believe will more than simply provide them with a means to (hopefully)
    pay the rent but also to contribute something to an increasingly
    accessible marketplace.

    One of the reasons that I find what Amanda is doing interesting is because her use of social media, her constant engagement, and her lean, by-her-own-bootstraps approach to making music is very much like how the start ups that I know approach their endeavour. The term I like to use for it is artistic entrepreneurship, because while it is clear that she is focused upon making art, Amanda has always seemed (at least to me) to be well aware that she has to eat some time, which means making something somewhere along the way. The thing that I think Amanda gets is that if done well and with a bit of luck, making art can be her way of making sure that she can eat. Someone else has said that AFP at this point is more than just a person, it’s a brand, and this is very true.

    Over the last few years, the AFP-startup has certainly grown, but within this metaphor, I think it is very clearly still a start up. Funding for projects seems to still primarily gained through the solicitation of investment (most recently through kickstarter) rather than by accessing an existing revenue stream. While Amanda is certainly in a unique position, this problem highlights that as with most start ups, these things have to be figured out on their own by the people involved in the situation.

    Oddly, it seems that there is a solution to this which would itself be another revolutionary act in this whole process of experimentation: Open up the books. In their entirety, the majority of the arguments in criticism of this have to do with economic concerns – the assertion that workers of any type should be compensated for their professional activity and the assertion that if Amanda has the ability to pay them then she should, or if she does not she shouldn’t solicit because of the potentially deleterious effects that volunteerism could have on the performers who choose to do so.

    Opening up the books would settle which of these discussions being had is real and which one is unfounded. In the time that I’ve been following Ms. Palmer, it has seemed that she has a sincere interest in being open with her fan base and contributors to a level which is pretty much unprecedented. I think part of the reason that this problem has come up is because her fans have become accustomed to a certain level of access for things in which they feel they have a stake, and Amanda’s crowd funded the album, this problem is indicative of one that would be raised by investors. This is not to say that those who have contributed have any right towards the profits or un-negotiated benefits. It is to say though that investors have a tendency to want to make sure that their money is not being misused, and this sort of activity has the potential to be exploited and abused.

    If it is the case that Amanda has the money to be paying professional musicians and is choosing not to do so for some reason, then the argument can be made that her behavior is unethical and unprofessional. However, what it means to “have the money” is a tricky thing as there is more to the situation than simply an amount of money in the bank. There has to be a business plan for going forward which makes sure that the endeavour is sustainable. I believe that communicating this is a large part of what Amanda was talking about in her blog post to kickstarter that she references. In the end though the decision for what that amount of money is and what variables need to be taken into account is the purview of the CEO – Ms. Palmer.

    However, were this an actual start up with investors, Ms.Palmer would be beholden to them and most likely required to provide this access. This is certainly not the case here beyond the point to which Amanda feels that she is beholden to this audience she has built on the internet. If she does no such thing, then there is little likelihood that said audience will be meaningfully affected. While it is sort of implicit in the reaction that many are having to this exchange, I think very few want or expect Amanda to make a post saying “Here are all of the numbers for where things were, where they are, and where we think they will be.” I certainly don’t think it will happen, though I think it would be an interesting turn of events that would play into the pay what you want model by providing more information about what the state of affairs is with AFP and allowing that to influence the judgement of potential contributors.

    Separately let’s give her the benefit of the doubt that the the cost of hiring on string and horn sections would be prohibitive. In this case then the argument is made that she should not ask for anything. I would imagine that it’s true they could do the shows with pre-recorded tracks, so that is a baseline. However, as part of this commitment to providing a quality experience – that thing which Amanda markets and is the lifeblood of her sustained income – Amanda has apparently opted for a path which minimally increases her immediate expenditures in a way which she can sustain and also has the potential to provide an improved customer experience.

    Were she to do this in a way which was coercive, that would be one thing and again, that would be unethical. However, there is no evidence – in fact there is evidence to the contrary that Ms. Palmer has acted truthfully and in good faith with regards to those who are volunteering. While it can be debated about whether or not she has considered the potential detriment this proposition presents to her contractors, she appears to have been honest about the opportunitys presented, at which time it the risk involved is entirely the responsibility of those who decide to play with her. I do think that it’s true they are operating in a market which puts downward pressure on their levels of compensation. That is certainly something to be addressed, but they are agents capable of their own action, and that cannot be pushed upon Amanda.

    Related to this, someone else in these comments made the point that what may seem quirky and DIY at one level is innapropriate at another. I agree whole heartedly, however the ability to do such a thing presupposes that we know what the current level AFP is operating at. Certainly, she is an international artist who has an infrastructure in place to be able to run a professional operation. However, as I’ve said, Amanda is probably still operating the way a start up would. She has survived a while and is doing well, but that is not to say that her endeavours are capable of supporting every dream for the project she may want yet. I have no doubt that she would love to pay all of the artists, but if she can’t then she can’t. There’s really only one way to find out, and I don’t think we’re going to, which makes a large portion of this discussion speculative and pointless.

    Even small businesses which are making steady growth are still small and need a hand at times. Amanda has been very open about this and has done so in what I think most would consider the best mindset for such things – one in which she is willing to help those helping her in any way she can. While we can have the argument about whether or not the kind of reciprocity Amanda offers is actually helping those who volunteer, Amanda’s argument that she herself is an example of how this kind of volunteerism can be helpful is entirely valid.

    To conclude, while it is possible that Amanda is acting in bad faith, I don’t think that this is the case. However, there is at least one way to find out. However, I don’t think that’s going to happen and to a certain extent, I don’t think it should. Somethings need to remain private. Nevertheless though, while there is a repeatedly hashed argument which can be had again about artists and explotiation, I think there are other, more interesting conversations which could be spurned on by this relating to transparency and the sustainability of models for professional musicianship.

  • Lucia

    when are you going to apologize for simulating sexually assaulting a woman on stage? rape is not a joke. i will never listen to your music or buy your music again until you apologize for what you’ve done. you are a disgusting human being.

    when i was 16 i was raped by someone in front of others. to have you use something like that as a shock piece or something you think is funny or artistic is downright insulting to the times i’ve been through therapy or attempted suicide.

    amanda palmer you’re a horrible person and you do not deserve to have any fans if you do not respect them and respect the survivors of sexual assault.

    • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

      are you kidding? are you for real? please be kidding. I only pray this just another gag.

      when you were 16 you were raped, blah blah blah di fucking blah. you and however many other people who listen to and enjoy her performances and draw strength and courage about their own identity and sexuality from her wanton displays onstage. to hear you say that you think it makes her a horrible person really upsets me and while it is your opinion, it is mine that you are misinterpreting what’s really being said. perhaps your wounds are way too fresh, but still, that doesn’t give you the right to jump to whatever conclusion suits you at the time.

      have you even listened to the music? like, really listened? do you even know Amanda’s life and how she too had been interfered with? what about all the other people out there who don’t piss and moan about the many times they’ve been abused, attacked or whatever, and actually make something of their lives and not let it seep into every other aspect their life? perhaps stage performances are just that. performance. maybe even things like that are Amanda’s own “therapy” of sorts? ways to deal with her own traumas? I don’t know, nor do I proclaim to; it’s only my analysis.

      if this is a pity party, then I’ll head it for you. geeze. I’ve been raped, molested, beaten and abused in just about any and every way imaginable, but you don’t hear me bitching or blaming others for it. the blame lies fully with its perpetrators, I guess, but I don’t think about it. this is not a blame game. perhaps you’re making yourself feel better by focusing all your own pain on someone else simply to take the focus of yourself. sure, but make sure you know what you’re on about before you go and attack people for fully utilising their license to free expression.

      I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, and one day, you will understand and may even accept why this horrible thing has happened to you. what higher purpose it serves. it will, one day. mark my words. if it doesn’t, you’re already dead.

      I wish you the best of luck and love in all your future endeavours and hope you can see far enough around yourself to realise that you’re the only one standing in your way of your own healing. *big huggles* be well.

      Always,
      T. xoxo

      • Lucia

        i no longer listen to or enjoy her performances because she thinks rape is funny and a joke. and i know that i’m not alone in it. a friend of mine had to sell tickets to her show on craigslist because she couldn’t stomach being in the same room as someone who would play rape someone on stage. and guess what? my friend was raped too.

        you might think you’re all high and mighty because you’ve “gotten over it” and guess what, i never blamed anyone (oh, except the person that raped me???) but i can damn well be sure i’ll speak out about anyone who thinks it’s funny to stand on stage in front of people and pretend to sexually assault another human being because it’s “making a statement” about something she had no right to make a statement about.

        next is she going to play-lynch a black woman on stage to make a point? amanda palmer is a sexist piece of work.

        if she wants to deal with her own trauma she should do it on her own, not throw it in everyone’s face and force her fans, many of whom have been assaulted or will be assaulted (statistically speaking) to watch her make light of it just because she wanted to make a statement. sing songs about it all you want, but the

        i understood and accepted why it happened. it does not serve a higher purpose in my life. a man wanted to rape me, so he raped me. it happened. he raped me. i understood that when it happened.

      • disheartened long time fan

        i found the rape for a gag thing pretty stupid personally, but i also don’t think it’s relevant to this discussion

        • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

          exactly. not at all relevant. which is what I was accentuating. AFP doesn’t owe a damned thing to any of these people. they have their own moneys, they can make their own decisions what they wish to do with it. buy a cd, go to a show, etc. what you don’t have right to do is piss and moan like a selfish jerk and tell someone they’re a bad person because you think so. fantastic to have a say and an opinion, but it’s even better when it’s your own. I could even drag dogma into this as an example (“He who is without sin may cast the first stone.”), but that’s just a whoooole lot of bad idea there. I’ve been taught not to feed the wildlife. :D

          never apologise. never explain. no regrets. noblesse oblige. ;)

  • Lucia

    why was my comment deleted? amanda palmer pretended to sexually assault a woman on stage. why am i not allowed to say that? where is her apology or is the “great” amanda palmer so “great” she can’t read what real people have to say about her disrespect for survivors

    • sigh

      t’wasn’t deleted, dear. just moved down the ladder. i think a reminder of Amanda’s request to be kind to each other might extend to at least not making flash assumptions either.
      another note: this discussion is concerning her fan’s (and other’s) opinions about paying/sharing proceeds with hired musicians, I’m sure you can find a more appropriate page to air your grievances of her past performances. or not.

  • Cykeblaster

    Something about all of this bothers me.
    And, in all honesty, it’s not Ms. Palmer’s reaction.
    Following the timeline/money-trail, we have a kickstarter campaign that was intended to cover the costs of a new album and promotional tour… the fans went wild (YAY!) and the campaign made a gigantic sum of money more than it required.
    Know what that means?
    People wanted to hear Amanda’s music and get their hands on the new album.
    The buck, as they say, stops there.
    That’s it.
    That’s all.
    What about all the ‘extra’ munneh?
    “Shouldn’t the volunteer musicians get paid?” some ask…
    “Perchance, why cannot the volunteers be bequeathed remuneration?” others query…

    Sure… we can wonder at the possibility that Ms. Palmer (or other musicians/artists of kind) might ‘spread the wealth’, communism-style over all the masses that participate… but that final decision is truly up to the person that has the money.
    It may happen, it may not.
    Would this have even be an issue has the Kickstarter campaign made only just enough to meets its goal… or perhaps even fallen short of its goal entirely? What then? Still going to ask for the cash if she’s not even meeting the goal and having to possibly cancel a city or two on the tour-route to accomodate the shortfall?

    I like this as a possibility: SO much positive reaction to get an album out there… now Ms. Palmer has enough capitol for more than one… or a collaboration or even three…
    … maybe it could be an ‘Amanda Palmer Idol’ thing now where the best volunteer players over the course of the tour are contacted again to be brought in on a paid gig funded by the remainder of the Kickstarter largesse. As if it weren’t quite enough to simply have your name out there with an artist and musician whose fame and talent garnered her enough support to almost five-times exceed her desired Kickstarter goal… perhaps you might need to continue to prove YOURself before you, too, can ‘make it’?
    The world is now (temporarily) Ms. Palmer’s proverbial oyster… what she does with it is – quite frankly – none of our concern.

    Another way to think about it is this:
    Just like there’s nothing really stopping Ms. Palmer from ‘paying it forward’ and providing the volunteers with more salient cash-in-fist perks than just playing alongside her, there is truly nothing stopping any of you from opening a kickstarter account and making your own money for your own band/music/art all on your own.
    In the end, it’s not really ‘our’ money to spend anymore.

    So please, stop acting like the absentee relatives that pop suddenly out of the woodwork at the mention of a family member that just won the lottery.
    I say “Let’s wait and see what the album brings us and see what happens on the tour.”

    • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Whenever I get sucked into the blog comment vortex there’s always a moment where I feel sheepish because someone has said things better than I ever could. This is that moment. Thank you :)

    • musictwig

      Yes. This.

  • Jennifer

    I think I’ve been on every side of this fence. I wish everyone that *can* financially support the arts, and enjoys the arts, would do it. Artists deserve to make a living doing what they love, doing what inspires everyone to love. I don’t believe lack of money should stop great art from happening. Money comes and goes. It’s great when its there, and when it’s not there, let’s have fun anyway. Art is messy. Life is messy.

  • Chris

    I read you as saying: “When it really matters, we do pay. Click here to read Unwoman explain how poor she is that she’s grateful just for a chance to pay $240 to change her flight so that we might mention her from stage and she’ll sell an extra few CDs.”
    I understand that you, like essentially all musicians, have no money. But we need to stop considering that OK. We need to make people understand that musicians produce something of value, just like lawyers and software developers and car mechanics. If we undervalue ourselves, why should anyone else value us?

  • http://www.facebook.com/heather.drag Heather Drag

    “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”

    Not exactly, eh?

  • Amanduhmain

    I work as a freelance photographer while I hone my craft in film school. Every wedding I’ve ever shot and every graduation picture I took for the first few years was free. Guess what the universe and my hard work delivered…more jobs. I am finally getting to the point where all the good word of mouth and peoples experiences with me is allowing me to upgrade my equipment and make enough money to cover expenses. Someday I hope to actually make a profit. I’m not doing this to make money, I’m in it for the experience. I can tell you the lessons I’ve learned on every shoot and its made me a better photographer, better film maker, and a hell of a better person. When your young and the fire is burning there is no better way to do it. Thx AFP for supporting art and helping me get through the day.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YE7XETD3G6GSJVIRPINAPDQFW4 PS

      How is she supporting art? By letting people know that musicians aren’t worth shit?! Lemme tell you something – you’re never gonna get paid. You just f**ked yourself. Hope that experience tastes good with some Tabasco because that’s all you’re gonna be able to eat when you’re hungry. You NEVER work for free. Even when your starting out. You’re out of your mind. You know what – don’t you think people talk? Don’t you think people know you shoot for free? When it comes time to start charging, you know what’s gonna happen? People are gonna tell you, “But you shot XXXX’s wedding for free! Why are you charging me?” You’re done and you didn’t even get started yet.

      You want some real world advice? Leave home now. Move to a new city where no one knows you. Start all over and this time do it right because you’re finished where you are.

  • Carolyn

    I just saw this in a completely unrelated blog post and thought it was interesting:

    They can no longer burn me at the stake, or put me in jail so all they can do now is accuse me violating some social norm. Offence is a mode of social control.

    • disheartened long time fan

      social control?

  • Joyce

    I’m one of the horn players that volunteered for an upcoming gig, and i’m really excited to do so. During the week i have a fulltime payed job that i love. In my free time i love to play my instruments. I’ve been doing so since i was eleven. So when i saw that AFP was looking for horn players i send out an email right away. I’ve been playing for fun my whole live and if my music group gets paid it’s for a small amount. But most of the time it’s for drinks and sometimes some food.
    So again, i have i payed job that gets me money. Music i do for fun and if i get the chance to play with an artist i love, i would do so every time. Cause the thanks, hugs and drinks they offer me together with the experience is fullfiling enough for me!!

    • Drew

      I hope your “payed” job doesn’t involve using the English language at all. If you’re as good with music as you are writing, I wish I could see the gig just to watch you blow it.

      • CB

        Drew – that’s just nasty and rude.

  • Vikt

    If a musician CHOOSES to volunteer for an opportunity like this, then that is their CHOICE. Nobody is forcing anyone else.

    If a musician cannot figure out how to parlay an experience like this into something of more value (exposure, contacts, future earnings, etc.), then that is a reflection of that musician’s lack of intelligence, or (more likely) lack of initiative.

    To those who are complaining: stop it. Your jealousy is pathetic. Instead of whining, use the examples of success that have been presented to you (for free) to create something for yourself.

    • moog89

      Are you serious? You think this is about “jealousy”? Rather than justified anger at somebody actively devaluing the entire session-musician industry, an industry on which we rely on to be able to feed ourselves? I don’t understand.
      How long have you worked as a session musician?

      • Vikt

        Your perception is that it is being devalued because there is no money exchanged up front.

        If you accept the opportunity like this and then do nothing with it, then YOU are the one devaluing the experience.

        By the way, if you are a session musician and you are not getting paid, then you are either not good at what you do, or you need to learn negotiating skills.

  • moog89

    You make out that you spent years struggling as a street musician, finding it hard to make ends meet. So it is very confusing and hypocritical now that you’re in the position to help similar struggling musicians by, you know, paying them, rather than pretending you could not possibly manage to do so and they should just be grateful for the chance to help you make money for yourself.

    People keep saying it’s the CHOICE of the individual, these people fail to understand that there are very few jobs for professional musicians- the situation is bad enough without introducing the concept that paying professional live musicians can be optional.

  • S.F.

    hey amanda palmer: you suck.

  • disheartened long time fan
  • Luci

    Great letter.
    I hope it clears things up for a few people – but it probably wont, as some are intent on not listening and won’t care what you say. Hopefully you’re prepared for that. I don’t want to be overly negative, but there are a lot of people intent on *not* having a constructive debate.
    A few points:
    “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.”
    This is what I suspected. It’s what I assumed was intended by your original blog post asking for help – you want people up there who *really want to be there* and who are really into it. These are probably going to be fans or people about to become fans. A lot of people have got very hung up over the “pro” thing.
    “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”
    I read a blog where there were criticisms that you weren’t giving shout outs to people and you weren’t grateful – you just expected them to do it. That didn’t sound like you at all and sounded like a major assumption of intent on the part of the author. I’m glad you’ve said this.
    “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.”
    Also this. There are people who have never heard of you that’ve come from nowhere (or “the wider internet”) to start hating- basically projecting *their* day to day issues and experiences of being a musician onto you as a scapegoat; with no real knowlege of you or how your relationship with your fanbase functions. This does annoy me, because it’s ignorant and makes a load of assumptions based on whatever the media has told them that just does *not* align with the reality.
    I really wish they had tried to understand the culture before coming in droves to take pot-shots. (By which I mean the fans don’t begrudge doing things for free for you, because you’ve done things for free for them, and it’s all a lovefest, reciprocal and not exploitational).
    Cheers.

  • http://www.thisisadnauseam.com/ Jasmine

    As someone who frequently works for free for causes and people that I love (albiet not in a music sense, I’m a freelance copy-editor/techie) I have been a little bemused at this whole thing. The way I look at it, it’s all experience, and the leaps I’ve made in my skills doing unpaid work, mean I can now get more varied paid work. If I only did paid jobs, then it would take me a lot longer to reach the same level.

    Taking that into consideration, alongside the fact that if you have a skill you want to give away then they’re surely entitled to.

    I saw someone use an analogy that went something along the lines of, If I went into a car dealership and asked for a free car, the salesman would tell me to get lost, which falls down when the salesman knows about my journey, and wants to help me complete it because it’s important to him too. In that situation he could, theoretically, cut me a deal, or even donate the car, if he had the means to do so, and felt comfortable with that.

  • Luci

    as an addition…
    the people who say others shouldn’t volunteer their own time, for fun – because they’re scabs, because they’re mugs, because they’re devaluing music because they’re stealing jobs from hardworking people – are bullies trying to throw their weight around.
    Ignore them and do what YOU want to do – live your life regardless. You can’t preach ethics while undermining and demeaning other people and their choices.

  • KDLM

    Hi Amanda! I love your work, especially your approach to crowdfunding — and many things in your response make sense to me. I do have a question though — as a professional classical musician, the problem I’ve always had with ‘playing for free’ is this: if anyone is willing to play for free, why should anyone pay you? This includes venue promoters, churches, brides, and the London Olympic Committee, who tried to employ thousands of musicians ‘for the amazing experience’ of playing background music for them, unlike the caterers, or security.

    I agree about artists being able to choose about what they volunteer for, but there’s a point at which I’m sure you’d agree that constantly playing for free undermines the economy for our sector. It reduces or even eliminates the basic, respectful fee that one is entitled to expect in a capitalist society after 20+ years of training and experience, like any other professional in any other field.

    Your project is a special instance, I feel, and I understand where you’re coming from — and would love to join you myself in London, if you have room for a harpsichordist! :) But your visibility is influential — the problem is it suggests to particularly cynical promoters that this may be a great way to save money, off the backs of people who need it to live, and who in some cases have trained harder than any lawyer to hone their skills.

    You might say, but then don’t volunteer to work for those people — but someone always will, and the cumulative effect is to keep fees low across the board. Why should they be higher, if someone will fill those positions unpaid? Why should others pay us if we don’t take care of our own, or don’t act like we ourselves are worth paying? Is it right in the first place, to have to ask for money by passing the hat? What if people paid us what we were worth, like doctors, or lawyers? And why shouldn’t they?

    Do you know what I mean? I agree that every artist should be able to make the choice to play for free — but every time we do, others notice, and it makes it harder for us to negotiate normal/fair/better pay, or to have an answer to this question: as a promoter, why should I pay you to play, when Amanda Palmer doesn’t?

    All best,
    Katie

    • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

      “If anyone is willing to play for free, why should anyone pay you?”

      In fact, she is giving her music away for free and is making free ninja gigs for for those who don’t want/can’t afford to pay an album or a concert – and yet she somehow manages to make a profit. As she says, it’s not a system that works for everyone, but it’s a system that works for her and others.

      If people really ask you why they should pay you when Amanda didn’t, the only real answer is “She did *not* decide not to pay me, *I* decided to work for free. *I* decide my rates on a case by case basis, not *you*”. Believing that it’s the person hiring you who gets to decide how much your time and expertise is worth is part of the problem much more than what Amanda is doing.

      • KDLM

        The thing is, almost all gigs are normally offered with a fee by the promoter/fixer as a standard part of the package. The promoters DO decide what the rates are, individually, and the collective response of musicians to those promoters, in accepting or not, decides what the ‘going rate’ becomes. Beyond that, musicians themselves are influenced by the ‘going rate’ to believe that their time is only worth X a session, or X an hour, and no more than this. It’s a bit of a self-perpetuating cycle.

        Very few promoters would ask the ‘why should I pay you’ question — they’d decide for themselves about it before asking musicians to play. Which is why the visibility of this gig is potentially dangerous — people with less worthy ideals than Amanda will see the model, ask for ppl to play for free, and will very likely succeed. The more people work for free, esp. when it’s people who are good, the less reason there is for promoters to pay anyone anything. Why should they, if they can get what they want for free?

        • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

          Are you really equating Amanda with a bar owner who wants you to play for free and bring you own audience? It would only be if the bar owner had been giving you free beer for years before asking you to play for free, once, if you really want. That is the difference between a normal promoter and this case.

          Also, this kind of posts seem to show a situation where musicians have no choice but to get what they’re given or offered from promoters and fixers. You don’t. If anyone tries to scam you, you can simply refuse. You’re not an employee, you’re a service provider, and YOU set the rates. If it goes the other way around, the problem is not Amanda.

          • KDLM

            Amanda isn’t the source of the problem: the industry is. I’m equating Amanda in this situation with every other person hiring a musician for a gig — except that she’s really high profile, and people see what she’s doing (and how people react, too).

            If anyone tries to scam you, or ask you to play for free or less than you’d like, yes, you can refuse. A lot of people do. However: most often, someone will still play those gigs. They will do it for the experience, or for their own reasons, but unpaid positions or gigs are played all the time. See Amanda’s post for her own experiences with that, right.

            You can set your rates as high as you like, but one is still subject to what the industry will pay. If it’s too high, you won’t work, because someone who charges less will take the job.

            The bigger overall problem is that if people will work for free, it weakens any drive towards an increase in the going rate for a gig which is usually offered, and sometimes brings it down — because promoters don’t need to pay it to find someone to play.

            Does that make sense? Because of her high profile, this is a bit about the larger picture, and whether what she’s doing is helping artists, or contributing to perpetuating the same old problem, if you see what I mean?

          • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

            I see but don’t agree. Doing something once for fun and/or as a favour to someone you admire is IMHO not remotely near to doing something every time for random strangers hiring you. Otherwise you’d be damaging an industry every single time you do a favour to someone.

          • KDLM

            It starts out as favours, believe me (and continues – I play as a favour for people sometimes, as they do for me). And you do it for networking experience, and exposure.

            But musicians get pushed to look at many gigs like that, so that the management doesn’t have to pay them — and that absolutely damages the industry. If this weren’t going on, there’d be no issue around what Amanda’s asking, cos’ we all understand it. But it’s more that as it is, she doesn’t do much to help the industry as a whole by publicly asking us for what is another (albeit amazing, and worthy) favour out of hundreds we deal with every year from people who don’t value us or our work. It’s not part of the solution, basically.

      • KDLM

        ps – Maybe a bit of a misunderstanding with my first question: I don’t mean, why should Amanda get paid, I mean, ‘if any musician is willing to play for free, why should any musician get paid?’

        • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

          I understood completely, and the answer is the same as above: just because you decided to play for free once, doesn’t mean you want to play for free always. YOU decide your rate, not anyone else. No one’s entitled to hear you play for free, it’s a privilege you grant.

          • KDLM

            I agree with you – and if it were that simple, that would be great. But the idea is, if loads of players will work for free, the basic rate will, at best, never increase. Why should it?

            Put another way: this approach, while cool and interesting because it’s Amanda, does nothing to be part of the solution. If more musicians were paid better, it would enable them to choose more selectively about what gigs they would play for free – as a privilege, rather than in the hopes it would someday lead to a paying gig.

          • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

            The difference is, if you refuse the promoter’s (or bar owner’s) offer, they have nothing. No musician, no gig, no profit. Amanda here has already a band and sold-out avenues, and she will do her show even if no one else volunteers. She gets nothing more money-wise from this extra musicians on stage – actually it’s extra work to find them, organize them, rehears with them.
            If anyone uses Amanda’s tour as an excuse not to pay the band _proper_, they should become the laughingstock of the industry.

            I also believe you musicians have a lot more power than you give yourself credit for, and believing that you are different from any other industry is hurting yourself in this kind of situations. If your promoter wants you to pay for free, sack him and get a better agent, like a writer would do. Don’t justify him saying it’s some other person’s fault.

          • KDLM

            Sorry, by promoter, I mean, guy running a venue, an opera company, a bar… the person hiring, basically. Not an agent – whose job it is to find gigs that pay really well and are good exposure.

            The bar owner would almost always find someone, is the root problem. They would make their profit without having to pay for the musical talent that supports it. Amanda, to a much lesser extent, is benefitting from the same sort of approach — although it has different motives, she’s still in a commercial enterprise, rather than doing a cancer benefit, and she is using unpaid talent to play her songs the way they were meant to be heard. She could do them all herself with her core band, but she wants more than that, and ultimately gets that without paying what it is worth.

            I agree with you, that musicians have more power than we give ourselves credit for. And I wouldn’t say ‘oh, this guy isn’t paying because of AFP': it’s more that she’s part of the pattern, and in being so she reinforces it for the people who want to put pressure on musicians to play for free. And it’s hard to take, when a fellow successful musician chooses that road, for whatever reason.

          • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

            I completely and totally feel where you’re coming from. If one musician says no, there are 50 other acts willing to play for merch and tips and 70% of the door AFTER the first 10 people. It’s so frustrating, and right now the venues do hold most of the cards when it comes to negotiating, just because there are more acts than stages and time slots. And many of these venues don’t give a flying eff about the quality of the bands they’re hiring, it’s all about how many people the band can bring in to pay a $10 cover and drink their overpriced drinks, maybe having enough left over to negotiate with the merch person over the cost of a CD or t shirt or throwing a few dollars in the hat.

          • Rebecca Ore

            A rather large number of people scam wannabe writers all the time — there are probably more vanity presses out there than advance paying commercial publishers. Very bad example. And many web venues want people to write for free because people will.

          • http://twitter.com/ian_atrus Ian Atrus

            A vanity press asks you money, Amanda only asks your time. Since one of the complaints is that she offers no monetary compensation but only merch/swag, I say the difference must be valid the other way as well.

    • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

      Umm… Not trying to be a dick about it… But why SHOULD they pay you? Thinking about it a little now, if you aren’t able to make a case for why you should get paid amount X in a situation, anything over amount X that you do get paid is effectively “charity” (or a tip, or what have you – money the payer pays to make himself feel good about himself).

      Trying to think of any other “job” or “industry” where it’s not the case that a worker can tell you EXACTLY why you should pay him that much… (or at least an industry which doesn’t rely on tips to pay staff).

      • KDLM

        It’s a fair question – but I’m not sure it’s as answerable as you believe. Why SHOULD a solicitor be paid as much as they are? Why should a football player? What justifies the difference between a musician’s and a plumber’s and a banker’s hourly wage? Can they each tell you exactly why it’s a given numerical amount, and not another?

        If you start to look at what people earn for what they do, it often doesn’t make logical sense, and has more to do with how the market has evolved. A friend of mine who’s a banker has said that he doesn’t work harder or do vastly more difficult things than other people in other jobs who aren’t paid anywhere near as much. Bankers have just ‘made a better case’, I suppose, as you suggest, as to why bankers should be paid so much more, and society has bought into it. Plumbers are paid what they are because … why? Mostly, it’s that they won’t work for free – unions take a dim view of that. Musicians’ unions feel the same way.

        Music: I can make a great case as to why I should be paid a huge salary, but society hasn’t bought into it. Based on my experience, you should pay me (and my colleagues)…. well, I’ll low-ball it for now, and start with at least as much as what you pay your plumber per hour. Privately I think it should be more. Thanks to 20+ years of training and experience, I can choose music for your wedding or your funeral that will say exactly what you want it to say, and play it so that everyone feels what you want them to feel, and they come away with their thoughts and hearts changed, afterwards.

        You or others might think that sounds flaky – it does, a bit – and that it doesn’t mean much — but without music, how would those events be different? How would people feel without their iPods on the way to work? Music serves a serious medicinal need in people – you can prove that by its widespread and constant consumption.

        Basically – if you are feeling a certain way, I can prescribe something to change that.

        The Greeks used to think that astronomy and music were two sides of the same coin. One was the study of the external universe, and the other was the study and manipulation of the universe inside. Because I know how to practise music in that sense with a lot of skill – that’s why an hour of my time is worth at least as much as that of the guy who fixes your toilet. Really, it should be triple, because what I’m doing you cannot do without an equivalent two decades of training.

        Would you ask him to do his job for free? If not — why is it alright, ever, to ask me?
        Sound reasonable?

        • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

          Your post is very reasonable – which is refreshing online ;-p

          It’s interesting that you mention plumbing… My mate the plumber came into the shop yesterday to fix something for me (for free). Just a simple 5 minute job, but it would have been $100 to call someone in (which is why we’d just ignored it for 2 months).

          You mention those who are higher paid… All of them are able to argue to their employers as to why they are worth the money they receive. A banker who is surplus to the (perceived) requirements of his bank will not be there collecting a paycheck for long. If his boss asks him “why should I keep you on staff” he should be able to answer not “because I studied for years, and have a skill others don’t” but rather “because you need me to do X”.

          Likewise the soccer players and lawyers, they will be able to tell the team management, or partners at their firms EXACTLY why they are needed, and what they bring to the table. They will also be able to say “you should pay me $X because otherwise I won’t work for you, and this will negatively impact on your business”.

          For freelancers like plumbers or electricians, the argument will be “pay me $x or you will have to crap in a bucket in the dark”. They argue that given a Cost/benefit analysis you will choose to pay them for their service.

          Can you make THAT argument to someone as a musician. “Pay me $X or I won’t perform, and your life will be worse for that”. If not, why would they pay you, and in what respect are you “worth” anything on this situation.

          Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE musicians. I have literally no songs on my iPod I didn’t pay for. I go to 3 or 4 gigs a week (in Tokyo, where even the lowliest indies band gig costs $40 + 1 compulsory $8 drink). I buy every piece of merch the bands I follow produce (even if it will just sit in a drawer for the next 20 years). I do it because I love the bands. Their music and performance makes it worth it for me… 

          However, if they want to do it for free (which several do, either busking (in Japan buskers don’t accept money), or in-cafe-events), all power to them. If someone asks them to do something, they have the same ability to say no as a lawyer, soccer player, plumber, doctor, laborer, teacher, or jeweler (we often do small jewelry jobs at my shop for free just to help tourists out, we sometimes give away merchandise for free too, depends on how we feel). You would be surprised how often those people get asked to do something for free top, and how often they say “yes”.

          Why are musicians different? People here seem to be assenting that they are… Either that they’re uniquely vulnerable to exploitation, or else that their “skills” somehow separate them from the herd (I realize that YOUR argument is more nuanced than that). I’m honestly interested in hearing thoughts on this…

          I have worked for free for various businesses over the years too (and still do), simply because at the time it was worth it for me (in terms of an interesting experience, or that warm feeling you get from helping someone out). Was I exploited because they profited…? I would argue no but…

          • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

            I can answer on my part that it seems that a vast majority of the time, for many artists, not just musicians, what we provide is seen as “decoration” and not an essential part of culture and life, even though it’s been shown over and over again that art plays a huge role in quality of life.
            So you’re usually starting from a negotiating point just above free, if not free, just because people don’t see the value in what you do. So it’s not just doing an occasional job for free,it’s being asked to do almost everything for free. Would you ever ask your plumber friend to work for free every time you needed him? A doctor or lawyer friend? An IT friend? Artists experience this all the time. Hell, in a network of artists sometimes you have to put your foot down with friends and say “Hey, I love shooting for you but we’ve done it a lot the last few months, can you throw me $50 just this once?” But honestly it does become hard to guage the value of your work when everyone is basically telling you that unless you’re one of the chosen few, the value of that work is $0. Does this make any sense?

          • KDLM

            I see what you’re saying with many of your points – no, it’s not that musicians themselves are magically different somehow. We have a skill that’s assigned a monetary value, like any other in a capitalist society.

            There is perhaps excess pressure, though, on many musicians to play for very little or no money (not as a favour now and then, but as a demand), for a variety of reasons.

            Music’s just one of many fields that have entry-level unpaid work. But the difference might be that, for us, this pressure continues long after the entry level stage has passed because some promoters are happy with whatever they can get for little to no money. As long as they CAN sell drinks off the back of some amateur band willing to bring in friends, or whatever… then they will do it.

            I feel as though music is a different sector here because there is a real glut of inexperienced players willing to play for free (though they likely are rarely happy about doing so), and a surfeit of people who would rather stick with this entry-level talent than put the work it takes into funding their gigs properly and upping the quality. In the classical world, for example, this takes grant applications and getting sponsors to be able to fund the players in your show.

            If you don’t have to put in all that extra work to get a gig to happen…. then why should you? The trade-off is that you won’t get the best people playing for you, or even those in the middle.

            Sorry, this is a scenic route towards an answer to your question: but pay me (alone) $600 a gig, let’s say, and you will have an experience that cannot be compared in any way with the rushed job you’ll get from somebody who will play for free. People will talk about that experience, and they will bring more people to your venue next time, because you are putting on stuff that’s worth their time, that makes them feel things, and that makes them think. That’s about where it stands. Because pay me $600, and I can WORK on it. When you play for free, you work as hard as you can, but ultimately it comes down to a lack of time, because no time has been paid for. $600 buys some time for craftsmanship, and that’s really what music needs in order to mean something.

            Is that worth money, for a promoter to pay for? Ah — here it is: is quality music worth YOUR time? Presumably, money represents time, in paper or coin form. Would you rather, for your cover charge, get a band who’s entry level and would play for free and is gonna run through stuff for the first or second time in front of you, or get someone who’s going to be good and say something? If the latter is the one that you feel is worth your listening time, then that’s another way of saying that money should indeed support quality, instead of a promoter who’s putting a waste of time in front of you. Does that make sense?

            That’s why Amanda wants pros for her New York shows. It’s just a bit, backup part, but she wants it to be reliable, and to be musical, and to say what she wants it to say. That takes all the training I mentioned, which enables that little bit of craftsmanship — and she knows that takes a fee to pay for.

            For her other shows, she is saying that these bits aren’t really worth your time, to listen to (cos she’s not willing to pay for them). What do you think of that?

          • KDLM

            I see what you’re saying with many of your points – no, it’s not that musicians themselves are magically different somehow. We have a skill that’s assigned a monetary value, like any other in a capitalist society.
            There is perhaps excess pressure, though, on many musicians to play for very little or no money (not as a favour now and then, but as a demand), for a variety of reasons.
            Music’s just one of many fields that have entry-level unpaid work. But the difference might be that, for us, this pressure continues long after the entry level stage has passed because some promoters are happy with whatever they can get for little to no money. As long as they CAN sell drinks off the back of some amateur band willing to bring in friends, or whatever… then they will do it.
            I feel as though music is a different sector here because there is a real glut of inexperienced players willing to play for free (though they likely are rarely happy about doing so), and a surfeit of people who would rather stick with this entry-level talent than put the work it takes into funding their gigs properly and upping the quality. In the classical world, for example, this takes grant applications and getting sponsors to be able to fund the players in your show.
            If you don’t have to put in all that extra work to get a gig to happen…. then why should you? The trade-off is that you won’t get the best people playing for you, or even those in the middle.
            Sorry, this is a scenic route towards an answer to your question: but pay me (alone) $600 a gig, let’s say, and you will have an experience that cannot be compared in any way with the rushed job you’ll get from somebody who will play for free. People will talk about that experience, and they will bring more people to your venue next time, because you are putting on stuff that’s worth their time, that makes them feel things, and that makes them think. That’s about where it stands. Because pay me $600, and I can WORK on it. When you play for free, you work as hard as you can, but ultimately it comes down to a lack of time, because no time has been paid for. $600 buys some time for craftsmanship, and that’s really what music needs in order to mean something.
            Is that worth money, for a promoter to pay for? Ah — here it is: is quality music worth YOUR time? Presumably, money represents time, in paper or coin form. Would you rather, for your cover charge, get a band who’s entry level and would play for free and is gonna run through stuff for the first or second time in front of you, or get someone who’s going to be good and say something? If the latter is the one that you feel is worth your listening time, then that’s another way of saying that money should indeed support quality, instead of a promoter who’s putting a waste of time in front of you. Does that make sense?
            That’s why Amanda wants pros for her New York shows. It’s just a bit, backup part, but she wants it to be reliable, and to be musical, and to say what she wants it to say. That takes all the training I mentioned, which enables that little bit of craftsmanship — and she knows that takes a fee to pay for.
            For her other shows, she is saying that these bits aren’t really worth your time, to listen to (cos she’s not willing to pay for them). What do you think of that?

        • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

          I’m not sure if you replied to my post below, or someone else… It reads as belonging to guest… I can’t seem to reply to it, maybe because it appears someone has made a abuse report on it (for no good reason). Here’s the reply to that post anyway, suggest people show the post this responds to and read it, as it’s well written…

          Can’t figure why someone would put an abuse report on this post… You made good points calmly…

          I think one of the problems is that it’s not just “entry level workers” that you’re competing against, it’s true hobbyists… And like many “craft” type hobbies some people want to do it for free, and almost no one wants to pay the “true hourly cost”…

          Take knitting (simply because it’s my hobby). 15 hours at least to hand knit a scarf, more if it’s patterned, plus materials. How many people want to pay $200 for a knitted wool scarf when they can pay $5 for one that does the job just as well. People who DO sell hand knitting are usually just trying to recoup material costs for stuff they’d be making anyway. And as for people asking for you to make things for them for free… ALL the time.

          And in fairness, why should knitters expect to be able to do it for their job?

          Likewise with your $600… I’m sure it reflects something approaching a true hourly rate. Might even be low balling it… But if it was ME there’s no way I’d pay that. Because I DON’T care enough about the difference in quality (just not so picky about dropped notes etc). in fact in most cases of weddings, events etc, I’d go for recorded music on a cd.

          ATMOSPHERE I will pay for. Recently dropped $150 for a gig at a restaurant (musicians made tips plus a kickback on food and drink (including 80% of the cost of any food or drink you bought them – meaning they got fed, watered AND paid ;-p)) where one of the musicians was literally figuring out chords and choosing songs between sets (each played 3 sets over 5 hours) because she usually only sings, and had never actually played an instrument at a gig. One of the best nights I’ve had all year, worth every penny. Oh, and 2 or 3 of the musicians in the audience (mostly, but not all, friends of the performers) joined them on stage for a song or two, for free (and actually paid for the privilege of being there in tips and drinks). We’re those other performers being taken advantage of? There’s no way they got any exposure etc from it, REALLY just the pleasure of being there and taking part.

          It SOUNDS like that’s the kind of thing going on at Amanda Palmer gigs (the atmosphere being the big part of it). Honestly I don’t know, I’ve never seen her live, and aren’t really a fan (I appreciate her as a pundit and writer – MY expensive and time consuming training was in philosophy (even less economically useful than music or knitting), and she hits topics which interest me).

          As for the difference between the shows where they are paid and the ones where they aren’t… I take her at face value when she says she would PREFER that the person who is there playing really wants to be there, rather than “just playing for money” (where I realize that that’s going to be a simplification). In pickier markets where that’s made more difficult, she has no choice but to fall back on the less preferred option. I don’t see it as involving ANY direct judgment of the “worthiness” of the musicians, more of the pickiness of the attendees (generally I dislike dealing with customers from the US east coast metropolises for the same reason). And if she judges me to be “less picky” than them in a smaller town, I actually see that as a positive not a negative…

  • MeAndMyCharms

    If I was one of the volunteer musicians playing with Amanda, I would be getting extremely irritated with all the people claiming I was being taken advantage of, and telling me I shouldn’t be doing it. These guys are absolutely thrilled with the chance to get to play with one of their favourite musicians. That’s why they volunteered. People enter competitions to get chances like this. Who are all of you to tell them they shouldn’t do it, simply because YOU would want to get paid for it.
    For these guys, they’re not doing it as a job, they’re doing it for fun. It’s just a one off thing.
    Besides, they get free entry into a gig they would have otherwise had to pay for, get free merch and free booze. How is that not compensation? Plus they get the best seat in the house. Up on stage!
    To me, that sounds like an amazing, and free, night out.
    She’s not asking anybody to do anything she wouldn’t do herself either. If Robert Smith asked Amanda to play one gig on backup keyboards with The Cure without getting payed, I’m pretty damn confident she’s drop everything and do it in a heartbeat, then write the biggest blog in the world about how much she died of awesome and that it was one of the most amazing nights of her life.
    That’s what these volunteer musicians get to do. Let them have it.

