Amanda Palmer will pay volunteer musicians who play her gigs

In an update to Xeni's post yesterday about Amanda Fucking Palmer asking her musician-fans to play on stage during her tour. Palmer has written a long, thoughtful note about the non-monetary ways in which musicians compensate one another, replied to critics, reshuffled her project budget and freed money to pay the musicians who came out to her gigs.

for better or for worse, this whole kerfuffle has meant i’ve spent the past week thinking hard about this, listening to what everyone was saying and discussing. i hear you. i see your points. me and my band have discussed it at length. and we have decided we should pay all of our guest musicians. we have the power to do it, and we’re going to do it. (in fact, we started doing it three shows ago.)

my management team tweaked and reconfigured financials, pulling money from this and that other budget (mostly video) and moving it to the tour budget. 
all of the money we took out of those budgets is going to the crowd-sourced musicians fund. we are going to pay the volunteer musicians every night. even though they volunteered their time for beer, hugs, merch, free tickets, and love: we’ll now also hand them cash.

i hope this does two things: i hope it makes the volunteers surprised and happy (they’ll be getting some dough they had no idea was coming) and i also hope it makes our family circle feel good about speaking out.

when we handed the musicians their surprise cash backstage in new orleans the other last night, they laughed like mad and said “after ALL THAT, you’re going PAY US??!!”

Palmer also includes the welcome news that her single Theatre is Evil is #10 on the Billboard chart.

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


      1. It’s interesting how minimum wage laws interact with paying volunteers. I’m involved in an organisation that cannot pay me any amount (as a nice gesture for example) because then it begins to look like work which means they’re required to give me minimum wage. Another case of unintended consequences.

    1. You can be a paid volunteer or an unpaid volunteer. A soldier can volunteer for a mission and still get a paycheck.

    2.  I’m not sure how it works in the US of Eh, but in Canada, volunteer firemen are paid if/when they show up at a fire.

  1. Wow how nice of her to reshuffle her budget to pay people who work for her.  This makes the whole affair even worse in my eyes, now she’s admitting she was just being cheep and greedy all along.

      1. When opinion seems 90% against you, it isn’t a miracle that you “listen to (your) critics and change (your) mind.”She talks about “crowd sourcing” food for her tour rather than paying a caterer. Some call her brand of crowd sourcing mooching.  I have friends who were in bands who would save and work extra jobs to afford to “tour” to support their 1000 disc pressing of their only ever single release. If AFP can’t afford to tour after a $1.2m Kickstarter and actually pay her way, she’s doing it wrong. She’s an entitled mooch who thinks she is still a poor street busker.

        1. 90%? Give me a break. There has been criticism, and it is valid criticism. But it isn’t nearly 90%. It is probably 40% that says pay the volunteers and 60% that says volunteers don’t need to be paid.

          And read the previous article that was linked. Raising money through Kickstarter doesn’t mean that you own her.

          1. Go take a break. If you are going to the store , get me a Twix. Make it quick, everyone else wants a break too. Go look at the original thread on AFP’s own site that caused the kerfuffle. I read about 3/4ths of the posts. The pro-pays were calm and well reasoned and the antis were pretty shrill and hysterical. The pro-pay posts were getting massive thumbs ups and the anti-pays were getting mostly thumbs down. I think that says where the support lies. She explicitly raised cash through Kickstarter to in part finance the tour, so what’s this about owning anyone. She’s a mooch.

        2. You know, she *was* a busker for over half her life. For 8 years she played a human statue in and around Boston, and for a while she was a stripper. She gives money to buskers religiously. Eventually, she got a record label, which she left because they weren’t allowing her to interact enough with her fans. She produced her previous album out of her own pocket, and in fact did much of the work on this one on a large loan, which she paid back.  Also, her fans are the ones who volunteer – if I could play an instrument, I would DIE for the chance to play with my favorite musician(s). She’s always been pro-fan, which is why she has made such a point of bringing volunteer musicians in. Crowdsourcing food also means she gets to meet more of her fans and talk to them before a show. She went WAY out of her way to make everything in her Kickstarter as personalized as possible, and as rewarding as possible for the backers, which is where a lot of the budget went.
          And may I say her album is absofuckinglutely amazing. Would that you were brave enough to invite musicians onto your stage spontaneously if you were now a big name in rock. She’s not afraid to get things wrong.

