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 Everett True

10 Questions for Amanda Palmer – Are you simply being penalised for your transparency?

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Amanda Palmer

I’m curious. And as I’ll never get to meet her, I thought I’d leave them here. Questions are usually more revealing than answers.

1. Is it exploitation when people are lining up to be exploited? Or is it some weird form of manipulative power play/domme manifestation? How does you asking fans to play for free – for the ‘exposure’, for the love – differ from the managers asking hopeful starlets to sign shitty contracts, knowing they have no alternative because they have no plan b? Is it OK because you’re being transparent about a process that very few others are?

2. I’m reminded of television evangelists, involving their audiences, seeking assurances about their devotion, if the assurance comes in some form of financial gain, even better. Jimmy fucking Swaggart. (As Lucy Cage memorably wrote, “This isn’t a gig, it’s a communion.”) But TV evangelists are never upfront, never transparent. You are. So what’s gone wrong here? Is it just true that no one loves a winner?

3. How is this spontaneous and/or punk rock? Does that matter? Fans/musicians are being trained – that part comes free, I expect – but it’s not like you’re turning up at each show and asking folk to jump on stage with you. Is it because you’re fucking with the tried and tested way that outsiders (not fans, one suspects) are reacting so strongly? Or is this simply the latest version of the Have’s exploiting the Have Not’s? I can’t help feeling that anyone who gets up on stage with you, hoping to further their ‘career’, will reap what they sow.

4. You act like you’re entitled. So do most artists/musicians. Often, that’s why they’re artists/musicians and other people aren’t. Many feel this indicates you come from a privileged background. I feel that your unwillingness to share wealth – with others, equally as talented as you in their own ways – might indicate a working-class background. Truth in either? Does truth matter?

5. Your Twitter site lists you as an ‘amateur’ musician. Really? REALLY? I appreciate self-deprecation is part of your act (along with arrogance) but…. really?

6. I too have asked talented people to work for me for free (witness this very website). I too am aware that when money enters the equation it fucks the shit up out of everything. Are you simply being penalised for your transparency? No one’s gone after the Olympics for their armies of volunteers. And I strongly suspect the imbalance is way greater there.

7. Man alive, you must have some fucking force of personality to a) attract all this attention, b) attract all this money and c) attract all this attention. Is it because you’re making yourself accountable that you’re attracting all this derision? No one goes after Chris fucking Moyles.

8. Are you genuinely not aware of the imbalance? Do you genuinely not see it as exploitation of the vulnerable and needy? Do you genuinely believe yourself more talented that everyone around you?

9. The show sounds fucking AMAZING. Full-blown orchestra AND Amanda fucking Palmer and the thrill of the unexpected and controversy. I mean, WTF!?

10. Really… WTF!?

Related posts:
Playing for love instead of money: On Amanda Palmer, Punk Rock, and Compensating Musicians Fairly
Letters from Rosie 9 – Amanda Palmer and the naive sleeping beauty scene kids
It’s Amanda Palmer day, here at Collapse Board

38 Responses to 10 Questions for Amanda Palmer – Are you simply being penalised for your transparency?

  1. Golightly September 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Isn’t she selling personal access to a famous person as part of the deal?

    Madonna does not let her staff look at her in the eye or fact or something. This is relevant.

    I don’t have any more answers. Why don’t you get that Bianca to interview Amanda to find out more. Or phone her, I bet she’d love you. In theory, even if in on this particular subject.

    p.s. Pay me! *holds out cap*

  2. Golightly September 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    *Madonna’s face (not fact)

  3. jimmy rustle September 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    “someone didn’t make a fresh pot of coffee!”

    You couldn’t be any less of a musician right now, True. Thanks for helping. Now stop.

  4. Lucy Cage September 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I like these questions and yes, I do think she is being penalised for her transparency. I think she is being publicly (and quite virulently) shamed because she is upfront about making money out of music.

    Here’s a fact: the current music business paradigm is fucked.
    Here’s another one: that is not Amanda Palmer’s fault.