    I also think people should stop bringing up Amanda’s monetary situation. Not one person commenting actually knows the facts about how much money she does or doesn’t have. You cannot base an argument on assumptions.

    • http://twitter.com/KTenpas Kate Ten Pas

      THIS.

    • K is for Kickstarter

      @MeAndMyCharms:disqus :
      >”I also think people should stop bringing up Amanda’s monetary situation.
      Not one person commenting actually knows the facts about how much money
      she does or doesn’t have”

      This, sadly, is not quite true.

      EVERY person commenting knows that Amanda until very recently had1.2 million dollars, crowdsourced from people to make the Theatre Is Evil project. This money came with a certain responsibility: make the awesome album/experience that we all knew she could.

      Now, fans are a finicky bunch at the best of times, but it’s not unreasonable for them to have expected that – what,, say $35000? Less than 0.1% of this $1.2 million – could have been budgeted for touring musicians. In terms of the budget of the album, this is a TINY amount.

      This looks very much like Amanda is trying to socialise the effects of bad budgeting, while keeping the profits private. We’ve seen too much of that lately.

      I’ll assume she did not have a cynical plan here, but merely failed to consider the implications. But still.

      • http://twitter.com/GeoffreyBrent Geoffrey Brent

        $35k is not remotely “less than 0.1% of $1.2 million”.

      • Mark

        You clearly didn’t read the breakdown of where all of the kickstarter money went.

        You’re trying to make it seem as if she received 1.2 million in donations, when nothing of the sort happened.

      • MeAndMyCharms

        “This, sadly, is not quite true.”

        No, it’s very true. Unless you are Amanda’s accountant, or have copies of her bank statements, you have no idea what her money situation is.
        I’ve NEVER known an artist to tour as extensively as Amanda Palmer. Most artists do it once every few years, and their “world tours” usually include about 3 countries over a couple of weeks.
        Amanda does not stop, and she plays places most other artists do not. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of money it would take to pull of her kind of tours.
        She IS paying her touring musicians. I wish people would stop saying she isn’t. Everyone going on that tour with her is getting paid.
        It’s just a few extras popping in to help out on each night, so she can continue to afford to tour with her band to all these places worldwide.
        Seriously, a lot of artists don’t even include Australia in their world tours. It’s so nice to have an artist I really enjoy travel the distance to play here, and do those shows SO cheaply.
        She’s doing the best she can on her budget to keep shows affordable for everyone, yet so many people do not appreciate it at all. It makes me sad

    • peregrine

      “For these guys, they’re not doing it as a job, they’re doing it for fun. It’s just a one off thing.
      Besides, they get free entry into a gig they would have otherwise had to pay for, get free merch and free booze. How is that not compensation? Plus they get the best seat in the house. Up on stage! To me, that sounds like an amazing, and free, night out.”

      Do you not see the relationship between your argument and the arguments that are made in favor of exploiting foreign labor and exporting jobs?

      Okay, I’ll abort that line of thought since you’ll deny it.

      People who play only for fun, as a hobby, shouldn’t use their skills to undercut professionals. This phenomenon (and it’s not exclusive to Amanda Palmer- some labels have a system for finding free musicians in every city to back their touring bands) is part of why classical music is dying; why professional musicians don’t have enough work to survive. It’s even MORE egregious, not less, that the stakes for those people are nothing more than an “amazing, free night out”. Such people, as hobbyists, will never achieve the levels of ability that a full-time applicant can, and will never truly replace professionals….only bring down values and the integrity of the industry.

      • MeAndMyCharms

        No, I see no relationship there. At all.

        Who are you to tell somebody they are not allowed to get up on stage and perform with their favourite artist for a night because they’re not getting paid in money for it? The pure arrogance of that comment, and everybody else saying the same kind of thing, is astonishing.
        None of your business what they do. NONE.
        If you want to be a professional musician and make money off it, go write and sell YOUR OWN music. Don’t sit here and tell Amanda she is responsible for keeping other musicians she’s never met employed.
        Go put together you own kickstarter and do your own tour.
        It is not Amanda’s job to give you a job. Or anybody else for that matter

        • peregrine


          If you want to be a professional musician and make money off it, go write and sell YOUR OWN music. Don’t sit here and tell Amanda she is responsible for keeping other musicians she’s never met employed.”

          This may be where you completely fail to understand the issue. Most musicians aren’t trying to be Amanda Palmer. We don’t write our own music, brand ourselves and try to sell image. We play from written instructions- sheet music. What we do is very difficult. Most popular musicians, like Amanda Palmer, have nowhere near the skill and talent on their instruments that their backing musicians have. We practice intensively for 6-8 hours a day. We couldn’t conduct a Kickstarter to support these efforts, because Kickstarter prohibits “fund my life” initiatives. Even Kickstarter has a firmer grasp of this scenario than AFP.

          • MeAndMyCharms

            No, I don’t completely fail to understand. My point is, Amanda is not
            responsible for your career. This is HER music. This is how she wants to
            do it. If you don’t agree with that, that’s your problem, not hers.

            You don’t get to dictate how she conducts her tours, and you certainly
            don’t get to tell somebody who really wants to play one gig with her for
            free that they shouldn’t because of your opinions.

            Also, your previous comment of ” Such people, as hobbyists, will never achieve the levels of ability
            that a full-time applicant can, and will never truly replace
            professionals….only bring down values and the integrity of the
            industry.” is possibly one of the most arrogant arguments I’ve heard in this whole debate.

            People who play music for just the fun and enjoyment of it are ruining
            the integrity of music? Really? You don’t get to decide who can play
            music and how they go about it. So if somebody wants to have a jam every
            now and again just for the fun of it, are you sitting up there on your
            high horse looking down them like some entitled wanker then?

            I’m not trying to be an arsehole with that question, I’m genuinely
            curious. Do you think you’re better and deserve more respect than them?
            Because that’s exactly how you’re coming across with that comment.

            This debate is all about an opinion. Just because it’s not yours, you
            don’t get to make somebody else feel bad for having a different one

          • peregrine

            “People who play music for just the fun and enjoyment of it are ruining
            the integrity of music?”

            People who play music just for fun and enjoyment and who value their services *to* professionals at $0 are ruining the integrity of the music *industry*. They’re undermining music as a profession. It is important, in fact essential, that they realize that and think of it before they volunteer for gigs like this, where they are enriching people who don’t particulrly deserve charity.

          • MeAndMyCharms

            I COMPLETELY disagree. You’re essentially telling people who play music just for the love of it don’t get to play music with their favourite musician if they want to, because of your beliefs.
            Not everybody plays music for a profession. Some of them have a full time job and just play music on their weekends, and if that’s what they want to do, that doesn’t mean they need to get the approval of people who identify as “professional” before they are allowed to play any shows. You don’t have the right to make them feel guilty about it. It’s none of your business.
            Please, tell me. What gives you the right to tell me I can’t get up on stage with Amanda and play with her for free if I want to? Why does your opinion mean so much more than mine?
            Also, it’s not charity. Nobody donated goods or money because they felt compelled to help, they jumped up and down and said “YES, please, I’d love so much to play with you!” because they couldn’t believe this opportunity had arisen for them, and wanted so much to do it.
            It’s all so innocent, and I can’t believe the reaction that this has caused.

            My cousin is a musician who would really love the chance to play music for a living. He’s in a couple of bands and has been playing music for so long. He said he thought that what Amanda was doing with these musicians was a bit rough and she shouldn’t be asking. So I asked him “Let’s say, Tom Waits did this. You had the opportunity to get into his gig for free, hang out backstage, and get to jam on stage with him for a few songs, how would you feel? Would you do it?”. He admitted that he absolutely would love to do it, and changed his mind about the whole thing.
            So many people are being complete hypocrites in this argument, because I guarantee you, there is an artist out there, just one, that they would drop everything to play for without asking for compensation and think it was the greatest thing ever. Just because Amanda isn’t the one you’d do it for, doesn’t mean you get to flame the people who would. It also doesn’t mean you get to attack Amanda for giving people this opportunity.
            I also don’t care if you come back saying no way, you wouldn’t play for anyone without getting payed, because that is complete BS. Every music lover has someone that shaped their life with their music in some way, admire them greatly and would give their left arm to jam on stage with them. You absolutely would if given the chance.

          • peregrine


            Not everybody plays music for a profession. Some of them have a full time job and just play music on their weekends, and if that’s what they want to do, that doesn’t mean they need to get the approval of people who identify as “professional” before they are allowed to play any shows.”

            Most musicians don’t. Most musicians have to have day jobs to feed themselves and pay their rent….because playing music doesn’t pay.

            “Please, tell me. What gives you the right to tell me I can’t get up on stage with Amanda and play with her for free if I want to? Why does your opinion mean so much more than mine?”

            You can do whatever you want, but don’t do it in ignorance. Know that when you volunteer to do a service that could and would be paid for otherwise, your actions are harming the artist economy.

            I have a day job. I could only be considered “semi-professional”. And every time someone underbids me on a service, I think about this. I ask myself if the bidder would eventually offer someone the market rate if I refused. It’s pretty clear in this case that if AFP had no volunteers, she’d pay for her orchestra. She has no intention of touring as a three-piece band. She would find money to pay for the orchestrations and “joyful noises” she wants. So by volunteering, you are destroying a job. That’s the reality, and I’m sorry if it harshes your mellow.

          • MeAndMyCharms

            You’re right, I can do whatever I want, whether you think it’s in ignorance or not. So can Amanda. That’s my point. Don’t attack a person for doing something that they have every right to do. I don’t care how much you don’t agree with them.

            Don’t assume people who have volunteered to play with Amanda have done so in ignorance either. You have no idea who they are or what their thought processes are.

            Your entire argument has been based on assumptions. Assuming that Amanda has millions of dollars tucked away that’s she hoarding for her own greedy needs. Assuming that everyone who volunteered has been tricked, taken advantage of, or is just plain ignorant. Assuming that if nobody would have volunteered, then some musician would have been payed to do it instead. My guess is she just would have done it without the extra musicians. But that’s just a guess, because, like everybody else who has commented here, I don’t know exactly what is going on inside Amanda’s head or in her bank account, and I don’t pretend to know.
            Unless you have cold, hard facts, and you have NONE, you can’t make a solid case on how much of a monster Amanda is

          • peregrine


            Don’t attack a person for doing something that they have every right to do”

            I’m sorry, but what are you, twelve? You have rights, I have rights. You can do what you want, I can say what I want about what you do.

          • MeAndMyCharms

            Oh, you got me! You’re right, I’m twelve. I make valid points, you come back at me with a guess at my age. Wow, and with that statement, you win at the internet. Bravo.

            But thank you for proving my point with your response. “You have rights, I have rights.You can do what you want, I can say what I want about what you do”.

            So there you go Amanda, you CAN use volunteer musicians if you want. It’s your right to go down this path if you choose. But just beware, peregrine and his/her people are going to sit on the sidelines without having any of the facts and stick their nose into your business and tell you what you’re doing with your own tour is not to their liking based on what they assume might be happening behind the scenes.

  • Sminks

    Amanda, I just wanted to post that I understand and that I know and respect what you doing. Keep doing it.

  • http://twitter.com/RichardRBMarcus Richard Marcus

    Any person, no matter who they are, what there status as a musician is, can ask for people to volunteer their time on stage as performers. As long as they make it clear from the onset and don’t offer any expectations of anything else, that’s negotiating in good faith and as far as I’m concerned as a professional freelance artist, that’s what matters. As a writer my arrangements change from publisher to publisher. The majority of my work is published free of charge with an online web magazine with the proviso that I retain all rights to my work. However, I also publish with another site who pays me a flat fee for my work and have received two commissions from a publisher for books who pays me on a royalty basis. In each case I’ve chosen the terms of my agreement with the publisher be it free or paid. Nobody is forcing me to publish with anyone. Just as Amanda isn’t forcing anybody to play with her or offering one thing and then delivering something different.

    As for the whole, well you raised a shitload of money how come you can’t afford to pay these dudes issue? Let’s think about this for a second folks. How many times have you gone to see a band play live and noticed they aren’t playing with the full orchestra, or even the string quartet or horn section they had on their studio album? Even bands being funded by record companies with deep pockets. The reality is nobody but the really big acts can afford to tour with more than just their regular band. Not only do you have pay them for their hours on stage, you’re looking at per diems for each person, accommodation, food and travel expenses. The million or so bucks Amanda raised via Kickstarter for this release probably barely covered the costs of a) producing the album – which includes paying for the musician’s studio time, paying them per diems, paying for their accommodation where ever the recording was done and their travel expenses to and from there as well. Then there’s the cost of renting the recording studio, paying the technicians and any additional musicians used during the process and you’ve not even begun to pay for the pressing of the disc, the design of the packaging and the printing there of. Then there’s the promotional budget – videos, hiring a publicist, putting together press packages etc. On top of that she also had to pay for all the goodies being paid out to her investors,which includes specially designed packaging for the CD and LP, a book of specially commissioned art work and more. A million dollars can vanish very quickly.

    So, as a professional I like to be paid for my work, but I also know that I do what I do whether someone pays me or not. I’ve sat down and written two full length books because I wanted to and I’ve not been paid for either one of them as I’ve yet to find a publisher for them. I’ve published over 1800 reviews, articles, etc and not seen a cent for them directly. What they did do was lead to me being offered paying gigs. My work is being seen on a daily basis by hundreds of thousands of people and occasionally one of them is able to offer me money to work for them. I’m not just some young kid starting out either, I’m a fifty year old professional artist whose been working in the arts since he was twenty.

    Maybe it doesn’t work for you to volunteer your time on stage, well that’s cool, don’t volunteer then. If you’ve got so many paying gigs that you’re constantly working and don’t need the exposure that joining an internationally renowned recording star on stage when she plays your home town, well more power to you. It’s your choice, just as its any musicians choice whether or not they join her on stage, just as its my choice to not be paid for reviewing “Theatre Is Evil”. However I posted a link to my review at AFP’s twitter and over the following 24 hours more than 600 people had read it at my web site. I couldn’t have paid for that type of publicity. That’s six hundred more people who are now aware that I exist, am a writer and in the future might even be willing to pay for something I’ve written. That’s a great investment.

  • James Newton

    I think the fact that you’re using professional, paid horn and string players in New York and certain other locations, where I’m guessing you’re concerned over the particular press coverage and publicity, kind of knocks your credibility over this issue. If you really believe in it so much, then you should use the volunteers everywhere, because why are you worried about doing that in certain locations ? Please explain that, because if you truly believed in it for the sake of the fans and the music, then you’d have no worries using volunteers everywhere. Seems to me you’re much more aware of the ‘business’ than you like to let on. Call me cynical but…………

    • disheartened long time fan

      i completely agree. I feel like using pros in larger cities and volunteers in smaller ones sort of illustrates the true feelings behind using volunteers. If there was that much faith in this model it would be all volunteers everywhere. Not just “oh we’ll pay the guys for the shows that matter” because how do you even determine which shows matter aside from which shows might have the most media coverage? Instead it seems like “well we’ll use free help in smaller cities that wonder generate a lot of press, so we can save money for the cities that will” which to me just seems to be saying “Yeah we don’t really have a lot of faith in the whole idea of grabbing people day of and being able to put on a professional show” which really, if i were someone who had volunteered, it would hurt to realize that i was essentially the back up plan.

    • http://twitter.com/dogunderwater KO

      I also find it disrespectful to both her volunteer musicians (they’re not “good enough”) and her fans in the all-volunteer cities (they don’t warrant finding the budget for pros).

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      i agree, and with the other two responses as well. It just further points out her narcissism: when it suits *her* agenda, she can find the money for professional musicians, but the rest of the fan base in other cities can make do with a show that may be iffy, because then her priority moves to doing it on the cheap. It blows the whole “Im offering experience/fun of it” argument — even as contemptuous and egocentric as that really is — out of the water.

      Even her own spin isn’t holding up! ( I do PR/media relations stuff part -time, and would not want to be on her team right now. Well, probably not ever, the more i know).

    • not impressed

      It also shows that it IS about money and IS NOT about freeeeeeeeeeddddddooooooooom

  • meagan413

    I bet YOU AFP and the people/fanatical fans/adoring authors/pubic-hairless publicists/magical musicians/street performers/hungry clowns/polite politicians/wily wizards/gorgeous goths/gay scientologists/hemp smoking hindus/pregnant pagans/abused glittery pop stars/sponge bob/pikachu/homeless animals/who ever/where ever/what ever.
    WE all could raise more money!
    Have a donation drive, shave your armpits (you could probably get an endoresement from Shick=more $) and donate the money to a musician fund or something…Maybe that would not be acceptable–I think you may be offended by that idea…So please excuse my stream-of-consciousness writing.
    Maybe you can sign more stuff and have a raffle. Do something at the show to show the musicians are happy, pleased or drunk…or none of the above. Have a (locked) donation box for the un-paid musicians at the door or bar. This opens a realm of possibilities…tip the bartender, tip the band…eh. I feel my ideas deflating like a helium balloon in my throat.
    *takes a drink of water
    I too, as a die-hard fan am having a hard time swallowing all of this and trying to figure out how to put my jumbled thoughts in a post (this is experience for me). From the album’s Best Buy (Wal-Mart?) coupons (not bashing this because I bought one of your CD’s from Target a few years ago)…In my mind (opinion), I feel your authenticity fading. Will you become another Lady Ga-Ga or Katy Perry (not bashing them either) with a million+ mansion and will the love of money overcome and will you no longer be connected to your fans with blogs and tweets and such? Will ninja gigs be no more? Are you going to turn into an evil empire and build a castle made of records?
    I think of my grandfather who played the trombone on a WWII warship–what would he have to say about it, this non-payment of? I think he would quote Dr. Seuss, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
    I do hope you and your team come up with something other than a blog post, it may not please everyone or anyone but who fucking cares! It is freedom and free will! Paradoxically, I see another side of the double rainbow…
    aesthetically thinking, up too late because my brain will not shut off, lovingly looney, your fan forever,
    me again
    P.S. Heidleburg Street in Detroit would be perfect for a ninja gig ;-)

  • meagan413

    I bet YOU AFP and the people/fanatical fans/adoring authors/pubic-hairless publicists/magical musicians/street performers/hungry clowns/polite politicians/wily wizards/gorgeous goths/gay scientologists/hemp smoking hindus/pregnant pagans/abused glittery pop stars/sponge bob/pikachu/homeless animals/who ever/where ever/what ever.
    WE all could raise more money!
    Have a donation drive, shave your armpits (you could probably get an endoresement from Shick=more $) and donate the money to a musician fund or something…Maybe that would not be acceptable–I think you may be offended by that idea…So please excuse my stream-of-consciousness writing.
    Maybe you can sign more stuff and have a raffle. Do something at the show to show the musicians are happy, pleased or drunk…or none of the above. Have a (locked) donation box for the un-paid musicians at the door or bar. This opens a realm of possibilities…tip the bartender, tip the band…eh. I feel my ideas deflating like a helium balloon in my throat.
    *takes a drink of water
    I too, as a die-hard fan am having a hard time swallowing all of this and trying to figure out how to put my jumbled thoughts in a post (this is experience for me). From the album’s Best Buy (Wal-Mart?) coupons (not bashing this because I bought one of your CD’s from Target a few years ago)…In my mind (opinion), I feel your authenticity fading. Will you become another Lady Ga-Ga or Katy Perry (not bashing them either) with a million+ mansion and will the love of money overcome and will you no longer be connected to your fans with blogs and tweets and such? Will ninja gigs be no more? Are you going to turn into an evil empire and build a castle made of records?
    I think of my grandfather who played the trombone on a WWII warship–what would he have to say about it, this non-payment of? I think he would quote Dr. Seuss, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
    I do hope you and your team come up with something other than a blog post, it may not please everyone or anyone but who fucking cares! It is freedom and free will! Paradoxically, I see another side of the double rainbow…
    aesthetically thinking, up too late because my brain will not shut off, lovingly looney, your fan forever,
    me again
    P.S. Heidleburg Street in Detroit would be perfect for a ninja gig ;-)

  • Lydia

    I honestly can’t collect my thoughts enough to give anything meaningful to this argument. The main thing that’s screaming out to me is the sheer amount of cynicism going on here. Cynicism that I can’t help but feel defeats the point of what we’re doing here in the first place. I do know how naive that sounds, but I think there are occasions when naivete is worth something, and I think that this is one of them.

  • Lydia

    I honestly can’t collect my thoughts enough to give anything meaningful to this argument. The main thing that’s screaming out to me is the sheer amount of cynicism going on here. Cynicism that I can’t help but feel defeats the point of what we’re doing here in the first place. I do know how naive that sounds, but I think there are occasions when naivete is worth something, and I think that this is one of them.

  • peas

    I work in the not-for-profit sector with lots of volunteers. There are principles to volunteering, mostly to ensure that volunteers aren’t exploited. One principle is that volunteers should not be used to replace paid workers or represent a threat to the job security of paid workers, which, by your own admission, is exactly what’s happening here (since you pay people some places and not others to do the same job – bummer if you’re a struggling musician in one of those other places, right?) Of course people have the choice to do this if they want to, but please stop trying to portray this project as something it isn’t. It’s a chance for you to save money by not paying people – and whether you can afford it or not is really beside the point.

    And the fact that you’re comparing this ‘crowd sourcing’ project to a support with Nine Inch Nails (for which you presumably received support billing and plenty of publicity, even if you didn’t make money) and guest spots freakin’ David Byrne has done (FFS!) is just disingenuous. You must realise that what you’re proposing is not even remotely the same thing. It will probably not generate publicity/gigs/income for the ‘volunteer’ musicians and nor is it an arrangement between equals. You may want it to be and maybe it once was, but it’s not now – you’re a prominent musician, and chances are your ‘volunteers’ aren’t, so you benefit from their skills and experience and they get … what exactly?

    At best what you’re doing is naive, at worst it’s really cynical.

    • watchmeboogie

      This, this, this, this, this.

      • A professional writer
        • Guest

          They called that guy specifically to ask him to do something, and he asked to be paid. Amanda is putting out a call (not targeting anyone in particular) for people who are cool with not being paid.
          /difference

          • Frankly Shankly
          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            ^ wow. you’re an idiot. *shakes head* I’m sorry for being the one to say it, but really, if you think that people are really that weak-willed, then you must be one of them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            free will, people. it’s not like the “volunteers” are locked in a cage on the tour bus and trotted out to perform like Russian circus bears to be mocked and jeered at. for fuck’s sake. grow an opinion of your own.

            besides, people who join cults are usually weak-willed and pathetic and like to be a sheeple. if you’d prefer to be sheeple to help get you through life, gimme a minute. I’ll go get the fucking punchbowl for you. *smh*

    • http://twitter.com/TrustMeScience TrustMeI’mAScientist

      Amen, peas!

      I do a lot of volunteer work for public radio and alternative arts organizations. We have accountability and ethics built into our systems.

      There is no accountability or ethics or standards built in to Amanda’s plan. Just “Trust me, I’m different.” We’ve heard that many times before. Hence, the accountability that’s built in to actual non-profits.

      It’s like the old saying goes: “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

      This tour is a for-profit enterprise, and a very successful one at that. It’s a completely different situation. This is not a volunteer situation.

      Despite the pleasant rhetoric, the values that underlie Amanda’s rebuttal are those of cheapness, self-interest, and entitlement.

      I have faith in Amanda, and I believe that when she realizes this, she will change her plan. We’ve just got to make her realize, and I’m sure she’ll come around. She’s already begun to see her error.

      Thanks for listening to us Amanda. Now please do the right thing.

      • Lynz

        so would you rater she didn’t give people this oppertunity? why?

        • MerxWorx01

          What opportunity, to literally play second(more like tenth) horn so you could to add some elses material success. Amanda is either naively delusional or horrendously shameless

          • http://www.facebook.com/waxenwings Alexander Lu

            In my opinion, she’s neither contributing nor detracting from the careers of the professional musicians she asks to play with her. They don’t get a ton of exposure, true. They don’t get paid in money. Also true.
            But as has been stated time and time again, no one is forcing anyone to play for Amanda. If you see everything as a job opportunity then yes, everything that doesn’t get a paycheck into your hands is pure evil. However, if you want to go play and have fun with her on stage and get some merch, food, and a free meet-and-greet as a fan, then this is an amazing opportunity. Sure it may not pay your bills, but it certainly does earn you something.

          • http://www.facebook.com/simonslant Simon Tam

            It reminds me of the quote by CS Lewis: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

            People are pushing their idea that musicians “have to be paid” onto everyone, including amanda because they think it makes society better. They don’t understand that people need to make their own decisions, including about what they value most in life. Some people think hanging out with AFP is way cooler than getting a few bucks. And other people will never understand and I feel sad for them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/james.whipson James Whipson

            Abso-freakin’-lutely. The hissy fit being thrown by the “pro musician” crowd speaks more to their own shortcomings than anything else. And, completely diminishes and disrespects the musicians who choose to do this as if they are under mind-control and being maliciously duped so AFP can enjoy endless martinis on the new yacht she is building.

          • Frankly Shankly

            I <3 Amanda Palmer, and her new
            music. I wanted to make that clear first because what I might say
            will piss ppl off.

            Here goes.

            As much as it bugs me to say so, yes if
            you can obviously afford to do to so you should ABSOLUTELY pay the
            ppl that work for you in the real world. I read the breakdown on the
            million dollar kickstarter and the part that bugs me is that you are
            even paying ppl to help you spend the money, but not pay for certain
            specific talent to help back your band while on tour. Why don't you
            pay the ppl that actually put in the effort to make you look
            wonderful on stage? Why wouldn't you feel obligated to share the love
            with the ppl that make other ppl want to come to your shows? Like so
            many other ppl on the interwebz a buzz lately about this very strange
            and funny story, I can't really wrap my head around your logic on
            this one. I tried, and I failed. Miserably. Lol. TL;DR the excuses.
            Cut the crap and just say “whoopsie! Maybe you are right. Maybe the
            masses have spoken. Maybe I should figure out someone way to get part
            of that money to the ppl that actually make me look decent on stage.”
            And the longer you wait, and the more excuses you create for this
            hole you are in will only make you look hypocritical to your fans who
            obviously love you, your music, and your constructive message.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            while it is in AFP’s “best interest” to concede and do as everyone wants, there is a factor here all seem to forget. This is Amanda Fucking Palmer, we’re talking about, here. and unlike other “credible”, “popular” “artists” (HAHA!) she didn’t get where she is today by bending over and taking it up the arse like the signed ones out there. the *reason* I love her so hard is because she’s willing to extend the norm, stretch the barriers and force people outside of their comfort zone, try different things, experiment and turn heads, shock the masses, etc. I don’t know about you, but I never want her to change a damned thing. because then it just becomes yet another soulless automaton droning on about fuck all in their lyrics, and passion-deprived shrieking of strings, bleating of horns and pounding of keys that I would rather disembowel myself to than purchase. on an honour system. directly from the artist so none of the middle men get it for doing nothing. for as much or as little as I CHOOSE to pay.

            hopefully, *you* will see what you are saying and recognise how oppressive and cold you yourself and all these other people seem trying to tell a person who doesn’t like being told what to do just exactly that. and as one of them, I really sympathise for Amanda. this is exactly what she’s been doing, all along, just in different forms. the difference now is that the whole world knows of her rather than the select group of fans.

            of course there will be an outcry of unfairness. people who want a piece of the pie can’t help but appeal and protest. sure, it doesn’t work for them. fine. good for them. and they’re allowed to have that. but don’t tell me what the fans are wanting because all of the ones I speak to are of my same mindset.

            don’t think that your words aren’t heard and thought about intensely. I’m certain they are. Amanda has always listened to every side of every story. yet another thing I really respect about her. but don’t attempt to tell her what to do. if she’s anything like me, she’ll do as she likes, with or without your say, and simply because you’re saying that it needs to be done a certain way. she knows her own mind and what she wishes to accomplish and I’m pretty sure nothing any of you do and/or say will be what makes her final decision.

            I figure you would all know when you were just flogging a dead horse.

          • http://www.facebook.com/james.whipson James Whipson

            Abso-freakin’-lutely. The hissy fit being thrown by the “pro musician” crowd speaks more to their own shortcomings than anything else. And, completely diminishes and disrespects the musicians who choose to do this as if they are under mind-control and being maliciously duped so AFP can enjoy endless martinis on the new yacht she is building.

          • http://atwelfthmeow.com/ Matt Wolfe

            Who in their right mind ever said that paying musicians made society better? Amanda herself identifies that musicians “had to be paid” in NYC – as if that was the ingredient that would dictate the difference between an OK and great show. So, it doesn’t do anything to society, but apparently makes her performance – and the enjoyability of said show – better.

            Based on this mindset, don’t the people who funded her album and pay for tickets deserve the highest chance to get the best show possible – regardless of where they live? Or was there a completely different reason to pay them in NYC?

            If this was all in the sake of art + fun – as it sounds like her reasoning is NOW framed upon – was the same theory applied to the recording of the album? Will the lighting guy have some sort of russian roulette payment process? Does Amanda herself intend to just play for fun for the sake of being in the moment or because she’s the visionary, does she “have to be paid”? Also, if this was the case, why was the excuse that she couldn’t afford it ever given (http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/rockers-playing-for-beer-fair-play/)?

            EDIT: For the record – I’m a-OK with musicians being able to do whatever they want. Amanda’s publicly-stated reasoning for the decision just seems to have changed somewhere along the way – both on her remarks about being abel to afford the musicians AND her insistance on paying in NYC – and that’s what has struck me as wrong.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            Hi Matt,
            I think the reason that NYC had professional musos because two of the members of the band are stationed there (I think, don’t quote me!) and because it was being webcast live on youtube.

          • Guest

            Yeah, will it be so fun if SHE can’t afford it and has to take a 9-5?

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            THIS. very this. all those screaming about exploitation are those who have lost all faith in humanity. very *very* sad.

            and as an aside, you won’t hear ANY bitching about AFP over here in AU and NZ. we love her FOR her brashness, individulaity and her penchant for social experiments, which is what a lot of this is. she’s fantastic and there’s nothing anyone can say to change my mind. why can’t we just leave it at that? it’s making me want to just block all you closeminded fucks out. seeing you see us as idealistic and unrealistic. fuck this; let’s just all become capitalists and at least then when start calling us whatever names you can think of you can cite me saying the word and take it completely out of all context. *shakes head* in short, wake up, pillocks.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            So what you’re saying is that you’d enjoy paying a day’s wages to get to hang out in the presence of Amanda Palmer and get a free T-shirt? What a cringing servile bootlicking toad you are! How much do you pay your friends to hang out with you?

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            *smirking* people start getting offensive and personal when they have nothing worthwhile to say.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            Personal? Okay, maybe a little. But if the shoe fits, take a lick. How much are you willing to pay to hang out with AFP? The going rate is a day’s pay.

          • http://www.facebook.com/michael.finlan Michael Finlan

            I’ll tell that to my bank manager.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            the opportunity is to HAVE FUN AND MAKE ART. nothing more. yeesh.

        • Anonymous

          I <3 Amanda Palmer, and her new
          music. I wanted to make that clear first because what I might say
          will piss ppl off.

          Here goes.(drum roll)

          As much as it bugs me to say so, yes if
          you can obviously afford to do to so you should ABSOLUTELY pay the
          ppl that work for you in the real world. All of them. I read the breakdown on the
          million dollar kickstarter and the part that bugs me is that you are
          even paying ppl to help you spend the money, but not pay for certain
          specific talent to help back your band while on tour – at specific locations or whatever. (?!) Why wouldn't you want to pay the ppl that actually put in the effort to make you look
          wonderful on stage? Why wouldn't you feel obligated to share the love
          with the ppl that make other ppl want to come to your shows? Like so
          many other ppl on the interwebz a buzz lately about this very strange
          and funny story, I can't really wrap my head around your logic on
          this one. I tried, and I failed. Miserably. Lol. "TL;DR" i.e. the excuses. Cut the crap and just say “whoopsie! Maybe you are right. Maybe the
          masses have spoken. Maybe I should figure out someone way to get part
          of that money to the ppl that actually make me look decent on stage.” Nobody enjoys a dose of hypocrisy with their favourite artists/performers. Nobody enjoys a double-standard applied to certain ppl who work for you, even if it is the middle of nowhere on some leg of your tour, they need to eat, feed themselves, and they have needs too. Just like you have a need right now to make yourself look good too.

          • Lynz

            These people, these fans, were most likely going to the show anyways! why not get up on stage for the best seat in the house and play a few songs? you realize that a huge chunk of the kickstarter money was loans too, right? she has to pay all that back as well. how is she being a hyprocrite ? she says hey if any talented people wanna jump up on stage and volunteer to play a few songs with us when we roll through your town then come on! they could certinally do the tour without them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61010465 Brian Hutchison

            None of the kickstarter money was loans, there was a separate loan plan. This has nothing to do with Kickstarter, really. That provided the initial investment to plan and rehearse the tour, yes, but the tour itself is a profitable thing.

            Most bands make the majority of their income from live gigs these days, and with almost every gig selling out and healthy merchandise sales this will be a very profitable tour. Amanda is actively looking for musicians to fill a necessary role on stage with her, it seems, which means that she’s asking people to volunteer help her make a profit. If she really can “certinally do the tour without them” then why is she paying musicians to do this in New York? She obviously considers it an important part of the show.

          • DillaryHuff

            Tours aren’t highly profitable. They just aren’t. I know a dozens of musicians, and touring may be more profitable than selling albums, but albums don’t sell. WHY? Because fan’s won’t pay for them. So. What does that make US?!

          • DillaryHuff

            Tell that to the people who don’t pay for any of the music they own. Heck, I bet you own a few “burned” CDs, right? … Think about it.

        • joyce ford

          Call up a plumber and ask him to work for three hours on a Saturday night. I say whatever he charges you is what a musician should be paid.

          • Lynz

            That is not even the same thing! You people don’t understand the meaning of volunteering to play wth one of your favorite artists. if you feel like you need to get paid for it then simply do not volunteer.

          • http://twitter.com/GillRockatansky Gilleathain McLean

            You think it is fair that she’s going to pay strings/horn players that she knows, but not the ‘volunteers’? Pay all or pay none, otherwise you’re making it clear that you value some less than others. Everyone else will be getting paid, and AP will be saving money on the nights she has ‘volunteers’. This is the sort of thing that I’d expect someone like her to stand against, not to instigate.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            so what you’re saying is you equate worth on how much money they make? *you’re* the one that needs to be feeling ashamed.

          • http://twitter.com/GillRockatansky Gilleathain McLean

            No, I’m saying that if you think yourself, the drummer, the bassist, the sound tech, the lighting tech, the venue, the management, the transport etc… deserve paying then it is nothing short of insulting to not think that about the crowd sourced horn and string players.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            fair enough, though it does depend on a person’s point of view, really. were it me, I wouldn’t feel insulted in the slightest. I would think as someone who likes to play instruments the sheer enjoyment of the experience would be payment enough. but no matter.

          • DillaryHuff

            Musicians aren’t made out of money. Never have been, never will be. Hundreds of thousands of them play together and for free every single day. Even AFP. It’s more about the community and the MUSIC than the money. As fans, it’s SO EASY to trash her, but how many of us out there DON’T PAY FOR MUSIC?!?!? Hypocrites.

          • http://twitter.com/GillRockatansky Gilleathain McLean

            The fee for a gig is calculated so that everything that needs paid for, will be. That, at least in some cities, will include strings/horns. I’m a musician and I always pay people who make a guest appearance, it is only right, particularly as they’ll be helping you sound better than you would without them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            and your musical expertise? what do you play? how much do you command?

          • flyingmonkey52

            you’re clearlly not a musician. playing music is fun.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            There’s lots of things that are fun that you want to get paid for. Life would kind of suck if you were only paid to do things you hate. If you want to make a living doing what you love, you have to be willing to take yourself seriously and demand cash on the barrelhead, even if it means turning down a gig you’d probably enjoy doing.

          • DillaryHuff

            Then make sure you never, ever listen to another song that you don’t PAY FOR first. Please. We can all help in this situation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

        ahhhhh. so that’s what it is. Amanda’s been right all along. it’s nothing more than a bunch of uppity people getting really scared and everyone else jumping in because it’s looks like a cause worth pursuing upon face value.

        that’s really sad.

      • DoNotApprove

        Totally agree, she can’t compare herself (not asking to be paid to do someone’s house gig) with many artists feeling like she’s being cheap when she is. She got paid from the sweat of people’s brow for doing something (the kickstarter and her music) that people love – so if she values her guest artists at all, she’ll pay them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michael.finlan Michael Finlan

        I agree with you except for the “having faith” bit.

    • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Ooooh. I finally read the NYT article and now I get it: “At least one musicians union, Local 76-493 in Seattle, has been sending out Twitter messages denouncing the move and calling for people to post the comments.”

      This explains the mysterious flood of likes and dislikes and the bull-in-china-shop style of all the posts accusing Amanda of being a Republican *snicker*.

      The funny thing is, I’m a huge union supporter. My dad was the contract negotiator for the local teacher’s union. I am quick to get my dander up about unfair labor practices. And I still believe that is not what is happening here at all. Not even a little bit.

      I don’t know anything about Seattle Local 76-493, but please don’t make giving up your joy in music and spontaneity of expression part of the cost of entry for your members.

      • peregrine


        The funny thing is, I’m a huge union supporter. My dad was the contract negotiator for the local teacher’s union. I am quick to get my dander up about unfair labor practices. And I still believe that is not what is happening here at all. Not even a little bit. ”

        That can only be because you don’t see performing music as “labor”. And you’re very, very wrong.

        For the record, not a musicians’ union member. My brother is, though.

        • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

          Not at all. I get it now. This is misdirected and poorly expressed rage based on a totally legitimate gripe that has nothing whatsoever to do with Amanda. I can see how it would APPEAR that she is behaving counter to the interests of musicians, now that I understand the context, but I don’t agree that she is.

          What we’re witnessing is a class of two strategies to address the same core problem that no one disagrees with: Business types profit exploitatively from the talent and labor of artists.

          Strategy A: Subvert the paradigm by building relationships based on love for art, fellow artists and fans. Collaborate with like-minded artists, focus on the love and trust the money will follow. Connect these artists directly with their fans and bypass the business types.

          Strategy B: Organize the artists and fight this shit!

          It’s like the MLK and Malcolm X of music. I always preferred MLK, but I respect me some Malcolm. Except when his people took the fight to MLK as if HE was the enemy. That’s what’s happening here.

          You may not approve of Amanda’s strategy. You may think it’s naive or (somehow? I don’t get it but?) cynical. But she’s fighting, just like you are. She’s just fighting a different way. And the volunteer musicians who join her have bought into her strategy.

          • vox o reason

            ah, yes. spoken in true form of someone who has never attempted to make a living by way of being a musician. It would be nice if going to work were all about love and trust, but the fact of the matter is that she’s asking people to contribute skills that they’ve worked hard for, in many cases gone to school for, for nothing, and thats wrong. Its no more appropriate to ask this of musicians than it would be to ask the local barista at starbucks to make you a free latte. Being an artist isn’t an invitation to for exploitation.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            It’s not for nothing.

          • Caroline

            I’m sorry, but being an artist is ALL ABOUT exploitation. I have worked as an artist for over ten years now–and paid my bills as one, thank you–and have ALWAYS relied on friends, fellow artists, and awesome people with ideas to volunteer and help me. Does this mean I don’t try desperately to pay them when I can afford to? Absolutely not. I work hard to try to pay my fellow artists real, working wages as much as I can. But I can’t always afford that. And, I promise you, I have given out my services for free SO very many times that I’ve lost count. I have allowed other artists to exploit me so that I can exploit (what a dirty word–we borrow from each other endlessly in the art world) them when the need arises. Does this mean that they always say yes? No, it doesn’t. Sometimes they can’t afford a gig where they won’t get paid. But it does mean that they are willing to help me and aid me in almost any way they can when I’m in need. This is what a true community of artists is like.

            And yes, I often have to say no (especially the older I get) to gigs that won’t pay. But there are plenty of gigs I do for free for many reasons: joy, watching lives change, the opportunity to make freaking AMAZING art, thrill, friendships, etc. Because the minute you boil art down to just money you are no better than the business execs on wall street. And fuck that shit, thank you.

            Would I prefer that every artist get paid every time? HELL YES. Does that method seem to be working in our country where art is regarded as a hobby and not a necessity? NO. So, while I do agree that some of Amanda’s thinking may be a bit naive (especially since she’s making a lot more money than someone like me), I also think the striving towards a new method and community for making art is a valiant one.

          • Caroline

            Also: I went to school for theatre. I got a very pricey BFA in it. I am now getting a very pricey MFA in it. I’ve travelled the world and spent money I don’t have on it. But I fucking love it and you couldn’t make me stop for the world.

          • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

            You do realize that part of the reason its regarded as a Hobby is that people who can afford to pay, like Amanda Palmer, do everything they can do to avoid paying.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            “And yes, I often have to say no (especially the older I get) to gigs
            that won’t pay. But there are plenty of gigs I do for free for many
            reasons: joy, watching lives change, the opportunity to make freaking
            AMAZING art, thrill, friendships, etc. Because the minute you boil art
            down to just money you are no better than the business execs on wall
            street. And fuck that shit, thank you.”

            thank you so much for this comment. this is the reason I think those people step forward and volunteer their hearts and love to contribute to Amanda’s lyrical masterpieces.

          • Jim

            “Strategy A: Subvert the paradigm by building relationships based on love for art, fellow artists and fans. Collaborate with like-minded artists, focus on the love and trust the money will follow. Connect these artists directly with their fans and bypass the business types.”

            This sounds a lot like the gnomes’ business strategy:

            Phase 1 – Collect Underpants
            Phase 2 – ?
            Phase 3 – Profit

          • Jim

            Also, Amanda is not being radical or ‘subversive’, and she is not working for free – I think most people on here would agree it would be different if she wasn’t doing this tour for profit. She is asking for free services to increase her profit.

            Chris Siebert has written the clearest argument on here, a few posts down.

          • peregrine


            Strategy A: Subvert the paradigm by building relationships based on love for art, fellow artists and fans. Collaborate with like-minded artists, focus on the love and trust the money will follow. Connect these artists directly with their fans and bypass the business types.”

            This is patently ridiculous. She admits that she’s paying backing musicians in larger markets, and revels in the fact that her system will neither be fair, nor transparent. She’s closely screening the applicants for ability and experience. She *claims* to be doing this out of enlightenment and superior sense of “culture”, but that doesn’t pass the smell test.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            *nodding, smiling* absolutely, Miss Esmertina. We’re in the midst of a musical revolution here. and about time, too! :D

      • Eric Londaits

        The “mysterious flood of likes and dislikes and the bull-in-china-shop style of all the posts” seems to come in not only many but most cases from people who are very smart, articulate, and are making a great effort to try to get their point to come across. This is FAR from the behavior of astroturfers you normally find across the net. Disregarding intelligent comments with this broad stroke conspiracy theory is not nice.