          1. Mebbe she’d like to crowdsource some diesel fuel for the tour bus, or crowdsource some costumes, or studio time, or how ’bout crowdsourcing airline tickets to go see her nana or crowdsourcing a dental cleaning. I’m sure she could get “volunteers”. And if you are not an AFP fan mebbe she could trade a little face time with her hubby. She’s a mooch. She got used to getting stuff for free coz folks love her and she is a struggling artist. Well, she has ceased to struggle. She’s got cash from Kickstarter. She’s got income from record sales, ticket sales and merch. She should pay people. If she wants to hang out with her fans, fine.  But pay people what they are worth. And don’t mooch.

          2. What a reasoned, not at all fanatical response!

            Quick question: when she “gives money to buskers religiously”, does she do so dressed as any particular deity or figure?

          3. Yeah, but she’s NOT a poor busker anymore, she’s a well-known and adored artist with a well-known and even more adored husband, and plenty of friends among people who can and want to help her keep making music, and so it seems a little off that with all that she STILL can’t make it work right.

            Don’t get me wrong, I know fame doesn’t necessarily equal moolah, but it did in her case. She wouldn’t have gotten a million dollars on her kickstarter if her name wasn’t Amanda F. Palmer.

            If she still needs to crowdsource after that, she’s overspending somewhere. If, on the other hand, she just thinks it’s okay to keep on crowdsourcing when she doesn’t really need to anymore, then that’s getting close to douchebag territory. Even though kickstarter isn’t a zero-sum game, it would be nice for the big, established fish to get out of the pool and let the small aspiring fry get some attention.

    1.  I’m going to give her some benefit of the doubt and say that she probably asked a few people around her who likely said something along the lines of “Of course people would play for you for free” while thinking “…as long as my fee isn’t impacted.”

    2. This is the sad thing about criticism.  Was the criticism because you thought it was incorrect behavior that you wished would change, or was the criticism because you just want to portray Amanda Palmer as a “bad person” to forever reside in the purgatory of your scorn?  As best I can tell, once she decided to give this volunteer musician thing a shot, she was eternally damned in your eyes.  Not that she should necessarily care what you think, but is there anything she could have done after giving the volunteer musician thing a shot that would have “redeemed” her in your eyes?

      1. Benjamin, I really like the way you expressed this sentiment. There’s an enormous amount of hostility against Amanda, for reasons I don’t understand. She raised $1.2m. 10% went to Kickstarter credit card fees. 15% went to her management company (which pays a bunch of people to do things). Tons went to booking venues. Tons went to paying people. Tons went to costs. She turned all this money into things her audience at shows and fans of her music get in downloads and CD and rewards. I suspect her “take” on an hourly basis is minimum wage.

        (She told me in an interview that the gravy comes from CD sales and downloads after the Kickstarter, and ticket sales behind the current tour; everything except venues and salaries is paid for at that point.)

        But the fact she raised so much money to do such ambitious work and pay legions of people—every venue she hires, has tons of people, her own personal workers, her musicians, and on and on—enrages people! They seized on this issue that in some cases volunteers did it for love and beer and hugs (and in others she paid or they did barter) as making the entire project now the appropriate target of scorn.

        The people who think she got away with something by raising $1.2m think she pocketed most of it.

        1. Glenn;
          Part of my hostility toward AFP is that she’s perpetuating the idea that it’s OK to ask artists to “work for spec” — that is, do work for which there will be no pay other than “we might compensate you in exposure, free beer, etc”. In other words, “compensation” that won’t pay the rent or necessarily become something more materially compensating. There’s a myth that just because some fat cat gave you exposure, you’ll be able to ride on those coat-tails into your own superstardom. Restaurants and bars in New York and LA are both chock-full of examples of those broken dreams.
          Until people start disabusing themselves that artists are meant to starve, artists will continue to starve while others feast. AFP is perpetuating this myth to her own enrichment, both materially and reputationally. It’s impossible to argue that she’s operating at the same level as when she was busking in Harvard Square, which makes her behaviour all the more upsetting to watch — the power balance is tipped unmistakably in her favour where it comes to paying her artists. Obviously, the money was there all along, so why wasn’t she paying her performers?
          Boing Boing fairly routinely excoriates those people in the establishment whose hands grip the levers of power — publishers, the recording industry, the film industry, etc — that line their own wallets at the expense of the artists. All AFP is getting is a taste of what the Hollywood fat cats have gotten for years, and fairly so.