    It is not her responsibility that capitalism fucks people over and there is not (yet) a straightforward, equitable way for everyone who creates art to be fairly compensated for their time, energy, enthusiasm and creativity. She is very clear about the fact she is trying to work out another way of doing things, one that doesn’t involve record companies and middlemen, and humble about the fact that it may not be perfect and may not work for everyone.

    She is also clear about the fact that she is not asking anyone else to do the same as her and to play endless guerilla or benefit gigs for free or to give their music away for nothing as she chooses to do or to work outside the confines of a traditional record label set-up. The fact she is trying to find a new, practical and accountable way to make a living in her exploitative, deceitful, inequitable industry seems a brave and honourable thing to do.

    Nor is she expecting anyone to play for her for free or demanding anything from anyone; she’s offering an invitation that she herself would be prepared to accept from other musicians. (In Brighton last year no-one turned up to play horns on a particular song: they did it without the extra musicians. It was fine.) She pays her collaborators whenever the budget allows it and – unlike the vast majority of people working in the industry – is honest about who and how much she pays.

    The Kickstarter million is a red herring: she certainly hasn’t just pocketed it. Read about the breakdown of where it all went on her blog.

    But most crucially of all people who are lambasting her are turning a blind eye to the reason most artists create things: the absolute fucking joy of it. The love of music, of writing, of making art. Capitalism doesn’t make space for this. Creative fulfillment is outside of its parameters. That’s capitalism’s fault not the fault of the people who write or create or paint because otherwise their heads would turn inside out. I wish everyone would stop shaming the musicians who chose to get up on stage with her and have a ball; they can make their own decisions about what they do with their own talent. If they’ve done the maths and judged that the fun and the pleasure (not just exposure) they’d gain from playing in a big show with an artist they admire is worth their time and effort then really that’s their business.

    Claiming that all artistic activity associated with a financial situation deserves to be compensated in hard cash is missing the point; the market forces us to be disingenuous about the situation, to pretend that there is no reward in fun, love, creative fulfillment, companionship, community, pleasure in one’s craft etc. Artists have more need of financial protection because it is so difficult for them in this current system to make a living but plenty of other activities that are conventionally carried out in return for money are also done for love or for the benefit of the community (I have friends who do other friend’s accounts because they love them: is that scab behaviour too?). Artistic endeavour is just one of the more obviously problematic examples because artists are so routinely fucked over, more so than plumbers or engineers; it’s horrendously difficult to be a salaried artist or a adequately-paid writer. The fact that artists, writers and musicians do not have enough money to pay their rent is the fault of the fucked system not the fault of other artists, writers and musicians who do not get paid for their work and do it anyway.

    I saw an anti-Amanda blog on the Huffington Post of all places: the site that notoriously makes its fortune by not paying its writers. To me, being complicit in propping up the HuffPo is much more dodgy than Amanda Palmer putting a call out for people to join her on stage but I still think people have a right to hand over their words to line Arianna’s pockets if they want to do so. I got called a scab once for writing for this (resolutely uncommercial) site for no financial reward; if I wrote for a ad-funded music site for free as plenty of my peers are doing, would I be complicit in cheating every other freelance music writer out of their next meal? Maybe I would. Maybe that would deserve as much scorn and loathing as AFP has attracted. But the fact remains that *all* artists work/have worked outside of the financial model at some point because the financial model does not account for love.

  5. Derek Robertson September 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Lucy – You say:

    “I think she is being publicly (and quite virulently) shamed because she is upfront about making money out of music. It is not her responsibility that capitalism fucks people over and there is not (yet) a straightforward, equitable way for everyone who creates art to be fairly compensated for their time, energy, enthusiasm and creativity.”

    Nobody cares that she is making money from her art (at least i don’t), and that’s something to be applauded. And it’s not her fault that capitalism doesn’t really work, especially concerning the arts. But when she is furthering her own name, profile, and bank balance at the expense of wide eyed fans desperate to get on stage and “take part”, when Amanda Palmer CAN and is PERFECTLY ABLE to pay them what they deserve, it’s exploitation, pure and simple, something that Steve Albini summed up far more eloquently than I can:

    http://www.thestoolpigeon.co.uk/features/interview-steve-albini.html

    “On the part of the fans, I totally understand and sympathize with this impulse. That’s starkly different from a millionaire asking people to do things for free, under the guise that she is giving them something by indulging them. It’s cheapness repainted as generosity and it’s gross. Using people in this way, exploiting their good nature for one’s own benefit, is a cancer that taints many enterprises and it always reflects poorly on the exploiter. It’s one of the things I hated most about the old-school record business, the practice of fucking with people who loved music so much they would put up with endless greed and abuse just to be a part of it. A new music business paradigm, if it is worth anything, should strive to be free of exploitation and be honest about its motives.