        • disheartened long time fan

          this isn’t trolling, this is about as far from trolling as you’re going to get on the internet. this is people having emotional responses and opinions about the situation at hand. whether they be fans of amanda, musicians, kickstarter backers, it’s across the board and i think that it’s a really interesting conversation.

        • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

          It’s a narrow-stroke theory that does not attempt to explain anything beyond what it says. 11 dislikes on a post that says simply “I have discovered some of my favorite bands because they opened for the act I was going to see,” and more than a hundred likes on several negative posts. That’s atypical here. And I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure how anyone could confuse Amanda for a Republican, as many people have.

          Smart, articulate conversation doesn’t require a theory, it’s the norm on this blog :)

          • yourGross

            yes, opening bands do get exposure. but not backing musicians. I play in a band, we play all over the world for the last 10 years. when we had touring members playing with us. no one ever knew who they were and it for sure never helped their career. why? cause they are in OUR band. not the OPENING band.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            But they would of if you’d let people know who they were, and where they could find out more about them, no?

          • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

            Huh… I mostly watch live music in Japan, and there the non-core musicians (backing or support) get Intro-ed from stage, and usually get to tell people about their next gig. Usually mentioned on band members twitter streams too, and often retweeted for a couple of weeks either side of the gig. Not the case in the states?

            If the band DID do that would it be ok not to pay them? (trying to tease out which it is you object to more, lack of pay, lack of recognition, or both equally).

          • http://twitter.com/pangalactic pangalactic


            no one ever knew who they were ”

            Why? Didn’t you ever introduce them on stage?

          • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

            The reason they are accusing her of being a Republican is that her rationalizations are exactly the same that are regularly used by Republicans to challenge the rights of Unions. “It’s a choice” “people should be free to work for less if they want it bad enough” “You can get more out of work than a wage, you get experience and gain skills.” None of those things are true, and everyone’s labor is worth more than that sort of capitalist laissez faire economic theory, embraced by Republicans and now by Amanda Palmer, would hold it to be worth.

    • http://twitter.com/RoseTheRez Rose Granbacka

      As far as what it’s doing for the volunteers, I came home and looked up every. single. one. I’m interested in following their careers. So it does do something. And if I hadn’t stopped playing violin over a decade ago, I would have volunteered to up there just to be able to say I was up there. Sometimes it’s not about publicity. Life is about more than just money and publicity. Those things can be extremely important, but that’s not all. It’s also about doing something crazy because you can, just for the adventure of it. It’s about knowing that you can either spend a Wednesday night watching Arrested Development reruns on Netflix or can go out there and do something just for the hell of it.

      There may be some naivety to this whole thing, I don’t see how it can cynical. If she were being cynical that would mean that she sees it in a negative light. I can agree on the naivety, but I think “at worst” you can say that, what, she saved money so she could play more shows? That’s not cynical. That’s how you play the game.

      • yourGross

        “you can say that, what, she saved money so she could play more shows?”
        at other people expense. she is making money from the show.

        • http://twitter.com/RoseTheRez Rose Granbacka

          The amount of money she’ll actually make on this tour isn’t much to speak of. I used to be the road/production manager for a band (who will remain nameless) and when I heard that she was trying to make a record and go on tour for 1mil, I laughed. Do you have any idea expensive transporting all that equipment is?! The money she “earns” playing the shows close to home will be majorly spent on getting the gear over seas for the European leg of the tour. Band gear is HEAVY and FRAGILE, two things that seriously increase their transport cost. Not to mention, the cost of getting the crew there. There are lighting technicians, lighting equipment, sound techs, sound equipment, production assistants, etc. The band I used to work with was more “famous” and had more money than Amanda Palmer and even though tours is where they made the bulk of their money, it’s also where a bulk of the earnings was spent. It sounds like a lot of people have no idea what goes into getting a band on stage from the bus, let alone to another state/country/continent to a venue to a stage. It’s an incredible amount of work that requires a lot of money. Like I stated in my longer post, if I hadn’t given up violin over ten years ago, I would have done it just to say I was on stage with Amanda Palmer. It’s really not an uncommon thing she’s doing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/simonslant Simon Tam

            It seems to me that the people complaining have no idea or experience in working on a tour to this scale so therefore they make assumptions about what it is really like.

            I just finished a 10 day tour in Eastern Europe earlier this day. Even after local transportation and lodging donated, it cost us a little under $17,000 (that’s just a five piece with no road crew). If we had to rent a tour bus, that’s $1,000 per day. If had more crew/gear, that’s even more (and that’s every day, even on days off). Multiple staff/road crew/tour manager/gear/transportation/food/promoter costs, etc. across 18 months of touring in support of a record and you can see how it gets quite expensive. People have no idea the scale of what it takes to do this.

            However, money aside…it isn’t about money. It’s a clash of ideologies here. It breaks down to this:

            1) Amanda Palmer, an artist with a history of “crowdsourcing” her shows by asking fans to participate in some manner, asks for local horn and strings players if they want to participate in the show. She says she can promise some food, beer, merch, and love (via hangout time, hugs, and high-fives) in exchange for playing a few songs. She asks that players be competent and show up earlier before the show for soundcheck and to learn the songs first.

            2) Some musicians were offended because they thought that they should be paid for the opportunity. The publicly shared this frustration and that got picked up by the NY Times, which in turn led to other outlets. This in turn upset other musicians who were upset that she wasn’t paying these local fans who she asked to participate in the show. To most of these, musicians should always be paid, no matter what.

            3) Other people pushed back, saying that no one was forcing them to take the offer and that it wasn’t unreasonable of her to ask this because it’s a cool, fun gig and that musicians should have every right to offer/accept opportunities that don’t revolve around money. For a dedicated fan, spending time with her on stage is enough.

            People in camp A (pay them) are saying she is devaluing musicians for not paying them. People in camp B (offer is fine) are saying musicians can choose what they want to value, whether it is money or hanging out with Palmer. Seems like camp B folks actually are respecting musicians enough to treat them like adults.

          • Kevin

            I don’t think it’s necessarily an either/or situation.

            Based on your summary, you would probably put me in “camp A”, because I believe that AFP should at least offer to pay the folks she has play at her shows. (Based on the post under which all this discussion is taking place, AFP is clearly trying to make that happen.)

            But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think musicians can’t “choose what they want to value, whether it is money or hanging out with Palmer.”

            In fact, that’s kind of the point that most folks are essentially making—that AFP isn’t really offering them a choice between the two. For all intents and purposes, beer & hugs/high-fives equates to “hanging out with Palmer.” In her initial post, she wasn’t offering any money, so the people who volunteered weren’t getting the option to say, “Nah, you don’t have to pay me. Give me a couple of beers and a t-shirt, and we’ll call it good.”

            I’ve read about plenty of musicians who have played on somebody’s album, or at one of their shows, or worked on some kind of project, but didn’t take any money because they though it was a good cause, or because they were just so stoked to do it.

            There’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t apply here, because nobody’s offering any money to begin with, so the choice not to accept payment doesn’t exist.

            And I’ve known musicians who have routinely played with their colleagues (whether at live shows, or in recording sessions) without compensation as a matter of course, because they all know each other, they figure it’ll all even out in the end, and so they have agreed (whether explicitly or implicitly) that that’s just how they want to handle things.

            There’s nothing wrong with that, either. But it doesn’t apply here, because we’re essentially talking about one-off appearances, and many people whom AFP probably hasn’t met before, with the likelihood of AFP performing with all the musicians on their projects (at least the ones that actually have projects) being pretty slim.

            In the end, I think things could have been approached quite differently—i.e., full disclosure (here’s what we want to do, and why), full choice (we’ll pay you what we can, but we’re on a very small budget, so it would be cool if we could treat you to beer and merch instead). Or, seeing how low the ticket prices are ($23.50 in Seattle, I believe), AFP could have charged another $5 – $10 per ticket to ensure that everyone who joined her onstage for these shows would at least have the opportunity to be paid, whether or not they chose to accept the money.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407800363 Kae Oz

            I think people are upset because they feel people in Camp B do not respect other musicians as working adults who can’t all afford to take a night off to do an unpaid gig, thus not only loosing money for the gig itself, but also contributing to the shortage of paid music work, leaving musicians without a private bank roll to continue to wait tables instead of working on their music careers.
            I think it comes down to if one thinks being an artist is a career one should get paid for or privilege of those with enough money and extra time.

          • http://twitter.com/pangalactic pangalactic

            It’s absolutely a career you should get paid for. But, as with any career, you’re also free to choose to do some pro bono work if you so wish. I’m both a writer and a musician. I regularly get paid for my work in both fields – and, likewise, I regularly work in both fields for free if I feel like it’s worthwhile for me to do it. The people who have chosen to get up on stage with Amanda obviously feel like it’s worthwhile for them to do so. That’s their call to make.

          • DillaryHuff

            Musicians do pro bono work all the time and the “fans” who steal their music without paying NEVER ASK FIRST. Hmmmmmm. ….

          • BillW

            Don’t adults usually get paid for their work?

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            who said it was work? that’s just it. it’s not. it’s art. it’s fun. there’s no work involved. there’s a short practice session but other than that, it’s pretty much free rein.

            if you play an instrument or make music thinking it’s work? then you missed the point of it altogether.

          • mister jesus

            By that logic, we should respect people enough to allow them to work for less than minimum wage. After all, we should respect people enough to treat them like adults, and that includes permitting them to be exploited for other people’s gain without speaking up at all. No one will be forcing them to work for less than minimum wage.

          • http://twitter.com/drcello Rob Mason

            @61894ee677b2b72b436820672f5ab093:disqus: we do. it’s called volunteering. I myself have worked for less than minimum wage (viz, free) for a number of organizations because I liked what they were doing. they at no point offered to pay me for my time, and i was frequently doing work that i would have been paid for in other situations. they asked for volunteers and I said ‘sure, I’ll do that!’ because it sounded like it would be fun or worthwhile.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407800363 Kae Oz

            You are making the choice to help those less fortunate by doing something you make money at for free. She is asking the opposite. She is asking less fortunate musicians to play for free for her who already makes money. So I don’t think the analogy works.
            Again, I can see positive in arguments on both sides of this. But this just makes me think again that this is limiting such opportunities to those privileged enough to be able to take the night off to pay for free and leaves those who can’t afford to take a night off their schlub work to participate in their beloved art behind.

          • http://twitter.com/pangalactic pangalactic

            I think the most important question to ask is, did the people volunteering know exactly what they were signing up for when they agreed to get up on stage, and do they feel exploited after having been on stage? If the answers to those questions are “Yes” and “No” respectively – and I suspect that they are – then I don’t see that there’s any problem. It’s when those aren’t the answers that there is an issue, IMO.

          • MurderofCrows

            I would also point out that for most musicians, playing with AFP is HUGE exposure, which is actually worth quite a bit monetarily when the dust settles. Amanda has introduced me to numerous new bands and artists, from OK Go to Mikelangelo. She also offers free promotion to many artists who create art based on her music when she gives a bump to the art that honors her work on her Facebook Page, Twitter, Tumblr, and elsewhere around the interwebs (and at her shows, in some cases). Promotional boosts come out in the wash as monetary value. Anyone in advertising will tell you that “free advertising” is money in your pocket, and AFP is willing to use her popularity to plug new and emerging artists whenever she finds someone that inspires her, which is totally awesome, and is, in itself, a form of payment.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            The free publicity that comes from playing for free amounts to someone famous saying “this person played for me for free”. Two things I know from that: this person will play for free, and in the eyes of the celebrity endorsing them, they’re not worth paying. Bad move.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            one can only judge by their own standards.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            You don’t think I can take AFP’s word for it? If I’ve never heard them play, I look at what value they set on their own work, and what value other musicians set on it. In this case, both are saying “zero”. Next candidate, please.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            best. response. ever. thank you! it’s like people think that the money made on tour is cream. it’s not, people! most bands go out on tour to pay off debts!

          • really?

            ‘The amount of money she’ll actually make on this tour isn’t much to speak of’
            doesn’t matter.
            it’s still money that will be fed back into her dreams, her mouth, her intentions.
            Everyone Participating Should Be Given The Same Ability…
            letting a band mate, the audience, or fate really decide what they earn is egotistical and selfish, let alone blind, of Amanda.

          • peregrine

            What strikes me here is you think everything on your list should be paid for as a matter of course…except the backing musicians. You don’t expect not to pay for freight, for lighting and sound techs and production assistants…but hey, playing music isn’t a job- let’s “crowdsource” that part and put that money towards stuff that actually has value.

            Bollocks.

          • DillaryHuff

            You can’t “crowdsource” petrol. Fool.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407800363 Kae Oz

            She can’t trade free publicity to the gas station for fuel like she trades free publicity for musicians?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407800363 Kae Oz

            Yet I have friends in bands who tour semi-regularly who have never seen close a million dollars. And they actually come home with a few spare pennies each and their music sales rising.

          • DillaryHuff

            Pennies being the key word here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407800363 Kae Oz

            Alas, if 5 hairy, smelly guys can pile in a van with paper flyers and a few phone calls and come home with a few extra pennies in their pockets, I think a beautiful, talented lady with a dedicated following and a million dollar bank roll can come home with a bit more.

          • http://twitter.com/joehigham Joe Higham

            I’m sorry to chip in here Rose Granbacka but you said it all in your comment. It certainly does cost/take a ‘lot’ of money to put a show on the road, which only adds to the argument that why should those last in line not get paid (i.e.the musicians)? In fact no musicians, no show, it’s that simple. You might wish to jump upon stage next to someone famous just to say you were ‘there’, or place it on your CV, but that doesn’t make it right? I can think of dozens (probably thousands) of people who’d give their hind teeth to play a bit of guitar, violin etc with their idols … just watch XFactor for the thirst for fame.

            To add to the argument we’re only talking about ‘pop’ artists here – which is fair enough. But in reality if you want high level music such as jazz or classical (or rock or pop even), you need a well rehearsed band, and musicians need to practice the material beforehand, and their instruments, and pay the phone bill, and the rent, pay their kids dinner money, etc. It’s easy to do a lot of stuff for free when you have another job, but others have to live with reality. Of course one could argue that if you can’t afford to live off playing music, then get another job – which sadly would (in this discussion) apply to AP – as Rose decided (I imagine). However, if one day people (and politicians) come to their senses and realise the value of art, then artists will be paid properly for their time spent investing in and practising their art.

          • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

            Really? so you never learned in all those years as a road manager that it’s much cheaper to just rent equipment in whatever city you’re in like every other touring band going over seas does?

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            really? so you’re telling me when I went to see Metallica at the Brisbane Entertainment centre in Australia that the racks upon racks of those specialised guitars and drum kit add-ons were all hired? well then. here I was thinking they were all personally owned items. *rolls eyes* I think we can pass on that naïvety hat…

      • Janis

        “Life is about more than just money and publicity.”

        The proclamation of everyone who has either a spouse or a wealthy elder relative who pays their bills. *sigh*

        I’m serious, the ONLY people I’ve ever heard say this are from financially stacked families or have a spouse (husband, let’s be honest) or parents who pay their expenses. People who are not responsible for keeping the roof over their own heads, basically.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1407800363 Kae Oz

          As someone who has slowly let the art bleed out of her life in the name of survival (and fighting to not have to live on the streets), I agree totally. Everyone who claims sacrifices for their art has someone or something somewhere. A free art space, a friend with a free or cheap room to rent, a family to fall back on, someone paying for school, something. And definitely either has their health or health insurance.

        • Lex

          Bull. I’ve been both employed and unemployed (currently unemployed), without financial support from anyone but myself, and I’m a musician. I’m happy to know what life is truly about, and I know plenty of people in the same boat who understand as well. It sure ain’t about money and publicity.

          People can use their time doing anything under the sun that makes them happy. If it’s volunteering for Amanda Palmer, right on. Whoever disagrees with what Amanda Palmer is doing, well they shouldn’t participate then should they? Utimately a bad business practice won’t work if people don’t participate. People surely aren’t participating to torture themselves. They’re gaining something from the experience. Maybe you can only relate to gaining something in monetary form, but many others find joy in a plethora of experiences outside of money and recognition.

          I recently volunteered my time touring Europe with a musician who recently broke up with her band. There was no financial compensation and I proabably lost some money in the end, but it will remain one of the greatest experiences of my life. Art does not equal money. The old ways of the music industry are failing because of this fact. There’s surely nothing wrong with making money to survive as an artist, but as we shift the paradigm of music and business in this country, we need to allow those to want to do art for art sake the freedom to do so. Live and let live.

          I’m very sorry if you haven’t figured out that life is about more than money and publicity. I highly suggest exploring life a little deeper my friend.

        • http://twitter.com/pangalactic pangalactic

          I am what you might call a “starving artist”. I just about paid the rent this month, and my rent is only £280 a month. I don’t have money for food until the end of this week, when I get paid.

          Life is about more than just money and publicity.

          • Jon Kiparsky

            @pangalactic – Maybe if you made the effort to make your work worth paying for, you’d starve less and eat more. And as a bonus, more people would get to enjoy your work.

          • http://www.facebook.com/darkdigitalis Trin Achronism

            really? and what’s your legacy then? all these people so happy to grab out their pitchforks and join the crusade, but so far they’re all nothing more than fucking hypocrites.

        • http://twitter.com/drcello Rob Mason

          i’m only barely over the poverty line and do not have anyone paying my bills for me. as far as I’m concerned, life is about more than money and publicity. in fact, the vast majority of what I do is not done for money or publicity. mostly I do things because I think it will be fun or cool or helpful in some way.

          art is its own reward. community is its own reward. being a part of something cool is its own reward.

      • Janis

        “Life is about more than just money and publicity.”

        The proclamation of everyone who has either a spouse or a wealthy elder relative who pays their bills. *sigh*

        I’m serious, the ONLY people I’ve ever heard say this are from financially stacked families or have a spouse (husband, let’s be honest) or parents who pay their expenses. People who are not responsible for keeping the roof over their own heads, basically.

    • tomwest

      “One principle is that volunteers should not be used to replace paid workers or represent a threat to the job security of paid workers, which, by your own admission, is exactly what’s happening here”
      Really?? I read that she had the money to musicians in some places, but not others. So, the volunteers aren’t replacing any paid musicians.

      • Oraelly

        Gotta LOVE some of the sheepie excuses I am reading here.. You raise over ONE MILLION DOLLARS for doing practically zero, and yet you won’t pay the people that make your ass look good on stage? Really amanda? That sucks! Maybe I should have thought twice before contributing to this snake oil.

        • http://twitter.com/MrOolong Fergus Ray Murray

          I’m not saying you’re wrong, but you undermined your point pretty badly with the bit about ‘doing practically zero’.

    • Mark Paskal

      If I had an instrument and could play, I would, because it’s AMANDA FUCKING PALMER, my favourite artist. You’re foaming at the mouth and delusional because she’s asking fans to come on stage with her and be part of the show for free? You think there’ll be no publicity for the artists that help? If Amanda is the future of music, you represent the past.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/libbyking punksocks

      This is a fair call, but it’s also fair to point out that the not-for-profit sector got to this point by trying and making mistakes (I’ve many years in the sector in the big ones and the little ones and the ones who have full-time volunteering staff and the ones where the volunteer’s been running the volunteering section for decades). No not-for-profit was born with a “Volunteering Best Practice Manual” and nor was any rock star.

      We make mistakes in relation to definitions and purpose and we use jargon to explain ourselves to people who just don’t get it all the time. I’m a union-lover and a volunteer-lover because they are both about human integrity and respect. I don’t see her crossing these lines wilfully and without respect, but learning and testing. One of the things she is undoubtedly learning is what many others have learnt before – unions can fucking suck when people think they are wilfully able to be Bullies, just like any other place.

  • peas

    I work in the not-for-profit sector with lots of volunteers. There are principles to volunteering, mostly to ensure that volunteers aren’t exploited. One principle is that volunteers should not be used to replace paid workers or represent a threat to the job security of paid workers, which, by your own admission, is exactly what’s happening here (since you pay people some places and not others to do the same job – bummer if you’re a struggling musician in one of those other places, right?) Of course people have the choice to do this if they want to, but please stop trying to portray this project as something it isn’t. It’s a chance for you to save money by not paying people – and whether you can afford it or not is really beside the point.

    And the fact that you’re comparing this ‘crowd sourcing’ project to a support with Nine Inch Nails (for which you presumably received support billing and plenty of publicity, even if you didn’t make money) and guest spots freakin’ David Byrne has done (FFS!) is just disingenuous. You must realise that what you’re proposing is not even remotely the same thing. It will probably not generate publicity/gigs/income for the ‘volunteer’ musicians and nor is it an arrangement between equals. You may want it to be and maybe it once was, but it’s not now – you’re a prominent musician, and chances are your ‘volunteers’ aren’t, so you benefit from their skills and experience and they get … what exactly?

    At best what you’re doing is naive, at worst it’s really cynical.

  • Fronz Arp

    Part of the artistic statement that is Amanda Palmer, since going down her road as an independent musician, has always been how she interacts with fans and the world. How she involves them. It’s fucking remarkable and has been a guiding light, showing a way beyond the bounds of a music industry intent on imploding.
    Should she now change that just because there’s a dollar figure attached to her career? I would say not. In fact, if she stopped asking for fans to interact with her, ESPECIALLY musically, I think it was so fundamentally change what she’s done and achieved that the statement would crumble and she would be drawn back down to the same level as the rest of the industrialised arts industry, fighting for the final scraps of income amongst sync deals and reality show appearances.
    ‘Art’ and industry don’t mix well. Don’t judge this unique career against the old record company days. And if you don’t want to volunteer then don’t fucking volunteer and let the fans do it x

    • disheartened long time fan

      how has there ever -not- been a dollar figure attached to her career?

    • Howlin’ Hobbit

      yes. this is fucking EXACTLY it.

  • watchmeboogie

    I slept on it and still feel queasy. The fact that some “markets” are important enough to get paid professionals, while others are… not? I don’t feel better.

    I think the bottom line of all of the controversy, Amanda, is this: you’re not at that level anymore where you can beg, borrow and DIY shit and have people be 100% receptive. It’s bigger than that. You are in your mid-30’s and happy to still live like a broke college student, no insurance and no steady paycheck. The thing is, just because you’re happy to do that doesn’t mean everyone else should be. This all smacks a little bit of “I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, so should everyone else.”

    You need to realize that what you do, and how you do it, is extraordinary. You seem to think that ANYONE can do what you do. That’s just not true. Most people don’t have the stamina and the safety net to build the kind of social capital you rely on for income and funding. You’re one of a very small handful of people with the combination of abilities, and luck, to do things the way you do.

    Remember when you toured with the Legendary Pink Dots as their merch girl, and you were surprised when they paid you at the end? I wasn’t. You deserved and earned that pay. Everyone on stage with you now deserves that, too. Why can’t they have a great time with you AND pay the rent?

    Augh, I love you and hate that this give me bad feels. Can you at least have the audience drop money in a bucket for these musicians? I’ll feel much better about having paid for tickets if I know that everyone on stage is getting paid.

    • disheartened long time fan

      this

  • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

    Ive been thinking… Even assuming that everything in life is a comodity to be bought and sold…

    To what extent is time spent playing / hanging out with Amanda a “product” of her enterprise rather than an input into it? I imagine that if Amanda asked musicians to PAY HER to let them take part, then there would be plenty of takers. Would that be ok?

    How would charging people to play be different to charging people to listen?

    If that WOULD be ok, why is giving away the same opportunity / product bad?

  • Barry Bliss

    I’ve never heard of this woman until yesterday.
    She can ask people to play for free all she likes.
    Damned if I’d play for her for free if she asked me.
    The word “exposure” is dropped by seasoned professionals in the music business when they’d like to get some naive, fame-obsessed person to do something for them for free.
    I got exposure when I opened for a woman I won’t name, but the woman paid me, and she paid me well–very well.
    That’s class.
    This shit’s just stupid.

  • Laura E.

    I am a long-term fan of Amanda Palmer. It’s been 10 years. I completely support what she’s doing.

    “But why is she compensating certain people at certain shows, but not others?”
    1) They’re people she and her band have known for a long time. They’re friends.
    2) They’re people who she can rely on to show up. At the NYC show, the cellist bailed last minute, and the saxophone ended up playing the cello parts throughout the concert. As excited as people get about participating, shit happens and they don’t always show up.
    3) It can’t hurt to at least try and compensate SOME of the musicians, even if she can’t compensate all of them.
    4) They’re all perfectly happy to do it! Why criticize people for taking a chance to do something they would love to do? If I had an ounce of musical talent, I would have jumped to volunteer. In fact, I probably would have refused payment. She’s given me her music for ten years and has changed my life. That’s more than I could have ever asked her to do for me. The LEAST I could do is donate my time to one concert on one night.

    I’m currently a law student, and I’m laughing at all the people who say that internships are illegal unless you get class credit. No, that’s called an EXTERNSHIP, and what it really means is that you have to PAY to have a bullshit class and write busywork assignments while also INTERNING. I am on my fourth legal internship, and only one of them has been paid. The only reason it WAS paid was because it was through a special program. I’m getting valuable experience in my preferred area of law, though, and I’m not selling my soul out to a personal injury law firm just to make a buck. Experience and connections are enough for me, in the end. Experience and connections lead to more experience and connections. That’s how it is with a lot of jobs — not every job, but a lot of them.

    “But Amanda, you made like, over $1 million on the Kickstarter!”

    As someone who ordered a Kickstarter package, I can tell you that I definitely got my money’s worth in product. I have the most amazingly beautiful CD package and booklet known to mankind, as well as a breathtakingly well-made, beautifully-executed art book. The money didn’t just go into Amanda’s pockets; the money went toward producing the packages that people were buying! People weren’t pledging $750 to get nothing in return. They were pledging that money to get mailbox invasions or tickets and access to exclusive art shows and what have you. Everyone who pledged got some version of product in return that THEIR money paid for. Of course Amanda made some profit on those products, but so what? She certainly did not actually get to pocket $1.2 million, and it baffles me on how people can perceive it that way.

    For those of you who disapprove of Amanda’s methods, great! Don’t volunteer to play in the horn section at a show! Otherwise, what does it have to do with you? If you’re a musician and you resent that she’s asking people to donate services, then don’t donate your own services! If playing for free stresses you out, then don’t do it! Musicians aren’t the only ones with giant heaps of student loans and struggling for a paying job. Thousands of recent law grads are “volunteer attorneys” while they apply desperately for a job that will pay them anything at all. Why do they bother? Because it’s experience and could turn out to be invaluable. They work in any way they can. Other thousands of recent law grads are sitting on their mom’s couch, filling out applications all day, bemoaning their lack of a job on Facebook. That’s okay too. That’s their way of trying to help themselves. It’s their choice, just like it’s the choice of the other grads to volunteer their services.

    I’m not just comparing the music world to the legal profession simply because I’m a law student — I’m doing it because I see a lot of similar struggles. Everyone handles and fights through their struggles in different ways, but no one should begrudge another for practicing their profession or hobby for free. Whether it’s out of necessity or just for fun, it’s that person’s choice to do what they will with their talents.

    • Lynz

      well put my friend. I have a 40+ hr per week job and on the weekends i volunteer my time walking dogs at the animal shelter. I feel good about what i do, not exploited. People are greedy.

      • HappyHappyJoyJoy

        ‘cuz reading & performing music at an event where everyone else is being paid (after your resume is accepted that you possess the education, ability, personal tools, and previous experience to do so on a professional”ish” basis) is the same as walking Muttie McRoverton around on the weekends.

        High-five for you Lynz. Have a Hug too.
        Schmuck.

        • Lynz

          lol. IT’S VOLUNTEER WORK!
          good god people.
          thanks for the laugh though.

        • Lynz

          you do realize that they are doing this because they want to , right?

          xoxo,
          Schmucky mc Schmuckerson

  • DForDisbeliever

    LoL. :)
    This is a funny discussion. As much as I support artists (I buy a lot of merch/CD’s and tickets for concerts), I cannot understand how people can so easily come to the conclusion that artist HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE PAID! No they don’t… They have the right to produce and publish work. The audience has the choice to decide if the artist is worth their money. Apparently Amanda Palmer’s audience thinks the is worth it.

    I never have an never will respect so called artists that are in it for the money. If your audience does not pay you enough to make a living from it. SUCK IT UP, and get a day job like the rest of us…

    • Sam

      This argument is incredibly ignorant. Amanda Palmer is being paid by her audience. Yes, if you give your time in a professional capacity (as in, the artist you support is getting paid to perform at a high level that you help achieve) you have the RIGHT to be paid. Although, as Amanda notes, you have the freedom to choose to deny yourself this right.

      • DForDisbeliever

        No you don’t have the right to be paid. A lot of my friends are in bands, and they’ve opened for big names in the Punk scenes, playing for 2000+ people, tickets at 30$ a pop. They did not even get paid for their travel expenses. And they did not care. Do you know why? Because if they had the RIGHT to be paid, the promoter has the DUTY to make extra expenses. And he would just have decided their would be no opening band cause that makes economically the most sense. No exposure, no fun, no nothing. :)

        Amanda Palmer could have used a tape instead of volunteers. She chose to try something else cause that might work out better for everybody. If she chose to use a tape , nobody in the audience would have minded. She gave opportunities for fun and exposure (and this IS worth something, if you don’t suck that is…), and now some wannabe artists are taking it out on her because of jealousy.

  • Keith

    A lot of this “Interns don’t get paid” and “people would love to opportunity” excuses are crazy. Amanda Palmer is NOT making mind blowing music and if you look at the list of venues she’s playing, they aren’t that big. How is this anything more than another lame PR attempt?

    • Garry

      her music blows my mind :)

  • THURBUS

    Yes, freedom of choice. That sounds roundly like what right-wing “right to work” abolish-minimum-wage types use to justify creating a system that abuses workers. Is it cool to hire kids to make Reeboks for next to nothing because they think that someday they’ll “make it”? Your argument justifies that just as well. Or, if you’re a fan of more mild examples: unpaid “internships”, come film my music video for free for the exposure, etc. etc. That’s all their choice. But to put it bluntly, just because simps can be cheated doesn’t make the person conning them ethical. Try to be ethical in everything you do and your “different game” with “different rules” will appeal to a lot more people.

    Out of curiosity, what would you think of trying this tack with tour management, accountants, sound engineers, drivers, etc.? Why is this kind of thing OK in the creative industry? NEVER WORK FOR FREE, FOR SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS MAKING MONEY OFF YOU. I assume your accountant isn’t budgeting the tour just for the chance to hang out with some cool people with their cool joyful noise.

    • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

      Why not work for free if you have the time and want to? Whether “someone” is making money off it or not? Over the years I’ve worked for free (in businesses as opposed to volunteering for charities) doing office work, manual labor, farming, retail, bar keeping, and teaching, usually because someone didn’t have the money to hire help, or had been let down by paid staff (sickness, suddenly quitting etc) but occasionally just for fun. In each of the cases I did it because either the job itself, or the relationship I had with the owner, was more important than the time I would have spent sitting in front of the TV those days.

      Isnt the “work” in this case a form of either leisure or charity? And aren’t both those things good?

      How do you feel about things like woofing (where the farmers are definitely trying to make a profit)?

      • peregrine

        ALL musicians work for free. Amanda Palmer is not special for doing it; her friends aren’t special for doing it. We ALL do work for free: because there’s not enough paying work to go around. Amanda Palmer has worked her way up, and is now in a position to *create* paying work for other musicians like herself- but instead has decided that indeed, she’s not afraid to take our money.

        • Lynz

          she didn’t just take our money, she gave us beautiful art and an amazing cd. it wasn’t like you just gave her a twenty and called it a day. the stuff she created with her kickstarter money (that we all gave at our free will) would have cost a lot more in the stores. have you ever volunteered a day in your life? it feels good to do it, you don’t HAVE to get paid for everything in this world. you realize that she is traveling by bus with a ton of folks with her…food, GAS, everything costs money. subtract all of the kickstarter packages and that million bucks is pretty dwindled down. I am sure she has bills to pay too. were you a backer?

          • http://www.facebook.com/thetroubledtroubador Gary Ukulele-Rudd

            Sure; volunteer for charity; help some old or disabled folks who need assistance. But this woman had over a million bucks and blew it! She’s not a charity she’s a parasite and you are her host. Save your pity for those who deserve it.

          • Lynz

            what does pity have to do with anything? She didn’t blow a million bucks, she made everyone that backed her exactly what they paid for.

        • http://www.facebook.com/thetroubledtroubador Gary Ukulele-Rudd

          There isn’t enough paying work because dumbshits like you do it for nothing. Work it out: should I pay someone or get it for free? Ummm… She hasn’t ‘worked her way up’ she is riding on other peoples’ backs. Do you think construction workers operate the same way? Freebies until someone decides this house will get paid for? I’d like to say you are naiive but you’re not; you’re stupid!

        • Jon Kiparsky

          When I was a working musician, I worked for pay. When the gigs dried up, because of kids willing to play for free, I stopped working as a musician. I still play music, just not on stages in front of people.

  • Debbie

    Working for free sets an industry precedence which becomes a vicious circle where people no longer expect to pay or be paid for work. This filters up, so low-no pay jobs are the norm regardless of the size and prestige of company one works for.
    With freedom comes responsibility. Those who choose to play for free so they can play at all affect the whole industry, and then being an artist is only for those who can afford it. Art becomes based on money and not talent. A playground for the elite.
    Honour your talents and act with your feet. If we all agreed to not work for no or dismall wages, then companies would have to think differently about the pieces the perform based on their budget and paying people fairly.
    I also resent paying my ticket price knowing only a selected few performers are getting paid.

  • epynephrin

    At the end of the day, I think the question is: was anyone mislead?

    The folks who are volunteering to play on stage, do they have any delusions about what they’re getting into? Did they sign up under some delusion of being paid, only to ultimately be lied to? By the sound of it, no. No one’s forced the people who are playing for free to play for free, and I get the sense they could still drop out if they really felt strongly about it. So, who are we to criticize their decision?

    If you’re unwilling to play for free, don’t. If someone else is, that’s their business.

  • Brandi Hair

    Respectful and thoughtful as usual, Amanda. Thank you for engaging. I, for one, support your decision.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YE7XETD3G6GSJVIRPINAPDQFW4 PS

      Of course you do. You’re not a working musician.

  • Not a musician

    I am a physio (physical therapist) not a musician. I volunteer more then I work using my expertise because I choose to.
    Reading Amy’s letter, I thought it was very well put, with valid politely put points, I just happen not to agree.
    As a physio I am constantly asked for advice and assistance, with no intention of paying for my service. I help where I can, when I can, when I choose.
    Should Amanda request a volunteer physio for her tour, I would put my hand up in a heartbeat. For me, despite the lack of financial remuneration, who cares, what an opportunity.
    Also, I do not think volunteering is ever a one way street of benefit. It is just a matter of whether or not the exchange works for you. I usually volunteer to meet new people, have new experiences, learn something.
    It is true if I had bills to pay and I had to choose between a paid gig with people i had little interest and a volunteer gig with an idol, I am way to sensible not to take the paid gig. However if there was no other gig, I am certainly going to choose watching an Amander Palmer concert from the stage over sitting at home worrying about the bills.
    Choosing to volunteer does not make me naive, it gives me experiences that I would not get otherwise. That is enough for me, and I appreciate that it is not the same case for everyone, just move over so I can volunteer if you’re not going to!

  • Adam

    Maybe instead of “Amanda Fucking Palmer” it should be changed to “Fuck Amanda Palmer”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Becca-BiBi-Sklar/1679002662 Becca BiBi Sklar

    So brilliantly said. I’ve tried to explain to a few friends that you aren’t a millionaire and you are so friendly and do what you can for everyone on tour with you. I want to give you my money for your merch and music, and that’s cause you are deserving of it. You are sweet and never take your fans for granted. I can’t wait to see you again (saw you in NY and threw my own socks at Jherek) and will have the balls to ask you for a kiss :3 Side note, I thought youd find it amusing that I’ve never been kissed before. Anyway, when I hear you have new music coming out my thoughts are best described coming from Fry from Futurama :) <3

  • Lynz

    Amanda,
    I think that you, giving your fans, a chance to hop up on stage and play with you is probably one of the most special things that an artist can do with their fans. I mean if i still played the flute and you gave me this opportunity i would (probably die from an anxiety attack) be there in a heartbeat and getting paid would never cross my mind. The experience of creating music with one of my favorite musicians and the memories and story that i would have from that would be all the payment i would need.

    Why isn’t anyone realizing that you have worked your ever-living ass off to get where you are right now? I can tell you that one of the main reasons that you are getting shit for this is because people are lazy and jealous and quite frankly don’t have the energy to keep up with you, but that is what it takes when you are not born into something.

    As far as kickstarter goes, i believe that it is genius…you say HEY!! FANS!! here is what you can get for these set prices OR you can give what you want…guess what Amanda, your fans, myself included, blew YOUR MIND with what we wanted and what we thought that you were worth to us. I would have backed your album with the money I did even if all it got me was a burned CD !! Instead I received something that honestly I would have paid twice as much for in any store. You never pressured anyone, you didn’t beg…you put your energy behind it and even though you really didn’t have to, you informed us to where all of our money is going. The picture that you showed us of your storage room with all of the kickstarter merch was being assembled and waiting to ship WAS FUCKING OVERWHELMING, I teared up when I saw it and I though, holy fuck, she did it.

    I just want to say that this is it right now, here we are, you are doing exactly what you set out to do with the help of amazing people all around you. Enjoy this and don’t let people get under your skin and stab at your emotions (I know that is WAY easier said than done). There is way more LOVE than there is hate.

    In closing as much as I would be honored to play on stage with you… I simply let my skills in playing music escape me over the years but I would love to get you guys some food when you play in Houston so if you still need that I am your girl. FOOD SOURCE ME, I will never expect a dime in return, just a hug and a chance to be around you guys for a bit.

    Oh and the new album is fucking amazing, no other album (including my extensive cure collection) has brought me to tears so many times. Thank you AFP and GTO. Thank you.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YE7XETD3G6GSJVIRPINAPDQFW4 PS

      Spoken just like a sheep who doesn’t make a living in music. Hey, one day when you outgrow being star struck, you’ll be very embarrassed you wrote this pathetic drivel.

  • Tranespotter

    Amanda. You don’t get it. You’re trying to use musicians who have studied their instruments and craft and are attempting to establish a career in music with a vague come on involving “passion” and citing that you have “played for free”. You could pay them with 3% of your tour budget: a budget you got by begging people for money. You actions are without empathy for your fellow musicians. You are part of the problem in the music industry, not any solution. It does not matter how many people endorse your actions, They are still your actions. Musicians playing for free may have a good time, they may have a good experience. You, on the other hand, are still someone who used their talents and did not pay them when you had plenty of other peoples money to pay them with. With your actions, you portray yourself as a narcissistic user.

    • http://www.facebook.com/meg.hargis Meg Hargis

      In what way did she beg for money? She sold people goods which they paid for in advance.

  • Lynz

    Amanda,
    I think that you, giving your fans, a chance to hop up on stage and play with you is probably one of the most special things that an artist can do with their fans. I mean if i still played the flute and you gave me this opportunity i would (probably die from an anxiety attack) be there in a heartbeat and getting paid would never cross my mind. The experience of creating music with one of my favorite musicians and the memories and story that i would have from that would be all the payment i would need.

    Why isn’t anyone realizing that you have worked your ever-living ass off to get where you are right now? I can tell you that one of the main reasons that you are getting shit for this is because people are lazy and jealous and quite frankly don’t have the energy to keep up with you, but that is what it takes when you are not born into something.

    As far as kickstarter goes, i believe that it is genius…you say HEY!! FANS!! here is what you can get for these set prices OR you can give what you want…guess what Amanda, your fans, myself included, blew YOUR MIND with what we wanted and what we thought that you were worth to us. I would have backed your album with the money I did even if all it got me was a burned CD !! Instead I received something that honestly I would have paid twice as much for in any store. You never pressured anyone, you didn’t beg…you put your energy behind it and even though you really didn’t have to, you informed us to where all of our money is going. The picture that you showed us of your storage room with all of the kickstarter merch was being assembled and waiting to ship WAS FUCKING OVERWHELMING, I teared up when I saw it and I though, holy fuck, she did it.

    I just want to say that this is it right now, here we are, you are doing exactly what you set out to do with the help of amazing people all around you. Enjoy this and don’t let people get under your skin and stab at your emotions (I know that is WAY easier said than done). There is way more LOVE than there is hate.

    In closing as much as I would be honored to play on stage with you… I simply let my skills in playing music escape me over the years but I would love to get you guys some food when you play in Houston so if you still need that I am your girl. FOOD SOURCE ME, I will never expect a dime in return, just a hug and a chance to be around you guys for a bit.

    Oh and the new album is fucking amazing, no other album (including my extensive cure collection) has brought me to tears so many times. Thank you AFP and GTO. Thank you.

  • steev

    see, the food sourcing thing is where it all really breaks down. you want to use that to parallel what you’re doing. unfortunately, it’s very different. this would be a more accurate scenario: you decide to food source at a restaurant. you are a well known chef and you have a bunch of struggling cooks slave away, at their own expense, to impress you and to meet you. you then take their food, put in on the menu, sell it and pocket the money and think everyone had a fine and dandy time. that is how you would actually relate that to what you are doing. i’m sure if a chef has fans play music for them while they cook no one would have an issue with that either. but, in the case of what is actually happening here, you are eating your own kind. it’s cannibalistic. bottom line: this all sounds nice but the reality is that you are using the success that you have had to make money off of people who haven’t had that success. it sounds lovely to get that exposure but all you’re selling is trickle down economics for the same selfish reasons that others sold trickle down economics. you want to have what you want and keep all of the money.

  • Maria Patenaude

    On the subject of “devaluing” music, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong by giving some music away and having us choose what to pay for the rest. I’ve been a fan since 2003, own all of your recordings… and own it all LEGALLY. To me this is a mark of how much I respect you and how good a job you’re doing marketing your music: I’ve never been tempted to pirate your work. I’m not a rich person, or even middle class. In fact, I’m chronically ill and have never held a real job. Not long ago I spent a year legally homeless, so I am not among the privileged that are able to have what they want when they want it, or even among the lucky (who don’t realize how lucky they are!) who can work hard and save up to buy the things that give them pleasure. Instead I’m blessed that one of the musicians I admire most has such an open, innovative way of making their music available. Sometimes I don’t even have that $1, Amanda, so I give you what I do have. Sometimes that’s $0.00, and I’m glad that, to you, that’s okay. Because of this comfortable agreement, I am able to keep my dignity intact by not stealing from someone I respect. And hey, sometimes I have $5 for you! This is a mutually beneficial relationship, in my opinion.