          1. “Boing Boing fairly routinely excoriates those people in the establishment whose hands grip the levers of power”: Amanda ain’t one of them.

            “she’s perpetuating the idea that it’s OK to ask artists to “work for spec””: No, that’s when you work and hope to get money later. There wasn’t even any exposure here, because the musicians weren’t on a bill (although I’m sure she called them out).

            You’re associating her raising money for a budget in a large amount with the notion that she is a lever puller. People in power, like the labels or even an executive at one company, can make and break careers, and may ask for all kinds of crap for free and lie to artists and so forth.

            Amanda at $1.2m isn’t fundamentally different than when she’s busking in attitude. Big tent. Invite everyone in.

            She didn’t call artists and say, play for free. She said, does anyone want to come out and play? Those who loved the idea, did. Now they’ll be paid.

          2. I’m sympathetic to your point, but saying she isn’t fundamentally different at 1.2 “in attitude” doesn’t matter. She IS fundamentally different in LOGISTICS, and that’s what matters. 

            I’m a filmmaker. When I make a movie at a tiny no-budget indie scale, It’s totally acceptable for me to ask people to work on my movie without paying them. I understand I won’t be getting anyone with real experience, just volunteers with a lot of heart and love, but yeah.

            The MOMENT I get a 1.2 million dollar budget for a film, all that volunteer heart and love goes out the window. Those people who once worked for free should be paid to work on this new project. That’s STANDARD. In fact, it’s codified in union rules, which allow low budget films to hire people below union scale but the union scale kicks in once you reach a certain budget. Why should musicians be any different?

            I’m sure she meant well, but the truth is her attitude SHOULD have changed once she hit it big. She wasn’t a busker anymore and she shouldn’t have expected the same rules to apply. Her attitude should have been “now I finally have the money to pay the people who work for me,” not “I’ll just keep asking people to work for free because when I was a struggling busker that’s what I did.” Part of what makes volunteering for struggling artists okay is that when that artist makes it big (and 1.2 million on KS and a top 10 album on Billboard certainly qualifies) they start paying what they know they ought to have been paying back in the day.

            I don’t go as far as some people and say that she did it intentionally or that she doesn’t understand something or other, but you can’t say that the same rules apply when you have seven figures to spend on your project. ANYWHERE ELSE if you have a million bucks to spend on something you are expected (and in many cases obligated) to pay the people who work for you, even if it’s a pittance. And I think what rankles some people is that in her statement she didn’t say “you know what, you’re right, I should have been paying these people, and now I will.” She doesn’t recognize that she made a mistake. She just announces that now she’s decided to pay them, as if the only reason they got paid was due to her generosity.

  2. There’s tension between the persona she’s trying to portray and the minimizing and marginalizing language she uses to describe this state of affairs.

  3. If you must allocate blame, I suggest you direct it to the musicians who will perform for free or at a lower rate than scale.

    They are known as “SCABS” in some circles.

    Last I checked though, it’s still a free country and as long as there was no deception or coercion I say live and let live.

    Peace out!

    1. You can’t lie and say you only have X dollars and not pay people then get called on it and go hey look I’ll take some from this giant pile of cash I had sitting here oops sorry I didn’t realize you were supposed to pay people who work for you.

      Sorry this is not a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.  

      1. Yes you can. It is called making a budget. Have you ever saved to buy something? You move the money around as needed. For example, she says she has taken money out of video production and moved it to the tour. That makes sense.

        Seriously, how could you come to the conclusion that she is a liar from that?

        1. Yes and when you employ people the first line on the budget is payroll.  It’s actually the law for most business’s that employees get paid first no mater what.  

          Your arguments are getting really silly and pedantic.

          1. I’m not going to go into the volunteers vs. employees or contractors argument since it is now moot. I don’t care anymore.