    Given that the typical budget for albums I work on is less than $10,000, you can take your pick of line-items in her budget, divide by ten and still have an order of magnitude worth of waste from my perspective. I haven’t looked at the breakdown since I first saw it so don’t quote me on it (haha, “don’t quote me,” I just said something funny), but I recall that she skimmed a couple hundred grand off the top for her pleasure prior to beginning to make the record. That alone is enough to make the record of your dreams a couple times over and seems like a straight-up “fuck you” to everybody who pledged money to the project.

    It’s crazy that I have to explain to you how ridiculous it is to blow a million dollars. More than a million dollars. Just say it out loud and think about how much fucking money a million dollars is. That’s several really nice houses with a Jaguar in each garage. A lifetime’s wages. It’s just an incredible sum, enough to make a hundred records. Palmer had more than that at her disposal and now claims not to have enough left to pay musicians. To pay them for gigs she is also being paid to play. This coming from someone who already had a successful career before she had her audience begin paying all her expenses in advance. A millionaire pleading poverty and asking for additional charity. It’s fucking ridiculous and it mocks all the bands who genuinely need their audience to help them conduct their business.”

  6. WL September 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    As there isn’t many cash opportunities for musicians, it would have been kinder of Amanda to support the industry monetarily rather than just hugs.

    Really it should have been both!

    Money is the way we measure the value of services/products and her commitment not to pay perpetuates the decreasing value of a musicians worth in society.

    All of this publicity is going to be great for record sales and I’d imagine she’ll do quite nicely out of all of this. It’s quite a brilliant marketing strategy if it was intentional.

  7. Lucy Cage September 17, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    “But when she is furthering her own name, profile, and bank balance at the expense of wide eyed fans desperate to get on stage and “take part”, when Amanda Palmer CAN and is PERFECTLY ABLE to pay them what they deserve, it’s exploitation pure and simple”

    Desperate, “wide eyed fans” is pretty patronising to musicians who are willing to play with her.

    From what I know about AFP, if she could’ve budgeted for extras, she would’ve. She wanted an extravaganza for her audience & she asked for help with it.
    I very much doubt she’s a millionaire, by the way!

  8. Princess Stomper September 18, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Lucy, her husband’s net worth is estimated at $18 million. I know that’s his, and not hers, but it does explain how she manages to live extravagantly without any obvious income.

  9. D September 18, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Im sorry if I devolve into bad language here, but I’m a writer who has been told many, many times that I need to be satisfied with “exposure” as compensation, that it’s all about the opportunity, and that if I want to get paid its bad because I should do it for love.

    But this is some libertarian bullshit dressed up as being “all about the music.”

    “I like these questions and yes, I do think she is being penalised for her transparency. I think she is being publicly (and quite virulently) shamed because she is upfront about making money out of music.”

    Ah, but it’s for the love, innit? At least for everyone else.

    “It is not her responsibility that capitalism fucks people over and there is not (yet) a straightforward, equitable way for everyone who creates art to be fairly compensated for their time, energy, enthusiasm and creativity. She is very clear about the fact she is trying to work out another way of doing things, one that doesn’t involve record companies and middlemen, and humble about the fact that it may not be perfect and may not work for everyone.”

    It’s not Mitt Romney’s fault that capitalism fucks people over, but it is his fault when he perpetuates the fucking over. There is no difference here. none.

    She is also clear about the fact that she is not asking anyone else to do the same as her and to play endless guerilla or benefit gigs for free or to give their music away for nothing as she chooses to do or to work outside the confines of a traditional record label set-up. The fact she is trying to find a new, practical and accountable way to make a living in her exploitative, deceitful, inequitable industry seems a brave and honourable thing to do.”