  • DT

    FFS people. Get this difference. She’s not personally contacting musicians and asking them to work for free. She’s saying if you play one of these instruments and you want to play at my show, come on down. She might get the next hot new talent, she might get fourth chair in the high school band 20 years ago. She might get no one. She’s good with all these answers. It’s an experiment, and all the people involved seem happy enough with the arrangement. As a musician myself, would I cancel other work to go play for her? No. Would go if I had the time free? Probably. I’d consider it an experiment in social networking. I might meet someone nifty. I might get local exposure. I might just have a great night. It might suck and I’d decide not to do it again. All of these are my prerogative. She’s not arm twisting, she’s making an offer. And you know what else? I’d do it for pretty much any artist who asked if I had the free time. I’m not so precious that I’d spend the evening doing nothing rather than playing for free and for fun.

  • BillW

    You’re a petulant (overfunded) idiot, fyi.

    • CB

      Bill W, you’re rude and jealous! In Australia we call this The Tall Poppy Syndrome – once someone starts to become a little more successful than they are comfortable with – people become jealous at their success and want to cut them down to size. I bet most of these negative responses are coming from frustrated artists who have no idea what a pleasure it can be to share the stage for fun with other artists. As someone who has supported AFP as an opening act – it was an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait to do it again. Was it good for my art? My act – absolutely. As an artist it is 100% up to you which gigs you do for money, for nothing, for love. I will continue to make my choices as I see fit and I respect the right for others to do the same. But please, stop being rude – it’s so obviously just sour grapes.

      • disheartened long time fan

        i’m really tired of people throwing out the “omg you are all jealous haterz” thing because a) i think it’s great she’s found success b) i am not a musician nor am i looking for any iota of fame in my life c) i’m totally comfortable financially

        i can still dislike the way this is being handled without being jealous.

    • CB

      Bill W, you’re rude and jealous! In Australia we call this The Tall Poppy Syndrome – once someone starts to become a little more successful than they are comfortable with – people become jealous at their success and want to cut them down to size. I bet most of these negative responses are coming from frustrated artists who have no idea what a pleasure it can be to share the stage for fun with other artists. As someone who has supported AFP as an opening act – it was an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait to do it again. Was it good for my art? My act – absolutely. As an artist it is 100% up to you which gigs you do for money, for nothing, for love. I will continue to make my choices as I see fit and I respect the right for others to do the same. But please, stop being rude – it’s so obviously just sour grapes.

  • Lucy

    It’s not that you “can’t afford” it – you’re simply unwilling to budget. Like how people always say “I don’t have time” but in reality they would if they made the time. They’re usually just unwilling to cut out anything else to make that time.

    How much would you have been forever grateful and inspired by an artist who asked you to play, not for free, but for as much (or in some cases as little) as they could afford? Somebody who met your efforts with astounding tangible gratitude, whatever the amount? What would it mean to the old starving-artist you of the past, if somebody actually said “I care enough for this community and for you as a fellow artist that I’m going to do what I can, however small, to compensate you for what you’re giving me.”

    It’s not like these people can give the gas station your merch in payment for the tank of gas it’s gonna cost them to be there, supporting you.
    Now, of course you’ll find people willing and happy to do this for free or for merch for you. Of course! And they’ll have a blast and they’ll love every minute of it!
    But why not actually be AWESOME and do something nice for your community when you quite clearly have a huge opportunity to do so? Don’t let the opportunity pass you by, because the future holds a great deal of uncertainty and who knows – it may be your only chance.

  • Herr Berger

    hi Amanda, friends of AFP, foes of AFP, everyone else…
    I’m a ‘professional’ drummer, I’ve been doing that since I moved to NYC in 1987. When I got here, there were faaaaar more paying gigs to be had than there are now. In about 1992, I ended up playing with a band called ‘The Flying Neutrinos’. There were some gigs that paid, but some just didn’t pay enough to cover me. I would always volunteer to play those gigs for free. I always knew that the paying ones would come back around, but, I was also seeking something that money couldn’t buy, which is experience. Ingrid, the singer, always found some money for me (btw) but, I was totally willing to just play, and never expected the money. The Flying Neutrinos were the most interesting experience in New York at that time by many accounts, and here I was, a part of that. They lived on the Hudson River, in houseboats that they built themselves, and they even gave me one of them, The Town Hall, for $1. I had my experience…I bought it with my drumming.
    I want to remind the other ‘pro’ musicians, that these AFP gigs outside of NY, they represent one gig, one night, in one city. This represents a very, very small portion of a musician’s life salary. The musicians that volunteer will gain an experience, and, the lifeblood of the show will be very, very different than if it were people hired to do the same thing. So, AFP may be getting something free, but, then, who knows what that will be??? AFP is taking a chance, in order to have an experience, which you cannot buy.
    I have met AFP, I play drums with Meow Meow, so, we’ve actually gigged together. I never got the sense that she’d try to dupe me into playing for free. In fact, my intuition tells me that to play with me, she’d be willing to pay a very fair, respectful sum of money. But, this isn’t that. This whole thing, all of the concerts, rehearsals, responses, blog posts, what happens next…that is an experience. It shouldn’t be confused with a policy of not paying musicians, this does not at all feel like the experience being sought here. I’m not confused about that anyway…and BTW, Meow Meow asked me to play the opening of the AFP Webster Hall show, but, using drums in the opening slot wasn’t appropriate. Meow flowers me with love, and respects me with money when she asks me to play with her, but she asked me to do this in the spirit of the show, for free. Guess what I said?

    • Bomar 2300

      I have to cut in for a sec to say The Flying Neutrinos were amazing! Thank you for your work with them.

      • Herr Berger

        oh cool-you saw us! It was an amazing part of the ride…we’re all still riding. What year or years did you see us?

  • Howlin’ Hobbit

    I have paid tickets for Amanda and the GTO show when she comes to my town later this month.

    I have *long* been the curmudgeonly ass in my bands doing the “show me the money!” thing. nevertheless, I would get there early, ukulele in hand, and rehearse/sound check my ass off for a chance to be in an AFP show. and I would not only refuse any pay I wouldn’t even take a refund for my ticket.
    though I probably wouldn’t refuse a beer. and hugs from AFP and her cadre would most likely bliss me to death.

    so hush now. even us money-grubbing old geezers have a *little* art in our hearts.

  • Howlin’ Hobbit

    I have paid tickets for Amanda and the GTO show when she comes to my town later this month.

    I have *long* been the curmudgeonly ass in my bands doing the “show me the money!” thing. nevertheless, I would get there early, ukulele in hand, and rehearse/sound check my ass off for a chance to be in an AFP show. and I would not only refuse any pay I wouldn’t even take a refund for my ticket.
    though I probably wouldn’t refuse a beer. and hugs from AFP and her cadre would most likely bliss me to death.

    so hush now. even us money-grubbing old geezers have a *little* art in our hearts.

  • molly

    I don’t get this debate!! I am a working musician who is only mildly familiar with Amanda’s work, and I’m certainly not a part of her regular fan-base. But I’d love to play with Amanda! For free. These musicians aren’t selling their souls to her, it’s just a night of partying onstage with an amazing band with a huge and fantastic crowd! For me, and these volunteers, that would be/is compensation enough. And if that isn’t compensation enough, don’t do it!

  • molly

    I don’t get this debate!! I am a working musician who is only mildly familiar with Amanda’s work, and I’m certainly not a part of her regular fan-base. But I’d love to play with Amanda! For free. These musicians aren’t selling their souls to her, it’s just a night of partying onstage with an amazing band with a huge and fantastic crowd! For me, and these volunteers, that would be/is compensation enough. And if that isn’t compensation enough, don’t do it!

  • Janis

    Reposting and adding to a comment I made at artsjournal:

    I can see reasons why I might say yes to an unpaid gig — I can
    also see more reasons why I might say no. It is up to musicians
    individually … but I’m not surprised at the flap over this either,
    particularly coming on the heels of a publicized windfall for you.
    Coming from the tech boom in the 90s, I saw more than a few companies
    have a tough time negotiating the changeover from having an identity as a
    sort of high-tech garage-band with their buddies working until midnight
    and being paid in pizza and beer to a proper corporation where
    employees expected traditional compensation. That often hit after the
    VC funding came through, where people were like, “Okay, no more pizza
    and beer, right?” It can especially be hard if the company’s top
    management have a strong personal identity wrapped around being a DIY
    startup operation, and suddenly they have to admit to themselves that a
    Rubicon of sorts has been crossed, and they can no longer identify
    themselves that way.

    And they may want to hold onto that identity fiercely if they have defined themselves
    in opposition to the mainstream and don’t want to identify upward,
    because they fear being arrogant. But refusing to admit that you have
    moved upward comes across as presumptuous.

    It’s a tough thing to navigate as an artist that has suddenly moved
    upward and visibly so with the very visible success of your kickstarter campaign. You’re no longer as “garage-band-DIY” as you once were …
    and people’s expectations of you may have changed with that. You may still think of yourself that way, but you can’t afford to do that anymore. I can still see why a
    musician might play the odd unpaid gig, and definitely think it’s a
    matter of choice for them … but I can also see that you might have
    lost the freedom to use the DIY tools — the equivalent of paying your
    buddies in pizza and beer — without difficulty.

    I wonder how many lower-level “starving musicians” donated to your kickstarter campaign, and hence feel that they should have moved up
    along with you? That may be the downside of those sorts of campaigns:
    many, many, many disorganized quasi-shareholders, each with an opinion
    and a sense of ownership.
    Full disclosure: I would likely say no to almost any unpaid gig, but for two reasons that might not apply to most musicians. First, I have a non-musical day career that pays well, is very demanding, and takes most of my time; I’m not a full-time musician. If I’m getting out my my pajamas and on the freeway on the weekends, I’m getting PAID, damn it. Second, I play the two least portable instruments in the world: piano and organ. When found “in the wild,” one of my instruments is a BUILDING. Not a lot of freebie gigging to be done with that one. :-) So the question is fairly settled on “no” for me. Others may feel differently … but I can also see how this can come across VERY problematically for you, and that you may simply not be able to act like it’s your buddies playing for free until midnight anymore. You have moved past that stage, and either have to find a way to exist on that higher, more successful level without feeling arrogant, or risk coming across as taking advantage. It’s a rough balancing act.

  • Janis

    Reposting and adding to a comment I made at artsjournal:

    I can see reasons why I might say yes to an unpaid gig — I can
    also see more reasons why I might say no. It is up to musicians
    individually … but I’m not surprised at the flap over this either,
    particularly coming on the heels of a publicized windfall for you.
    Coming from the tech boom in the 90s, I saw more than a few companies
    have a tough time negotiating the changeover from having an identity as a
    sort of high-tech garage-band with their buddies working until midnight
    and being paid in pizza and beer to a proper corporation where
    employees expected traditional compensation. That often hit after the
    VC funding came through, where people were like, “Okay, no more pizza
    and beer, right?” It can especially be hard if the company’s top
    management have a strong personal identity wrapped around being a DIY
    startup operation, and suddenly they have to admit to themselves that a
    Rubicon of sorts has been crossed, and they can no longer identify
    themselves that way.

    And they may want to hold onto that identity fiercely if they have defined themselves
    in opposition to the mainstream and don’t want to identify upward,
    because they fear being arrogant. But refusing to admit that you have
    moved upward comes across as presumptuous.

    It’s a tough thing to navigate as an artist that has suddenly moved
    upward and visibly so with the very visible success of your kickstarter campaign. You’re no longer as “garage-band-DIY” as you once were …
    and people’s expectations of you may have changed with that. You may still think of yourself that way, but you can’t afford to do that anymore. I can still see why a
    musician might play the odd unpaid gig, and definitely think it’s a
    matter of choice for them … but I can also see that you might have
    lost the freedom to use the DIY tools — the equivalent of paying your
    buddies in pizza and beer — without difficulty.

    I wonder how many lower-level “starving musicians” donated to your kickstarter campaign, and hence feel that they should have moved up
    along with you? That may be the downside of those sorts of campaigns:
    many, many, many disorganized quasi-shareholders, each with an opinion
    and a sense of ownership.
    Full disclosure: I would likely say no to almost any unpaid gig, but for two reasons that might not apply to most musicians. First, I have a non-musical day career that pays well, is very demanding, and takes most of my time; I’m not a full-time musician. If I’m getting out my my pajamas and on the freeway on the weekends, I’m getting PAID, damn it. Second, I play the two least portable instruments in the world: piano and organ. When found “in the wild,” one of my instruments is a BUILDING. Not a lot of freebie gigging to be done with that one. :-) So the question is fairly settled on “no” for me. Others may feel differently … but I can also see how this can come across VERY problematically for you, and that you may simply not be able to act like it’s your buddies playing for free until midnight anymore. You have moved past that stage, and either have to find a way to exist on that higher, more successful level without feeling arrogant, or risk coming across as taking advantage. It’s a rough balancing act.

  • http://twitter.com/witchbyrd roxy l

    asking fans to provide unpaid labor so you can make money on their backs is disgusting- especially because you have a fanbase who adores you so much that they’d be willing to do this just to ‘work’ with you. you are not treating them like equals, and you are not giving them the respect they deserve as musicians. your greed is astounding.

  • Lucia

    dear amanda palmer,

    rape is not funny. please apologize for turning it into a joke on stage. i did not find it funny when a man forced his penis inside me and i am horrified that you would use it to make “a statement” and find it funny. you have lost many fans over this, but you do not seem to care because, in your own mind, everything you do is right.

  • Tree

    Amanda Palmer, 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 itself. This backlash is due in no small part to the smug sense of self satisfaction that you display while proudly proclaiming to your fans that you are “defining the future of music.” Also, if you were “the media” you’ve clearly had a masochistic week.

  • professional – no ish

    Sorry, this musician doesn’t buy the argument. The people playing for free (volunteer is a white-washed term) don’t realize what a slippery slope this is. Don’t do it, people, this is not a charity.

  • Ashok

    This is such an enormous straw-man. Your response is as disingenuous as the request. Nobody is disputing that working for free sometimes is a useful endeavour. The question is whether or not it is a good thing in this particular case. It clearly is not. As others have pointed out, the publicity generated for your hapless professionalish volunteers wouldn’t even be close to comparable with the professional boost you got from playing with NIN. And ultimately the question is not the utility of playing for free but the stone cold fact that you absolutely can afford to pay the musicians a couple hundred bucks for a night’s work. Honestly, given that you’re married to a multi-millionaire, I also found it pretty dodgy that you went to Kickstarter to raise the money for your tour. Some of us are out there scraping for dimes to put together on our film projects or whatever and our families – poor as they are – max out their cards to help us. You’re married to Neil Effing Gaiman who is a pretty rich man at this point and getting richer quite exponentially. Ask him for a loaner perhaps instead of tapping out your broke-ass fanbase? I think it was a pretty iffy move to raise that Kickstarter money. So are you going to give each Kickstarter backer a proportionate share of your earnings from the album? Given that what you basically did was to ask people for an investment in your for-profit endeavour, the ethical move would be to reward them in actual cash money proportionate to their investment. Aside from twee rewards like ‘beer’ and ‘hugs’ which are all very well but ultimately do not pay rent.

    And I have no doubt that millions would kill to play for free with you. But that doesn’t make it OK. Gaiman, even more than you, has such a dedicated (to the point of sometimes assuming crazy mob status) fanbase that people would probably pay you (and kindof have) for the privilege of being a step closer to him by standing with to you. But just cos you can get away with it doesn’t make it acceptable. Kudos to you for spinning the pretty incredible PR strategy that you have. You’ve made an entire subculture of utterly broke, struggling people think that you’re one of them and, dammit, you only want to Help Them. I am certain that you were one of them once but – particularly post-marriage – you most certainly are not now. And make no mistake, as the Huffpo piece on this whole fiasco indicates, this is a class/entitlement culture and economic issue as much as anything else.

    • Stefan

      It’s funny, how the people voicing critical views (if they get beyond name-calling and insults) speak of a night’s work and compensation, while those who have actually played speak of fun and art.

      Your criticism of the kickstarter sounds mostly as if you are either not very familiar with how that works or jealous (or both). I pledged $ 300.00 and the reward I received in return was worth every cent. Therefore I don’t feel that I gave her a loan but rather that I backed a fantastic artist and got a pretty good deal out of it.

      Your implication that Amanda somehow brainwashes her fans into self-exploitation and poverty while living a life of luxury, makes me wonder if you are serious.
      But even if she was rich (which I don’t know), there still would be people lining up for a chance to join her on stage and there still would be people lining up to see her, her band and those fans on stage.
      Because it is fun and a good show and art. And fortunately to a lot of people that is what counts.

      • Ashok

        Yes, and romantic ‘fun and art’ arguments like that are the reason why entertainment industry execs are laughing all the way to the bank and the vast majority of artists are struggling to pay rent. I’m guessing that you have the luxury of making that ‘fun and art’ argument because you’re either financially comfortable (which happened because people PAY you for whatever it is you do) or you’re an artist in a very early stage of your career where everything is all ‘yay art, who needs to eat anyway’. Given that you could afford to give AFP 300 bucks, it’s probably the former. I’m not suggesting that AFP is responsible for her fans’ poverty. I am saying that AFP has been saving money off of her fans for a little too long now. This was OK when she was poor and struggling herself. But now that she is married to a man who is worth millions and has pulled 1.2 million bucks off Kickstarter, you CANNOT possibly be suggesting that she can’t somehow pull together 35000 dollars to pay some musicians. THat makes me think YOU’RE not serious. Either that or you’re one of those fans who would lay down and call it ‘fun and art’ even if AFP asked you up on stage and walked all over you in six inch stilettos. I realize this is a terribly condescending response but your response to what I said was the same so I figure that’s OK.

        Also, by the standards of most of us norms, AFP does live a life of luxury. I have been to the neighborhood in Boston where she lives. That is when she’s not staying at Gaiman’s lovely house in the Midwest or in a nice hotel that costs an average month’s rent in Somerville. It’s easy to dismiss me by saying that I’m ‘jealous’ but a person who can live the way AFP does (and don’t say I’m speculating – all this stuff is evident from her blog and Gaiman’s. Despite how it appears I am/was long-time fans of both) should be able to afford to pay a few musicians. I think it is pretty bizarre that you’re referring to ‘a night’s work and compensation’ with sneering contempt like it’s some kind of bourgeois concept that has no place in the creative industries or, for that matter, like its mutually exclusive with ‘fun and art’.

        Ultimately it comes down to the fact that there is no scenario in which Amanda Palmer cannot raise 35k. And the fact that, for her, this is a for-profit gig. It is just not ethical to launch a for-profit endeavour and then not pay the people involved in it. If she is willing to ask her fans for money, she should be willing to ask her husband for some. And honestly, I don’t think she should even need to do that. Shouldn’t she have BUDGETED for backup musicians? When you put together a tour, you decide whether you can afford the essentials before you go on that tour. Forget tours, that’s true for any project. And if, after having her album chart everywhere and having her tours sell out, she STILL cannot raise 35k then, shit, she’s probably using accountants she found to ‘volunteer’ their services in the name of ‘fun and art’ as well.

        • Stefan

          I am not convinced that Amanda is setting some kind of precedent or playing into the hands of greedy executives who want to swindle musicians out of their (increasingly difficult) livelihood.
          As she said herself quite a few of the musicians touring with her are getting paid.
          In addition to the regulars she’s offering fans the opportunity to play a few pieces alongside with the band.
          This won’t work for any artist, it works for her due to the special connection she has with her fans and the unusual atmosphere at her gigs. For this reason alone it doesn’t work as a precedent.
          Those music execs probably don’t like her very much either – I would assume that selling a record without a label, without copy protection and without a fixed price is their worst nightmares coming true.

          The strings and horns are not necessary for the show and there’s no budget for them because the plan was to have fans playing theses bits all along.
          I understand that she rather uses enthusiasts than hired help – and they are being compensated – to fans the chance to share the stage and be at the show is a real reward. Even though the tickets to the shows are ridiculously cheap, people have paid hundreds of Dollars to share some words with Amanda.

          The fact that you think that the lack of monetary compensation shows a lack of respect, because Amanda is earning money from these concerts illustrates the point where we’ll have to disagree.
          Yes, I work full time, I have a degree and earn well enough to spend $ 300.00 on the kickstarter. Therefore I can afford to put fun and art over monetary considerations.
          I just think the fans who decide to offer their skills should have the right to make the same choice.

  • bonzer

    wait, so audiences in big cities like nyc deserve paid musicians who are (apparently) guaranteed to be good and the smaller markets get the “risky” volunteers? what’s up with that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.perkins.7161 Jonathan Perkins

    ok so this is gonna be slightly biased because some of Amanda’s people are my people, and while partying with them on her tours, (when they come through whichever city I happen to be inhabiting at the time), she and I have probably shared (all in a drunken haze that neither of us remember the next day) both beautiful insults and overly zealous compliments, haha…

    I, too, work in the industry, and although I can claim 2 Platinum records, 2 Gold records, and a FRICKIN Emmy, I can STILL attest to the fact that making music pay for ALL involved is a SERIOUS challenge. ANY of us who have had any real success in the industry remember volunteering early in our career, AND, believe it or not, STILL volunteer to this day on certain projects. A LOT of music these days gets made because of people doing what they want to do just for the hell of it.

    So, the question really comes down to what the volunteering does for the musicians, as many have challenged in the comments below (and will in the future comments as well). One of my volunteering jobs early on as a musician was with a music production company called Orange Factory Music, playing chords on a keyboard mostly, because they wanted to make dance remixes. It wasn’t too long before they got into the pop realm, and because they just got along with me so well personally, they decided to write with me for these pop artists, and before we knew it, we had a hit song on our hands and took it to #1 in this country and many others. I was writing/playing for them for FREE until we got a publishing deal, which was basically TWO YEARS worth of time, (yes, I had another job, which i eventually left). ANY musician who expects success in this tough, hardass industry needs to know that these kinds of sacrifices are necessary. It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone.

    SO, what can volunteering as a musician for Amanda Palmer do for YOU? Many of your responses to my volunteering experience might be, “well that’s a different scenario entirely than a musician volunteering one time to play on stage.” Well, how about the volunteering I did that introduced me to Orange Factory Music in the first place? I played for a guy who knew a guy that was looking for someone that could play a mean keyboard to work on these dance remixes… and it was history. SO, that’s the secret: even if you play ONE time for Amanda Palmer, you have just INSTANTANEOUSLY created for yourself a HUGE network, that, knowing Amanda and her generosity, she would probably make available to you with open arms. Keep in touch with her. Drop her a line from time to time and say, “Hey, what’s up? I’m coming to so-and-so city soon and am looking for some cool musicians/projects/artists/etc. to hook up with- who do you know?”, and before you know it, maybe you’re part of a great project that could have great potential. SO, thus, my answer to your concern is networking. YES, most of you are right that while you are still section musicians, individual shout-outs on stage may not do much for you, your resume, or your career, but take advantage of Amanda as a RESOURCE, a NETWORK. She is knowledgeable, has been doing this a hell of a lot longer than me, and it’s worth your time to make the proactive effort to keep the connection alive.

    Much love
    jonathan perkins
    Orange Factory Music

  • http://twitter.com/ohmz Omar Kooheji

    I totally agree, and in the music industry playing or working for free can open many doors. I started out as volunteer stage crew at the QMU when I wasa student (Where your Glasgow gig has just been moved to) on the back of that I got offered actual crew work which gave me much needed extra cash when I was a student, and some really good times. I’d never have had that opportunity if I hadn’t volunteered my time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.hasbrouck Dave Haaz-Baroque

    I want to bring up a common complaint that I haven’t seen addressed yet, but that I keep seeing over and over and over, including in the comments to this letter:

    “What do you mean Amanda can’t afford it? She shouldn’t have even needed to use Kickstarter – she’s got a rich husband now.”

    Ugh…
    Every time I read that (and I’ve read that a LOT in the past couple
    days) it literally makes my stomach turn. Do I really need to explain
    what a disgusting argument that is? In 2012 do we REALLY have to point
    out how obscene it is to suggest that if a woman’s married to a
    successful man, that there’s no reason for her to earn her own income?
    That argument really REALLY grosses me out, and I haven’t seen anyone
    address it yet.

    People are talking as though now that Amanda’s married, she should be a kept woman who asks her husband for an allowance to fund her pet hobby. Seriously, guys.

    • watchmeboogie

      Yes, people need to leave her husband out of this. It’s none of anyone’s business what they do or don’t do with their finances.

    • Ashok

      Actually, it’s a perfectly fair observation. You’re the one phrasing it like we’re suggesting she’s a kept woman. In any equal healthy partnership like I’m assuming AFP and Gaiman have, the two partners help each other out once in a while. This doesn’t mean that one partner or the other is suddenly less empowered. And no one is saying AFP doesn’t need her own income. What people are objecting to is that she would claim not to have 35k to pay professionals for their work when her husband is worth umpteen million bucks. Take a loaner from him and pay him back later. How is that obscene or sexist in any way. If I were starting a business and really needed a cash infusion that my wife could easily afford, I wouldn’t feel bad about asking her for it with the promise of paying it back later. That doesn’t make me a kept man nor does it suggest that I am losing my individuality to fund a ‘pet hobby’. Stop putting words in people’s mouths.

      Also, the whole ‘it’s none of your business’ routine is somewhat disingenuous. When you’re going out in public and asking professionals to work for free, your monetary situation is absolutely up for public discussion. And the immense assets held by your spouse are, therefore, relevant. It has nothing to do with gender. I’d be making the same observations if the gender roles were reversed and Gaiman was asking for free editors to help him with his manuscripts while married to a multi-millionaire Palmer.

      • Jessica Anderson

        Neil Gaiman is rich. He is not Amanda’s record label. If Amanda would rather trade on her fan relationship than borrow money from hubby that’s between her and the the volunteers.

        As I’ve commented (somewhere) on here, I happen to disagree with her choice to use volunteers, but Neil’s money is irrelevant.

        • fly on the wall

          just a fly on the wall observation, but i’m sure we’ve all witnessed amanda palmer’s fan base increase since being with neil gaiman. those fans that trickled in can account for more seats filled at a venue, therefore, a source of income. first hand, i have met fans while standing in lines to her shows who mention they didn’t know who she was until neil began tweeting about her. they are a very recognized celebrity couple. the dynamic of their relationship and spending should probably be left out of this altogether, but speaking from personal experience – my spouse and i always watch out for one another financially, and i can assume that billions of couples do the same. give a little, take a little.

  • KP

    You’re are just a idiot, I agree with albini, your fans paid you 1+million dollars to record a horrible album, and now you are asking people to “volunteer” there time so you can make all the profit for each one of your shows. Have some respect for people.

  • ec

    It’s just terrible that you would “choose” not to hire professional musicians, and PAY them, when you clearly CAN. Awful, awful, awful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1379130044 Nishell Falcone

    As a “starving artist” like Amy, I’d like to respectfully disagree with you. I’m a videographer and filmmaker in NYC burlesque scene. I have worked both for free and for pay. All of my free gigs have been for people I have adored, like Voltaire and Lisa Hammer, and to be fair that did get me very far the in scene in which work in now. They were both fun and horrible, rewarding and discouraging, but here is the point: I had no experience before I worked for free, and the moment I became experienced enough to put that on my resume I HAD to stop working for free, and for them. Every gig I get I fight to get paid, and paid enough to not have to worry about dropping my entire life as an artist to go back to a 9 – 5 (which I also work part time). I still can’t afford to move out of my parents house due to student loans, and I am so lucky Obamacare has my ass insured for two more years. I know so many burlesque dancers and sideshow performers and photographers that have no choice but to work full time day jobs when they’re not doing what they love, if they didn’t already decide to go into performance later in life due to money or have a spouse to support them. What I think you are missing is the fact that in the short five or so years since the Recession has happened, the entire world of volunteering has changed. As an experienced professional, if ANYONE learns that you did someone a favor (that is, no pay and no trade), EVERYONE will consider you a volunteer from that point on. No one wants to pay for creativity, and no one respects artists like they did in 2007, and I know I’ve been listening to the Dresden Dolls since 2005 at least. The climate has changed, and while working with your idols is an incomparable experience, it is only that way for the inexperienced.

  • StoriLundi

    In a perfect world, all musicians and artists would get paid for their work. AFP is in a position with her crowdsourcing where she could help all musicians and give everyone a nudge by putting out a call and say, “Hey, I need musicians and I can pay you because you are talented and deserve to be paid for your work.” But instead, she’s falling back on old models of “I worked for free to gain experience and exposure so you can too.” That attitude devalues EVERYONE. Now all of us have been set back 2 steps because hey, AFP uses “volunteer musicians”, why should we get paid too?

  • eflash

    the most resonant line to me is “we belong to a different culture, where we’re playing a different game, with different rules.” This is punk music. If you’re down here in the comment section complaining about it, you don’t understand punk music, and your rants and accusations are culturally insensitive.

    • Just No

      Amanda Palmer is making money from concerts while expecting skilled performers to work for free. It’s the record industry in a nutshell and there’s nothing punk about it.

      • eflash

        do you play in punk bands?

  • https://twitter.com/#!/libbyking punksocks

    There is merit on both sides of this argument – the only place where they fall with certainty is when people become zealots and think only their way is the right way. Talking is cool; demanding is what toddlers do.

    Anyhooo, I just came across this post from ‘Steve’, in which he also apologises for calling AFP an idiot:
    “I saw a breakdown about where the money went a while ago, and most everything in it was absurdly inefficient, including paying people to take care of spending the money itself, which seems like a crazy moebius strip of waste.” Here’s the link to the full post http://www.electricalaudio.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=60267&p=1545867#p1545867

    I find it totally odd. Who wouldn’t pay someone to do the accounting on $1mil? It would be kinda dumb not to get help with that kind of thing. Do you think the record company would pay someone to do that or would they get the artist to do the books? Weird argument.

  • Jsjsj

    ‘Choice’.

    Meh.

    Just because one can do something doesn’t mean one should. You really fucked this, Amanda.

  • kimmiwimmi@comcast.net

    Bravo to both of you and I hope Amy attends the show. Maybe being there she’ll understand why everyone chooses what they do. Loving of you Amanda! <3

  • http://en-pi.facebook.com/steward John Deltuvia

    It’s simple. You dragged Kickstarter through the mud, crowdsourcing over a million dollars to be a union-buster. Did any of the events at which you played for free get crowdsourced money through Kickstarter?

  • zerodiva

    i think the only thing to state is that most musicians do this for the love of music, not the dollar amount. In this day and age with jobs few and far between i get the need to be paid. but this is an opportunity to play with an amazing band. You come to one rehersal the day of the show and then play the show itself. They arent being asked to give up loads of time and money out of their pockets for this. The craziness over this is absolutely absurd! You don’t have to take the opportunity. But for those of you who turn your nose up, arent you missing out on the most amazing jam session? I am sure if this were someone super famous like BB King, people would be falling over themselves to play with him for free! Do what you love or don’t stand in the way of people who do!

    • http://twitter.com/KTenpas Kate Ten Pas

      “They arent being asked to give up loads of time and money out of their pockets for this.”

      Yeah, it’s just ONE night. They’re not being asked to volunteer for free for the entire tour. If I’d stuck with the trumpet past high school, I’d give up my time for one night to play with her or any other artist I really enjoy, no money necessary for me, I don’t care.

  • happy

    i don’t understand at all why people upset about the volunteer musicians aren’t upset about people cooking food for the tour. those chefs/cooks/etc. aren’t getting any exposure and actually have to spend money as well as time and effort to prepare food. i assume it’s not just because there are no chefs/cooks reading all the back and forth on her blog and elsewhere, because, there are enough out there following her to want to cook for her. so, i’m genuinely curious. i think amanda and the commenters arguing against her choices are all coming from very genuine, passionate feelings. but i really want to understand the food/art difference.

    • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

      I just got off a very very small tour that was partly IndieGoGo funded. I’m talking less than $1500 raised, however, and that was mostly for gas. Our band leader’s father had a lot of hotel points on the first leg and we stayed exclusively with friends on the second leg. Some of them did provide us with food. To me, it comes down to the fact that food and shelter are necessities, and a string and horn section as an addition to your tour isn’t? That may not make total sense, considering that Amanda has stated that the quality of the food was sometimes extra high caliber. I think, though, that if the initial call out was for food, and some people went the extra mile and prepared an awesome meal, then that’s a gift. We tried to pay for a meal for one of our hosts and he said to us “that would totally take the joy away from the gift we’ve been giving you this weekend.” I guess, in my case, it’s a little different because these things were provided by friends and family, and not by strangers and fans? It is pretty nuanced, isn’t it, especially when you think of some forms of food prep as art.

  • Kompanier

    It amazes me how all the negative comments here seem to rely on invented definitions (volunteering=non-profit=accountability or ‘playing with your favorite artist’=work=pay) and the claim to speak for all those poor, misguided slaves ..eh volunteers that toiled in the spotlight and only got beer.
    Why is it so hard to accept that some fans like to play with their favorite artist, were not misled at all, but understood exactly what they got out of this, which was a great experience (AND free beer)?
    Stop imposing your narrowminded definitions on others and learn to live with the fact that many people have a broader view on life than making money of everything they do!
    Stop wasting your apparently valuable time on bitching about a wrong that only exists in your head.
    Go outside and smell the roses
    or smile to somebody and make their day
    or tell tell your significant other you love him/her
    or (if you do not have a significant other) go find one
    or write a poem
    or learn to play the ukelele
    live your life without people telling you you are doing it wrong
    and be happy.

    • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com April and Maya

      You could well take your own advice and stop telling other people how to feel and react and spend their time. :)

      • Kompanier

        You are absolutely right!
        Please regard everything above, especially as of the line ‘Go outside..’, as a friendly suggestion for a happier life :-)

  • quit.

    “i am so happy that many of you are deeply loving the record, the
    response has been absolutely out of control….just amazing. glad that
    everyone’s getting their kickstarter stuff.”

    well. everyone really? bit disappointed by not receiving kickstarter cd-package yet, far beyond public release. like others posting on kickstarter or elsewhere. maybe should’ve spent some more money on co-workers than spending it on boring videos made by own heros.. this and the pay-the-volunteer-discussion: start wondering if it’s really about the fans or the palmer only.

  • AFProcks

    Wow some of these people are down right rude i was going through a good chunk of the comments they start off pretty good but then they turn from you know i am conflicted to downright trashing Amanda Palmer the person you either: A Idolize B. Think she is the greatest of the independent artists C. You follow her and love her creative vision. From the devil’s advocate standpoint what she is doing asking for volunteer musicians is quite unorthodox and makes me wonder what she is doing but when she has explained her self on this blog and did that interview for time magazine about her Kickstarter campaign and explained how she is trying to change the music industry that’s a pretty bold statement. Its tough to do but i think crowdsourcing is not bad just it throws off a lot of people. Musicians work hard should they get paid yes i agree but its volunteering people she is not telling people they must or i am cancelling the tour. Also for people that are just up and coming this is great exposure for them. To sit back and call Amanda egotistical cynical full of herself is just plain rude she said criticizing and critiquing her idea is fine but to be nice. Other comments went on to say she would laugh at rape and whatnot no she would not. She does strange things on stage because its all an ACT not real. Some people need to grow up on here and not act like oh they wronged her or oh they are being exploited. Also some people saying its like she is forming a cult seriously people this is someone you enjoy as a person artist musician and then and go and say terrible things like this. For the people who actually said there opinion without slandering her i agree where your coming from.

    Now for the standpoint from the musicians perspective. If people really knew how hard it is to do things in the music business i don’t think this would not have gone out of control. First i help out a friend’s band of mine promotion on the street team and mention about them whenever i can. I help them because i believe in what they are doing they managed to put out one out and they managed to get a song recorded for cheap 100 dollars per song which its pretty expensive when you put that into how many cd’s they are pressing and that’s the cheaper end of the spectrum, then you have to have time for studio time, mixing, mastering also if you want promotions that’s not cheap either. Then you have to pay the studio people and possibly the people mixing and mastering the songs arrangements and what not unless you do it yourself which is cheaper but a hell of a lot harder to do unless you know what your doing. Then you have the tour aspect of the money situation the lighting crews set up people, organizers, hell if you want a music video done they are not cheap either. So when you factor that in over a million dollars for everything is not much money and when its all said and done unless you have been around since the 80s or later OK at most recent the 90’s musicians do not make as much money as you think. Its a tough profession but a rewarding one. So for all the people that are trashing her be mindful of what you say if you really don’t lie what she is doing do not support her simple as that no one is forcing you to listen to her music. As for me i love her music her message and i have this awesome new group of friends that love Amanda Fucking Palmer. Sure she may do odd and strange things but isn’t that what we love about her if not she would be the same boring person we try to not listen to on the radio. Well that was my rant we love you AFP and i hope to see you in New York also love the cover songs you do keep up the amazing music

    Fan for life
    Andrew

  • Hadux

    Dear Amanda,

    I work in the teaching profession and in my spare time as a digital artist. Should you ever happen to put together some kick-ass art project in the future, let me know, please. I’d help you out for FREE.

    Yeah, that’s right. I said it, comrade – I’d totally help you out for F R E E and I’d not expect one thing in return. I wouldn’t want free beer. I wouldn’t want free merchandise. I wouldn’t even want free food.

    Know why? Because I love your music, adore your free spirit, think it’s awesome that you dare to be different, and admire the fact that in the past you have given so much shit away for FREE.

    Most of all, I’d help you out because it would be something that I would WANT to do. You know, just like you asked people if they WANTED to come jam and get horny to show up to do just that. That’s not something a lot of bands offer to their fans.

    Things in life aren’t always done for profit, but for the simple act of kindness and the want to do them, people.

    I am a fellow artist, and I would help Amanda Fucking Palmer out for…. FREE.

    thehadux@gmail.com

  • Belvedere

    Here’s a crazy thought:

    What if Amanda really does agree that paying musicians is the right
    thing to do, and planned for the public stink that would rise out of
    pulling a stunt like “will work for hugs”?

    Maybe she’s orchestrating (ha ha) this whole ruckus as the best way to
    bring the important issue to the public eye, therefor being the martyr
    instead of the devil?

    Genius!

  • William Wall

    As a struggling independent filmmaker, I’ve often gone broke funding my own projects. In fact, it’s probably the thing I’ve spent the most of my hard-earned cash on in the past five years. I’ve done music videos for bands that have gone over budget and so the remainder came out of my wallet. Hell, I’ve even paid for bands’ entire videos just because I’m passionate about it. Though I’ve asked for favors before (only after doing many in return), more often than not, I have foregone my own financial security, many times to a frightening limit, in order to pay people. If I had a million dollars (a million fucking dollars are you kidding me?!?!) to make a film and at the end of the day the budget turned out that I’d have to forego my entire director’s fee in order to pay the people working on the film, I would do so. If people want to play music with Amanda Palmer for free, that’s awesome, but if she truly has the money to pay them and isn’t offering, that makes me sick.

    • Oh Hi!

      She explained right here in this post how she and her band are making every effort to compensate financially wherever possible on tour, and also linked to her full cost-breakdown to show where the 1.2 million dollars has already been spent. So I guess, feel better soon?

  • Fretsoup

    Most of the world already thinks that musicians don’t need to be paid for what they do. This just adds to that general impression. Sure, musicians, go ahead, play for free, knowing that you’re taking away a real musician’s job, if that’s the kind of “culture” you’re interested in promoting. If you want to play for free, then go to a jam session or music party. If people are paying to see an artist perform, that artist should have the decency to pay the people who are helping them make their music.

  • Derek

    I’m good friends with Amy and she was extremely mad at me, but I would play your shows any day of the week for free. I totally understand where you are coming from.

  • dwoz

    On interesting conundrum this creates: If I were to hop up on that stage and play, unpaid, with Palmer, I would subsequently have just as much right to release a recording of the show as “dwoz, featuring guest performer Amanda Palmer” as she would to release it as “Amanda, with guest performer dwoz.”

    In fact, pretty much everyone that has played with her in that unpaid capacity already possesses that right.

    By the way, I would not zing her too much for the concept that “playing on the same stage as Amanda Palmer is considered to be compensation for playing in an Amanda Palmer concert.” That’s actually a standard part of the contract that the x-factor and American Idol contestants sign. Being put on television is their “compensation” for being on television.

    I am actually more disturbed by the statement that she would write dumbed-down parts specifically for amateurs to play. That’s all well and good for parties and sitting around the parlor entertaining ourselves, but when you present to an audience they expect and if they’re paying, deserve, to be treated to a show worth paying for.

    It may be possible to find real pros that CAN deliver that show today…but after a generation or so of this kind of “crowdsource” thing, those pros will not be there to be exploited, and the audience may as well just stay home and entertain themselves instead.

  • anony fucking mous

    while the debate is on and folks are swapping stories and feelings, i thought i would share my two cents on all this hullabaloo.

    in the past, i’ve worked for amanda palmer during her solo career. once, i earned money by working her merch table, and other times by doing volunteer work both at her merch table and for other projects, both of which i was happy to do at the time and was proud that she could put her trust in me as a hard working individual. i am not a personal friend of hers. i was reached out to, as a fan, to perform duties and i gladly obliged.

    speaking from personal experience, as an artist, musician and a person who is employed in the music industry, i advise for others to never work for beer or high fives, or for free. ever. especially if you are hurting to make ends meet, if your ribs are showing. no fucking around, this is where many of us are these days, especially laboring in this specific industry.

    amanda raised $1.2m on her kickstarter, released a new record with an orchestra, and there was not the meager $35k worked into the equation, from the get-go, to aide a tour filled with quality shows? i’m sorry to burst your free love bubble, but YOU should get PAID to play YOUR INSTRUMENTS for this artist who is selling out venues (yes, does she ever) and getting free shit by the tons, by the hands of kind people all over the world. i understand that people can get too comfortable getting free stuff when it’s been handed over for years on end, and by that i am not diminishing her feat of proving that it CAN be done. but this is not her busking on a street corner anymore. this is a successful musician who is fully capable of paying you, if not for your meager cab fair to the venue, then to pay you for your time, effort and (hopefully) talent to play a potentially sold-out venue. have her pay you for your first time on stage, should that be the case. because while that might be unrealistic in the world of entertainment, it is also unrealistic to get on stage and play for free while one band member gets paid. FUCK. THAT.

    has anyone reading here been informed that amanda palmer had a beautiful, complete major arcana tarot card deck designed by her fans a couple years ago? i’d like to expose that story because i feel it is relevant in all this sheisty business. the project went like this: one card per artist. that is a lot of people involved in one project. as artists were selected, they worked under the pretense that there would be no money granted for their efforts. consensual volunteer work. cards designs could be using any visual medium. some chose sculpture, photography, illustration and many chose to use painting. all very time consuming mediums. as many know, art does not just fall out of your ass. deadlines were met to have the pieces complete, digitally imaged and submitted. then, the project ended up on the back-burner. no updates were issued, and many months went on before the artists were regretfully informed that THE PROJECT WAS SCRAPPED. for some of the artists, it was no big deal, because they:
    1.) already have successful art careers
    2.) enjoy working for free
    3.) just love AFP

    for other artists who have had virtually no previous exposure, it was a major let down and experience to remember. for one, that lesson learned and will never be forgotten. a promise of being published and then not is like a middle finger. it’s the gesture that hurt.

    heed my warning, especially to the young artists – be careful what you are getting yourself into. if you are working for free, make damn sure that your talent is being rewarded with the praise or other compensation it deserves, because while money is NOT everything, and should never be expected to be, your dignity IS. request a sandwich instead of beer. that is all.