            I am only trying to point out that she isn’t a liar and that the outrage is unnecessary. For that I get attacked as being silly and pedantic. But I guess I’m lucky you didn’t also call me a liar.

          2. There usually is not a law that says volunteers get paid first – because they’ve already offered to work for free, or for whatever non-monetary perks you’ve offered.

            AFP put out a call: please help us make this tour better and leave money over to make awesome videos (etc.) by willingly playing for free.

            Many musicians accepted the request.

            She never claimed she didn’t have any money, the musicians who accepted her request were not being duped.  She was not lying.

            The only reason your own arguments aren’t silly and pedantic is that pedantry typically requires basic correctness.

          3. This is so silly.

            3 days ago in the NYT “I don’t have the money to  pay the 35K”

            Yesterday “oops I guess I can just take from this giant pile of money I had sitting here now that everyone is mad at me”

            She LIED end of story.

          4.  The issue is that she is *making a profit* from this.  She isn’t touring around and giving free shows.

          5. Your arguments are getting really silly and pedantic.

            And you’re carrying on. Do you have anything new to add?

          6. “And you’re carrying on. Do you have anything new to add?”

            Like maybe ….. I hate her! I hate her music! I hate her success! I hate HER!

          7. “when you employ people the first line on the budget is payroll.  It’s actually the law for most business’s”

            They are not employees of her business.

      2. Oh come on, they didn’t have a “pile of cash sitting around” – they cut expenditures from other budgets, to increase their tour budget.  That means, they’re not going to produce quite as much with the money they raised as they otherwise would, by declining to take advantage of free labour that was volunteered in response to their request for volunteers.

        That decision was AFP’s and her band’s to make.  We can have opinions on that decision, but they’re not gonna be worth much more than the electrons they’re printed on.

        Now, what do you want to bet Internet loudmouths are now going to be whinging about how her videos aren’t up to the usual high standard, or she didn’t make videos of enough songs off the album, since that budget was the main one cut  to increase the tour budget?

        1. Internet videos don’t have mortgages and stomachs to fill.

          You pay your employees first and you don’t crying to the press saying you don’t have the money when you in fact do have the money for something as unnecessary as a video.

          This lets blindly defend AFP thing is getting intensely silly.

          1. You said:

            … now she’s admitting she was just being cheep and greedy all along.

            You can’t lie and say ….

            … when you in fact have a giant pile of money you could be paying them from is lying.

            This lets blindly defend AFP thing is getting intensely silly.

            Yes, it is silly that people are “blindly” defending AFP from the “obviously not intensely silly” attacks that you make.

          2. Do you not think that perhaps sometimes volunteers are not doing it for money? Why does it follow that because an organisation offers opportunities to volunteers they then must be exploiting them?

            I volunteer, and if they had to pay me, they couldn’t afford me. Fortunately, I do it because I get much more from it than cash.

          3. Yeah but at the point that her budget is as big as it is, even with all the expense, she should have at least OFFERED to pay you, an understanding that yes, at this level of funding we are now capable of paying everyone who plays for us. If you wanted to then volunteer or reduce your rate, go nuts, but she should have at least offered a fee that was commensurate with her budget. “Free” is not commensurate with a 1.2 million dollar budget, even if part of it needs to pay for video.

            As a sound editor, if I know someone has a 1.2 million dollar budget, I expect to be paid at least 1K for my work on the project. AT LEAST. If I know the budget is 20K, that calculus changes. But the existence of that kind of money NECESSITATES that she pay her musicians before deciding how much to spend on video or whatever.

  4. Seems to me the problem from the beginning was that she didn’t “budget” for extra talent in the first place knowing full well that she would need extra talent.

    Now, who’s to blame for adding that line item to the budget?

  5. She was trying something new and some of it wasn’t very well thought out.  Given the clusterfuck that is the music industry, maybe we should make our criticism a little friendlier when somebody is exploring a new way to do things.

    1. I usually never ascribe this motive, but I swear that there is putrid jealousy of her money raising coupled with then willful self eye gouging of the expense of what she has done with the cash, despite her accounting of it. (Gawker’s half-assed and prima facie inaccurate audit was ridiculous.)