    Except that these gigs are only to benefit Amanda Palmer, and the only one asked to play guerilla are other musicians.

    I keep thinking about Ani difranco, who has been doing ths since Palmer was in junior high. Difranco is completely DIY, but she would never not pay her musicians if she was getting paid herself. Only the most rabid libertarian would pay themselves before they pay the employees. In some cases it’s actually illegal.

    Shameful actions deserve to be shamed.

  10. Erika September 18, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Using wikipedia as a source, Amanda Palmer grew up in Lexington, Mass where the 2007 median family income of $142,800 appears to be about three times the US national average and about four times the average of my own home town of Eureka, California. The poverty level (people earning less than $11,000 annually) in AP’s home town is less than 4% while in my home town it is greater than 25%.

    AND! Princess Stomper points out that her husband’s net worth is $18 million.

    Privilege is often transparent to those who have it. Sometimes the privileged feel they can do no wrong, because deep down they feel they are good people. Sometimes they make missteps. It is tempting, when one thinks of ones self as a “GOOD PERSON” to defend one’s self and feel persecuted without making a real attempt at empathizing with the less privileged or understanding how they/we experience things. Just as I think that men need to work a bit harder to empathize with women, whites need to work harder to empathize with people of color – people like Amanda Palmer need to work harder, too. Not at music, but at empathy. Oh, and respect.

    She thinks we’re “scared”? I think it goes way beyond that.

  11. Erika September 18, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I should also note that Amanda Palmer probably really could give a flip if most musicians are living at and below poverty level (often while working shitty day jobs). I doubt that poor wage-earners are her intended audience. I really think she is playing for others in social and economic class. You can’t set a kickstarter goal of something like $100,000.00 (and get 10 times that) without having many wealthy friends and admirers. And I have no problem with the rich, except when they exploit the poor.

  12. D September 18, 2012 at 5:00 am

    All very great points Erika. I realize this is a cliche but she reminds me of an upper middle class kid who thinks that “slumming” is the same as actual poverty.

    At this point I have some ideas for some guerilla pranks that musicians could do to draw attention to this, but I don’t know if this is the place to present them..l

  13. Lucy Cage September 18, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I think it’s a pretty low and unsisterly blow to bring Neil Gaiman’s net worth into an argument about whether or not Amanda Palmer should have paid everyone who plays with her. They don’t even live together. He has a family home in Minneapolis while when she’s at home (which is rarely) she lives in a shared housing co-op in Boston. She’s hardly a kept woman.

    She spends a lot of the year travelling the world playing the gigs, often sleeping on friends’ and fans’ floors and playing for free. Yes, that might mean she’s privileged in being free to do so but it doesn’t exactly smack of an extravagant lifestyle. She spent her years before being a full-time musician being a full-time busker; I think she probably counts what she does now as busking on a larger scale.

    And re her intended audience: she gives her music away for free to anyone who can’t afford it. That is her intended audience. She plays benefit gigs all the time. She plays in the street, in theatres, in people’s houses, for kids. She comes across to me in her blog posts as someone with integrity, humility and transparency who is trying her best to make things work in a really shitty time in history for music makers. I don’t think everything she does is perfectly judged by any means but I am fairly certain that her intentions are as good if not better than most musicians at her level of fame and success. Acting as if inviting enthusiastic volunteers on stage is the work of an evil hardnosed bastard seems so out of proportion to what is actually going on that I’m kind of aghast at the extreme level of fury she’s triggered: you’d think there were no better targets for people’s ire.

  14. Derek Robertson September 18, 2012 at 7:43 am

    What does being “sisterly” or otherwise have to do with an argument? Why are you dragging gender into this? Along with the other comment you posted about people only complaining because she’s an “uppity bitch”, I hope you’re not about to wander down the path that she’s being criticised because she’s a woman and that any man doing what she did would have been given a free ride. Because i totally and utterly do not believe that to be the case.

    What she does with her time or money, or how she chooses to travel is irrelevant to the issue (I realise others are making that case, but they are mistaken – on that we can agree). I don’t doubt the hardships she has endured and encountered to get where she is. I don;t even doubt that she’s doing her best to be upfront and transparent and, as you say, “trying her best to make things work”.