    • anony fucking mous

      *cab fair = cab fare. no pun intended.

    • musictwig

      So “anony fucking mous”, while you’re giving out warnings not to trust AFP, you might want to look a little closer to home at your girlfriend’s Kickstarter. You both made promises to her supporters, took our money and what did we get in return? NOTHING. Not one thing that was promised was delivered, none of the merch, not the print you offered for upping the pledge amount, not the album download, not even a fucking thank you card. NOTHING.

      In contrast, every Kickstarter that Amanda has been involved in (Tristan Allen, Kim Boekbinder, an evening with AFP & NG, and the most recent biggie) has delivered on what was promised. Take your sour grapes elsewhere.

      • anony fucking mous

        so, “musictwig”, i, for one, did not back the funding on this recent album’s kickstarter. major financial problems kept me from it, and in hindsight can be grateful that i didn’t because of what followed. had i flung a few pennies her way, i’d expect her to pay her orchestra like any performing musician deserves to be paid. that is where these many, many sour grapes are originating from on these countless threads. think my grapes are sour? try a gander at the musicians guilds out there. pretty gnarly stuff. (i figured i’d remain with the PG-13 comments of this blog, more my pace.)

        i’m doing what i feel is right and exposing the shady parts of her deals. definitely not telling people not to have fun with it, have a blast if you want, but i’m not paying for tickets to any show where one musician is payed, and the rest are sheisted with promises of “beer and hugs”. fuck that. i don’t stand for such things, not in this industry, nor any other.

        • MeAndMyCharms

          Woah, wait a minute. You didn’t deny what you were just accused of with your use of kickstarter. From what I just read, it seems you used your relationship with Amanda to get pledges for your kickstarter from her fans, then didn’t even follow through and just kept everybody’s money?
          You, my dear, are the biggest hypocrite in this entire debate. You really are clearly here with a case of sour grapes and just want the opportunity to slander her while you can.
          Your entire argument in now moot, because I can’t believe anything you say.

          So how many people did you rip off? How much money did you take from them without giving anything in return? And more importantly, what did you do with the money that you took from everybody?

          Maybe you should move on with your life, before your bitterness consumes you

          • anony fucking mous

            this looks like a case of mistaken identity, because i am not understanding either of your accusations that i have 1.) a girlfriend and/or 2.) a kickstarter project of my own. i’ve never used kickstarter, never donated to kickstarter for anyone’s projects. i’m a fan that is upset that she isn’t paying certain musicians for helping her play these gigs on this tour. what did i miss? read my original post.

            as far as sheisty, shady shit goes, i used the tarot card project as an example, because so many artists were let down after creating something so time consuming and beautiful for her. my story should not be considered slander. it was a real case of MAJOR let down. the tarot card deck was going to be published for her to turn a profit on, and it was just brushed aside as if it was nothing special.

          • MeAndMyCharms

            There’s no case of mistaken identity on my behalf. You were accused of something, and not once did you address the accusation, or deny it. If somebody said that to me and it wasn’t true, my reaction would be that of confusion, and questioning what they were on about. Your response was weird, which makes me doubt everything you say. I honestly think you’re lying, but there’s no way to prove either way, so I’m just going to dismiss your argument..

          • anony fucking mous

            then how do you explain that i DO NOT UNDERSTAND the following statement made by musictwig??? at first i ignored it because i had no idea what they were referring to, possibly a post by someone else.

            ” while you’re giving out warnings not to trust AFP, you might want to
            look a little closer to home at your girlfriend’s Kickstarter. You both
            made promises to her supporters, took our money and what did we get in
            return? NOTHING. Not one thing that was promised was delivered, none
            of the merch, not the print you offered for upping the pledge amount,
            not the album download, not even a fucking thank you card. NOTHING.”

            doubt me all you want and keep getting your panties in a bunch. i don’t know you, nor care to.

        • musictwig

          So Amanda’s a sheister for asking for volunteers, people who are told up front that they are NOT being paid in cash, but you’re okay that your girlfriend took people’s money and did not deliver on her promises?

          I think it’s pretty clear who the shady one is here.

          • anony fucking mous

            dude. who in the world are you talking about when you say “your girlfriend”? i’m a married, gay man. my wish to remain anonymous will henceforth be preserved. you went beyond putting words in my mouth, and that is very fucked up. now i have MeAndMyPantiesInABunch thinking i might be someone i’m not, sneaking around online. i’ve been away from this community for close to 3 years now (no, that isn;t something other fans should take personally), did i miss something about someone using their knowing amanda palmer to fund a hokey project? that is extremely fucked up if so, and WAY worse that what we’re discussing on this page, though it’s not far from it. denying anyone being paid fairly for services rendered is not only against the law, but morally fucked. from this angle, you think you know something other people don’t, and you might never realize what a fucking moron you sound like. take it from me, and hopefully NEVER from someone in person who might be dangerous, keep those imaginary concepts to yourself. asshole.

          • musictwig

            You did not deny my initial accusation. You ignored it until someone else called you on it. If you are not the person involved with the Kickstarter I mentioned, why wouldn’t you have denied it immediately and asked me WTF I was talking about?

            If you really are a married gay man and this is a case of mistaken identity, I apologize.
            However, since you write very like the person in question, seem to be holding a very similar grudge and have now resorted to name-calling, excuse me if I choose to roll my eyes and continue thinking what I thought when I first read your post.

          • anony fucking mous

            thank you for the apology, and if you were me, you’d probably get pissed and use F-bombs, too! read my comment above to the additional commenter, who “called me out”. i didn’t understand your statement, at all, read it over several times and decided to comment back regardless of how weird it was. (why would i deny something that i do not understand? the context in which you used it, was completely awkward.) your actions are a perfect example of why i stay out of these communities, especially when it comes to disagreements. also, you didn’t answer my question about filling me in about what you were referring to. who is the “person in question” that used their relationship to amanda palmer to fund a bogus kickstarter? unless you’d rather not talk about it. but you are throwing some pretty hefty accusations around to not elaborate.

  • Susan Robinson

    the trouble is–it’s NOT just about the person who volunteers–it’s about the professional musician they are replacing, as the commenter below states. And why is it that it is always the musicians who get asked to volunteer–for the “love” or the “thrill” or the “experience” or the “exposure”? Would you ask the lighting guys, or the crew? The caterers? The ushers or ticket takers? For a lot of us this is WORK and it is a LIVING and it’s a living that is very much threatened these days. For you to send the message that it’s ok (and it’s easy and fun!) to just get a bunch of starry eyed –sorry–amateurs to do it hurts all professional musicians out there. You know, I played 2 shows with you in Boston and I loved what you did. But your refusal to understand how injurious this is to professional musicians out there is pretty hard to get over…

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremybendarjensen Jeremy Jensen

      You should see what Amanda’s already done to “the caterers.” She’s “crowdsourcing” her food on tours too. What arrogance.

      • anony fucking mous

        for years she has been requesting organic, home made health food from kind people to bring to her shows, usually for some compensation (free shirt, name on the list, etc.) but what sickens me is that there’s so much entitlement in the requests about what she wants people to bring, not to mention the many presents that undoubtedly will be showered on her regardless of what she’s requesting. the level of immaturity by someone who begs, but only for specific handouts, is pretty disgusting. home made with love, just for amanda, vs. canned goods. she’s far outgrown the need for begging for food and yet still does it, because she know she can get away with it. if she can’t afford the details of touring, she just shouldn’t be doing it year after year. being a “rock star” shouldn’t make this much of an ass out of any one, ever.

  • Lay

    I hope you fucking pick me to play for the boston shows you have!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremybendarjensen Jeremy Jensen

    One way to decide if an action is ethical is to say to yourself, “If everyone were to do what I am doing, would that be OK?” It’s Kant’s idea that any action should be universalizable. So, what Amanda should be asking herself is this: “If every fairly successful recording artist were to simply recruit fans as backing musicians, would that be OK, or do I only think it’s OK because I’m doing it?” The answer is, of course, “No, it would not be OK. It would put hundreds if not thousands of musicians out of work, all to save the successful recording artist a little money.”

  • tarable23

    If Amanda and the band continue to ask for volunteers on their European tour will they make such a fuss about this as greedy America has? Everyone has the freedom to make their own choice. Volunteer or don’t volunteer. Amanda has shown nothing but gratitude to all that join her on stage and all her crew that travel with her with pure love. That is what she is all about. The love for art and to share that with her fans. I was there in 2008 and when the hat was being past around. I proudly donated what i could. I also am a street performer. I choose to put on my makeup, and stand on a box to entertain. In return the money i get in my hat is a bonus and knowing that maybe I made an impression on them or a smile on their face and made a difference in their day or life. I work as a hairstylist to pay my rent and bills. Why do we have to get paid for everything we do? Being a volunteer teaches us as a community to excerise better values. To give something special about youreslf. I have a five year old daughter and I want her to grow up in a world where not everthying has to have a price tag on it. Especially when you have a talent that can be shared.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with what Amanda is doing. Especially that she is asking for volunteers for a one time gig in their hometown for a day. If she asked them to come on the road and not pay them them then maybe that would be wrong. But she is not. How cool is it to see local musicians on stage with Amanda and The Grand Theft Orchestra. Years ago at one of her shows a very talented cellist, Zoe Keating played with her on stage. After seeing her I downloaded her music and bought her CD’s and went to see her live and supported her. Not only did i become a big admirer of Zoe’s but I was inspired to pick up and play the cello again. My point is that so much can come from this on so many levels other than just getting paid. I cannot wait for the SF show at the Filmore and to see what local talent will join her on stage. I know it will be EPIC.
    Stay on your path Amanda!! I LOVE YOU!!!

  • Chris Siebert

    It’s apparent from these discussions that Amanda Palmer’s fans and supporters are going to disagree with many of us professional musicians who don’t know her. But the facts should be clear:

    -This is not a beginning band trying to get ahead
    -This is not a non-profit arts venture
    -Palmer is not just asking some random fans to join her for a tune or two at the end of the night, as Green Day and other groups have done (and which I think is a great idea).

    Palmer’s request was made far in advance of her tour in the language of a slightly hipped-up version of a corporate talent search, hedging her bets with the odd term “professional-ish” and asking musicians to “apply” (her term). She wants experienced musicians who can meet her requirements, and expects a resume or video as proof. Once the musicians have been vetted, they will receive a “yes/no reply”. She wants a rehearsal, and, unlike bands that pull fans up on stage, is not providing instruments.

    In other words, it is not like the Green Day example at all. It is exactly like the sort of job that most professional musicians do to make a living, except for the highly unusual fact that the artist doing the hiring is not offering any money, regardless of how much she takes in that night. If anything, her approach seems much more corporate than most jobs musicians take. For instance, I’ve made a living solely from music for 23 years, and I’ve never had to do anything as formal and similar to a corporate job as “applying” or supplying a resume.

    Above all, Palmer is making a lot of money. She has raised $1.2 million on kickstarter, and is playing major venues around the country and selling a lot of merchandise.

    So we have to be careful to compare what is comparable.

    Of course Palmer has the right to ask for free labor, and of course musicians have the right to accept her offer.

    But I believe that our actions should reflect the world we want to create. Amanda Palmer has supported the “occupy” movement, which was, above all, about sharing the wealth generated by large businesses and the millions of people who labor for them. She has claimed to create a new business model that is replacing the old corporate music industry. Such claims invite criticism and investigation.

    This new publicity stunt doesn’t qualify her as “indie” or radical in any sense. It’s the same old model with a new face. Her request for free labor to help a large-scale business is a very old and very common tactic in the music industry. It’s usually made, however, by record labels, venues, and retailers, not other artists. That’s why hundreds, if not thousands, of musicians, are frustrated by it.

    Yes, we’ve all played cheapo gigs for up-and-coming projects. But I’ve always believed that musicians should be paid fairly and equally within the context of the money generated by their performance. It’s about the scale of the project, the venue, and the revenue created by music.

    There’s probably no way of saying this without sounding self-righteous, but in the cases where my band has done important gigs that didn’t pay much, my partner and I did the opposite of Amanda Palmer, and worked for free in order to pay our band. We’ve occasionally had to dip into our (extremely meager) savings, or, when that ran out, go into debt. But we always try to put the musicians first, by paying as much as we can and what is considered fair for each type of job. And we generate a small fraction of the income that Palmer does. If we can do it in our tiny little corner of the music world, why can’t she? It’s not hard. At all. It’s the easiest thing in the world. It’s what our parents taught us as kids.

    We can probably all agree on one thing: Amanda Palmer has asked folks to play with her for free, and there will be people who will play with her for free, most likely from her fanbase. That fanbase is clearly very impressed by her business ethics and indendence from the music industry. But for many musicians, Amanda Palmer looks and acts like a very typical corporate business person. She strikes us an intelligent entertainment entrepreneur who has found a way to build her business by getting others to work for free.

    In many ways, it is reminiscent of the republicans who opposed the “occupy” movement that Palmer says she supports, and who seek to pass off their costs (think bailouts) to the public while they profit from the unpaid (or minimally paid) labor of others. People in power often do that, and rock stars are very powerful people. Judging from the reaction of Amanda Palmer’s fans, this is exactly what she will do, and they will love it. And no one can argue with that.

    • Eric Londaits

      I loved this:

      “I believe that our actions should reflect the world we want to create.”

      Perfect. At some point in our lives we might find ourselves actually in charge of how things work. Be have to be VERY alert. At that point it’s not just about having the heart in the right place.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.r.meyers Andy Ramesh Meyers

      Most articulate post I have read. Clearly lays out why this is nothing more than somebody asking for something, a professional service, professionally vetted and hired, but not paid.

    • Jim

      Very clearly written.

    • randomhuman

      I’ve read lots of interesting arguments from both sides, but I think you’ve hit on the crux of the matter. If Amanda were asking for amateur musicians, people with no interest in a career in music and who don’t depend on playing to put food on their tables, that might be ok. A fun night out, an opportunity to play with a big name whose music you appreciate, might be compensation enough. I find it hard to even think in terms of compensation when it comes to hobbyists tbh, but what I’m saying is that I can understand the appeal for somebody like that. But if Amanda is looking for professional musicians, then she should respect them enough to pay them. She’s not contributing to some alternative culture where everybody can make it outside of the corporate system if she’s not interested in paying people for their time.

      • Janis

        I had thought that initially … but then it just hit me that what she’s doing is asking for scabs, basically. “I want this but I don’t want to pay a fair price for it” is the foundation of the right-wing beef with the minimum wage and any union’s desire to get a fair wage for their people. At bottom, that’s what this is — a cute, trendy, hip new coat of paint on disrespect for the minimum wage and union-busting. The next thing we’ll see scribbled across her tits will be “Romney/Ryan 2012.”

        The fact that this “But they WANT to play for free! Is That So Wrong?” attitude is coming from someone who was so vocal about being Against The System with an awareness of the larger social consequences of her actions reveals the truth: that crapo about how she was doing this all for a better society was a bunch of trash. Her fans were just punked — coincidentally AFTER she got a megabuck of their money. Now’s where we get the smirk and the eyeroll and, “Hey, you didn’t really think I meant all that pretend sociological crap, did you?”

        She’s also going to find out that you get what you pay for, and a bunch of free giddly amateurs will NOT be able to do what she wants them to do at her show. That’s where she will tell her (paid) sound guy to stealthily turn off the mics at that end of the stage so her backing tracks will play on while all the kiddies who think they’re part of the experience bow and blow along to no effect. :-P

    • harmonicakev

      “This new publicity stunt doesn’t qualify her as “indie” or radical in any sense.”
      Good post! You sort of can’t blame Ms. Palmer for trying to see what she can get away with…but it’s not new or radical.

    • the disagreeing FAN

      masterfully articulate and drives the point home perfectly. now i can only hope Amanda get’s it before we start hearing cries for ‘Occupy Amanda’… although ;) (see! still a fan!!! lol)
      we adore you, Amanda… you’ve just (hopefully mistakenly) missed the mark on this one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/james.whipson James Whipson

      Way off base. She’s giving both amateur and pro musicians a choice to be in a performance situation that they would have no opportunity to experience any other way. They don’t need to spend weeks rehearsing. They don’t need to take time off from their day jobs. They don’t need to hang up flyers, stay in cheap hotels. The conditions are laid out up front in advance and people agree to do it that way or not. They bring their ability to play an instrument to the table. She brings a professional performance situation to the table and the years she’s worked to be in the position to have a large appreciative audience whom said musician would otherwise have no access to. I’d liken it closer to “interning” than the ridiculous comparison of AFP to freakin’ souless corporations taking unfair advantage of their workers for profit. I suspect she could actually “charge” fans to perform with her in some of these situations if she wanted to…ever hear of Rock Star Fantasy Camps? The so-called professional and obviously highly insecure musician base slamming her for this has its head up its jealous butt. And, I’m not a long time AFP fan or apologist. And I’m a musician of over 30 years.

    • Jon Kiparsky

      Testify, brother. You got some amens coming your way.

  • Jazzkinngly

    I worked with Amanda a few years ago when she guested with a band I play with. It was fun, no more, no less.

    I have now taken that credit off my CV as I am concerned and embarrassed to think that people reading it will think that I worked for free at one of her shows.

    This is well worth bearing in mind for those who might be appearing with her in this tour ‘for the exposure’. It’s one thing if you’re doing it as a fan and you want the chance to hang with her (though that, to my mind, is still essentially both arrogant and borderline exploitative), but I urge any musicians to consider that a credit with Palmer will be essentially worthless or, worse, actively negative.

  • M

    I know a person who volunteered for the DC show string section, then backed out because another musician wanted the gig more badly. She was disappointed that she didn’t take the opportunity, kicking herself for stepping aside, but admitted she wasn’t a big AFP fan, so it felt like the right thing to do for the other musician. I said, “dude, that sucks. I would’ve heckled you from the balcony!” But it was great to know that her volunteers really wanted to be there.

    I enjoyed the show because Classical Revolution DC was on stage, because they were taken as-is, without the “perfection or die” professional musician shackles attached. For me, it added to the experience. It felt more participatory and less like a bunch of stuffy, overproduced bullshit that I fucking hate about the music scene in general, but especially about the classical scene.

  • eiga

    I don’t doubt you mean well in doing this. When talking about where the Kickstarter money was going, you made it a point of pride that you were paying everyone involved in the creation of the book etc. a fair rate. At the same time, you love playing music, you clearly love your fans, and when those two things can come together, why not do it?

    The reason, as some have stated, is that it’s unfair to professional musicians. You are making money, and thus everyone should be. That’s the definition of fair. If you still want to play with fans and non-professionals, just do what loads of unions would have you do (though I don’t know the policies of musicians’ unions) and have shadows. Have a union musician there to whom you pay union rates for every volunteer you have. You get the connection and fun and spontaneity you want without anyone being hurt, and you don’t have to play with anyone who doesn’t care about your music.

    Everyone needs help when they’re trying to make it. Once you’ve made it, you help others, even if it means a slightly lower bottom line for you. You’re still making a living, but you’re also helping others in your profession to do the same.

  • Know Your Rights

    I’m shocked and embarrassed by the AFP fans who are calling people “greedy” and “entitled” for saying musicians deserve to be paid for their work. That’s just as disgusting to me as the trolls who have made sexist remarks about AFP. Workers asking for a fair wage for their labor and skill should be a fundamental right that everyone can get behind.

    • The love

      The entitlement in this debate does not refer to musicians who play a gig daring to think they should be paid, but from the general community thinking that they are entitled to this gig, and therefore a fellow musician can not choose to give their time in order to make themselves and others happy. Having read all this, it would seem that there is no way that any musician choosing to do this is ‘taking away’ a job from someone else, because the type of clinical and mercenary way in which it seems many people are thinking about their ‘art’ (whilst completely valid and fine if that’s how you want to be) would not make them appropriate for this kind of gig and they wiuld never be hired anyway. This is about the love and if you don’t have it you will not understand it.

      • Jim

        Then:

        Why is the “the love” not enough payment for Amanda herself?

        And, why does she pay for SOME musicians in SOME cities?

        • The love

          …because for the people who WISH to sit in for a few minutes for the love that is their only commitment, and she has put years Into this! But if someone else asked her on stage for a number or couple of numbers for her own enjoyment and theirs then yep it would be exactly the same and she would be doin it for the love. Makes so much sense I’d say

          • a disagreeing FAN

            I wonder how much time it takes to learn to play an instrument to a professional-ish standard. But I see, only Amanda has put years into this!

      • a disagreeing FAN

        Amazing: I only ever hear the word ‘mercenary’ and ‘expecting to paid’ in the same sentence when we’re talking about artists. As if the joy of being an artist should be payment enough and being an artist somehow affords the individual the ability to live without food or shelter or transportation.
        The two phrases are never uttered together when discussing any other profession. Wonder why that is. (jealousy? stupidity? blind refusal to face reality?)

    • tinkyra

      when I was touring in the 80s and 90s as a solo artist with my band…I went out of my way to ensure the musicians got paid – and I took no money myself from the gig fee. I felt it would have been insulting to ask
      musicians to play for free.

  • Monique Ortiz

    Hey Amanda,

    Monique Ortiz here. Long time no speak! I love love love this! This issue has come up so often at our gigs. Granted, we’re not at the level that you are, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same: We do what we do because we love it, it’s in our blood to create and to perform. Now that I live in Austin I feel especially lucky because I have reliable networks of friends and musicians here, in Pennsylvania, Boston, and Atlanta, and if we’re coming through and I need backing musicians I go about arranging that in much the same way. I share backline, I barter, trading art that I’ve done or merch or beer for their services. If I am operating as a sideman for another act I am there because I like their music and I want to do it. If I get paid, I see that as the cherry on top of a fantastic dessert. I don’t do it for money.
    When I toured with Dana Colley & Larry Dersch, we slept on couches and floors. We lost a lot of money. We played to “crowds” of 5 people, sometimes less. Do I regret doing it? Not at all. If we made only more fan at a show, I took that as a success.

    There are tons of musicians here in Austin who, like myself are pretty cynical and jaded. I understand it. There’s a lot of talentLESS people out there making millions, and there are millions of talented artists that will never get noticed or have an opportunity to be in a position like you no matter how hard they work at it. And many of these folks are people who bitch about not being paid to play.
    Sure, I wish I made more money and saw more success with my music. But most importantly, I’m grateful to be making all kinds of art and music. If I wasn’t making art I’d be dead.

    Best to you,
    Mo

  • MPD

    Amanda your response tells me you are an exploitative, chardonnay swilling, faux lefty that at heart is an epitome of what is wrong with the world today. You manipulate the kindness and good will of others yet return no such favour to those that are in a weaker position than yours. You take, and you take a lot, yet what is it that you give back to society? Pay people what they are worth, don’t cherry pick the one supporting argument you have managed to find.

  • NotOnTwitter

    In my opinion, all Amanda’s arguments and defences fall down because she is paying the horns & strings for *some* performances, which indicates she places a value on the contribution made by the horns & strings.

    Presumably she wants the other performances to be just as good, hence why she’s asking for “professional-ish” musicians and requiring them to send audition tapes. That’s great – I’m going to one of these and I’ve paid market rate for a professional show so I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to expect one.

    So if the horns & strings that I’m seeing are doing the same job at the same level as the audience in NYC saw, then pay them the same. This isn’t a free-for-all where anyone with a trumpet can get up on stage with her. She’s placing an expectation on them to deliver at a high standard *and* she is making money from them. So pay them.

    “Not being able to afford it” doesn’t cut it. We’ve all seen the warehouse pictures and read about all the work going into this tour. This isn’t Amanda & Brian burning CDs in her kitchen. This is a for-profit, commercial, professional enterprise. So act like it: make the accountant earn *their* money, find some budget, and pay these musicians.

    If Amanda wants a big band of happy volunteers who just want to have fun, then she should have that – she should take everyone who applies for every show and don’t reject the people who don’t meet the required standards. But that isn’t going to happen because these are for-profit, commercial, professional performances. And contributors to (again!) for-profit, commercial, professional performances should be paid.

    The sound guys are being paid. The lighting people are being paid. Amanda’s management and assistants and tour managers and publicists are being paid. Not some of them – all of them (as far as we’ve been told, anyway, and I can just imagine the outcry if it turns out some of them aren’t). The horns & strings aren’t any different. So pay them.

    There’s also a legal issue, at least here in the UK where our National Minimum Wage will be £6.19/hour when the October shows happen. No worker in the UK has the legal right to waive being paid NMW* for exactly all the reasons outlined below (avoiding exploitation, undercutting market rates, etc etc).

    *outside strictly defined exceptions, none of which apply in this case

  • Hoppy

    Maybe I’m ignorant but I just thought it sounded like an invitation to a fun party. Amanda, not that I was ever in doubt of your intentions, but you explained it very well in this blog. I’m looking forward to the show in New Orleans and thank you for introducing me to your co-musicians….I don’t know how many weeks I had J. Bischoff’s new cd on repeat in my car.

  • Hoppy

    Maybe I’m ignorant but I just thought it sounded like an invitation to a fun party. Amanda, not that I was ever in doubt of your intentions, but you explained it very well in this blog. I’m looking forward to the show in New Orleans and thank you for introducing me to your co-musicians….I don’t know how many weeks I had J. Bischoff’s new cd on repeat in my car.

  • muddiemaesuggins

    As an arts administrator I cannot make it more clear – Artists should be PAID for their work – period. Would you pay your dentist in beer? No. Would you ask your manager to “donate” their services? No. Would you expect your auto mechanic to work for free simply for the privilege of getting to work on your fabulous car? No, of course you wouldn’t. Artists spend their time talent and money on their education to be professionals as any other professional in our culture. It is arrogant and narcissistic in the utmost to expect some of them – not the ones in the “big city” mind you, they got paid – to work for free simply for the opportunity to bask in your genius – meanwhile, you collect pay for the gig and your merch. As an artist you should know better than to set this kind of precedent.

  • .

    The galling thing about this is that if the positions were reversed and Palmer was the struggling musician then 100% she’d be against it.

    • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Are you kidding? Dude, she would be right THERE, and HAS been. How do you think she got where she is?

  • Mr Bong

    If you think so desperately what she’s doing is wrong, then don’t do it. If that’s the case, then NEVER ask your working friends for favors either. Don’t ask your photographer friend to do a shoot of you or your show for free, don’t ask your go-to IT person to fix your laptop, don’t ask your friend at the music store to hook you up with a good price, cause each of these favors are taking away from their income and cheapening their market as well. If you can’t see getting these favors from your friends, then SUCK IT UP and SHUT UP.

    • fed up

      False equivalent. They are NOT her friends – they are “professional-ish” (and seriously, what the fuck is that) musicians being asked to perform for free while she gets paid. Do you see the difference?

  • go f yourself

    Regardless of whether or not musicians choose to perform for free or to otherwise donate their time, you are providing a scenario where people will be exploited, and for that you should be ashamed of yourself. Not only that, but this situation and countless others like it further contribute to the devaluing of our shared profession (performing musician) as a whole.
    If your performance needs a string section and a horn section, regardless of where the musicians come from, they should be compensated for their time and talent. This is not a bunch of people hanging out on a beach and singing songs to each other. This is a national tour in commercial venues filled with ticket buyers. Every laborer associated with bringing the performance to fruition should be paid. If you don’t have the budgetary foresight to plan on paying your backup band, then do a solo tour.
    The situation you described about crowdsourcing your food sounds pretty much like a narcissist taking advantage of some misplaced feeling of adulation her fans have for her, which is exactly what you are doing with your string and horn sections.
    Since the American Federation of Musicians has gotten wind of the scheme you are pulling here, I can only hope that you become persona non grata with union organizations nationwide.

  • Jessica Anderson

    I’m not going to pretend to understand the economics of touring. I’m certainly not going to pretend to know Amanda’s bank balance, as others seem to be doing. I take Amanda at her word that she can’t pay. I don’t think a bald-faced lie is her style. I also don’t think being a greedy asshole who tricks stupid people into helping her get rich is her style. (Those characterizing the volunteers as a bunch of googley-eyed, starstruck victims are insulting the people they mean to defend.) I believe Amanda when she says the Kickstarter money is spent.

    That being said, with a >million-dollar budget, the decision NOT to set money aside to pay people to play these parts was a conscious one. That is why people are pissed off. And, given the fact that the economy blows and is at the front of almost everyone’s mind, this PR problem cannot possibly be a surprise to Team AFP. Can it?

    I understand the artistic reasons for having volunteers, and I definitely understand playing for joy not pay. I fully support the choice of the volunteers, and I don’t think what Amanda’s doing is evil. On the other hand, if I were in a position to create a paying gig I don’t think I would choose not to, especially given the zeitgeist. But Amanda isn’t one to make decisions based on what people might think. And for that reason she still has my respect.

  • http://twitter.com/RoseTheRez Rose Granbacka

    I do my job for free. I have to be honest, I do what I do better than most people who do the same thing for money. I know I do because I often find myself leaving my office, going to someone else’s (who gets paid) to fix what they’ve messed up, get them on track and keep OUR ART MOVING. Do I struggle with money sometimes? Absolutely. Do I care? Not really. My life isn’t about money and at the same time it is. I know that if I can keep this momentum up (it’s been a couple years now and it’s not fading, only getting stronger) while I’m doing it for free, adding a little money into the equation won’t take that away. I’m building myself, growing, learning, making friends and contacts, and showing my coworkers that I have what it takes every single day.

    I was at the show in DC, right up at the front. I gotta tell you, those volunteers, Amanda, KICKED ASS! I’m kind of curious about how long they had to practice because I swear it was amazing. I used to be a production manager for a local band so I’ve been to plenty of gigs with volunteer musicians who did not do well. Those shows were interesting and had a merit of their own, but I mean it when I say that those volunteers blew my mind! It was a lovely show and I’m so glad I was there.

    If the volunteers from the 930 Club in DC see this message, I want to say thank you to them for adding their special flavor to the well orchestrated Grand Theft Orchestra. You guys were amazing!

    If Amy sees this, I hope all dreams come true. It sounds like you know what you want and you’re working hard to get it. Keep it up! (P.S. I love that you aren’t afraid to stand up for what you believe in.)

    All the best to Amanda, The Grand Theft Orchestra, ALL of the volunteers, and to Amy.

    • really

      If you work for free how did you buy a ticket to her show? Those usually cost money.

    • splain how

      How are you able to work for free? How do you pay your living expenses like food, clothing and shelter? I’m really curious how a person lives day to day by working for free?

  • anony fucking mous

    for all the folks comparing their volunteer stories to this successful, touring musician who sells out large venues, your perspectives are extremely mashed. ask how much the gross profit is, say for instance, a sold out show at the fillmore theater in san francisco, where she is playing on sept. 26th. take a long, hard look at the myriad framed photos of famed, legendary musicians as you walk the halls to the main ballroom and tell me that a small percentage of a gig’s profits can’t be divided up to pay for the horn and string sections of a “professional-ish” orchestra. i sincerely hope she thinks this one through for all her tour dates and considers more for these people than a measly bit of booze and a pat on the back from a deluded diva. tell your fans to skip buying you flowers, cookies, cakes, etc., and TIP THESE MUSICIANS. PAY THEM, EVEN!

    for those of you that are musicians and aren’t concerned about keeping a roof over your head or food on your table, good for you. you are blessed, but do not understand the struggles within this industry. try to understand where the frustration is coming from by us instead of scoffing that a solo artist can’t stretch $1.2m to pay her dues for some sold-out nights of entertainment. this would be a real knee-slapper of a publicity stunt, but the sad thing is, she’s dead serious.

  • Eric Arsnow

    This is pretty disappointing. My brother is trying to be a professional musician and it’s exploitation like this that makes it hard to find good work for musicians now a days. I agree with Peas that opening for the Nine Inch Nails during one of Trent’s biggest tours is completely different than the exposure musicians would be getting playing medium to smaller size club shows in your band. I was really looking forward to buying your album but I feel since you can’t afford to pay every musician who works for you, why do you deserve my money at all. At one point you held a million dollars in your hands. Granted that had to be used for all sorts of endeavors but that sure is more money than I would ever have held in my hand in my lifetime. Truthfully, my financial situation is so difficult it would’ve been a leap to part with $20 to buy a copy of your album on vinyl but I was going to do it because I had always appreciated your art. You’ll be coming through my city in November and I honestly find it hard to believe that charging $25 a ticket, which I know you’ll sell plenty of, that you have a hard time paying musicians anything of monetary value.

    • musictwig

      In case you had not noticed, you can download Amanda’s album FOR FREE. You don’t have to pay her a cent if you don’t want to.

      • Eric Arsnow

        Oh trust me, I noticed, but I hate taking good albums from artists for free because they work hard to create them. It’s typically consider supporting someone for their great work ethic and art. Just like I feel any hard working musician deserves to be treated with the same respect and not treated like a novelty for their talents.

      • Anon.Anon

        This is hardly clever of her. People would download her album for free with or without her cooperation.

  • brian

    You knew exactly what reaction you would get from this. A semi effective publicity stunt in the punk tradition. You must be running thin on ideas.

    • jp

      It is so transparently cheap isn’t it. pun intended

      • brian

        More lame than cheap. She should go back to manipulating the general public. No one gives a crap about musicians not getting paid.

      • brian

        Cheap, yes and just lame. Manipulating frustrated musicians is old news. As a street performer, she knows that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thetroubledtroubador Gary Ukulele-Rudd

    Ok, so why are some audiences more deserving of the paid professional than others? Probably it has to do with venues and geography, and yes, money. This is truly astonishing, self-delusional bullshit and will be remembered as such. Try building a house on these economics; paying only some suppliers and expecting the labourers out in the boonies to work for beer. It’s worse than ridiculous, it’s insulting, demeaning and wrong. I’ve stepped in better things than this.

  • rob

    this chick is wack. 1.2 million? thats alot of babysitting money being passed around. a bunch of volunteers should show up and just play as poorly as possible to teach her a lesson that it pays off having proffesional, PAID musicians.

  • Dave

    Mustafa,

    An astute post. re: AFP. Probably the most cogent of the lot…

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      thx much; very appreciated:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/clark.knowles Clark Knowles

    I’ll totally come spend time with you on stage. Unfortunately, I don’t play an instrument other than a pen and paper. Do you perchance need a person to sit on stage and write a short story do you? Cause I can do that. I’ll write the hell out of a short story while you play.

  • mark

    Palmer’s banking on obviously skilled musician megafans all over the country to do the gig for free.
    There is a massive salary hole for everyone below the top 10% of performing musicians — know this — and it gets harder every day to scrape together any coins in exchange for years of dedication and honing of one’s art in our newly developed culture of “free.” Shit, I’d be content knowing I had just my baseline health covered in these ever more Dickensian times. The music culture mirrors the larger culture here in the US — there ain’t no musical middle class, but ever-widening feast or famine.

    I speak as a musician who has played hundreds of gigs on the middle of the bill opening for many well-known artists. Unless you’re headlining, you ain’t making any money. It’s pay to play for everyone except the headliner. The new boss is worse than the old boss. Any payment would at least be a token of goodwill from someone whose fans rained goodwill generously on her and knows firsthand how tough a grind it can be. For someone who has taken on the role of indie savior in the new music paradigm, Palmer’s logic on this one is muddled.
    By accepting the gig and demanding nothing, trained musicians are devaluing their skills — bottom line. Crowdsourcing is scabbery, no matter how creatively Palmer wants to spin it, sorryMany of us musicians want to get compensated for our dedication, skill, and labor so that we can afford to live like adults and continue to enrich the world with our art.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      “Any payment would at least be a token of goodwill from someone whose fans rained goodwill generously on her and knows firsthand how tough a grind it can be” – You misunderstand the fans. The goodwill is rained on talent, not just on Amanda. I’ve bought 4-5 albums and bought tickets to 4 shows by people that I have seen working with and supporting Amanda in Australia (The Jane Austen Argument, Tom Dickins, Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, Saint Clare) that I otherwise never would have seen of or bought previously. And I would have bought Ronald Reagan’s album (the saxophone duo that are touring with Amanda currently – who I saw from the single NYC show) if I could find it somewhere online. From other fans that I know, that’s pretty much the norm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/seth.hamlin.37 Seth Hamlin

    Because…and this is the point that should have been made all along–It sets a precedent. The more that musicians take freebee gigs the more people will ask for free musicians, not just for shows but for all kinds of services. It kills the market for musicians. Just look at what the internet has done to recorded music. It’s nice to take the idealistic view and say that this is the new direction of music but it just doesn’t add up–not for the musicians and not for the industry.

  • Fuck an Amanda Palmer

    Theres a difference between playing your own music for free for the love of the music, and having some disgusting millionaire skeezer (who has a multi-millionaire husband) ask for free musicians to play her shows. It would be one thing if you were playing the shows for free yourself, but you’re not so fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

    • Matt Lakey

      Oh, please. The guy behind the video game Braid got backlash because he put his own fortune into the game, saying it doesn’t deserve to be called indie. You know very well you’d just be decrying her for dumping her husbands riches into the project and still saying she’s indie, instead. P.S.: Why do you think the Dresden Dolls made riches? They had a record label. FYI, record labels take most of the money you make. They weren’t really ever that popular, and even the biggest major label bands in the world have to tour endlessly for five years strait to get rich.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YE7XETD3G6GSJVIRPINAPDQFW4 PS

      You said it!

  • roachcraft

    I can’t believe I almost read that whole thing! Page after page of trying to convince “people other than yourself” of your righteousness and nonchalance regarding $$$$$$. Hey, “we” are convinced!

    You are the shit, Amanda, but there has to be a point as an artist where you let your actions speak for themselves. If you know you’re right, you don’t need to exhaustively justify yourself like this.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/YE7XETD3G6GSJVIRPINAPDQFW4 PS

      I think you meant, “You are shit, Amanda.”

  • Happyyukon

    I’m looking for a few professional-ish volunteer roofers to help re-shingle a roof my contracting company has been hired to do. I’ll be giving roof top shoutouts to the volunteers, and they’ll get the satisfaction of roofing beside the king(priceless). Send a video detailing your skills with a framing nailer and my paid support staff will contact you. P.S.-you’ll only be working on a job I don’t give a shit about, I’ll be hiring pros for the important ones. P.P.S.-bring your own tools and food for the crew. Aahhh..the business model of the new millennium..

    • http://twitter.com/Absurdum14 Michael caldwell

      You know, you SAY that, but I know people who’ve done exactly that. Some peope, actually run their lifestyles around “work” like that WWOOFING. I came within an inch of doing it myself for a month (actually thatching and sedge-cutting in that case rather than shingling) before family sickness prevented me.

  • Matt Lakey

    Read the financial breakdown link. Carefully. If she’s really thrifty and tight with her money, and is cheap with the music videos, she MIGHT end up with 100k. But she’ll more likely be near broke by the end. That’s what she said. If anything doesn’t go as planned, more expense will be incurred. And when it comes to any stage production, something ALWAYS goes wrong. She has to have a little left for emergencies during the tour. Also, I forgot to point out, she said the shows will break even if they’re sold out, and some probably won’t. So where is this pay for the volunteers going to come from? Is she supposed to raise the ticket prices? Let’s see you not complain if that happens. As if.

    • disheartened long time fan

      so why is it ok that she not be broke (or close to broke) while other musicians get by on high-fives and booze?

      • Matt Lakey

        What? Where’d you get that from? My point was, she won’t have money to pay the volunteers with after the inevitable unforeseen expenses. She clearly doesn’t expect to have hardly any money left after it’s said and done.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      then thats just poor and stupid tour budgeting. If you can’t command the fees and generate merch sales to cover the cost and then some of the tour, then either scale back the scope and cost of production or dont do it. And the money argument doesn’t hold, since shes paying for some cities but not others. Tours can , and should, be a self – sustaining operation.

      • Matt Lakey

        They are only paying in certain cities because they can’t afford to pay in all, and she’d rather be broke than cut back on quality. So that just leaves saying that she should’ve demanded more money from people to participate in the kickstarter campain. Oh, yeah. People’d be happy then.

        • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

          youre not making any sense. if truly “she’d rather be broke than cut back on quality”, then she should be paying for players in every city. Fact is , she s only paying to guarantee quality when it suits her (NYC, for the cachet and reivews, etc) then going on the cheap when it suits her. That s insulting to fans as well.

          And the kickstarter money, for me, doesnt enter into it. She claimed that was for the recording mostly anyway, and as i said, tours should run an even or positive balance sheet.

          As to funding the players from Kickstarter, I dont think she’ll have a chance of getting any more via Kickstarter after this debacle except from the die-hards who’ve drunk her KoolAid, but i think if people had seen that as a line item in her plan, they would have ponied up, though its the wrong fiscal approach for touring.

    • watchmeboogie

      That’s fine, that’s fine – not everyone who is against this idea believes that Amanda lives like a rich person. We know she has no money and will spend her last dollar on her stage show. The point is, if you can’t afford to pay for an instrument, maybe you… don’t have it?

  • Happyyukon

    I’m looking for a few professional-ish roofers to help reshingle a few roofs my company has been contracted to do. I’ll be giving rooftop shoutouts to the volunteers, and the opportunity to shingle next to the king (priceless). Make sure to send a vid detailing your use of a framing nailer and my paid support staff will contact you. P.S.-bring your own nail gun and food for the crew. P.P.S.-I,ll only be using the volunteers on the roof I deem not important, I’ll be using pros for the important ones. Is this the new business model you’re espousing? Thanks for the idea this will really help out my bottom line.

  • Matt Lakey

    Does anyone remember MC Hammer? Anyone remember how much richer he was than AFP is? He paid everyone who ever stood on the stage, and guess what? HE WENT BANKRUPT! And it’s not like she’s wasting money on building a mansion.

  • http://l33tminion.livejournal.com/ Sam

    … 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.

    Spinning it this way is disingenuous. Amy wasn’t criticizing you for working for free in the past, nor was the force of her criticism directed at the volunteers. She’s right to point out that musicians working for only prestige creates a culture where people don’t expect that musicians also need to be paid in cash. But it’s unfair to blame people for what they do to make the best of a system that doesn’t make things easy for them. “Especially in this day and age”, as you say, times are hard.

    Rather, the force of Amy’s criticism was on you, for requesting volunteers when you have the means to pay them a fair wage. The argument that the volunteer musicians are making a choice isn’t much of a defence; surely music studios that cut artists a raw deal would make the same argument. The choice that those volunteers make is shaped by you, they’re not refusing to be paid. You’re offering them terms of play for free or don’t play at all, and like musicians throughout history (including yourself), they’re willing to take a raw deal financially for the sake of their art. That doesn’t make it right to not offer them a better deal.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      this^ ^. Except I’d make one small , subtle difference: when you say ” they’re willing to take a raw deal financially for the sake of their art” , in reality it seems to me they’re doing it for the sake of HER art.