      Legions seemed to have been waiting for something to seize on. “There! There! She’s got $1.2m in her pocket and she’s torturing poor artists! Who are incredibly happy with volunteering and love her!”

      1. What does being happy have to do with it?

        If FoxConn workers are happy to get paid better than they would back in their villages, does that mean they aren’t being taken advantage of?

        If the Rolling Stones tours with a symphony orchestra, but instead of having a bunch of western symphony musicians onstage getting paid western symphony musican wages they have a bunch of Bangladeshi* symphony musicians playing “live” via telepresence and getting paid crap by western standards, but so awesomely by Bangladeshi standards that they are happy — is that okay?

        *substitute any low-wage high-bandwidth country. If such country exists.

        Just ’cause you’re happy doesn’t mean you’re not sitting in a cave staring at the shadows. It’s not germane to the conversation.

        [Edit: I only looked at your profile after writing the above. Well, you’d certainly know if I am near or way far off base with the FoxConn comparison. Of all the comments in all the blogs of the world… ]

      2. The fact that the volunteers were happy to play with her doesn’t mean she didn’t have to at least offer to pay them. Especially in the entertainment industry, people work for free when they shouldn’t because they don’t know any better. It’s rife with abuse because there’s always someone next in line who will do it a little bit cheaper. 

        Amanda should know better. As a successful artist herself, she should be modeling the behavior she wants to see in the biz, setting an example that yes, when you have the money to do so, you should be paying the musicians. The volunteer musicians who are surprised at receiving money now know what a professional music transaction ought to look like. That’s a good thing.

        1. And before you ascribe a motive to me of jealousy or whatever, I kicked in money for her album! I’m one of her investors. I believe in her vision and I want her to succeed. But if this is the future of music, it needs to be a future where ALL musicians have a piece of the success when they contribute to it.

      3. Oh I hate the “Haterz gonna Hate reasoning” It seems like anytime someone registers a complaint it is jealousy or being a hater. Listen to the criticism take it or leave it but just don’t blow it off with amateur psychology.

  6. Remember when Palmer wrote this blog post – – about how she wasn’t going to be shamed for needing money in order to perform art?
    About how “artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art”?
    About how “artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks,” and we should, “please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money. dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it”?
    Telling us “it’s about empowerment and it’s about SIMPLICITY: fan loves art, artist needs money, fan gives artist money, artist says thank you”?
    Complaining that “if you think i’m going to pass up a chance to put my hat back down in front of the collected audience on my virtual sidewalk and ask them to give their hard-earned money directly to me instead of to roadrunner records, warner music group, ticketmaster, and everyone else out there who’s been shamelessly raping both fan and artist for years, you’re crazy”?

    Yeah, I guess that only applies to giving her money.

    Also: remember when boingboing posted this and this earlier this year? Why is it suddenly awesome when Palmer does it?

    Also also: I don’t get the love for her at all. She thinks it’s “ironic” to donate to the KKK. She complained that feminists with disabilities critiqueing Evelyn Evelyn and the creepy backstory to the project had “crucified” her. Et cetera I just do not understand the adoration and obsession at all.

    1. She didn’t ask people to tour with her for free. She didn’t call individual musicians and say perform for free. She provided an opportunity that some people willingly turned up for in places where her tour budget didn’t extend.

      You forget that people didn’t have to do this. There was no penalty for not simply appearing with a horn. People did this because it was fun and they wanted to.

      That’s a far cry from abusing an artist. I’m a writer, and I sometimes work for free for friends, peers, and those I respect, so long as I don’t think I’m being taken advantage of. One gets taken advantage of when either you are lied to or being pressured in a power relationship in which you have something to lose.

      Were I a musician and I saw AFP was asking for volunteers, I’d have had my horn in my hand and be running to the theatre unless I had a paying gig.

      1. And? If she actually believes artists deserve money for their work and shouldn’t be ashamed to demand it and that it’s “rape” [major eyeroll at that] to not pay artists their fair share, she should put her money where her mouth is and follow through with what she demanded of her fans.

        1. You’re conflating different things she said to get angry at her about this.

          People in power, like record labels who have you under contract, making or even asking you to do stuff for free is different than putting out a call to the universe, “hey, come play with me.” Even if she has the money.