    BUT on a day when it was highlighted just how rampant illegal downloading in the UK (some acts being shared over 60,000 times A MONTH), she came out with a plea for free musicians to join the Amanda Palmer show. I’ve argued before that what she’s doing is more than “inviting enthusiastic volunteers on stage”, and the extreme level of fury is because it’s yet another nail in the coffin that music, and by extension, art, has no value and should be given away in return for vague notions of “exposure” or “recognition”. The fact that it’s Amanda Palmer holding the hammer, someone who’s gone out of their way in the past to identify with the put upon, the outsiders, the devalued, and those without a voice, makes it 10 times worse, as it’s the classic poacher turned gamekeeper. A lot of people clearly see this as a particularly nefarious development, and she;s just unlucky that she’s the first with her head above the parapet, but i’m kind of aghast that you can’t see what’s wrong with what she’s doing.

    Yeah, there are other targets. Yeah, other people are equally as deserving of our ire, but that doesn’t give her an excuse, and you can bet your bottom dollar if this was Metallica, U2, or some other shitty, boring, cock-rock outfit, the outpouring of vitriol would be exactly the same.

  15. Lucy Cage September 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

    “the extreme level of fury is because it’s yet another nail in the coffin that music, and by extension, art, has no value and should be given away in return for vague notions of “exposure” or “recognition”.”

    Really?! I totally disagree. I think the way AFP operates generally is a reaffirmation of the fact that music is invaluable. Indispensable. That is it the stuff of life. That it provokes joy and love and passion. That playing music with other people is one of the most wonderful, heart-stirring and magical things we can do in our lives. I don’t think it’s about exposure or recognition at all! I think people want to play with Amanda Palmer on a casual basis because it would be such fucking good fun. In no way does it follow that because playing music for the beer and laughs is awesome then professional musicians, artists or designers who work in a formal capacity should not also be paid and paid well for their time and talent.

    Again I say: the current business paradigm is fucked. That does not mean that music has no value, monetary or otherwise. (Surely AFP’s wildly successful Kickstarter programme has demonstrated just how much people value music that they knew perfectly well she’d let them download for free?) I happen to think that the way she sells her music direct to the audience is considerably more ethical that the way major record labels have traditionally operated.
    Here’s some more Steve Albini for you:
    http://www.negativland.com/news/?page_id=17

    The fury is much more significant of the fact that the fucked paradigm means people are struggling financially because the stupid system doesn’t give a shit about whether musicians pay their rent at the end of the month: all it cares about is year end profit margins. That’s what needs changing.

    And I bet Metallica and U2 do this sort of thing the whole bloody time. Unpaid guest musicians?! They’re everywhere.

  16. Golightly September 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Famous people are not always rich. It’s naive to keep on with this assumption. In fact regardless of the accounts in this particular saga, I am now of the opinion that I’d rather a MUSICIAN was pocketing money by acting like a business person than the faceless behind the scenes coke-sniffin record execs. At least having surely paid her dues by being royally screwed in the same way herself for years (anyone who reaches her level of success is guaranteed to have had this happen)… then I find it at least far less offensive coming from her if that’s really what’s happening.

  17. Erika September 18, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Golightly: I assume that Amanda Palmer comes from a privileged background not because she’s famous but because she comes from a town with a median income which is TRIPLE that of the national average. With a college degree, I couldn’t even imagine having an annual income over $60k much less $100k much less $140k. WTF? Shoot… at this point, I can’t even imagine having a living-wage job. That’s how fucked things really truly are.

    Lucy Cage: As far as “sisterhood,” there is indeed this assumption that women should always be supportive of other women, no matter what. When it comes to exploitation of the working class, I completely disagree. This may be why I often find myself on the outside of “sisterhood” movements. I break rank and prefer to be true to my own sense of ethics regardless of who is involved. I genuinely think women should be held to the same ethical standards as men, and maybe even higher ethical standards.

    So. Amanda Palmer is married to a multi-millionaire who doesn’t support her financially? How interesting. And Amanda Palmer raised $1.2 million to manufacture and distribute her album but has no money to pay support musicians.