      When you convert adulation into labor and pay it in Persona, then youre running a cult, not a touring band.

    • watchmeboogie

      And frankly Amanda, I find it creepy that your response is “look how excited they are, what’s the problem?” Do you not see the potential irony of that? Go back and watch Harlan Ellison’s rant about expecting people to work “for exposure” just because they’re artists, while the technicians get real money.

  • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

    question for people in general: has this brouhaha changed how you feel about the Kickstarter model? are you more or less likely to support projects?

    reason i ask is that I had a kickstarter project up and running — we wildly overshot our expectations, so we didnt make goal, but we’ll regroup and revise. But I wonder how much erosion of trust this has caused and how it will affect other Kickstarter projects. What will you look for, what reassurances need to be in place for pledgers to feel secure?

    not trying to hijack this thread, and if you feel it will but have thoughts, look me up by name, im easuily found. If you feel it germane, we can keep it here.

    • Gaba

      It changed my feelings about Kickstarter in one respect: I’d be more cautious about setting up a crowd-sourced fundraiser now, because this discussion reassured me that people who will chip in on a project will feel very much entitled to tell you what to do with your budget, even in respect to stuff that’s entirely not the product they pre-ordered. People bought exclusive kickstarter content, but some clearly felt they’re buying a piece of the artist, and now can dictate what’s appropriate at this “stage” for them (as if pre”million-dollar-kickstarter”-Amanda is an entirely dfferent person entity than the post”million-dollar-kickstarter”-Amanda.

      • Ashok

        If you invest in a project, you actually do have the right to influence it. It’s not quite the same as pre-ordering a product. The product doesn’t get made without your contribution here.

        Also don’t be absurd and obtuse. A pre-million dollar individual is most certainly different from a post-million-dollar person. If you don’t think that a) you’d change and b) people would look at you differently after you obtained 1.2 million dollars, you’re not quite living in the real world.

        • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

          thats an interesting perspective, as part of the pitch and angle i m using is that you are pre-ordering a cd, or pre-ordering a cd and T shirt. I messaged it that way to minimize the impression of begging or asking for an art handout,but hadnt considered the possibility that accountability and responsibility, which of course one should have (and thats part of AFP’s problem here) may expand over to a sense of ownership and a voice in policy by the pledgers.

          One thing for sure — I’ll be even more detailed with the budget in the 2.0 version.

          • a disagreeing FAN

            I’ve supported quite a few Kickstarters now and I always have found myself leaning towards those which make it quite clear where the money is going (as any investor should) though it’s only one of the many things I consider.
            I’ve never yet once felt as though I had the right to disagree with the artists once the project begins or felt as though I was now buying a ‘piece’ of said artist, but accountability before and after goes a long way to making me not only feel I’ve made a good decision (always nice!) but goes a long way in making me consider supporting them again in the future. If I feel they used the money unwisely or dishonestly then my support ends there, lesson learned.
            There’s also the extenuating circumstance of supporting overfunding the project… what is to be done with extra money? Some Kickstarters take the time to address this (some with even better gifts) and some don’t, might be something to consider. I’ve supported both those that did and didn’t address it, but only once felt great about it afterwards when artist took the time again to mention what it was used for after the fact and made it obvious that it still went towards his vision and not into his pocket. But who’s to the pocket scenario isn’t fair either. I’m undecided on that one myself. I understand Amanda used some of the surplus to pay a rather large group of debts… I’d have no problem with this (being it was surplus) other than now she’s not paying her desired musicians. :/
            But as I said earlier, I don’t believe this has anything what-so-ever to do with the Kickstarter fundraising that Amanda used to fund her record/tour. This has to do with her conducting a for profit art project while refusing to take seriously those she expects to support (apply, practice, attend rehearsal and high pressure concert) said for profit art project. It’s a simple case of valuing those who give their time, effort and experience towards making her vision succeed and respecting your responsibilities. And as I said, she chose to have these backing instruments, it should be a pleasure to pay for them as I’m sure it was to pay all those that helped produce her album/tour.

  • Abbytron 3000

    Hi Amanda — I’m a long-time fan. I know you may not have the money to pay musicians for every show, and I believe your accounting post about where the Kickstarter money is going. This is what I suggest:

    At every show where the musicians backing you are not paid, PASS A HAT FOR THEM. And if they have CDs, make sure there’s room on your merch table for them to sell them. That gives us, your fans, a way to show our support for them. Maybe you can’t give them a percentage of ticket sales or something, but doing these two things gives them the same opportunity you had with your ukulele and your box for dollar bills. Everybody gets something.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      I would agree that they are great suggestions of things that should happen – if that wasn’t already what happens (at least at all of the AP gigs I’ve been to). :-)

  • Stephen

    I find it disheartening and disturbing that so many people identifying themselves as professional musicians are saying how important they think it is to prohibit amateurs from having an opportunity to play for large audiences. It’s a bit disgusting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.r.meyers Andy Ramesh Meyers

    it’s simple. If you had a 1.2 million budget, you can pay musicians. Nowhere in your long list of all your wild and crazy and fun list of gigs did i see you say “And i remember how fun and meaningful it was to play for free for an artist who had a recording/tour budget of over 1 million dollars”. I am happy to help my friend out if it is not a business situation– there is no significant money exchanging hands and people are doing it for the love of music. That does not apply in this situation.

    • Guest

      “If you had a 1.2 million budget, you can pay musicians.” You can’t say that with certainty because you don’t know what plans she’s made for her money and you don’t know how many musicians there would be, how much they’d be paid, and how many shows there are.
      People ARE doing it for the love of music.

      • A disagreeing FAN

        She has no right to ‘make plans for HER money’ until she’s taken care of her responsibilities. Basic principle you were taught (or should have been taught) by your parents. Paying backing musicians, since she decided she wanted/needed them, are now her responsibility. Simple.
        You have a vision, make it work. You have a vision your profiting from, make it work and make sure you’ve paid those supporting you.

  • Jason Allen Hester

    Amanda-

    As a big fan of yours, I have to throw a couple cents into this argument. I don’t think that the issue is that you asked for volunteers… I think the thing that got everyone riled up is that YOU asked for volunteers. If any other big, commercial mainstream band did this, it would be all over the news being labelled as the coolest thing big rock stars have ever done for/with their fans.

    But in this case, many people -myself included- are put off by it because you’ve had so many people throw a couple bucks in when they could because they support and believe in you, yet when posed with the same opportunity… you didn’t. I don’t hold a grudge. You’re still a hero to me for bucking decades upon decades of contracts, labels, and radio. I’d STILL love my band to be your opening act. I Also don’t doubt your intentions as you explained them… But it just *doesn’t feel right.*

    I will continue to wish you the best, and I love your work. I only hope that no volunteer leaves your stage feeling owed something, because if that’s the case, we don’t have anything to complain about.

    Jasonallenh *AT* gmail.com

  • yourGross

    long winded, rambling and back pedaling. I agree w Amy and Albini. and if it really cost you 1 million to make that record. you need to fire your accountant cause he is stealing from you. also like to note opening up for NIN is very different than playing a violin in YOUR band.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      Have you even looked at the Kickstarter and the packages? The $1.2M (or $1.08M, given that 10% goes in commissions via KS) isn’t for recording. Or even recording and touring. It’s much, much more than that.

  • ken

    I’m not sure what I feel about this debate, though I think I side with Amanda Palmer.

    A question, though: Does anyone know if the Boredoms paid the hundred or
    so drummers for their BoaDrum events? Did Rhys Chatham pay the
    guitarists that played with him on his concerts with 100 guitarists?

  • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

    OK, let’s get to the nitty gritty then.

    How much should a musician be being paid for their time to practice for a couple of hours, and to play, for sake of argument, two songs on stage for one night?

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      Not one person willing to answer that one? Theory and high horses are all well and good, but at some point it has to hit the real world doesn’t it?

  • Poppy

    Question: A visual artist, who makes a living off of her art, VOLUNTEERS her talent, skills, and time to help with an arts and crafts booth at a festival. The artist is quite skilled at her given craft, and for her services, she is being paid with free lunch and beer tickets. Other workers are being paid $$ to work at the festival. There is debate about how well the festival is actually doing. The volunteer artist doesn’t mind working for free at this specific festival because she enjoys making art and collaborating with others, and she’s loved going to this festival ever since she was a little girl, it’s near and dear to her heart, and she relishes in the opportunity to finally be a part of it.

    Is the artist:
    A. being exploited?
    B. letting the festival set a precedent for her and other artists?
    C. volunteering her time for something she enjoys and wants to be a part of?

    • watchmeboogie

      All of the above, depending on how you look at it?

    • Guest

      C.
      I can’t see at all how she’s being exploited if she’s VOLUNTEERING.
      Nobody can set a precedent for a true artist.

  • Adam

    It’s no longer Amanda Effing Palmer. It’s now Eff Amanda Palmer.

  • Cassidy

    I don’t know what to say about all this. If we saw a breakdown of how much the tour actually costs versus how much they make from the tour alone (nevermind the Kickstarter funds) I would maybe understand. I run a variety show, myself, and we’ve been paid shit most of the time and we do do it for the love. But what we do costs money and time and we’re trying to make better business ventures to help us afford our art or even to be able to focus more on our art instead of our soul-crushing day jobs. Even though I organize and book the shows and put the most work into it, I don’t take any more of a cut than anyone else does. And if anyone takes a hit if we’re a little short that night, it’s me. I feel like to ask people to perform for free if you’re getting paid above what you need to survive is unfair. If she’s barely breaking even on the tour, I can understand crowdsourcing musicians, but if she’s making anything above that, it’s really important to share the wealth. We all do things for free out of the love for our art, but we shouldn’t be doing them for free if someone else is profiting off them. If someone is making money off you as an artist, you should be compensated. If it’s a benefit show where the funds are going to charity, that’s different. But this isn’t a non-profit.
    I’m torn. I’ve been a fan of Amanda for 7 years now and have partially used her as a business model for how to keep art first while learning to make a living at it, and establishing a rapport with the fanbase so someone is there to pay for tickets and merch and help support you. The thought that she would exploit or profit from fans makes me ill. I’m not sure if that is what is going on, but from the outside, it does look like that. And her post above didn’t do anything to ease my worries. Even if you just took 1% of what people paid for tickets and use that towards the musicians it would help. It wouldn’t be a lot of money, but it would be something at least.

    • watchmeboogie

      I’m hoping that after the tour is over, and Amanda and her team ponder the successes and mistakes of this experiment, this part comes through as one of the mistakes. I just can’t imagine she would intentionally and insistently exploit any artist, especially not a fan. But clearly, her approach on this has not come across as intended.

  • Helena Miller

    Amanda, thank you for bringing this thorny issue to light in such a public way.

    Most people, artists included, are unaware of the damage that working for free causes and perpetuates. Several professional artistic organizations have long ago established guidelines to help designers, writers, photographers and illustrators understand and navigate this issue for their own awareness, protection and career benefit. Not to mention the livelihood and endurance of their chosen professions.

    This issue is much less talked about in music for some reason. Probably because there are so many DIY musicians and bands working entirely on their own, inventing rules as they go, or acting contrary to the perceived big business sell-out path. It’s almost always a problem of ignorance rather than outright exploitation, and thankfully easily fixed through education.

    I suggest people look up and read the widely accepted viewpoints against soliciting free talent in artistic fields. Many “new breed” high profile designers, illustrators, writers and photographers have eloquent and rational essays spelling out what is wrong with expecting or giving away one’s talent for free or menial gifts.

    Your peers in these fields – Jessica Hische, Grace Smith, Von Glitschka, Jeffry Zeldman, and other “punks turned pro” – strongly advise against “spec work.” You have a great opportunity to join them in educating both artists and audiences about what is at stake.

  • sean pollock

    amanda–

    i know you have over 400 comments on this blog and probably wont even get to read this one but i just wanted to say that i have been a fan of yours since 2008 and that your music has gotten me through a lot of hard times (and by a lot i mean times i mean when ive been on my bedroom floor sobbing, cutting myself and wanting to end my life kind of deal). i would consider myself to be an extremely loyal and devoted fan of yours. i have all your albums (most of which i have paid for…with a few exceptions), i’ve seen you in concert twice now (and you were fucking fantastic both times) AND i even have a poster of you in my room…no joke. i mean it when i say i think you are one of the most real musical artists right now. you’re not about stupid bullshit dubstep. you’re about making real amazing fucking music, even if your voice cracks when you sing it sometimes. your lyrics are beautiful and you don’t shave your armpits. AND I LOVE IT. seriously.

    that all being said, i am very troubled to hear about what’s been going on with grand theft. i understand that you asked people to volunteer and they did willingly and because of that i can’t exactly say that the musicians didn’t know what they were getting into by volunteering. although you make a very eloquent response that put things into perspective regarding this issue and still have my support, you are still neglecting to answer the question that everyone’s been wondering: where DID the rest of the money go then, if not the musicians?

    i’ve done my research and read everything you’ve posted about this issue because i do my homework. i understand when you werent touring you were in debt and so you used good deal of the money went to pay off months worth of debt – but i don’t know if i agree that you should’ve done that using money from your kickstarter that was intended to promote an album for personal use. it just doesn’t seem right to me. nowhere in that list that you put out on that kickstarter did you say “OH and i also am going to need money to pay people back for all the debt i’m in”. for once, making more money than you needed worked against your favor in this case.

    so far i have had two friends of mine who have worked for you. they have said nothing but wonderful things about you and when i heard about this controversy i asked them if you really were the type of person who would swindle a bunch of musicians out of their money and both their responses were no. so i am really really torn because of all the information i’m getting from different sources.

    don’t get me wrong though, when i personally have enough money i will download grand theft (i’m currently listening to your free samples on facebook and am loving it) and hope that all of this straightens out for you and that this doesn’t impact your future. we all make mistakes, and sometimes they’re really expensive mistakes, but we all make them. if it brings any comfort, i was almost sued for copyright infringement when i was eighteen years old because i couldnt afford the rights to a play i wanted to direct along with all the other costs that come along with the production, so trust me, i’ve been accused of being an asshole too when i was really just broke.

    regardless of what happens i hope it all pans out for you and unless i hear that you did something awful with all of that money (like open up a bank account in sweden) i will continue to support you and hope next time around you make even more money so that you truly can pay every musician that opens and/or plays with you.

    sincerely,

    sean pollock

    • a disagreeing FAN

      wouldn’t it be nice if her professional-ish hired temp musicians could pay off some of their debts???
      bottom line: she’s being extremely self-centered, if only blindly so, in this instance. And calling those that see things differently ‘haters’ or agreeing and RT’ing those that use these terms has made it clear, that for the moment at least, she’s moving on in her chosen path.

  • stretchmarkofthebeast

    This is cult of celebrity duplicity…pay the fucking musicians and shut up.

  • S. Daye

    You say:
    <<<<>>>>
    These real-life professional chefs may not have the hundreds of dollars to lay down in the future if the “chef business” is taken over by people who are willing to work for free…..or beer!

  • S. Daye

    You say:
    “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.”

    These real-life professional chefs may not have the hundreds of dollars to lay down in the future if the “chef business” is taken over by people who are willing to work for free…..or beer!

    • Guest

      Well, maybe they should take a lesson from the people who are able to work for free. They’re obviously sustaining themselves somehow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LarrySmith72 Larry E. Smith

    I’ll respond with a song called Armchair Quarterbacks:

    I’m typing away in orgasmic rage, you haven’t heard the last of me.
    I’ll find fault in your soul and I’ll let you know, the way you are supposed be.
    I don’t really care but I’m bored and I’m here, so here have some bad advice.
    Don’t bother to defend because in the end, I never intended to play nice.

    The armchair quarterbacks have something to say, but you don’t have to listen to it.
    Now everyone has a voice and a choice, but in the end it doesn’t mean shit.

    Jumping to conclusion in my mad confusion, I didn’t even google this.
    Maybe I’m mad or just feeling bad, or maybe I’m only taking the piss.
    But you have to hate me, or at least berate me, I won’t stand for being ignored.
    I’ll kick one last punt and call you a cunt, just to stay at the top of the board.

    The armchair quarterbacks have something to say, but you don’t have to listen to it.
    Now everyone has a voice and a choice, but in the end it doesn’t mean shit.

    Open discussion can lead to concussion, so easy to drown in the noise.
    But I have connections based on my affections, and a way to cut right to the joys.
    I tune out your derision, and made a decision, to take what I want for my own.
    So type with your rage, and fill one more page but you’re going to have to do it alone.

  • Zen

    Saying that someone who volunteers their time to make beautiful music with artists they admire is being taken advantage of is like saying that someone who volunteers their time to plant a beautiful community garden for all to enjoy is being exploited by the bees.

  • jc

    Shifting the focus to musicians’ freedom to make their own choices is
    spurious. It’s about Ms. Palmer setting an ethical tone–or not in this
    case. If art is truth, then Ms. Palmer’s truth seems to be
    self-promotion at all costs. Put another way: just because your fans
    come in droves to blow you doesn’t mean you should solicit blow jobs
    openly from your admiring public. Stay classy!

  • Jerry

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks very much for taking the time to explain all of this and allow for there to be a discourse about your choices. I am a comedian and a musician (as well as someone with a day job that pays the billz!) and have often times worked for free. I realize you might be at a point in your career where you can make choices to try and take on projects that are a bit more frivolous (i.e, outside of a same ol’ same ol’ record, produce mass quantities, tour clubs or traditional venues w little visual, rinse, repeat). I am happy for you in that respect. Many artists of all kinds never get to do that in their lifetime.

    Still, it stings a little to see someone essentially say that they’re in solidarity with other artists and other everyday struggling people but that you’re going to budget for your fantasy tour and packaging rather than properly pay musicians to play for you. We both know that there is a huge difference between your band opening for Nine Inch Nails and losing money and/or not breaking even and a person playing an instrument on stage for one night somewhere and go home to little fanfare other than from their friends for one lovely and possibly magical evening. That’s like saying the fact that I have in my comedian and musician life had the pleasure of opening for many comedians and bands I downright adore and it’s somehow furthered my career. Note: by open I mean be the act at X show in X town for one night. PS – it didn’t. In fact, it’s likely if something happened that could’ve been categorized as ‘furthering’ my career as a result; it would’ve come from the headlining act watching my performance and offering more shows (which according to you might have helped become more notable but almost definitely not financially independent) or a management person saw and was interested (didn’t happen either but it again could happen at a gig where one is getting paid too).

    Also, not to nitpick, but in the age of incredible technology being available to people at fractions of the cost they used to be; some of the costs of even your recording baffle me. You openly admit that the cost of the recording was ‘whopping’. Weren’t you the one who decided to agree to that whopping figure? In this age of incredible technology, massive independent recording capabilities at little cost how the hell did that happen? It’s your decision to do so and more power to you. But when it comes at the cost of paying people even 100 bucks for an hour’s work (or maybe more with sound check etc) at one of your shows, don’t you think it might’ve been a bit crass to admit that recording cost given how great recordings can be made for a fraction of that cost? Further, it’s not like you didn’t have a baseline idea of how much you needed to cover in musicians cost (including yourself). So if that’s factored in from the get, couldn’t that have meant you made the rest of your financial decisions based on that baseline?

    You also have done tours before. Since you have, you roughly know the cost of travel and lodging which means you had another basic baseline cost in mind before making decisions to take on non-traditional endeavors such as an art tour. Or you could’ve said, I want to do the art tour, pay the otherwise ‘volunteer’ musicians so I’m going to book X amount of gigs with less cost or more potential for $$$ and not do x, y, z. If you did have those conversations internally, how did you still end up at the line that said, “I need to pay for 4-5 music videos, an art tour, ‘band costumes’ but not pay people a little bit to volunteer hours of their time and skill for little to no recognition or furthering of their career?

    I’m sure you did research into the costs behind this project from the standpoint of Amazon, Kickstarter, ITunes and the like so please spare me when you list them as costs as if they shouldn’t have been part of a massive baseline of basic expenses that you knew going in, at least to a degree.

    Amanda, I respect your attempts to keep your career in your own hands. I applaud you for offering musicians a spot on stage with you. I am impressed with your commitments to the arts as a whole and your faith, it seems, to the idea that music, art, visual, audio etc can and should all be melded together whenever possible. I am also thankful for there being a major portion of your heart saying, “I want the best I can give for my fans and for myself”. But when there are things that are basic parts of the business that you couldn’t have and certainly weren’t blindsided by the cost of, from flights to KickStarter and Amazon, ways you could’ve gotten great product for less (recording costs for one) then stand by and make arguments for your decision to not pay musicians is snooty and absurd.

    • a disagreeing FAN

      just …thank you!

  • Guest

    It’s up to individuals to take care of themselves. If you devoted everything to becoming a professional musician, but people aren’t paying musicians anymore, that’s your own fault – You should’ve had a backup plan. I can’t think of how many times progress has been held back because of all the jobs that would be lost if we were to change our ways (for the better). It’s selfish. It’s nobody’s fault but your own if you’re a one-trick pony and have built your life around only one thing. Someone said they believe our actions should reflect the world we want to create. What about a world where people give and share their services freely? That’s the one I see Amanda creating.

    No one is entitled to the money she made. F*k the Robin Hood mentality of the rich should give to the poor. Just because she has money and you don’t doesn’t mean she needs to give it to you. Extreme circumstances excepted, everyone has the same opportunities. She’s been smart, creative and got it fair and square. Well played, Amanda.

    She wants musicians of all levels to come onstage, so with all the varying levels of skill, how would you determine how much each musician gets paid? When money becomes involved, you lose the spontaneity and the risk taking. You wouldn’t want anyone up there who wasn’t worth the cost, and you might cut out the best if they charge too much. The freedom and fun is lost. I find the fact that potentially anyone could be up there with her amazing. If I could play music, I would happily join her onstage, and be honored to even have the chance. Playing with her is an epic reward if you’re a fan.

    Volunteers are volunteers. No one’s forcing them to be there. They can leave at anytime.

    • a disagreeing FAN

      So you’re whole argument is ‘Go get a REAL job’ ’cause lord knows the arts don’t matter
      and ‘I worked hard for my money so I can ignore your rights to be paid’
      Sure Amanda blushes at this sort of support.

      • Guest

        No. Get a PAYING job. The arts matter, but that doesn’t mean it has a monetary value or that people are willing to pay for it. Everyone knows it’s an unsteady field financially where only a few really “make it”, so artists should be prepared.

        • a disagreeing FAN

          So at exactly what point should artists GIVE IN?? Amanda fought for years while relying on others, as she said, to feed her, bed her (so to speak), support her. At what point should SHE have given in??
          At what point should any artist say, “I’m a miserable failure and have, no longer, any right to live out my dream and make use of my natural talents.”?
          Come on, give me some form of an actual answer, I dare you. Because there isn’t one. You fight in every way possible and you continue that fight while morally trying to hold up your responsibilities to those you’ve agreed by love, to protect and support while trying to remain true to who you are. And that’s the bottom line here, again! Amanda has said again and again how she loves and supports artists but in this situation she has decided her own dreams and artistic intentions are more vital than any other’s.
          You’re so off topic, it’s a joke.
          Btw, most struggling artists I know (including myself) and have known in the past HAVE paying jobs, often more than one, and yet they STILL work their asses off at their dreams and at profecting their crafts. What do you do with your extra time?

          • A disagreeing Fan

            damn it! I’m typing too fast again… my apologies for all typos above! ;)

          • Guest

            Give in? What are they trying to achieve exactly? As far as I’m concerned, real artists will continue their craft regardless of finances. If you’re talking about making a living from art, that’s where I’m saying they shouldn’t have expected to in the first place. Unless you’re Justin Bieber, don’t expect to be a millionaire. Musicians are a dime a dozen and many people spent their childhoods learning instruments, but learnt other things as they got older. Being able to play music is not an exclusive talent. If someone doesn’t want to pay you too much, it might be because they themselves can play the piano or whatever, too – they just don’t. But they could.
            If you’re working and still finding yourself broke, you musn’t be very good at handling money. In my spare time, I read about finance and investing.

          • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

            “Guest” , you exhibit the most pompous, smug , self-righteous personality to be seen so far on these pages – except perhaps for AFP herself, though she actually seems more likeable.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      “Just because she has money and you don’t doesn’t mean she needs to give it to you”

      But she’s not giving it, I’m earning it, if Im providing a service she needs — which she does, else she wouldnt be doing these call outs in the first place. She needs or wants a service i can provide, to fulfill a function of her show. That means Im WORKING for her, and should be compensated in some form.

      By your logic, go to your boss Monday and tell him youll work for free because youre not entitled to the money he/she made and just because he/she has money doesnt mean he/she needs to give it to you.

      True, its all voluntary and if i want to be all googly-eyed and start struck and do it to Bask In Her Glow, thats fine. Whats contemptuous and arrogant is her literally banking and planning on the fact that people love her enough to accept Her Munificence as sufficient compensation for work provided. Shes not a band leader , she’s the head of a cult.

      • Guest

        Whether you’re working or volunteering depends on the arrangement you have. Providing a service doesn’t mean you’re working. It could mean you’re volunteering if you’re willing to carry out the service without being paid.

        I COULD go to work and tell my boss that s/he doesn’t have to pay me on Monday or whatever days I decide, and that would be my gift to them. A service can be a gift to someone. Some people want to give their services to Amanda. Although, not everyone, obviously.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      “Just because she has money and you don’t doesn’t mean she needs to give it to you”

      But she’s not giving it, I’m earning it, if Im providing a service she needs — which she does, else she wouldnt be doing these call outs in the first place. She needs or wants a service i can provide, to fulfill a function of her show. That means Im WORKING for her, and should be compensated in some form.

      By your logic, go to your boss Monday and tell him youll work for free because youre not entitled to the money he/she made and just because he/she has money doesnt mean he/she needs to give it to you.

      True, its all voluntary and if i want to be all googly-eyed and start struck and do it to Bask In Her Glow, thats fine. Whats contemptuous and arrogant is her literally banking and planning on the fact that people love her enough to accept Her Munificence as sufficient compensation for work provided. Shes not a band leader , she’s the head of a cult.

  • the disagreeing FAN

    I started out in this argument 110% behind Amanda… but then she wrote this piece (Never complain, never explain!! lol) and EVERYTHING changed.
    My first issue was when I read the title and it included the word CHOICE. This has nothing to do with the choice of the volunteer professional-ish musicians, because I guarantee you, without doubt, if they had the real choice of playing for Amanda for free, or playing with Amanda and getting paid, well… you get it. But saying they have a choice because they can simply choose not to play at all is a fucking joke. And if you don’t like the dinner placed before you you can choose not to eat. What a choice!
    This is about nothing but Amanda’s choice, to do what the hell she chooses with her money. Wouldn’t it be great if the volunteer professional-ish musicians, (after sending an e-mail audition) would have a choice about what to do with their money?
    The final nail in the coffin for me on this one was a tweet she RT’d:
    Amanda Palmer‏@amandapalmer
    thanks loll RT @LollyKeating If I learned 1 thing in my years working for @amandapalmer it’s that AFP puts every cent back into production.
    So… it is Amanda’s choice, she’s not paying, and believe’s it should be her choice, to alot that many elsewhere, more importantly where it continues to support HER.
    So great, she’ll have her supporting band member pay them out of his pay, she’ll pass a hat round the audience, she’ll hug, high-five ya, and send you on your way to the bar and the t-shirts…. but when all is said and done, HER income (and resulting ability to do as SHE pleases) won’t have been effected. This is just another case of the haves refusing to respect and pay the have nots, especially those who’s names are as still yet unknown.
    I’m all for sharing, I’m all for looking out for others, all for volunteerism, all for busking to make your way up, hell, all for so much of what Amanda says she’s for… but people are missing the point by a mile. And the fact now that those that disagree with Amanda are using name callling to make their (non-)points, and she and her supporters are using ‘hate’ and ‘haters’ to describe those that have legitimate and well-thought out opinions that differ from her/their opinions shows me that this has become a free for all with no real desire to find a middle ground.
    Back to real life, right. Let’s just keep screaming… because real solutions aren’t needed.
    I find the fact that she was willing to let someone else share their pay rather than stepping up and doing it herself is extrememly telling and I must say ‘bothers me’ isn’t a strong enough phrase.
    But when all is said and done I. Love. Amanda! Or at least I love her art, her heart, her fight and everything I’ve come to know of her. Being a human being is difficult, and one of the hardest parts of being one is having to face occasionally changing your outlook on life. And I can’t (yet!) imagine what it would be like to live my life driving one direction and suddenly be told because the car has now changed from an old beat up VW van to a (insert your favourite bitchin’ ride here), that I must rethink how I approach some problems/issues in my life and career.
    This is what I’d like Amanda to confront. That whether she like it or not, she is now making decisions based on what she chooses to do and what she wants to do being more vital than whether her fans/volunteers also have that ability in their lives.
    I could say so much more and am tempted but have been utterly bored by some of the ridiculously long replies on here… so ’nuff is ’nuff!
    Signed:
    A disagreeing Amanda fan (NOT a hater)

    • Guest

      “And if you don’t like the dinner placed before you you can choose not to eat. What a choice!”

      She’s not responsible for feeding people.

      • Jon Kiparsky

        No, apparently they’re responsible for feeding her.

  • the disagreeing FAN

    *to alot the MONEY elsewhere (typing much too fast) ;)

  • rj

    I have lots of friends who do manual labor moving shit for a living. When I have to move, I ask them, along with all my other friends, to come help. Some of them do. Yes, they normally get paid to move shit around. Yes, I am asking them to volunteer to do it for free (or pizza). They come do it to help out and because we have fun. When I was a stagemanager I sometimes took on jobs where I needed stagehand help but couldn’t pay much or at all, and I would ask my stagehand friends to come help me out and buy them a beer. I was getting paid for my job, and asking some people, who normally would get paid for that labor, to do it for free. I did the same for my buddies if they had the same situation. We did it because we liked what we did for a living, we liked each other, and we had fun. No one was being exploited. Anyone who is volunteering to perform with AFP is doing so because they want to and will get something (fun, art, exposure, a story) and that is worth the time to them. Just because you wouldn’t choose to do it does not mean there is anything wrong with the model.

    Yes musicians should be paid to work, when they are being hired for a job. There is no inherent disrespect in asking people whether they don’t think it would be fun to come do something for free.

  • rj

    also, just want to say to AFP that I think you are a class act and keep doing your art they way you want to do it. haters gonna hate, right?

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyNosebleed Trʌsh Rǝhʌsh

    The fact that people think this is defensible, of indeed anything other than b-grade megalomania, blows my effing mind.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE&feature=share&list=PL6BA41C224A07F63C

    • S. Daye

      This video says it all. Hope everyone watches it!

  • Lisa

    The difference between what you’re asking and what college students having a gig night are asking is that you were given more than a million dollars in donations whereas those college kids probably were living on ramen. YOU can afford to pay something. You are also a hypocrite, supporting the Occupy movement until it’s more convenient for you to exploit the struggling working class instead of paying them. Why don’t YOU view paying people as the investment in your career that you’re asking them to make to work for free?

    • Guest

      - how do you know she can afford it? maybe she has other plans for her money.
      – not all musicians are struggling working class.

      • A disagreeing FAN

        I’m sure you had other plans for the $684 you were forced to pay for rent last month… didn’t alter your need to pay it.
        Responsibilities first. And she chose this responsibility, it should be an absolute pleasure to pay for it.

  • Guest

    The way I see it, everyone who has a problem with what Amanda’s doing has an “employee” or “worker” mentality, and cannot see it from an “employer”s POV because they can’t imagine themselves ever being in that situation (and they probably won’t be because of this). With her spare money (if there is any – we don’t know what she’s done with it), she can improve her show or whatever she wants to do. If she says it’s going back into production, trust it, and don’t micromanage. If she uses her money to pay musicians, then she has nothing more than she did before and no – or little – chance to expand. She’s utilising her resources – willing fans – so she can use her money on other things. We don’t know the volunteers’ financial situations. Maybe they’re doing just fine. Whether or not they are, she’s not responsible for it. These could be one-night performances. What’s 2 hours? Is playing for 2 hours with a musician you admire “exploitation”? How is it unfair if the musicians come forward and volunteer? If she sought them out and guilted them into it, maybe, but she’s not. People are coming forward on their own, saying they want to do it. They get a free show. They get to talk to AFP. They get to be on stage. They DO get things in return, just not money.

    • a disagreeing FAN

      Wow! The funny thing about a working (working!) argument is that it must work in all applicable situations… and yours doesn’t… except for in a world where the haves don’t have to consider the needs, feelings, dreams, desires of the have lesses and have nots. Your cold assumption that a ‘worker’ (oh, just ick!) hasn’t the forsight, intelligence, understanding, or business sense to understand the importance of exploiting others is mind boggling and sick. Let’s hope when they eventually ‘make it’ they continue not to understand it.
      My experience in every crap job I’ve ever been forced to endure to continue in following my dreams has been that those in charge thought their desires (for themselves, their business) were more important than any other’s. Arrogance. Pride. Self-centerdness. And flat out selfishness. Notice I didn’t mention Great Business Sense.
      Because I’ve also had ‘crap’ jobs that I’ve absolutely loved, and they’ve always been the ones where I was valued, respected and fairly compensated for my time, effort, let alone experience.
      Your arrogance and greed are stifling, in both theory and in action to those you belittle as the ‘workers’.
      I’m extremely disheartened by the selfishness and arrogance of too many of the arguments supporting Amanda’s decision that I’m afraid it may begin to effect my opinion of her fans… of which I am, and intend to remain, one.

  • Ja’ime

    The poor are greedy. They want the rich to look after them.
    YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY VOLUNTEERS.
    Is asking for volunteers a crime? Because one has money, they should spend it?
    Stupid butthurt poor people.

  • Na.talie

    I don’t know what Amy’s got to complain about.
    She’s not forced to be part of the show and she’s not forced to volunteer. It’s her decision and I bet there are many musicians who are happy to play a show with Amanda Palmer and not getting payed- Actually, the fact that those people don’t get payed just shows how important it is for them to do it cause they’re not just doing it for the money. (by the way: If I’d be able to play any instrument I’d even pay for playing a show with Amanda ;-) )

  • Na.talie

    I don’t know what Amy’s got to complain about.
    She’s not forced to be part of the show and she’s not forced to volunteer. It’s her decision and I bet there are many musicians who are happy to play a show with Amanda Palmer and not getting payed- Actually, the fact that those people don’t get payed just shows how important it is for them to do it cause they’re not just doing it for the money. (by the way: If I’d be able to play any instrument I’d even pay for playing a show with Amanda ;-) )

  • Chris Opperman

    Classy. I didn’t understand what the controversy was but I think a lot people don’t realize the difference between being a musician and being a bandleader and what the difference between those two things entails.

  • Chris Opperman

    Classy. I didn’t understand what the controversy was but I think a lot people don’t realize the difference between being a musician and being a bandleader and what the difference between those two things entails.

  • Christina

    People might want to read what Classical Revolution, which is mentioned in this letter as supporting the project, actually said on Twitter about it: https://twitter.com/classicalrev . They are raising funds themselves to pay the musicians that Amanda Palmer didn’t pay.

    Amanda Palmer
    ‏@amandapalmer

    @ClassicalRev for the record, we’re really grateful for all the musicians we’ve found/played with through you guys.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer Thanks! Yes the Classical Rev network is useful for this very reason – helping touring musicians get chill, talented musicians

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer But we do expect our players to get paid fair wages to be able to support their careers and their lives as musicians

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer Having people show up for a rehearsal and show at a specific time with reading skills and professionalism should be a paid gig

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer I’ve contracted strings for literally hundreds of shows for different artists and this is the first time we’ve offered so…

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer …little to be part of such a big-budget production. I like the project and am honored to be involved, but people are pissed.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @crzepa @amandapalmer It’s true, @jherekbischoff’s stuff is not a walk in the part, and the string quartet is totally exposed.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @crzepa @amandapalmer @jherekbischoff You need solid players to pull it off. Its scary when you don’t know the players you’re going to get.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @crzepa @amandapalmer I feel bad for @jherekbischoff, he has to rehearse each time with different people, not knowing if they can even play!

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    Thanks @piesaac that is a very generous of u. We have a fundraiser going for our month-long festival, which includes @amandapalmer’s SF show

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @piesaac @amandapalmer We’ll use these donations to make sure the musicians we ask to play are compensated fairly http://www.classicalrevolution.org/festival

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @quickliftzwick @piesaac @amandapalmer I agreed to contract the strings for SF. And I intend to pay them fairly for their time

    AFM
    ‏@MusiciansUnion

    @AmandaPalmer: Compensate your musicians like you compensate your publicity team, managers, tech people, & accountants http://ht.ly/dIQuo

    Retweeted by Classical Revolution

    • peregrine

      Hallelujah! I’ve participated in a few Classical Revolution events here in my city, and I’m glad to know they aren’t letting AP drop their name as co-conspirators in this policy.

  • Christina

    People might want to read what Classical Revolution, which is mentioned in this letter as supporting the project, actually said on Twitter about it: https://twitter.com/classicalrev . They are raising funds themselves to pay the musicians that Amanda Palmer didn’t pay.

    Amanda Palmer
    ‏@amandapalmer

    @ClassicalRev for the record, we’re really grateful for all the musicians we’ve found/played with through you guys.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer Thanks! Yes the Classical Rev network is useful for this very reason – helping touring musicians get chill, talented musicians

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer But we do expect our players to get paid fair wages to be able to support their careers and their lives as musicians

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer Having people show up for a rehearsal and show at a specific time with reading skills and professionalism should be a paid gig

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer I’ve contracted strings for literally hundreds of shows for different artists and this is the first time we’ve offered so…

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @amandapalmer …little to be part of such a big-budget production. I like the project and am honored to be involved, but people are pissed.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @crzepa @amandapalmer It’s true, @jherekbischoff’s stuff is not a walk in the part, and the string quartet is totally exposed.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @crzepa @amandapalmer @jherekbischoff You need solid players to pull it off. Its scary when you don’t know the players you’re going to get.

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @crzepa @amandapalmer I feel bad for @jherekbischoff, he has to rehearse each time with different people, not knowing if they can even play!

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    Thanks @piesaac that is a very generous of u. We have a fundraiser going for our month-long festival, which includes @amandapalmer’s SF show

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @piesaac @amandapalmer We’ll use these donations to make sure the musicians we ask to play are compensated fairly http://www.classicalrevolution.org/festival

    Classical Revolution
    ‏@ClassicalRev

    @quickliftzwick @piesaac @amandapalmer I agreed to contract the strings for SF. And I intend to pay them fairly for their time

    AFM
    ‏@MusiciansUnion

    @AmandaPalmer: Compensate your musicians like you compensate your publicity team, managers, tech people, & accountants http://ht.ly/dIQuo

    Retweeted by Classical Revolution

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidsals David Sals

    Amanda:

    I remember one time in my twenties when I went with a friend to a park, and there was playground with lots of little kids running around. They were playing a chase game, and one of the little girls started chasing my friend. The chasers all growled menacingly, and those being chased shrieked and ran, so my friend shrieked as she ran, and the little girl chased her growling and laughing.

    Others joined in the chase, and soon my friend was being followed by six or seven little kids. Her face was glowing from the thrill of connecting with the little girl inside herself. Then came the point in the game when those being chased became the chasers, so my friend turned around like the others, and she put up her arms and growled…

    …And all of the little kids who were chasing her started crying, and the game was over. Parents came to see what was wrong with their children, and my friend tried to explain but mostly was met with scowls. She walked back to where I was sitting on a bench, and with a heartbroken look on her face she said to me that, even though she still felt like a little kid inside sometimes, she realized that she really would never be one again. She had grown beyond that stage and the rest of that world would never be able to truly include her.

    Amanda, it seems to me that you’ve found yourself in a similar place. You are no longer just this cool punk-folk-indie-whatever-you-wanna-be performer, now you’re Amanda Fucking Palmer. You can’t go back to playing on the street with your hat out, and even if you did, now you would be Amanda Fucking Palmer playing on the street with your hat out, and people would respond accordingly.

    You can raise over a million dollars from your fans simply by asking them for it. You can book concerts all over the country and beyond and fill them. You can invite David Byrne to jam with you and he will happily do it and he won’t ask for money.

    99% of the professional and “professional-ish” musicians out there can not do any of those things. You are in the 1% now. Simply put, you have become — as more than one person has commented on your blog — part of the establishment. Your choices and actions used to break the rules. Now, they make the rules.

    You can pretend to yourself that you are still just one of the kids, inviting other kids to play with them. It’s a beautiful vision, traveling around the country and drawing talented musicians to you for a few moments of musical bliss and beer. However the very fact that you are able to do this demonstrates that you are not one of the kids. People are coming to play with you, and they are doing it for free because you are Amanda Fucking Palmer.

    So when you see people who are where you were, talented but struggling to get a paying gig — any paying gig — cry out in pain/fear/frustration in response to your invitation to play, you can hold on to your vision and continue to pretend everyone is playing on an even field, equally free to choose, equally benefitting by the arrangements you make. But that is ignoring the truth. As with my friend and her playground, the world of struggling professional musicians no longer recognizes you as a peer. You weild power that they do not. You have choices that they do not. You get to call the shots, and they only get to say yes or no.

    Now, I actually agree with you that everyone is free to make their own choices, and that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with inviting people to come play with you just for fun. I imagine for many people it’s an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives, and that by itself can be a priceless gift. So, context aside, I personally think it’s a wonderful, fucking fantastic vision for a tour, and I am truly happy for you that you are in a position to realize it.

    But context is everything. And the context is this: struggling professional musicians do the playing for free when they must, and take the crap gigs when they must, always believing that someday they will “make it,” and be truly valued for the talents that they are. So when someone has been there and knows what it’s like to be wondering how you’re going to cover this month’s rent, or even last month’s; when someone has lived that life and truly understands it; when she has even been an iconic voice for that life and she looks down from the land of “made it,” where she now is (like it or not) a role model to thousands or millions, and she says to those struggling musicians, “I don’t value you enough to make sure you are paid,” whatever her rationale, that can feel beyond disappointing. It can feel like betrayal.

    It’s not you. Inside, I’m sure you’re who you always were. But if you are surprised by some of the responses you are receiving, or if you feel wrongly judged or criticized by people who are still in the 99%, well, that part IS you. And maybe it’s time to wake up to what and where you are now.

    Welcome to adulthood.

    • StepDown

      ‘Welcome to adulthood’? Really? You sir, are a condescending tool.