    Nope. I have no sympathy.

  18. D September 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    “and I bet Metallica and U2 do this sort of thing the whole bloody time. Unpaid guest musicians?! They’re everywhere.”

    You have to be kidding me. If either act pulled that the musician’s unions would go nuclear. And here’s a funny thing about unions: they tend to have solidarity with others. Ain’t no chance the crews putting up their stages would cross a picket line. When the maintenance workers threatened to strike at my university the bus drivers said they would not go into the campus.

    Nice try pulling the names of the two most famoous eeevil anti downloading bands. The whole point of the pro file sharing philosophy is that musicians make money off of live shows. Palmer is making it harder for musicians. That’s bullshit, and it’s worse because as she constantly reminds us THIS IS THE FUTURE OF MUSIC and shes trying to pass it off as being “for the fans.”

    Erika: apparently she went to Weslyan, the ninth most expensive college in the US (that’s out of over 2000) and busked around Europe. So… Yeah. I think her poverty is more like slumming.

    If she does free gigs on her own, that’s great. But she is an employer now, a “job creator” if you will. If she can’t make payroll, she should do the right thing and do without.

  19. Darragh September 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    “The fury is much more significant of the fact that the fucked paradigm means people are struggling financially because the stupid system doesn’t give a shit about whether musicians pay their rent at the end of the month: all it cares about is year end profit margins. That’s what needs changing.”

    That’s true – it does need changing, and Amanda Palmer is not helping by deciding to not pay her backing band.

  20. D September 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    “Golightly says:
    September 18, 2012 at 8:20 am
    Famous people are not always rich. It’s naive to keep on with this assumption. In fact regardless of the accounts in this particular saga, I am now of the opinion that I’d rather a MUSICIAN was pocketing money by acting like a business person than the faceless behind the scenes coke-sniffin record execs. At least having surely paid her dues by being royally screwed in the same way herself for years (anyone who reaches her level of success is guaranteed to have had this happen)… then I find it at least far less offensive coming from her if that’s really what’s happening.”

    Actually, that makes it about a million times worse.

  21. Gerry September 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I couldn’t figure out from the costing AFP had stated if any of those things were going to provide income? Pressing & printing costs are very real (& high if you choose to make them so), but that stuff is then sold for profit (unless you’re in a local act, in which case you have the 40 you’re going to sell & 960 matching coasters).

    It looks like you cannot have major label taste on a crowd sourced budget. Unless you behave like a major label.

  22. Princess Stomper September 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I think it’s a pretty low and unsisterly blow to bring Neil Gaiman’s net worth into an argument about whether or not Amanda Palmer should have paid everyone who plays with her. They don’t even live together. He has a family home in Minneapolis while when she’s at home (which is rarely) she lives in a shared housing co-op in Boston. She’s hardly a kept woman.

    I must have missed the memo where anyone gets a free pass because it’s “unsisterly” to call them up on their bullshit.

    I didn’t know they didn’t live together. I was just trying to connect the dots on how a band who have to my knowledge never had a hit record, have no major label backing, and basically no visible means of income can afford to hire a large team of staff including a management team, lawyers, accountants, a business manager and others.

    She has two full-time assistants.

    She borrowed a quarter of a million dollars with no obvious means of paying it back. Even Rihanna couldn’t do that – the label agreed to put out the third album, but Rihanna had to pay for it, because without any hits she was a bad debt risk. If you’re on a label, the label assumes the risk and makes the judgement call – they’ll give you an advance and 9 times out of 10 they’ll just suck it up when the album tanks because of the 1/10 when it’s a hit – it’s their high-stakes gamble. A quarter of a million dollars is a huge amount of money to borrow with no safety net, and she was only asking for $100,000 to start with.

    She admitted that she hoped to pocket $100,000 personally. That’s still a lot of money. Plenty to pay session musicians with.

    Perhaps she should sit down with that business manager of hers and work out how to budget effectively so that $1,200,000 can pay for several albums and tours, on which every person involved is paid fairly.

    Oh, and since when did pointing to someone else and saying “they did it too!” make it OK? Whenever any bad practice is criticised, it starts with outrage over one person’s actions. In this case, it happens to be Amanda Palmer.

  23. D September 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    “Oh, and since when did pointing to someone else and saying “they did it too!” make it OK? Whenever any bad practice is criticised, it starts with outrage over one person’s actions. In this case, it happens to be Amanda Palmer.”

    Bingo. As well, bad practices often start with one person. “Why should I pay you if Amanda Palmer did it” becomes very easy to say.

  24. Lucy Cage September 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

    “I must have missed the memo where anyone gets a free pass because it’s “unsisterly” to call them up on their bullshit”
    Are you saying that Amanda Palmer being married to a well-off writer means anything she has to say about money is now bullshit? Or what, precisely?
    Well I call bullshit on bringing Neil Gaiman’s income into a discussion about ethics.

  25. Lucy Cage September 19, 2012 at 2:11 am

    “I didn’t know they didn’t live together. I was just trying to connect the dots on how a band who have to my knowledge never had a hit record, have no major label backing, and basically no visible means of income can afford to hire a large team of staff including a management team, lawyers, accountants, a business manager and others.”

    If you want to understand how it works you need to follow her on Twitter and read her blogs; then you’ll see how she manages it. She pays her permanent staff well. She also asks for help and passes the hat round. She also supports and encourages other artists and passes the hat round for them too. She’s part of a huge and vibrant online community. It is a whole different way of working than via a record label.

  26. D September 19, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Lucy Cage: that’s all well and good, but it’s no excuse.

    Seriously, she needs to pay these people.

  27. Princess Stomper September 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I think D and Derek have said everything that needs saying in these various threads, but to answer how Neil Gaiman is relevant to the discussion:

    Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel was a New York Times Best Seller. He co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett, who before JK Rowling was Britain’s best-selling author (he’s sold 70 million books). Neil Gaiman is the man behind the hit films/TV shows Neverwhere, MirrorMask, Stardust and Coraline.

    Amanda Palmer has been making music professionally for 12 years, in which time she has had one record get to number 42 in the charts for one week.

    Given Neil Gaiman’s heavy involvement – he contributes artwork, writing and photography to Amanda Palmer’s project – it’s reasonable to assume that his (huge) fanbase is somewhat swelling the ranks of her (small cult) following.

    Whether or not she’s a “kept woman”, she has a large number of staff with no business model to pay them. She has borrowed on a “line of credit” (not capital she’s built up from previous hits) a quarter of a million dollars to fund this when much more famous acts with more hits and major label backing might just have a lawyer and a manager and leave it at that. She “pays them generously” – but has nothing to pay them with.

    So.

    She does the Kickstarter, raises the money, suddenly has all this extra lying around, which she immediately promises to squander on luxuries that weren’t part of the initial project instead of paying musicians.

    As for slumming it while married to a multimillionaire and then moaning that you’re too broke to pay for a violinist (but happen to have $100,000 lying around for five videos and “hopefully” an extra $100,000 for pocket money), we know a song about that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTMWgOduFM

  28. D September 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Seriously, $100 000 just because? Forget it, she has no excuse.

    PAY YOUR MUSICIANS, AMANDA.