    • Mugwomp

      No, no & no. A well written argument but one that mischaracterizes what she is doing. This 1% vs. the 99% was an appeal to the useful idiots as a form of propoganda. An effective one too beause it almost seems reasonable until you think it through. It implies a standard of obligation past an arbitrary line for anyone you feel has more than another. This is a tyranny of its own and appeals to the basist of instincts. Envy. No one ever improved their lot in life by pulling down another. And perhaps the most insidious is that it assumes that one more ‘successful’ cannot be trusted to be generous.or caring. Liberty doesn’t come cheap but apparently too many of us have forgotten that or never valued it to begin with.

      This has little or nothing to do with the obligation we all have to look out for each other. But be careful what mandates you hang on another. It’s no act of charity or caring when it is done this way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidsals David Sals

    Amanda:

    I remember one time in my twenties when I went with a friend to a park, and there was playground with lots of little kids running around. They were playing a chase game, and one of the little girls started chasing my friend. The chasers all growled menacingly, and those being chased shrieked and ran, so my friend shrieked as she ran, and the little girl chased her growling and laughing.

    Others joined in the chase, and soon my friend was being followed by six or seven little kids. Her face was glowing from the thrill of connecting with the little girl inside herself. Then came the point in the game when those being chased became the chasers, so my friend turned around like the others, and she put up her arms and growled…

    …And all of the little kids who were chasing her started crying, and the game was over. Parents came to see what was wrong with their children, and my friend tried to explain but mostly was met with scowls. She walked back to where I was sitting on a bench, and with a heartbroken look on her face she said to me that, even though she still felt like a little kid inside sometimes, she realized that she really would never be one again. She had grown beyond that stage and the rest of that world would never be able to truly include her.

    Amanda, it seems to me that you’ve found yourself in a similar place. You are no longer just this cool punk-folk-indie-whatever-you-wanna-be performer, now you’re Amanda Fucking Palmer. You can’t go back to playing on the street with your hat out, and even if you did, now you would be Amanda Fucking Palmer playing on the street with your hat out, and people would respond accordingly.

    You can raise over a million dollars from your fans simply by asking them for it. You can book concerts all over the country and beyond and fill them. You can invite David Byrne to jam with you and he will happily do it and he won’t ask for money.

    99% of the professional and “professional-ish” musicians out there can not do any of those things. You are in the 1% now. Simply put, you have become — as more than one person has commented on your blog — part of the establishment. Your choices and actions used to break the rules. Now, they make the rules.

    You can pretend to yourself that you are still just one of the kids, inviting other kids to play with them. It’s a beautiful vision, traveling around the country and drawing talented musicians to you for a few moments of musical bliss and beer. However the very fact that you are able to do this demonstrates that you are not one of the kids. People are coming to play with you, and they are doing it for free because you are Amanda Fucking Palmer.

    So when you see people who are where you were, talented but struggling to get a paying gig — any paying gig — cry out in pain/fear/frustration in response to your invitation to play, you can hold on to your vision and continue to pretend everyone is playing on an even field, equally free to choose, equally benefitting by the arrangements you make. But that is ignoring the truth. As with my friend and her playground, the world of struggling professional musicians no longer recognizes you as a peer. You weild power that they do not. You have choices that they do not. You get to call the shots, and they only get to say yes or no.

    Now, I actually agree with you that everyone is free to make their own choices, and that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with inviting people to come play with you just for fun. I imagine for many people it’s an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives, and that by itself can be a priceless gift. So, context aside, I personally think it’s a wonderful, fucking fantastic vision for a tour, and I am truly happy for you that you are in a position to realize it.

    But context is everything. And the context is this: struggling professional musicians do the playing for free when they must, and take the crap gigs when they must, always believing that someday they will “make it,” and be truly valued for the talents that they are. So when someone has been there and knows what it’s like to be wondering how you’re going to cover this month’s rent, or even last month’s; when someone has lived that life and truly understands it; when she has even been an iconic voice for that life and she looks down from the land of “made it,” where she now is (like it or not) a role model to thousands or millions, and she says to those struggling musicians, “I don’t value you enough to make sure you are paid,” whatever her rationale, that can feel beyond disappointing. It can feel like betrayal.

    It’s not you. Inside, I’m sure you’re who you always were. But if you are surprised by some of the responses you are receiving, or if you feel wrongly judged or criticized by people who are still in the 99%, well, that part IS you. And maybe it’s time to wake up to what and where you are now.

    Welcome to adulthood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rain.lynham Rain Lynham

    A
    lot of people who are coming to this blog for the first time 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 not thinking at all, for anyone that turns up to
    those is either already going to the paid gig, or can’t due to lack of
    funds. But they get 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. Share with, not just give to, they join her for that meal. This is an experience that many fans would pay for, and many crasser artists actually do charge money for. 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 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 its now wrong for her to crowdsource things, that is just ridiculous. First of all, its not as much money as people think, not if you
    read and understand how Kickstarter _actually_ works. The fans didn’t “donate” money 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.

  • Lost Photograph

    It’s very simple. When one comes upon the money that you have, then it is your responsibility and duty to share it with the musicians around you. You are in no position to be asking for hard working musicians to play for next to nothing. Even if you’ve paid your dues in the past, it is your duty to pay people who perform with you. Some things are as simple and as black and white as this. Everything else, is just rhetoric.

  • http://www.facebook.com/parkerjaime Jaime Parker

    To Amanda Palmer: It’s not an issue of culture; ALL musicians volunteer their services on a regular basis. Classical, jazz, union and non-union, we all play free gigs. I can name tons of pros in my town who play free shows all the time. The bottom line is, you have the money to pay the opening acts, and you should pay them.

  • Zach

    I think it’s interesting how entitled everyone feels to AFP’s money/how she should spend it, particularly when she’s been so transparent about where almost every cent is actually going.

    I think it’s interesting how many musicians feel so personally ripped off by a concert they’re not even performing at/attending, despite the sense of fulfillment many of the actual performers expressed about their decision to play; in the same vein, it’s interesting how some of these same professional musicians criticizing her somehow feel more qualified to play at these shows–despite their choice not to–and in turn, chastise the “amateur” musicians who actually play at the shows for stealing their opportunity, as if the AFP show is the last concert on earth.

    I think it’s interesting that Amanda is called greedy and selfish for not spending the money she may or may not have (really, WE DON’T KNOW, and the degree of authoritative speculation is almost comical if it wasn’t so terrifying) on these volunteer musicians, despite the fact that opening the doors to her musician fans to play with her is an purely inclusive act.

    I think it’s interesting that AFP is being grouped into the 1% because she RAISED a million dollars, despite the fact that almost all of that money is going back into products and shows that the FANS will recieve, and not into her bank account.

    I think it’s interesting that people claim AFP is setting a precedent of exploitation, as if her actions are the black and white, BE ALL END ALL regulations and codes for all musicians to follow, as if AFP is the most IMPORTANT and INFLUENTIAL music figure that ever graced this planet and everyone will turn to as the model of musical success, when really, a majority of the people lashing out against her never even heard of her before this moment in time.

    I think it’s interesting how, despite being described at as exploited by critics, the musicians who decided to play at her shows felt the experience was rich an worthwhile.

    I think it’s interesting how this whole debate boils down to a conflict of two polar ideas, and many are too stubborn to acknowledge or attempt to empathize with the alternate perspective.

    I think it’s interesting how money driven this entire argument has become, which really speaks volumes about the “value” we attribute to art.

    I think it’s interesting how the volunteers are being compared to slave labor, when they seem to be having a ball.

    I think it’s interesting how the spirit of art and what AFP is actually attempting to do by inviting her fans to participate in the show is ultimately lost due to the greed of others.

    • Zach

      I also think it’s interesting how quickly everyone jumps to speak for the performers who played at the shows, when the performers are perfectly capable of–and have been–speaking for themselves. and what, as we’ve witnessed, are they saying about their experiences?

  • Amanda

    Am i the odd woman out for thinking everyone’s business is their own? Amanda Palmer likes to do this with her money/time/efforts/collaborating/etc etc etc. Another performer likes to do it ______(fill in the blank.) Everyone has their own thing that works for them. Maybe im naive but i just say, support musicians and hopefully they support you back, despite what physical goods or exchanges or lack thereof there may be. Am i crazy?

    • amanda

      i dont know why it said my name was zach!

  • Ted

    Amanda,

    I have no idea who you are; I know nothing about your music. But you do not let your own peons know how much money you are making. From your perspective, with expenses, costs, and debts, it probably doesn’t seem like much. But from their perspective it seems like a HUGE amount. And they can never fathom it, because they’re not in your shoes. You want to focus on what a great personal growth experience it is for them, how much fun they will be having, etc.

    Musicians,

    I have seen the volunteer exploitation model in many industries, from cooking schools, to health companies, to psychic reading businesses. Just about everyone and their brother are using it nowadays. Yes it sucks ass. There are no jobs out there and attention is the new currency.

  • Kevin

    A couple of folks have mentioned below that there’s essentially a power imbalance at work—i.e., as the established artist, AFP has more choices than are available to the people who are being asked to “volunteer”—and that this may not have been considered. AFP has some flexibility to determine whether or not, how, and/or how much she will pay these folks; the volunteers don’t. (Given that they have to apply—and be approved—for the gig, most will not even get to volunteer.)

    Someone else has suggested that what may have been more acceptable when AFP was a struggling artist is not necessarily acceptable for an established artist—which I think we can all agree that AFP is at this point. (Struggling artists don’t have their albums sold in Best Buy stores.)

    Without denying people their choice to answer AFP’s calls for “volunteers”, that power imbalance is hard to deny—however benevolent the “power” (AFP, in this instance) may be.

  • Mugwomp

    Much to do about not very much.

    Holy cow people, cut the woman a little slack here. And be not so quick to critcize what you don’t know about. Look to the people who live in her world for a little guidance on the matter. In most circumstances it is far more important why someone does something than what they do. Consider the music culture that she grew up in that modelled this concept since, pretty much, forever. If that’s naked exploitation then where do I sign up?

    One of my fathers favorite sayings concerns walking a mile in another mans shoes before offering judgement. If there is fault here perhaps it has more to do with being quick to judge. I can only hope this doesn’t cost some people the opportunity to do this in their town.

  • the disagreeing FAN

    And now since I find myself answering response after response but haven’t mentioned Kickstarter yet… let me make it perfectly clear.
    I have NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER with Amanda’s use of that amazing site (except that she’d be willing to pay such a large percentage to Amazon/Kickstarter). I found it brilliant. To ask those who ‘use her product’ to pay for it is beautiful and the support she garnered was nothing less than inspiring. Why should she be forced to go to her husband and ask for his support (though I’m sure got it… and in a big way!) just because he’s been successful. Why should she even do it out of her own pocket if those that support her are willing to trade support for a chance at amazing gifts in return.
    This has nothing to do with Kickstarter, or even how much she raised there. Nothing!!
    It is about truly understanding her responsibility to all those that put in time and effort on her behalf so that SHE can profit from it, both monetarily, creatively, etc.

  • MagentaUniverse

    There are a lot of good points for and against these practices. But I’m only hearing from Palmer fans or muscians angry on principle. What do the people who work with Palmer say? What do the people who are providing a place to crash, or food, or talent have to say about their experience? Does EVERYTHING have to be shrouded in ethics and theory and the value of labor? Maybe she is just seeing what she can get away with. Maybe she isn’t taking her power into consideration. Maybe she is just doing it for fun. She seems like a person so hell-bent on experiencing life and dragging as many people into her bubble as possible. You can’t really know whats in her heart and the true intentions behind her actions. I’m a writer. A little unknown nobody. People want my talent for free. I don’t give it to them. I would however jump at the oppurtunity to work on an awesome project…just for the experience…just for the person I’d be working with…just for the fun at creating art. I don’t sell myself short. I’d rather not get paid than get underpaid. Everyone has their own lines. At some point you will get taken advantage of. And you learn from that. But you can’t apply your experience in blanket format over everyone else’s experiences.

  • http://twitter.com/thunderscarf ThunderScarf

    I saw Amanda perform not just a song, but a full set as the main feature for a benefit concert in Portland this summer. The proceeds of that concert will help save and improve the lives of hundreds of people in a sub-Saharan African village. I wish she would talk more about the things she does for good karma; she wont, so I did:

    http://www.thunderscarf.com/her-theatre-is-evil-know-what-else-is-evil/

  • Dr. Teeth

    Isn’t the problem here a little obvious? The vast majority of people have been confronted with this problem: wanting something, but not being able to afford it. If I didn’t budget properly for something I wanted, and now I can’t afford it, then I don’t get it. It’s pretty simple. I’m not entitled to other people’s labor, just because I want it. It certainly wouldn’t be right or fair for me to abuse my own privilege in order to get things for free. No one, not even Amanda Fucking Palmer, is entitled to have extra musicians without paying for them. She is abusing her privilege to get people to work for free, for her monetary benefit. There is no way around it. She admits that she was willing to find money in the budget to pay musicians in major markets, but not in smaller ones. This is an acknowledgement that those musicians have value, and Amanda is willing to support them when it benefits her. I support the use of Kickstarter and crowdsourcing, but where does crowdsourcing end and entitlement and greed begin? I think AFP has just given us the answer.

  • spiderbucket

    Ask the kids who played with her last night if they feel exploited. It looked like they were having a blast and they did a fine job. No one forced them to do it and now they can say that they played live onstage with one of their heroes. This is a creative and brave way to tour. You guys just need to touch the twig of peace and gaze into the mirror ball.

    • watchmeboogie

      “You guys just need to touch the twig of peace and gaze into the mirror ball.”

      Sure, I’ll recommend that course of action to the landlord next time he asks for my rent check.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

    1) Amanda Palmer is taking advantage of musicians!

    What? I don’t know if there’s any amount of money I could ever pay people to play with me that would have half the impact on their lives that playing with Amanda Palmer apparently has on the people who volunteer to do it. But I am not a people person; I do not invite participation. She does, in spades. No one is doing it for money, and the value received is strictly in awesomeness. Isn’t this obvious? How are people angry about this? In fact I’d be curious to know the average minimum amount of money that these volunteers would take NOT to play these shows. How much to say no, and leave their instruments at home? $100? $1000?

    2) “Never Play For Free”

    If a stage actor says “never act for free, because it artificially depresses the value of actors,” we would know that this person is deluded and ignoring the existence of television and movies, which is why actors don’t say things like that. There’s a lot more standing between musicians and professional success than people playing for free. Go offer to play for free in a place that has a DJ push PLAY on his MacBook for six hundred people who dance and drink for five hours straight on a Saturday night and see what happens. They will laugh and laugh. We aren’t competing against each other, and we haven’t been for a long time. Blame Edison.

    3) Okay then, how much?

    How much would she have to pay her unknown, locally-sourced musicians to make it all okay? And musicians, how much did you make the last time you didn’t play for free? (And would someone else playing for free have gotten you fired off that gig, or did you just take what was offered as a matter of course?) Tomorrow I’m going to play a four-hour gig and I expect to make $60. Would $60 do it for Amanda Palmer? Why?

    I’m really just baffled by the controversy here, and especially with the target, whose success is so clearly rooted in a feeling of community as much as it is in the music itself.

    • peregrine

      “Feeling of community” being the key concept here. If it were actual “community”, she wouldn’t have responded to the anger she’s created with her middle finger.

      • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

        The anger isn’t coming from the community, it’s coming from outside it.

        • peregrine

          It’s mostly coming from inside the musical community. Amanda Palmer may kid herself that she belongs to a radical subset of this community, with higher standards and better ethics, most of which revolve around people giving her free stuff…but this is utter bullshit. And it’s taking people outside her cult of personality to call it what it is.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            Ah, so you know better than these musicians that are being taken advantage of? If only they’d see the light of day and not be so damn happy with what they are getting!

      • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

        Middle finger? I don’t see it. I see a 3000-word blog post responding to an open letter from a stranger posted on the Internet, and it’s respectful, straightforward, and exhaustive (and exhaustING 3000 words sheesh). I see another lengthy blog post giving an accounting of the Kickstarter money and where it goes. Maybe you don’t agree with it, but it’s sure as hell not the middle finger.

        Speaking of Kickstarter, I see about 200 people here saying boo-hoo you have plenty of money so give us some, which is strikingly similar to the complaints I heard a decade ago when people said boo-hoo Metallica has plenty of money so they shouldn’t care when people steal their music on Napster. So, which is it? Is music worth something or not?

        You didn’t answer my question (#3): How much should she pay these people, and why does that amount make it okay?

        • peregrine


          Middle finger? I don’t see it. I see a 3000-word blog post responding to an open letter from a stranger posted on the Internet, and it’s respectful, straightforward, and exhaustive”

          In this letter she suggests that her critics are living in outmoded systems, that she is more enlightened than the community at large, that she’s giving her volunteers the joy and ecstasy of her presence and that should be enough for anyone “cool”, that she prefers the company and “enthusiasm” of such people over those who would ask for payment…and tops it off by framing the entire discussion as if her critics were social oppressors; representatives of a system trying to keep her down, deprive her volunteers of “choice” and rob music of it’s spontaneity and joy. It is an *infuriating* letter. It offers no apology for creating offense, even among some of her fans; rather it seems to ask for one. But what else can you expect from a narcissist?

  • Michael Braud

    You don’t think you could even afford gas money for the people that come play for you?! Jesus! At $20 each, I’m sure you wouldn’t end up spending more than 200 or 300 bucks per show, even with 100 shows that’s only $20,000-$30,000! It would be cheaper than most of your other expenses on your kickstarter account. At least at that point they wouldn’t have to be paying money to play with you.

    But, obviously, you’re a functionalist, not a conflict theorist. You think that people playing with you for free has some mutual (immediate and obvious for you, and long-term and intangible for them) benefit to the people playing for you for free. You don’t think that the world is competing for resources and you are now the bourgeois using the proletariat for your own gain.

    I thought it was funny you start off comparing these musicians to your own rearing as an upcoming artist and basically used the excuse that, “It was shitty for me, now they shouldn’t complain that I’m making it shitty for them.” It baffled me until I saw your biography.

    It’s sad to know that even the independent musicians of today aren’t any more philanthropic than this and have the exact same view as the Republican party: I worked for what I have. I did it all by myself. Everyone else should do the same. (That is, until you make it big, then you should “crowdsource” others and get whatever you can for free to extend your own profits…)

    Sad.
    Ignorant.
    Erroneous.

    But, look on the bright side!
    Now, someday, you too can afford your own house in Lexington, Massachusetts, look back, and know it was yours and the equally hard work of everyone else that got your to where you are (even if it didn’t work out as well for them…but, c’est la vie!), as you feel proud and tell your children you did it all on your own too.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      “immediate and obvious for you, and long-term and intangible for them” – What a way to spin it. It has immediate and obvious benefits for the musicians too. Else they wouldn’t be doing it, for a start. “Sad. Ignorant. Erroneous.” pretty much sums up your argument. Concentrate purely on the negative. It’s an easy, but flawed way to approach an argument. Go back and read your conflict theory fundamentals and you’ll see where you are going wrong.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

        Obviously you didn’t take the time to read his post. He did math, with numbers. $20 each for gas, $200-$300 per show, 100 shows, $20,000 to $30,000! Boom! That’s math. Only a republican could argue with that.

        I’ll take it a step further: $30 each for gas, $300 to $400 per show, 200 shows. That’s $60,000 to $80,000. You’d have to be living in a house in Lexington not to see how this works, and why it’s just so unfair.

        Bald.
        Meticulous.
        Translucent.

        • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

          How much do they get now?

          • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

            I don’t know. I thought we were just doing math with made-up numbers. Are we thinking and doing facts now? Because that’s way harder.

  • bob priest

    simply put, you got more than TEN TIMES what you asked for & – presumably – actually needed. put all
    the rationalizing & bs aside and SHARE some of your unexpected windfall. period.

  • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

    Given that there have been, at a guess, at least 200-300 musicians work with Amanda across multiple continents over the last couple of years … give me 5 of those actual musicians (not people who manage or organise them, the musicians themselves) who think they got a raw deal, feel exploited, and unhappy with what they did, and the case against has merit. Otherwise, it’s a case of careful what you wish for, as these guys and girls will stop being treated as basically friends (drinks, food, place on the merch table, place to sleep, free tickets to the show for their friends), and will be treated as simply workers in a transaction.

    • peregrine

      “Working with” Amanda Palmer and “playing behind” Amanda Palmer are two different things.

      • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

        So you are saying the people who “play behind” Amanda don’t get the things I listed above?

        • peregrine

          No. I’m saying that of the 200-300 musicians who “worked with” Amanda Palmer over the last couple of years, some of those were peers, or people with brands to promote who stood to receive marketing benefit from associating with a better/bigger brand. Backing musicians typically don’t have brands and receive no marketing benefit. So any fair analysis would make an effort to separate the two.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            “Backing musicians typically don’t have brands and receive no marketing benefit” – Are they working, professional musicians we are talking about, or amateurs and hobbyist fans having some fun? If they are working, professional musicians (backing or otherwise) they most certainly do have a brand and receive a marketing benefit.

          • peregrine


            If they are working, professional musicians (backing or otherwise) they most certainly do have a brand and receive a marketing benefit.”

            A brand perhaps, but not a compatible brand. Any classical musician can tell you readily- there is no benefit to our ordinary business from exposure as a backing musician at a rock show, or any other show that put us in front of market segments that don’t understand or care about what we do. No wedding musician can expect to get a single additional call for having appeared onstage with Amanda Palmer.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            If it were another artist, I would likely agree with you 100%. But with Amanda, I think you will find that is actually not the case. I think it would generate calls, particularly if you are *part of* the Punk Cabaret community, which most of the people involved seem to be, at least at some level. Maybe I’m wrong there, but from looking at others who have benefited, and how the community support the artists who are a part of it, that hasn’t been my experience.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            And the people that did call wouldn’t expect you to perform for free.

          • peregrine

            Calls, sure…from people who know you’re prepared to give away your services for free.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            see below :-)

          • peregrine

            I did see. You’re wrong. You don’t perform a gig for a headliner who widely publicized that your participation was voluntary and get referrals who expect to pay you market rate. You will only get calls from other people who, like Amanda Palmer, want to exploit you.

            No one pays for what they know they can get for free. AFP is availing herself of that principle on this tour, shamelessly.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            You misunderstand the calibre of the people you are dealing with. I can only speak for myself, but the calls from me, when I am in the position to give them, will not be to exploit. It’s unfair that you tar all with the same brush.

          • peregrine


            You misunderstand the calibre of the people you are dealing with. ”

            Do I? Then why isn’t AFP setting the standard here and paying her musicians a cut of her profit?

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            Which then comes back to the question that no-one will answer – how much?

          • peregrine

            Any amount at or higher than minimum wage would have deflected most of this criticism. This is another fallacy she promotes in her letter…that there were only two choices, either to hire a brass section and string quartet to accompany her on the entire tour and run up her hotel bills, or use volunteers. In fact there were many points in-between those two extremes.

            She could have asked musicians to volunteer for the entire tour at a substandard rate. She could have hired professionals in every town on the tour, saving herself the hotel and transportation costs. She could have asked musicians to volunteer to play single dates at substandard rates, or offered them a percentage of her take that show.

            The all-or-nothing scenario she paints is a false choice. She chose, unwisely, not to pay anything at all for the talent she intends to use. That choice wasn’t forced on her by expenses or an unyielding market. She could afford to offer something…$1, $5, $20, *something*…but chose to offer $0. Why?

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            So, let’s pick a number. $20 say. So the arguments about her devaluing musicians go away if she pays them $20? Is that in leu of drinks, food and tickets for friends, or as well as? If they need somewhere to sleep, if she providing that now, or does the musician have to pay for that themselves now, because they got paid after all?

            Everyone seems to have prescribed the other things the musicians get out of the deal as worth $0. But once you look at them not getting them, are they still worth $0, or do they have value?

            Does it matter if the musician was going to be coming to the show anyway, and instead of it costing them $100 to go out, it cost them nothing? Probably not, it’s black and white, right? $20 fixes it.

          • peregrine

            You can use any or all of your arguments against paying anyone for performing any service. By even suggesting that a musician being paid $20 for performing would still have to buy a $100 ticket to get into the show you reveal yourself to be a sophist.

            You and Amanda can bend your language all you like, but you can’t bend reality.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            “By even suggesting that a musician being paid $20 for performing would still have to buy a $100 ticket to get into the show you reveal yourself to be a sophist.”

            I didn’t. I’m talking about their partner/friend’s ticket, both people’s drinks, food, etc. How many people go alone to concerts and don’t drink or eat anything on the night out? There’s many more expenses than just the musicians ticket. (plus, I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $50 for an AP show, generally around $30, she hardly gouges on the ticket prices)

          • peregrine

            AFP doesn’t pay for her food, so that’s not something she’s offering in exchange. Tickets are liquid…if she’d offered to pay her musicians in tickets, they could likely have turned those into cash, so there would be a valid argument for saying she was offering fair compensation. But free beer and hugs will not pay rent, or utilities, or medical bills.

            On the other hand, the sweaty afterglow of an ecstatic fan experience may be more than enough compensation for the musician who volunteered, but it won’t buy gasoline or diapers for the musician who would have gotten the job had the volunteer not effectively scabbed it. There is much more at stake here than the souls of the volunteers, who are perfectly free to enjoy their exploitation.

            Someone buried deeper in this thread referenced a moral metric: If everyone did what AFP is doing- i.e. taking in profits based on pro-bono labor- would we have a sustainable, moral system? The answer is- clearly not. There would be no AFP in the first place, since the value of all music performance would quickly fall to $0 and there would be no professional musicians.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            “AFP doesn’t pay for her food, so that’s not something she’s offering in exchange. Tickets are liquid…if she’d offered to pay her musicians in tickets, they could likely have turned those into cash, so there would be a valid argument for saying she was offering fair compensation. But free beer and hugs will not pay rent, or utilities, or medical bills.”

            Now who’s being a sophist. If they don’t have to use their own money for tickets, food and beer, then they can use that money instead (presuming they were going anyway, which as fans of Amanda for the most part, they likely were).

            “for the musician who would have gotten the job had the volunteer not effectively scabbed it”

            Finally. Now perhaps we can stop going around in circles about stuff you don’t really care about, and get to the crux of your argument. How about you discuss this instead of going for the easy points? This is actually what you are really worried about , isn’t it?

          • peregrine


            Now who’s being a sophist. If they don’t have to use their own money for tickets, food and beer, then they can use that money instead (presuming they were going anyway, which as fans of Amanda for the most part, they likely were).”

            They don’t have to use their own money for tickets…there is nothing forcing anyone to buy an AFP ticket. You’re making a bogus assumption that everyone who volunteers to help with this tour could afford to, or planned to, buy a ticket. That may be so for some, but not for all.

            ” This is actually what you are really worried about , isn’t it?”

            Yes, and I’ve made no bones about it. If you’re stupid enough to let someone like AFP fuck you over, go with God…but not if what you’re doing harms he musical community. Not if your actions help destroy the profession.

            I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not fully professional…I have a day job, and that means I don’t need the money as much as a lot of my friends do. I never take work away from them, and I don’t dilute the local market. I don’t take low-paying jobs that depress values for everyone. I am not specifically the person I’m fighting for…but I wish I were. If music paid, I’d be in it full time. I love it, much as AFP sought to malign me and others like me. I want to do it all the time, and I can’t because it doesn’t pay the bills…because people like AFP don’t want to pay for it, and volunteers keep volunteering.

            That is my stake in this argument. You can make market-based arguments in favor of the destruction of the music profession, you can argue whether and how dollar values can really be assigned to music performance, you can throw up every red herring known to man; all you’re doing is holding a fig leaf in front of a stark naked emperor.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            I hope your day job involves writing, you are very good at it. I can understand your fervour due to what you see is happening, but I disagree that it’s what you think it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amanda accepts your beer offer, I hope you are willing to follow it through. :-)

            (hmm, I thought that was your post too. seems not.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

            Amen.

  • pay your musicians already

    “The bits of the music business as we knew them in the 1980s and 1990s
    that are surviving are evolving into structures geared towards helping
    artists, not taking advantage of them.” – Amanda Palmer from Rolling Stone talking about her 1.2 million kickstarter campaign. Not taking advantage of musicians – good thought. How would one not take advantage of professional musicians? What could a person do to compensate a professional for their services? hmmmm… I’ve got it – beer and hugs! Brilliant!

  • Tom

    TL;DR When Amanda Palmer is playing in big cities like NYC she’s willing to pay the musician’s who perform with her. In other cities, no pay. She’s ok with this and thinks everyone else should be too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

    Okay, let’s get some real numbers. For all of you who WOULD like the opportunity to play with Amanda Palmer for a night — for free — how much money would you take, minimum, to TURN DOWN that opportunity. In other words, how much to say no and stay home?

    For comparison, the pay scale for a “Small Concert or Club” for the American Federation of Musicians, Local 1000 (NYC) is $110. Would you stay home for $110? Or is the experience worth more than $110 to you?

    For those of you who would NOT like to play with Amanda Palmer for a night for free, would you do it for $110?

    If Amanda Palmer isn’t being fair, then okay, what is fair? And why? Give me numbers.

  • brian

    We can talk for centuries about the nuances concerning the payment of musicians. How about the fact that she shouldn’t deliberately push the buttons of frustrated underdogs simply to promote herself?

  • Frankly Shankly

    I <3 Amanda Palmer, and her new
    music. I wanted to make that clear first because what I might say
    will piss ppl off.

    Here goes.

    As much as it bugs me to say so, yes if
    you can obviously afford to do to so you should ABSOLUTELY pay the
    ppl that work for you in the real world. I read the breakdown on the
    million dollar kickstarter and the part that bugs me is that you are
    even paying ppl to help you spend the money, but not pay for certain
    specific talent to help back your band while on tour. Why don't you
    pay the ppl that actually put in the effort to make you look
    wonderful on stage? Why wouldn't you feel obligated to share the love
    with the ppl that make other ppl want to come to your shows? Like so
    many other ppl on the interwebz a buzz lately about this very strange
    and funny story, I can't really wrap my head around your logic on
    this one. I tried, and I failed. Miserably. Lol. TL;DR the excuses.
    Cut the crap and just say “whoopsie! Maybe you are right. Maybe the
    masses have spoken. Maybe I should figure out someone way to get part
    of that money to the ppl that actually make me look decent on stage.”
    And the longer you wait, and the more excuses you create for this
    hole you are in will only make you look hypocritical to your fans who
    obviously love you, your music, and your constructive message.

    • Stefan

      Problem is, it’s not “the masses” that have spoken. Most of the critics profess their ignorance of Amanda’s music. Some of them display the trappings of an angry mob who’s lack of interest in details is being compensated by their willingness to insult.

      Among fans the opinions seems to be much more evenly divided.
      Those who actually have taken her up on the offer to play for free seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of it.
      Therefore I don’t see any chance of Amanda changing her mind on this one (and I think it would be a mistake to go against her own convictions).
      Perhaps all those who consider her behaviour unacceptable should just abstain from buying her music (which you actually can download for free, legally) and from visiting her concerts.
      Seems easier than both sides repeating the same arguments over and over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kmoufadus Young CryBaby

    Haha!!! Amanda Palmer got everyone mad when she made history by making 1.2 million dollars through crowdfunding! Amanda, if you’re reading this – don’t listen to anyone who is criticizing your methods. People are still reeling from the fact that YOU CHANGED THE MUSIC INDUSTRY FOREVER. IN THE FUTURE EVERYONE IS GOING TO MAKE AN ALBUM LIKE THIS, AND TOUR LIKE THIS. But few people are ready to accept this, and that is why they are lashing out.

    Many musicians are mad because they cannot accept that nowadays, it takes more than a conservatory degree or a union or even hours of practice to get work. It takes web savvy, branding, the ability to form a community, and above all PERSONALITY to get $$$$. It’s a completely new game. I just graduated from music school where I studied music theory and tuba, and my curriculum was so far behind – I had to sneak my way into video art and information science classes to get what I thought was a balanced educational experience. I predict that within 10 years, music schools will require their students to take classes in coding, social media, and video production.

    Anyway, Amanda – KEEP THE HATERS MAD because that’s how you stay famous. I play the tuba and I hope I get an opportunity to volunteer on your tour! It would be an honor to play with someone who has changed the course of the music industry forever!

  • greatest audience member evah

    Dear Amanda, Ticketmaster wouldn’t accept my beer and high five payment for a ticket to your show. I’m sure you won’t mind if I just bring the 6 pack with me to pay at the gate – I’ll even throw in a hug because I know how thrilled you will be for the opportunity of having me as a member of your audience. Please feel free to use me as a reference for all of your other potential audience members – having me in the audience will look great on your resume. It’s so refreshing to know it’s not about the money with you. Cool – see you at the show – I’ll be the one with the Schlitz. peace.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisblackmusic Chris Black

    Just actually read the deal. Horns are in for TWO songs and get to drink for free, and they get merch. The strings are in for two songs, and also being the opening band, and they also get to drink free for the night and they get merch.

    Any local opening band for a show like this could expect maybe two drink tickets per member, plus maybe $40 apiece at the high end (more like $100 for the band), and no merch. And for playing two songs? Drinking for free the whole night, and merch? Come on. That’s a screaming deal, especially at a show like this. Sounds like a blast. People are acting like buttholes here.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      That is NOWHERE NEAR the going rate for tuba players. Matt Owen (http://www.eclectictuba.com) ‏you got ripped off!!

  • John Montagna

    I’m a professional bass guitarist, which means that I put food on my table and shoes on my daughter’s feet by holding down the groove for a variety of acts, big and small. (BTW I still have the same giddy enthusiasm for playing music that I did when I was 17; “going pro” hasn’t changed that.) It seems you’re currently being used as the poster child for someone who exploits and/or undervalues musicians. But after reading this blog, and your budget breakdown on kickstarter, I must say that I admire your steel balls for running such a complicated operation AND navigating the unknown waters of the “future of the music industry.” I’m glad I took a minute to check in on your perspective and get both sides of the story. Safe travels, best of luck to you and yours and I hope you allow yourself a nice vacation when this is all thru, ‘cuz it sounds like you’ll need it! http://johnmontagna.com

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      Nice work John, keep the Kung-fu hidden.

  • Not Really

    You know what’s disappointing to me?

    Musicians aren’t worth as much as other trades.

    I mean, never mind the hours of practise, the endless focus on four notes of music, the background research, the technical study, the dragging of giant instruments to venues and around the world, the money spent on purchasing an instrument, and on fixing it, the million tiny jobs we need to take on for minimal money to support ourselves, the late nights, the early mornings, the unpredictable work times…

    Never mind that, but we’re not skilled workers! Not nearly!

    I mean, I know you’d get that plumber in, you know, for twenty minutes to make your shower work, and you’d pay him… a couple of hundred bucks? He doesn’t practise his plumbing upwards of four hours a
    day, and he turned up late after a sleep in, but hey! Your shower works.

    You know what? Why don’t you pick up a horn, or violin, Amanda, and give it a whirl.

    It’ll sound like crap, but you won’t have to pay!

  • polarette

    On Affordability and Essentials
    -why having your food fully catered by volunteers is actually worse than asking for volunteer backup musicians-

    As many comenters rightfully assessed, it costs a lot to tour a working band.
    The thought “well, if she can’t afford to pay musicians to play, then SHE JUST CAN’T HAVE A HORN SECTION ON TOUR WITH HER” kept ringing in my head, but something was still not connecting. Then it came together:
    There are parts of playing a show that are essential: without someone doing the lights, the band will be in the dark onstage. Therefore, a technician must be paid to INSURE there will be light. The core musicians must be depended upon to be on stage, on time, for the agreed upon night. To insure this, they are paid. To Amanda, it was important that the New York shows have a full roster of horns and strings, therefore, to ensure attendance and level of quality, they needed to be paid. These were essentials that had to be afforded.
    Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I will assume that there is not enough budget to afford backup musicians for the rest of the gigs. They are not essentials. If not a single musician volunteers showed up to play, the gig can still be played. It will be pared down in sound, and perhaps some fans will be sad not to be able to hear a production as full as at other venues played, but it just is not in the budget. The good thing in this case is that an Amanda Palmer gig is still memorable even if it ends up just being her and a Uke. So, any backup musicians are, as it were, topping, an unexpected gift. Like having David Byrne be on stage with you, an extra that is glorious, but non-essential, and letting word get out that you are open to receiving such a gift is nice (you wouldn’t, for instance email Radiohead, just on the off chance that they were open to having extra musicians play on stage with them). It is like fans bringing you cupcakes for your gig- and here’s where it gets iffy:
    if you then say “we are receiving SO MANY cupcakes, we’ve rendered our catering moot, let’s just ask the fans to maybe bring some savory treats as well, and henceforth no food shall be wasted and everyone wins” (which, I dimly recall, is how this came about), you are shifting an Essential into an Extra. If no volunteer brings food to your gig, you can still run next door to the falafel place, but if there is no one in charge, or there is no falafel open at that time where you are playing, your band will go hungry and you will have let down the people you are responsible for. And on that, Amanda says that her catering is provided completely by volunteers, but food is an Essential, and someone, I’m sure, is in charge and being paid to ensure that, if there is not enough of even the bland potato salad, some form of sustenance will be there for the band and technicians during and after the show.
    Once you are relying on people to do the essential parts of your work for free, you are exploiting them, since it is inferred, that if they do not gift you this, the show cannot go on. But if they are inviting you to something that will stand on it’s own, you may choose to enrich it with your contribution or not. Who’s to say that there isn’t a lighting technician out there who would go “I have this neat extra set up- want me to add this to your show when you play my town?” It doesn’t have to be just the “artists”.
    This, as I said, is the way you plot out your budget. If and when you get to the point that your budget allows for a bigger basket of Essentials or paying all non-essential volunteers, by all means do, it will enhance your karma tenfold. But until then you will have to do what you can and keep checking yourself to see your Essentials aren’t being relied upon for free.

  • polarette

    On
    Affordability and Essentials

    -why having your food fully catered by volunteers is actually worse than asking
    for volunteer backup musicians-

    As
    many comenters rightfully assessed, it costs a lot to tour a working band.

    The thought “well, if she can’t afford to pay musicians to play, then SHE
    JUST CAN’T HAVE A HORN SECTION ON TOUR WITH HER” kept ringing in my head,
    but something was still not connecting. Then it came together:

    There are parts of playing a show that are essential: without someone doing the
    lights, the band will be in the dark onstage. Therefore, a technician must be
    paid to INSURE there will be light. The core musicians must be depended upon to
    be on stage, on time, for the agreed upon night. To insure this, they are paid.
    To Amanda, it was important that the New York shows have a full roster of horns
    and strings, therefore, to ensure attendance and level of quality, they needed
    to be paid. These were essentials that had to be afforded.

    Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I will assume that there is not enough
    budget to afford backup musicians for the rest of the gigs. They are not
    essentials. If not a single musician volunteers showed up to play, the gig can
    still be played. It will be pared down in sound, and perhaps some fans will be
    sad not to be able to hear a production as full as at other venues played, but
    it just is not in the budget. The good thing in this case is that an Amanda
    Palmer gig is still memorable even if it ends up just being her and a Uke. So,
    any backup musicians are, as it were, topping, an unexpected gift. Like having
    David Byrne be on stage with you, an extra that is glorious, but non-essential,
    and letting word get out that you are open to receiving such a gift is nice
    (you wouldn’t, for instance email Radiohead, just on the off chance that they were
    open to having extra musicians play on stage with them). It is like fans
    bringing you cupcakes for your gig- and here’s where it gets iffy:

    if you then say “we are receiving SO MANY cupcakes, we’ve rendered our
    catering moot, let’s just ask the fans to maybe bring some savory treats as
    well, and henceforth no food shall be wasted and everyone wins” (which, I
    dimly recall, is how this came about), you are shifting an Essential into an
    Extra. If no volunteer brings food to your gig, you can still run next door to
    the falafel place, but if there is no one in charge, or there is no falafel
    open at that time where you are playing, your band will go hungry and you will
    have let down the people you are responsible for. And on that, Amanda says that
    her catering is provided completely by volunteers, but food is an Essential,
    and someone, I’m sure, is in charge and being paid to ensure that, if there is
    not enough of even the bland potato salad, some form of sustenance will be
    there for the band and technicians during and after the show.

    Once you are relying on people to do the essential parts of your work for free,
    you are exploiting them, since it is inferred, that if they do not gift you
    this, the show cannot go on. But if you are inviting them to something that
    will stand on it’s own, they may choose to enrich it with their contribution or
    not. Who’s to say that there isn’t a lighting technician out there who would go
    “I have this neat extra set up- want me to add this to your show when you
    play my town?” It doesn’t have to be just the “artists”.

    This, as I said, is the way you plot out your budget. If and when you get to
    the point that your budget allows for a bigger basket of Essentials or paying
    all non-essential volunteers, by all means do, it will enhance your karma
    tenfold. But until then you will have to do what you can and keep checking
    yourself to see your Essentials aren’t being relied upon for free.

  • Neil Gayman

    Amanda Palmer is full of shit.

  • Tim!

    All these, shall we say “idiots?” moaning about the “unjust nature” of asking people to perform for free must be shameless Republikkkans or something. People have asked, “what do the volunteers get in return?” The answer is, they get the chance to say they performed live with Amanda Palmer!!! If they get some beer or food or merch or a hug from one of the sweetest, sexiest musicians in the contemporary music world, then those are all bonuses, as would be a cash payment. Maybe Amanda should just perform without those extra musicians on stage, in which case people still wouldn’t be getting paid. I’ve seen AP perform solo with just her voice and a keyboard, and the show was extremely entertaining, perhaps even more so since it was just her in her purest form. Why not give some eager fans the chance to do something special for an artist they admire? Just because she made a million on Kickstarter doesn’t mean she has to spend a million on anything other than the stated purpose of the Kickstarter campaign. People talk about “struggling musicians” needing to be paid, then bemoan their fellow strugglers as “sell-outs” once they make a little money. But if they’re so against financial success, then they’re not actually struggling to begin with — they’re just keepin’ it real they way they intend to for the rest of their lives, since success is not something they’re striving for. Please everyone, get your terms straight!

    • peregrine

      I agree. AFP should just perform without those extra musicians on stage.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

      spoken like a true cult member.

      • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

        So if Page or Plant asked you to play with them for a night, you’d say “No way, fucking pay me”? Or are your cults OK?

        • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

          1st, i imagine they’d have the grace and wherewithal to offer something. By all accounts, touring musicians with them have gotten paid.

          2nd, what make AP different from any other artist I know is that her for-profit operation actually plans for the conversion of goodwill into service, be it food , lodging, or players, and plans no payment in exchange except for her persona. To me, that’s how cults operate.

          If she genuinely want to offer stage time for fans, offer a 10 minute jam as encore, no problem. But to count on some doing it for free, when it s obviously an important enough part of the show to pay for it in NY — indicates to me that she’s banking on the love of your fans to cut costs wherever she can to keep the venture rolling.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            “conversion of goodwill into service”.

            You are misunderstanding what is happening here, and think it’s a one-way street. It’s not. Amanda does lots of free concerts for her fans (in parks, libraries, art galleries, etc). Just twitters out that she’ll be somewhere, and then rocks out for free for a couple of hours. Stays around and talks with fans, for hours after gigs, signs stuff, photos. She is available, and accessible, and gives of her time freely in other ways. The people who make food come and stay for the meal and the show. They aren’t making it, delivering it to the door, and being told to go away – which is how you are characterizing it. She not only utilises lodging and travel from fans, she also helps to organise it for them. She’ll often retweet messages from people looking for a ride to a gig, or somewhere to stay – and those people will be helped out. If people do street team stuff for the band, they get rewarded directly by the band. Not with stickers, or posters, or twitter thanks, but actual time with the band, tickets to shows, etc.
            That may seem like a raw deal to you. But to the people who are fans of the band, it’s not.

            And back to Zeppelin, I could make a smart remark about how they didn’t pay for the songs they stole, why would they pay you? but I won’t. Oops, sorry, couldn’t help it …

            Touring musicians are not we are talking about. I’m talking about you, guesting with them for one night. Would you expect to get paid, and would you not do it if you weren’t being paid?

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            She also promotes projects and shows of her fans, promotes their work (artists, writers, musicians, etc), and the work of people who do the costumes, videos, etc. Now you may say big fucking deal, so she sends out Tweets, that makes zero difference to any of these people. But it DOES. They go out to 650,000 people. Six hundred and fifty thousand. Who chose to follow her Twitter account.

            And you might also say – but that takes 2 secs to hit retweet, big fucking deal. Actually reading what your followers (Twitter followers, not cult followers :-)) are sending you, and taking notice, takes a hell of a lot more time than that, and you actually have to make time to do it. The vast majority do not make that time.

          • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

            Youre misreading, or not reading, my entire take. Go back and look at previous posts. I’ve never said people dont get something out of it, or that they shouldnt make the choice, if they want to, fine. Im sure it can fill a void or give a rush, and that’s valid at a certain point. I do think, as someone posted elsewhere, that a chronic mind set of that does lead to devaluation of the overall industry and also reinforces or creates some self esteem issues.

            All of that is besides the point for me, though, because my issue is only with AP for offering no other form of compensation OTHER than hang time and glory.

            “Stays around and talks with fans, for hours after gigs, signs stuff,
            photos. She is available, and accessible, and gives of her time freely
            in other ways.” I guess that’s fine for some people, but to think that needed labor should ONLY be paid in more time with AFP wherever possible is narcissistic in the extreme, and again, thats how cults work. And cult members will rise to defend it every time, such is their love for their master, no matter how its exploited or taken advantage of.

            I get that she’s trying to break down walls and establish a true community, and maybe –“MAYBE” — it was well intentioned at the start. But the moment you start to incorporate grafting on the love of fans to help your bottom line, then you’ve crossed over, intentionally or not, to abuse and exploitation. Thats dark, contemptuous and deeply cynical to do that.

            I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt: misguided, too big too soon, community model not really scalable this quickly, etc, poor tour budgeting, etc — but then the issue of paying musicians in some cities and not others arose. So when it suits her, she ponies up; when it doesnt, she’s fine to spin the ” community” angle and sell her aura to get labor on the cheap. Again, thats a cult transaction, any way you slice it.

            Can you imagine how much cooler it would be if she offered all that hang time AND some compensation? dont tell me she cant afford it, you’ve seen my tour budget posts and argument and if its worth it to her for one city, why s it not worth it for others? She could have found the way. she’s choosing not to except for her own agenda. What if she put out a call to chef fans and said, “i want to support local chefs or caterers, or even if you just like to cook and want to share, we’ll make sure your time and effort is valued, and you’ll be compensated for it?”

            Its the abscence of that mutual respect thats damnable, the assumption that simply being around AFP is good and valuable enough.

            and, btw, it’s a snarky, juvenile move to actually make a smart remark by saying you wont make it. Not worthy of the otherwise intelligent discourse you’ve been showing:)

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            It was meant in fun. :-)

            You still didn’t answer this one though, and it speaks to the cult angle, so it’s important.

            Page and Plant – I’m talking about you, guesting with them for one night. Would you expect to get paid, and would you not do it if you weren’t being paid?

          • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

            Hi,
            i think youre conflating a lot of things here, and the question , as you framed it, really doesnt speak to the cult angle to me. If youre wondering where and what my threshold for free gigs are, thats an entirely separate question. We’ve all done them. But doing a gig for free doesnt automagically make that particular scenario a cult environment, which you seem to suggest thats what im saying , which Im not.

            Heres the parameters that i see in common that make the AFP enterprise sociodynamically function as a cult. I think all have the characteristics have to be present for that cult dynamic and behavior to exert itself and be at play:

            A charismatic leader that is able to convert adulation into labor and service, plans an operation on that, profits by it, and pays for it with nothing but their own persona and mythos.

            Those parameters arent demonstrably there in the Page Plant model, but we have ample evidence for it in the AFP enterprise, so I think it’s a moot question in terms of “cult”.

            as to free gigs, my rules are pretty simple. I’ll do a free gig if a) its a worthy charity, i know who’s behind it , where the money’s going, and no one else involved in the event is profiting from it. b) Not so much anymore, but I have done one or two very grassroots musical scenarios/festivals/ get -togethers, very informal stuff, where again, no one was getting paid, but it was the right place/time/interesting thing to do/etc, so we were all in.

            c) i will not lose money. For the right urgent charity, i’ll donate my expenses , but generally for charities, at least reimburse my travel and lodging if its overnight.

            d) if i discover its not above board — and theres been a few charities where i found out some were getting paid and not others — Im out. A couple of festivals have pulled that shit , too. Wont fly with me.

            I think if AFP wanted to provide a musical experience for her fans, then,as i said, have them do a 10 minute segment as an encore, no harm done, and dont pay . That keeps it clean, honest, and community oriented. But if you put out a call for audition videos, and have ‘day of’ rehearsals to play numbers that are integral to the main show, and then paying some people in some cities and not others, thats just being cheap — and flipping the finger to your fans as well.

            So if you really want the hypothetical question answered: if Page/Plant called me, depends on their scope — but assuming its a sound check and a quick run through for one or two numbers, yes, I’d expect to be paid. Not a lot, but gentlemen, be fair, whatever else their other supporting musicians are being paid. And the cost to get there, etc. Throw some licks during an encore, that would be a hoot, but i wouldnt travel on my own dime just to do it. .. and why would they even bother asking for just that?

            Bizarre scenario, though :)

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            “So if you really want the hypothetical question answered: if Page/Plant called me, depends on their scope — but assuming its a sound check and a quick run through for one or two numbers, yes, I’d expect to be paid.”

            OK, fair enough. I’ll let them know. :-)

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            I can see where you are coming from with the “cult” angle, but I think you are leaving a bunch of things out of the equation to reach your conclusion. It may just be that you see no value in those things, where others do. Given that it’s all voluntary, unlike a cult, I think that’s also something you aren’t taking into account. She’s not casting some kind of hypnotic curse to draw in all the musicians into her trap. It’s real life, not Scooby Doo.

        • peregrine

          If Page or Plant asked “professional-ish” drummers to sit in for John Bonham for free on a nationwide tour, is closer to the right analogy.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            Except it’s for a night, not a tour. And it’s not for free. Apart from that though, I guess it’s kinda not even close.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            And if they DID do that (a different drummer each night for a tour), you’ve have a whole bunch of amazingly fucking happy drummers that wouldn’t feel exploited in the slightest.

        • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

          Page and Plant would have hell to pay if they tried to bypass union wages and labor rules on one of their tours. They’d have no session players left in any music town willing to work with them anymore. At their level, the unions still have some influence, thankfully.

      • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

        Ah, now I understand why you are angry.

        It’s not Amanda’s fault that your Kickstarter failed. It’s not your music’s fault either, that’s not bad, Gods Mirrors and Five especially. You just didn’t approach it right. You didn’t bother making a video. You made your music hard to find to actually listen too, and your rewards were terrible. You also set the target too high, and didn’t promote it enough, or in the right places. It’s not Amanda’s fault.

        • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

          Sorry, it wasn’t that you didn’t bother making a video – you did make a video! Why didn’t you embed this video in your Kickstarter?!? http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ju909rTW_WM

          It shows your passion, showcases your music, introduces you as a person. It would have made a big difference.

          • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

            didnt see anything, but tell me where it is :)

        • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

          thanks for the kind thoughts on the tunes! Im not bitter at all about our KS experience nor do i think our failure to make goal has anything to do with her KS. — you’re absolutely right, in that we set ours too high, and some other issues. We’re learning, regrouping and revising.

          In actuality, I dont think her KS plays into this debacle either, other than it makes people wonder. That she raised 1.2 mil is magnificent, i dont begrudge her that at all. . What I’ve said all along — in every post here and on the other blog entry — is that the attitude she presents to pay some musicians and not others, in some cities and not others, has to do with converting fandom into labor, and /or tour budgeting.

          My very first post on this subject , on her other post, starts with “leaving Kickstarter out of this for a minute, as that allegedly went for the recording, then the question is the economics of touring.”

          I’ve held that position throughout every post. I’m not taking the position that the 1.2 mil should have funded the musicians –it’s my belief , stated elsewhere, that tours can and should be self-sustaining. Her KS doesnt enter this argument at all for me, just so you know.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            Awesome. If you run it again, let me know, I’ll support it. Also, check out Firewater if you don’t already know them, I think you’d really like them. https://www.facebook.com/firewatermusic/app_2405167945

          • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain Mustafa Stefan Dill

            thanks for the interest and support! , ill check out firewater.. Nice to know we can see differently and be civil.
            and ,btw, based on your feedback, i reorganized the tunes order in the soundcloud set!

    • Just No

      Considering “Republikkkans” are usually the ones in favor of supporting the powerful over the everyday worker, I think you’ve got your political assignations backwards.

  • joyce ford

    That’s a powerful lot of explaining, my friend. From now on, you should resolve to pay people what they are worth. When one becomes a success, there is an obligation to do so. Creative people shouldn’t have to give their work away.

  • Jon Kiparsky

    What a wall of bafflegab. So your position is, success as a musician is achieved by eating more shit than your competition, and you know you’ve reached it when you can make other people eat a plateful and smile?
    I mean, not only are you asking people to come and play for you for free, but you’re then asking your salaried bass player/arranger to throw them whatever he can out of his pocket, and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll turn loose few shekels if you happen to be feeling generous that day? You’re just passing this shit down the line.

    Just last night I wrote a piece explaining why the Seattle local of the AFM was wrong to be taking shots at you over this, but after reading what you have to say for yourself, I start to think you deserve everything you get.

    Look, it’s a pretty simple choice. If you think the world should be better than it was before, you have to be better than the people you met before. That means that “I had to put up with it, so you do too” is not an argument that works, unless your assumption is “and back then everything was great, and we shouldn’t change a thing.”
    I spent years organizing with the AFM trying to change things so bands wouldn’t feel like they had to play for free just to “get some exposure”. It’s nauseating to read someone who’s painted herself as standing for a better world kicking that work in the teeth.
    The next time you go out to play a benefit for justice or equality or whatever it is you’re for, remember that you had a chance to be better than the world, and you didn’t do it.

  • Mark Paskal

    I love how things go viral and the opinionated minority takes the conversation over. Musicians are not tradespeople and the arguments here are shallow and kind of sad. People with nothing better to bash, I guess.

    • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

      “musicians are not tradespeople” You do realize that just made your opponents’ point for us, don’t you?

  • Lukas

    I don’t think any of the examples you’ve provided are analogous to your current situation. You’re asking (presumably) poor working musicians to play at your (non-free) concert for free, even though you could (I assume) find a way to pay them a fair salary. You’re saving money by convincing people you don’t know who could really use the money to work for you for free. That’s not the same as playing the Ukulele on the beach, or singing on your friend’s album.

    Also, I tremendously enjoy your new album. Please continue being an awesome person, so that I can continue enjoying your music, and so that I can continue giving you money when you ask for it without feeling bad about myself.

  • anothername

    As a visual artist, I am familiar with the issue of individuals and companies wanting artists to volunteer their time, skills and craft. Or worse work in unpaid internship programs. For some people it works. Working for free can lead to other opportunities that leads to pay. More often not and it’s nothing more then pure exploitation, and it devalues the field. Mostly “volunteering” is a dead end and I think it’s bullshit. If your worth it people will pay you. . . . eventually. On the other hand you got to do what you got to do, even when it’s just on a hope and a prayer.

    I didn’t think of Palmer’s request for volunteers in this way. There was no tell tale promise of exposure for starters.
    She is asking her fan base and not professional musicians at large.
    Some musicians and band charge fans money for the chance to meet them backstage, get hugs, high fives and have pictures taken. Amanda is inviting fans who can play string and horn instruments as an exchange for their ability instead of money to meet her. Not to mention what I imagine would be really fun time on stage. Playing a violin is worth money, so is an a once in a life time experience. It’s up to each musician to put values on each side of the deal. It’s old fashioned barter. Is it egoistical of Amanda to put a value on the privilege of getting to meet her and a beer? Hell yes. But she’s not wrong at least in her fans eyes. Apparently it works for the exchange of food services. The value she places does seem high if she is exchanging with seasoned professional musicians and she has at least paid them at some of her shows.
    Other fans are alienated and turned off by the ego and or lack of value put on the supporting players especially when you add in all the issues and feelings that get wrapped up with kickstart.
    The professional musicians who are not fans( or value their work more then Palmer’s fame and the honor of playing with her) hold no or little value in meeting and getting to play for Amanda’s show therefore are outraged.

    Does she have a moral obligation to create more stable or cashing paying opportunity for other artists? I can’t answer that. I think really only she can.
    I don’t think she owes fans anymore then what she has delivered, music and her personality as seen her blog and twitter and other exploits.

    (Please dear cruel internet, rip me a new one for my opinions but please don’t for my spelling and errors, I’m dyslexic)

  • deano

    I dont mind playing for free but I wont if someone is making money from the performance. For charity – no problem, but there are so many occasions where musicians are used to increase the bank balance of bookers, organisations, ‘competitions’ etc and I think people need to stop doing those gigs so that those who take advantage stop doing it (or run out of bands/musicians to exploit).
    Playing for free is all very well if you can afford it financially but many musicians cant. Not all have nice day jobs or regular professional engagements. There is a culture that puts down the ‘session musician’ or the paid ‘dep’ which I find sad. Many of these people do actually ‘care about the band’ or the session. Obviously the relationship is fleeting but this doesnt mean its not without love. While I support those who play for free its important to understand the reasons of those who wont. Its not always because they are greedy but often just necessity. Most people, especially artists will put themselves out there for good causes but try and see the difference between these and working as a slave.

  • Pelle

    What strikes me as odd is that Amanda has a million dollars, chooses to spend quite a lot of money on music video’s, because they are fun. And then asks for volunteers when performing. She chooses to go the very expensive route, and pays all the artists working on turntables and what not.

    I don’t get how you can earn money yourself and then don’t pay others. Sure you work hard, but you choose to spend the money on something else. Amanda has the opportunity to pay them, she chose not to.

  • Heather Macleod

    Thanks for joining us(The Loveboat Big Band) in Edinburgh’s Queens’ Hall for free this Fringe. Go on. :-) Loved it. xxxx

  • http://twitter.com/BassInBlack Astral Underground

    Art is not about money. It isn’t about exposure;
    art is not for FAME. Volunteering with a group of artists isn’t exploitation.
    One who offers their time and talent, GIVES that willingly, for their own,
    individual reason- there’s no duress. There are no gains at the expense of
    others’ suffering. Volunteering in this context isn’t the same as travelling to
    a third world country to vaccinate the unfortunate; there is no union to protect
    the rights of the volunteer, because the union is forged between artists.
    Connection is the union in this context, respect is a given, the currency is
    love and those who choose to dis that, miss the fundamental core of AFP’s art.
    Missing the point is ok, and part of the joy of art in ways- oh, the conflict
    can progress our evolution; our understanding. Art enhances lives, makes meaning
    of chaos, gives us, the people, the media, the forum to explore ourselves, to
    find out what makes life interesting and HAPPY. Amanda treats every participant
    in the whole artistic process as an equal- that includes the fucking audience.
    Everyone has something to give and something to gain. Sharing the experience
    affords everyone the chance to glean some small or large thing of immeasurable
    worth. What lesser-known artist would’ve jumped at the chance to watch DaVinci
    scribble in his studio, nevermind show him their stuff or share it with their
    hero’s audience? There is nothing naive or cynical about sharing, about averting
    monetary costs in the name of producing fine art; it is enlightened. In that
    enlightenment, utilising the abundance inherent to creative souls, the dark ages
    of consciousness appear threatened and that frightens people.
    Understandably.

    Morality on the premise of fair trade, is the masquerade
    of ego stuck in the old paradigms of elitism, separation, and capitalism- which
    skew terribly when applied to art. The art world is fraught with conjecture and
    a fuck load of contradiction, confusion, and complexity- it always has been.
    There are a multitude of perspectives to view this from- that of the artist
    scraping by; that of the artist with millions of adoring fans; that of the fan;
    that of the detractor; the perspective of the non-judgemental witness who can
    countenance many viewpoints at once; and many more besides.

    Volunteering
    to be a part of the abundantly creative experience that is being onstage with
    AFP & now the GTO, is merely saying yes to being INVOLVED with something.
    How that something is seen, is down to the individual, but it is so evident that
    involvement evolves a community. Comrades not in a Marxist sense, but in a
    loving sense, stand proud in the face of deficiency, fear, and hatred, to
    champion what every human wants and needs- LOVE. Creativity is rooted in love,
    whatever unique form that takes. It’s the source of all happiness, and Amanda
    Palmer commands nothing but respect for her courage to spread that minus any
    elitist, self-aggrandising bullshit.

    She’s pioneering a new place for
    art to exist and flourish; for people to find their bliss and help make the
    world… better. It strikes many as idealistic, but it’s not- it challenges the
    paradigms built on idealism, with truth. Love is the true nature, from which
    we’ve become so separated, which affords everyone the income, lifestyle, esteem,
    relationships that we envy rockstars and celebrities for enjoying. It is a
    choice. However conscious we are of making that choice, we make it, and we need
    to recognise the choices AFP makes, are choices we can make ourselves. She
    exemplifies the way to make them- we gain confidence, permission to break out of
    our conditioning and choose the life we want, because she shares so much of her
    natural self, freely. There is no ivory tower- just a connection to nature.
    Nature in the sense of what is inherent, not in a hippy sense, but that’s
    another dissertation.

    Having a community, what is more, being the
    pioneers of an alternative one, doesn’t invalidate the position of those
    clinging to the socially constructed ones. Those who belong to the strict
    mindset of “fair pay” and the community of “groan-ups” swipe from a vantage of
    cloaked envy. They only wish they had the fortitude to do what they want to do,
    to not care how much money they make (which is not to say they would be
    oblivious to the obvious need for it), to pursue the focus on loving what they
    do, and doing what they love, with passion. There’s no passion in a dollar.
    There’s a feeling, in a room full of passionate people, all artists in the way
    they create something, offering something of themselves to the moment; the worth
    of that moment, that feeling, is far more than the sum of its parts. Those
    moments, which follow AFP and all those aligned with love, are beyond priceless-
    they’re stunning. Worth far more than the pennies that procure the piece of
    cheese at the end of the maze. We’re not rats; it is not a race. We are
    comrades, companions, champions of love, life and art; it is a community, a web
    of relationships fashioning life into a manifesto of fun.

    “All the
    world’s a stage and we are but players on it.” If we could just set aside our
    isms and play, sharing would seem like the only way we’d all get along. By get
    along, I mean to enjoy a share in the abundant wealth of life, to get our fill
    of fortune, to find that no matter what we get paid there is always enough to
    play with. The price of fun is the preparedness to SHARE. Unless you’re Eric
    Cartman- everyone loves him, right? Isn’t sharing what artists do when they show
    what they’ve done, with the world? I pay for the privilege of sharing in the
    performance of art which shares a perspective I appreciate- I pay more to the
    artist who appreciates my involvement; who recognises that without me, the
    audience, all art is quite useless. Yet I feel it’s not paying at all, my walls
    shaking to the sound of Theatre Is Evil, my floorboards bouncing with vibrant
    bass, reward me far more than 25 bucks ever could. Being included in something
    so fun, so exciting is far more nourishing than the cheese I forewent to afford
    this artist, who inspires me at least four times a day, the funds to share a
    fabulous collaborative creation. I imagine it’s a similar experience for those
    who get paid in moments of pure pleasure, or paltry potato salad made with love.
    The decision to work for a slice of cheese or have a reason to say ‘cheese’ and
    grin, is one that is neither judged or taken for granted. There’s integrity in
    making art and sharing it with the masses, more for giving them the opportunity
    to choose their level of involvement and their reasons for it. Utimately, the
    choice to smile or frown upon something with the potential to bring smiles,
    hinges on how prepared one is, to be steeped in presence of the present. The
    moment someone like AFP smiles at you with a genuine gratitude for your
    presence, is the moment you realise that art is an act of love, and that’s all
    you need.

    I don’t have a ukulele, but I do have four-string Fender bass
    guitar…

  • Fellow Musician

    As a fellow musician, AP should understand that any musician that plays with her SHOULD be compensated. They have student loans, instrument loans, and much more – just like every other musician trying to make it professionally – but it is their TIME and EFFORT that is worth being paid. Especially if she is making as much money as everyone says she is.

    Another thing to take into consideration, especially for string players, is the sheer cost of a “professional” instrument, which can range between $15,000 – $30,000 or more (and that’s $30,000 more than a vocalist would have to pay). Yes, they made the choice to pursue that profession and to purchase said expensive instrument. But if they made that choice and are devoting time to their craft, they deserve to be compensated. I’m not saying that compensation should be based on the price of their instrument, either. This is just another factor to consider that not all musicians have to undertake (aka vocalists in particular).

    I don’t know much about AP, but as a musician it really disgusts me to hear of things like this. We all need to look out for each other, and if fellow musicians can’t do it, how are we supposed to expect the rest of the world to do it?

    Yes, everyone has taken free gigs at some point, most likely for a friend or maybe in a local dive bar. If there is the possibility of paying a musician, it should be done – no questions asked. If you are making as much money as everyone says, pay your musicians. It’s simple.

    And about the whole “it’s their decision about what they do with their time and talent” – cut the bs. Stop defending yourself. They should be paid and you know it.

  • topsie

    If the musicians willfully accept the gig what is wrong? My son played with her in Atlanta and my daughter and I drove from North Carolina to see it and they show was awesome. Seeing my son perform was the icing on the cake. To see a live performance is priceless and the show was amazing.

    • peregrine

      And your son has nothing to show for it except a picture on Amanda Palmer’s blog, while Amanda Palmer sold out the venue and made thousands of dollars. Meanwhile the musician who would have gotten the gig if your son hadn’t applied and no one else had either, has even less to show, and goes about struggling to pay his bills.

      Your son can’t be a full-time musician or you wouldn’t be asking questions like this. He does seem to be working on a brand, though, and I hope he gets a bump…though given the explosion of negative publicity AFP is generating, I’m not sure it’ll be the kind of bump he’ll want.

    • http://twitter.com/GillRockatansky Gilleathain McLean

      Is your son less worthy of payment than the person who played the same parts in NYC, but got paid?

  • http://www.facebook.com/CorinneDenny Corinne Denny

    First of all, Amanda, I think you’re amazing. I am sickened and horrified by the “outrage” caused by you asking for volunteers to play with you in each city. Here are a couple of things for you dumb , outraged people to consider:

    1. Having to work with new people each show does not save Amanda time or money. It is something she is doing FOR her fans. Considering the hours her band is spending going through resumes, listening to recordings, and rehearsing new instrumentalists before each show, I highly doubt they’re coming out on top monetarily there. It would be much, much easier for her to hire musicians and work with the same people at every show.

    2. As a professional musician, I think the majority of people who are complaining don’t understand how the system works for musicians. Musicians ask other musicians to sit in on a song or two at their gigs for FUN ALL THE TIME. And if you don’t want to, you don’t. That’s all there is to it. Young performers who are just getting started do shows for little to no money ALL THE TIME. We do it to get experience. We do it because WE LOVE MUSIC. Classical musicians (opera singers like myself in particular) are expected to do apprenticeship programs that either pay a little, don’t pay at all, or we have to PAY TO PARTICIPATE IN. Most smaller opera houses throughout the country do not pay their choruses, or only pay a small stipend. Amanda providing this opportunity for young musicians to get a high profile performance on their resumes HELPS them.

    3. It’s also fairly obvious that people don’t understand how little of ticket sales actually get to the performers. The venue has operating costs. There are tech and sound people to pay. There is equipment to be maintained. There are instruments to be maintained. I love Amanda Palmer, but let’s be honest, the majority of the American public would rather go see Taylor Swift perform. Here in Denver, Amanda is playing a venue for one night, that at the very most, can hold around 1,000 people. Last year, Taylor Swift played several sold out shows here at the Pepsi Center which seats around 18,000!! I’m sure Amanda’s not struggling, but she’s not rolling in the dough. Many people are saying, “But the kickstarter, the kickstarter!” Again, I don’t think the general public realizes the cost of putting together an album or the cost of a tour. Yeah, maybe your garage band’s album only cost a couple hundred dollars, but you edited their album on your computer in your mom’s basement. And it probably took you weeks, and shouldn’t even be compared to what Amanda does.

    The long and short of it, musicians perform because they love it. We don’t become musicians to make tons of money. And when an opportunity comes along to perform with someone we respect greatly, we might do it for free, because we love their music, and in the long run, it helps our careers. And if we can’t afford to, we don’t volunteer for that performance. That’s how things work for musicians in America today. If you have a problem with it, go out and support the arts. There will only be more paying jobs for musicians if more people value music (other than mainstream crap). Support arts education to develop a population that understands and respects music. Don’t rag on a performer that’s trying to give her fans an awesome opportunity to put on their resumes.

    • peregrine

      This is so messed up I don’t even know where to begin. Fine, you’re a hobbyist who despairs of those who’d play for anything dirty, like money. Elsewhere in comments someone examined the numbers and estimated that at bare minimum, AFP will make $100,000 on this tour- likely more- and that’s not factoring in increased album sales. She *has* the $35K she says she doesn’t have…she just doesn’t want to spend it. She is the person you’re decrying who doesn’t support the arts.

  • Stellalune

    When I read the call for volunteer musicians, my first and continuing thought was “I WISH my piano skills could make this work!” I would volunteer in a bloody heartbeat for such a phenomenal opportunity. One night only to musically pay it forward. I love this idea not only because it IS empowering to make that choice and lend your talents for the art but also because it is a creation of community; the joy of making music for the sake of music. I believe that fans and talented musicians have the intelligence and understanding of just what they are agreeing to in this call for musicians. It is about the EXPERIENCE and I believe this will only enrich each individual show.
    And who’s to say that every volunteer is a person trying to make it as a musician professionally? Maybe they happen to have the key musical intelligence but lend their professional talents elsewhere, outside the arts community? Musicians come from everywhere; one size does not fit all.

    • pumpkin

      YES! This exactly.

  • comsocc

    So as a fan if I am in New York I get to listen to highly skilled professional musicians but any where else in the country I get whatever you can scrape together. Gee how much are the tickets. If I get in for free then maybe, but it will be my choice if I put anything in the hat. If I have to pay for a ticket and then get asked to put something in the hat…well lets put it this way …if a waiter gives great service I will tip but if not…not so much. By the way thanks for letting me know people in New York are better than the rest of us..at least in your mind. Don’t think I will be buying…

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      It wasn’t just for the people in New York. It was broadcast live worldwide. And you can watch the entire show, including the opening acts, here, for free: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz7uCiTtV4E

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.bassford Andy Bassford

    I’ve been a working musician for over forty years, and have done just about everything one can do apart from becoming rich or famous. This includes touring at every conceivable level for thirty years, as well as budgeting both recording projects and tours along the way. I am very familiar with the costs and difficulties involved. So I feel I can comment with some degree of authority on your open letter.

    I read your original posting and was appalled. I have since read your explanation here, letters from your defenders, and your description of how you spent the money you raised from the project. I have taken all of this into consideration before responding to you directly.

    Your position is philosophically inconsistent.

    “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.”

    If the music comes first, why are you paying for pros some nights (I suspect, in places with big media presences like NYC) to make sure it’s played properly, and not paying for pros other nights? The only way you build an audience by touring (and I’ve done it, it can take decades) is to make sure that the six people who come to see you in Puyallup, Washington or wherever else you go, get the same musical experience, commitment, and intensity that the sold-out showcase venue audience in NY or LA gets. By settling for whatever you get in some cities, you are demonstrating that you value your audience less in those places. I come from a small town and I resent that. We didn’t like big city attitudes like yours very much, and I doubt that’s changed.

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

    If the important thing to you is creating an experience where musically talented members of your audience are included on the basis of their love for your music rather than their professional expertise, than you should take pot luck wherever you go, be it Madison Square Garden or the corner bar. If you don’t, you’re allowing professional considerations (i.e., the quality of your performance) to interfere with the purity of your vision. Here it’s the audience in the major markets that you are depriving aesthetically, where the people in the secondary markets are getting the real deal.

    You can’t have it both ways, saying that the value of a volunteer experience is what motivates you when it’s convenient for your budget and then saying that you are putting the musical experience first when you think it might be important to your reviews.

    Let me rephrase that. You can do whatever you want. It wouldn’t surprise me if you get away with it either. You’re talented, persuasive, and articulate.

    “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.”

    You definitely belong to a different culture. My son, who plays in a band that works the same scene as your NY ancillary players, is part of it, so I know something about it. It’s very different than the one I live in as a working freelance professional with decades of service behind me.

    But I would hope you would stop thinking that you are blazing new trails here. Getting people to play for free while you make money is as old as the music business itself, whatever your justification. You’re just lubing your unpaid workers a little more than is customary, and your rationalizations are a bit more elaborate. There may be many cultures, but there is only one economy.

    “we had budgeted about $80k for four to five music videos, which are fun
    and we all love (and which also provide work for more of amazing
    artists).”

    In conclusion, I can say with complete certainty that if I were in charge of a budget of $750K to create a high-quality project and promotional tour, everybody involved, onstage and off, would get paid. You’re planning four videos at $80K and asking for volunteers on stage? Your priorities are skewed. Do three videos and pay the band.

    • peregrine

      I haven’t even tried to comment on her budgeting, since that opens up the general argument to accusations we want to control her money and her career…..but THIS. I run a group that makes very little money (we back local cabaret and vaudeville artists, so it’s not like I don’t know the “culture” she refers to). We’re doing it for the “love”, so to speak. But whatever we earn is either split up evenly between my performers or, if there’s not enough for that to make sense, put towards materials and overhead for the group with the general consensus. I pay my performers. I can’t imagine not paying my performers. So even within AFP’s “culture”, apparently there are some cultural (and ethical) differences.

  • http://tekhedd.com/blog/ tekhedd

    So basically your entire rambling response means 1) “I paid my dues” combined with 2) “Hey, it’s not illegal”. And you’re right on both counts. So what? Still lame.

  • JR

    I’ve never heard of this cheap slut Amanda….. And I’ll probably never hear of her scabs who play for nothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.matthews.509 Kevin Matthews

    I
    don’t know of Amanda, though I’ve heard of The Dresden Dolls (of
    course, do I say of course there? I just did) but I have to say that I
    kinda dig her grand plan. Most backing performers and band members get
    little to no prime exposure on stage anyway but they get to learn their
    craft at every gig and get to rock it for crowds of people. She isn’t
    forcing anyone to work for free and I see NO difference between this and
    the many, many movies, DIY projects on TV, writing projects that
    involve free talent getting together to make something worthwhile. I
    wonder if the people criticising Amanda Palmer so vocally would evict
    all of the families from the homes built for them by the Extreme
    Makeover team.

  • Hegro

    It’s cheap. It’s ugly and it’s cheap. Amanda has worked hard and deserves a hefty paycheck. With that, a couple hundred dollars here and there– it makes a HUGE difference in artists’ lives and it’s absolutely disgusting that she should profiteer off of the donated talents of those who simply wish to be close to her sociopathic brand of celebrity.

    She goes home to her 18 million dollar husband. She’s talking about multi-thousand dollar paychecks. She does better than multi-thousand. You can paint the picture of this glorious, bacchanalian night spent playing with her and drinking, ahhh, BEER but when all’s said and done, when everyone goes home, one person is fighting to make rent money and one is padding a 1%-er bank account. If you can reflect back on that and say that those smiles enjoyed were fair and immaculate, then you’re stupid to the pain of the world.

    Amanda, don’t be a cunt. Pay people a decent amount. You’ll be fine. And your karma won’t be such a hell-blazed ball of buffalo shit.

    And don’t dismiss what’s being said here because there’s an army of barely adolescents out there who think you’re a goddess. Just pay people and don’t be such a wretched bitch about it.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      “stupid to the pain of the world” – Wow, what a great phrase. (I don’t think it fits here, but it’s great nonetheless)

      • Hegro

        I said it in the sense that the rich get richer, poor people stay poor… injustice. Thanks for liking how I talk!

        • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

          Yeah, but it’s deeper than that. As much pain, if not more pain, is caused by things not financial.

          • Hegro

            injustice. inequalities. unfairnesses. power dynamics. exploitations, financial, emotional and otherwise. lies. deceit. dishonesty. faithlessness. misgivings. disconnect from the source. betrayal. disappointment. money’s just one medium this stuff is reflected in… but most everything is systemic. The unwillingness to share money is also a conversation about worth. value. esteem. greed. selfishness. ego. fragmentation.

          • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

            Interesting words, but none of them apply to any of the people I have heard after playing. Odd that the theory of what should be happening, and how the actual musicians are feeling about it in real life is so far apart.

          • Hegro

            and it takes a proper sociopath to preach to masses about love and giving and expressing and feeling and the value of art… and then to budget around the artist’s worthlessness. Now THAT’S fucked up.

        • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

          Yeah, but it’s deeper than that. As much pain, if not more pain, is caused by things not financial.

  • Hegro

    The other thing is that artists do free gigs, SURE. All the time. It’s how artists get good, frankly, by performing as much as humanly possible and that invariably includes a great many unpaid shows. With that, doing all those free gigs means that you HAVE to get paid for some gigs– some gigs obviously lend themselves to being paid– like ones in theaters or concert halls where the house is pulling in thousands of dollars. It makes simple sense that some of those thousands should trickle down to the people making the entertainment happen. A free gig on a beach for a bunch of revelers who didn’t pay to be on the beach? Sure. Absolutely. Makes perfect sense. A free gig for a millionaire in a music hall with 200 paying audience members. GO FUCK YOURSELF.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lbothell L.J. Bothell

    You know, I am a designer, and it gets really old having folks want my advice time, and efforts for free. Really old. But, you know, the occasional time I DO something pro bono – speaking, designing, coding – well, the flow is there, and so much fun, and I remember to not give such a crap about money. I remember being paid for lots of work and feeling dead and oh-so-bored. I do understand the fears and concerns of musicians over the precedent this seems to set but you know, it has always been there, especially in music and art, and those are living spiritual things anyway, so money has actually been rare. Just wanted to say I get it, I bet you have the most fun, that any volunteers get so much out of the experience and fun and being in the flow – and in the end, those things are truly the only currency any of us really get. I wish I could be there!!!!

  • Humanismu

    Suddenly I really regret giving up playing the violin in 9th grade! I would love to play on stage with Amanda Palmer any day! Just meeting her would rock my world! I won’t be on stage, but I’ll definitely be at the show!!

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      Agreed, I have a trumpet here I haven’t played for years, but I can read music and I’d have until February or so to practice. Hmm.

  • Daemon

    This sounds like an attempt to OpenSource concert tour. However OpenSource movement was based on equality of contributions “in-kind” and sharing of the product. To bring OpenSource analogy over to music world – it would be OK to ask for help. It is OK to screen who do you get help from, however compensation is the product of that contribution, say allowing participants to record and resell CD’s of the concert, or use concert material in their own shows. Otherwise it does sound like subversion of the idea, and does inch closer to exploitation.

    • http://twitter.com/_meanwhile Meanwhile …..

      There is no restrictions on cameras, or taking videos, at any AP or Dresden Dolls concert I’ve been to. Not sure what the deal is with using the material, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t pretty friendly to the performers.

  • Jonathan

    I think it’s fantastic that Amanda is giving people of any level the opportunity to play with her. How dare you people criticize her for that? If the musicians felt disrespected by her, they simply wouldn’t volunteer.

    All you critics really sound like you’ve never worked with a volunteer musician a single time in your life. Some volunteers are amazing, some of them can barely play, but THEY ALL ARE SUPER EXCITED TO BE THERE, and how dare you try to take that opportunity away from them through stupid criticism. How dare you pretend that volunteering is the same as being exploited. Everyone knows what they sign up for when they volunteer. Don’t pretend they are being abused. I would be ecstatic if I got the chance to play with Amanda for free. And of course you can’t take as big a risk and completely rely on volunteers for the more
    ridiculous venues like NYC, so you make sure you’ve paid a few people
    you can trust. How is that wrong?

    I loved Amanda’s response, and as a fellow musician who has benefited greatly from volunteering and playing with volunteers, I’m really glad she’s chosen this route instead of the safe route that other musicians take by only playing with people she’s used before. It’s a thrilling and uniquely rewarding experience to work with volunteers, and I commend her for pursuing that.

    Whoever it was that mentioned that C.S. Lewis quote about the worst tyranny being that exercised for the good of its people… totally spot on here. Stop pretending Amanda’s way of doing things is wrong just because it doesn’t fit your ideas of what she’s supposed to do!!!

    • Justin Cayce

      I call bullshit, Jonathan!

      “And of course you can’t take as big a risk and completely rely on volunteers for the more ridiculous venues like NYC, so you make sure you’ve paid a few people
      you can trust. How is that wrong?”

      Wouldn’t logic dictate that of all places, one of the biggest pools of quality musicians who might volunteer is in NYC!

      Sounds to be like she saved her money to pay her friends or people she knows.

      Hate to say it but it is ironic that she is supported by the Grand Theft Orchestra!

  • angelicslayer

    I don’t think some of you guys get it… She pays the people she knows because she knows how they sound. They are completely professional bad ass players. But anyone can volunteer, They might not always sound good or truly know how to play their instrument. I’m sure that it’s not easy to get a set of good horn and string volunteers together at short notice, in different cities.. She’s taking a lot out on chance. It’s not like they don’t get anything. They get to be part of a kick-ass concert. She feeds them alcohol and gives them free shit. Plus they get to spend time with AMANDA FUCKING PALMER!!!! How fucking cool is that???

  • Al Baker

    Sorry Amanda but you’re really wrong on this one. After you spent so long on your itemised list of expenses talking about how it was your choice to do this thing properly and expensively, and that you had to pay everyone from the sleeve designers to the webmaster, it really is a kick in the crotch for you to expect musicians to be the exception. You were wrong, just admit that you were wrong, pay the people who work for you, climb down in a dignified way and you could come out of this looking REALLY good.

  • http://twitter.com/FunnyFaceKing TheKingofFunnyFaces

    it’s not about amanda’s critics making rules for her or unwoman or her other musicians or her fans that they can’t break, it’s about amanda and the others setting a terrible precedent for employers that affects the livelihood of working musicians in an already suffering industry.

    please let us at least be allowed to express that opinion, if we’ve got it, without your poor-amanda victimology

    it’s not illegal to be critical of someone else’s business practice, it does not infringe on the other’s civil rights. considering that that person is a famous stage performer who exposes so much of her inner business practices to the public, a little criticism should be welcomed. at least that’s what i would do. otherwise, i’d be a very bitter person.

    thank you for your time, courtesy, love and respect

    the king of funny faces

    “Nothing becomes funny by being labeled so.” -Strunk & Whites ‘Elements of Style’

  • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh jason quackenbush

    Amanda, it is not ok to ask people to work for free when you are making money from their labor. That’s exploitative. You are trying to extract the surplus value from your workers. You are reaping a profit in part from the value you are providing in not paying these people. Their labor is putting money in your pocket. You don’t have to do this. You can work in a more equitable form where you and your musicians all hold the means of production in common and all share in the profits. Or, at the very least, you chould be paying all of your musicians AFM rates every night. All of them. If you can’t afford that, you need to tour with a smaller band.

    The fact that you have worked for free and that most musicians have to work for free sometimes in order to get somewhere does not excuse your choice to now turn around and exploit others. Rather it makes it more difficult to understand why you feel so okay with the notion that the devalued labor of creative types in our society that makes it so difficult for us all to make a living doing what we do because everyone expects us to work for free. You appear to not understand that all that time you’ve spent working for free for other people to build your name and try to make connections was also exploitation. That you and all of these other musicians have been so co-opted by the capitalist mode of production that has captured so much of your and my and everyone else’s labor is a sad comment on the state of the arts. Particularly at a time in our culture where so many small acts are having such a hard time convincing people to pay for their work.

    It’s fine if you want to give your music away, that’s your property. You can do what you like with it. But don’t ask the rest of the world to go along with your bizarre stockholm syndrome that makes you think this is all ok and a reasonable way for the world to work. It isn’t, it’s immoral. Your no different from factories opening sweatshops in indonesia to avoid having to pay even a minimum wage with the laughably minimal labor protections in place in developed nations. You’re doing it to lower your costs so you can put more money in your pocket. Nothing you can say will change that and you need to understand that.

    Whatever the reason is you think it’s okay to hire people on and pay them scab wages by dodging union contracts, frankly, are irrelevant. You are still hiring people at scab wages and less. And that makes it harder for all the professional musicians in the world who haven’t been blessed with the good fortune you’ve had. The AFM is the difference between being able to make a living and have things like health insurance and a pension for old age for thousands of middle class musicians in this country, and your decision to forego that small bit of fairness that organized has been able to claw back from the ruling class makes you complicit in the structural unfairness in our economy.

    Sure, you’ll say, you’ve made these choices and you’re just offering the same choices to other people. I invite you to listen to the arguments made in favor of anti-labor “right to work” agitators trying to strip labor of the right to collectively bargain for better conditions and real remuneration all over the United States. They are identical. It’s a matter of choice. You shouldn’t force people to not work. Look of the anti-labor decisions of the pre-New Deal supreme court. The so-called Lochner Era “right to contract” was used as a bludgeon to strike down everything from child labor laws to 40 hour work weeks because they interfered with people’s free choice to make whatever contract they wanted to with their employer.

    Now, I’m not saying you’re trying to get around child labor laws, what I am saying is that the rationale you are using is the same, and it’s just as much bullshit here, where the damage is much lower, as it was when it was deployed against the right to overtime pay.

    You are entitled to your opinions, and you can run your business however you choose. You don’t get to delude yourself that this is anything other than an attempt to increase your profits at the expense of your employees, however. If you can sleep with that, fine, you’re no different from all manner of other regressive employers greedily extracting more profits out of the desperation for work in the labor market. But don’t expect the rest of us to buy the lies you tell yourself to help you cope with it.

    • http://twitter.com/Pray4Brain