  29. Golightly September 19, 2012 at 9:43 am

    While I agree that she should pay her musicians, I also don’t agree with her being the lightening rod for the entire wrongs of the music industry. I think her being transparent about this is as effective as an act of protest in raising awareness of how wrong the whole thing is. But I refuse to scape goat one woman for that. Or one person for that matter. It’s a convenient diversion, personalizing what is a pervasive problem.
    What about the real problems like venues who NEVER EVER pay the bands that play there? What about that? At least AP is doing this as a one off so far. What about the major label who commissioned some recordings from my friend’s studio and NEVER EVER PAID THEM in spite of loads of invoices and chasing them? And what about my friend’s band who signed to America’s largest independent label and whose contract meant nothing, except that no other label could sign them? They weren’t paid a penny. Not even for touring? What about all the illegal downloads robbing musicians of their wages?
    And we’re gonna ignore that and penalize AP for some honesty about the state of the industry. We’re gonna get angry at HER? It’s 2012. Even if she has a rich husband, if she hasn’t enough income to pay people, no one ought to be suggesting she begs her husband to pay these musicians out of his pocket as that’s just plain wrong. That fact has muddied the waters of this whole debate. Her music is a BUSINESS at the end of the day (when we’re discussing it in terms of money anyway) so if the music is not making enough money to cover the costs of musicians, then that’s how it is.
    I recently applied to take part in a concert playing guitar with about 99 other guitarists in a live guitar symphony of sorts. I’m pretty sure it was going to be paid tickets at the door, and we were hired as volunteers. I got accepted then had to turn it down due to the date. The point is this- I opted to do that as an unpaid volunteer because it’s a life experience and a rare one at that. Playing a gig with AP would probably be the same to some people. Of value in its own right far beyond the value of any money.
    I think musicians shouldn’t play for free, but I think there are exceptions… and I also believe that money as a system is just as messed up as capitalist systems like the music industry right now. So I think there are many ways to look at this.
    If I was one of the musicians involved, I’d talk to AP personally and ask her if she would consider playing one of my shows in return. She might say yes, she’d probably say know… but at the end of the day AP owing you a favour is not necessarily a bad thing.

  30. D September 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Why get angry at her? Simple. Because we’ve known about unethical venues for years, and bands know to avoid them and look out for each other. The solidarity between artists may not break crappy venues, but they can at the very least help out other artists.

    This, on the other hand, is an artist doing the exact same thing to other artists. And not just any artist, but the artist who is supposed to be leading the way to a new business model based on touring and merchandise. If management screws you over, that’s one thing. If your peer screws you over, that’s much worse.

    “:
    I recently applied to take part in a concert playing guitar with about 99 other guitarists in a live guitar symphony of sorts. I’m pretty sure it was going to be paid tickets at the door, and we were hired as volunteers. I got accepted then had to turn it down due to the date. The point is this- I opted to do that as an unpaid volunteer because it’s a life experience and a rare one at that. Playing a gig with AP would probably be the same to some people. Of value in its own right far beyond the value of any money.”

    My guess is that was a one-time only event. No, the volunteers don’t have to go on tour with Palmer, but it’s nonetheless setting a really bad precedent for less scrupulous acts who might not even give the beer and hugs.

    As well, again: one of the “musicians” who defended this was a professional scientist who played with other well-paid professionals in other fields. “It’s giving guys like me a chance.” Well, that’s just lovely. Meanwhile, musicians who do it because it’s in their very marrow starve.

    Here’s a confession: I have never heard a note of her music. I’ve never seen her wacky videos (except for a bit of Evelyn Evelyn which I stopped watching because it was just too sleazy) I know about her antics, but only second-hand. This has nothing to do with my personal feelings about her.

    If Tom Waits or Prince pulled this, I would be heartbroken. I am, actually, a little heartbroken that Neil is defending her, but I’ll get over that.

  31. D September 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Oh, and here’s how businesses run: if you don’t make enough money to cover the musicians, you don’t get those musicians.

    She would HAVE that money if she managed it properly (I haven’t checked the budget, did she REALLY keep $100,000 for herself?), but to screw your fellow musicans and then play it up as a superfun treat for the fans is really, really poor.

    I’ve been watching Arrested Development (all DVDs paid for, of course) a lot lately, and there are a lot of jokes about the Bluth family using the company as their personal piggy bank. Palmer doesn’t have a publicly traded company so she doesn’t have to hold to that, but, jeez, she could free up that $100,000 with no problem.

  32. Nick September 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Fuck Amanda Palmer – not for exploiting sessions musicians, but for making that godawful cover of Polly. I will see you in hell.

  33. Everett True September 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    So, of course, there’s this.

    what we’re doing about the crowdsourced musicians. also: we charted at motherfucking #10.

  34. Gerry September 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    It must have been Steve Albini’s idiot remark. He is so casually scathing.

  35. D September 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    “and they say Steve Albini’s heart grew three sizes that day.”

  36. Princess Stomper September 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    She’s (at last) done the right thing, nothing more, nothing less. Good on her.

  37. Sid September 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    music survived home taping, it survived file sharing, it will survive this too

  38. D September 21, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Music may survive , but it out be nice if musicians survive, too.

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