          There’s a weird sense of ownership and betrayal here. Also, she didn’t ask for volunteers everywhere. She hired musicians in markets they knew they needed them; did barter with others; asked for volunteers in other places.

          Now she’s going to pay people by reducing her video production budget, which would have gone nearly entirely to pay other people (more of their hours).

          1. I’m pointing out that she wrote a diatribe about paying artists and then didn’t plan on doing so. I’m not angry at her, I just think she’s being hypocritical (as is boingboing). I have no sense of ownership or betrayal. I didn’t pay her anything and I don’t listen to her music. I was never a fan in that I never cared enough about her to be one. I hadn’t even heard about her since Evelyn Evelyn. You’re projecting your personal feelings about her onto me, I’m not the one trying to use one interview with her to act like I know her every thought.

          2. “I’m not the one trying to use one interview with her to act like I know her every thought.”

            I cited one particular element that she mentioned in an interview (where the profit comes after this stage is over). I’m a reporter. I interview people. I’m not pretending to be her best friend.

          3.  She hired musicians in markets where she was going to get fucked by effective musician union locals if she didn’t, is what I’d wager.

        2.  Ah, but she “demanded” nothing of her fans and she had no power over them to enforce such a demand were it real. Hence, they did not feel slighted and lined up anyhow. And now that she’s listened to the “demands” on the Internet audience, she’s still being castigated. For the record, I do not “adore” her or “obsess” over her. I just like her music.

          1. A demand has nothing to do with power to enforce it. Toddlers demand candy all the time.

            But sure, telling people to accept the “new system” and pay artists no matter how rich they are because “an honorable public” will “put their money where their mouth is” and linking to all the places where people can donate money to her isn’t asking anything at all! And it’s not like after talking all that talk about the evil artist-“raping” music industry people might possibly think that she would use their money to compensate the artists making the music, i.e. what they’re supposed to be doing according to her.

          2. I don’t think I’m the angry one here; I love what Amanda has done, and I don’t see her particular approach here (both earlier and in responding to discussion by changing her budget) to be inconsistent with an independent artist who has no coercive power in this case.

      2.  > She didn’t call individual musicians and say perform for free.

        Actually, if you read the previous Boing Boing thread on this topic, a working musician comments that his quartet was contacted and asked to work for free.

        The real counter to your argument is that there is always someone willing to undercut a working professional, but the quality of the resulting work usually suffers, and the practice lessens the value of future works.  As a poster artist, I made the mistake of offering my services for free, and from that point forward, people expected it to always be free.

    2. not to take a side here (i find them both amusing), but her “pay the artist” rant is not inconsistent with what she’s doing now. she was implicitly talking about paying the creative artist, not an accompanist.

      this is an old issue; at least as old as synthesizers, and probably goes back to player organs in ancient rome. how should the “labor” part of art be rewarded, when it can be separated from the “creative” part? face it, accompanists are nice to have, but amanda palmer is indispensable.

      1.  haha but this is the difference between a good accompanist and a bad one. A good accompanist is very creative.

  7. How’s this for unintended consequences: if she pays the artists $50 for a one-night stand, that’s going to run into thousands in a hurry.  Her accountant will probably send them all a 1099 in January, so Palmer (or PalmerCo) can deduct the expenses.

    For the ones who are professional musicians, this will be no problem.  But for the ones who work for a paycheck at some job somewhere, this might be the first 1099 they’ve ever seen.  It’s going to add a couple of pages to their tax returns.  And if they pay somebody to do their taxes, that bill is going up by at least $50.

      1. You don’t have to, but you can.  And with hundreds of them adding up, it may be worth the trouble. Then again… I don’t even know if Kickstarter money is taxable.

    1. You don’t have to report a 1099 for any single payer from whom you received under $600 in a given tax year.

  8. Or you could just throw your one of one 1099 in the trash and forget about it.  The likelihood of the IRS coming to shake you down for their cut is slim to none.

    1. They’re going after smaller and smaller prey since so many people have gone belly up and stopped paying taxes in the last half decade.

      1. Plus, I hear they’re crowd-sourcing tax-collecting. They get paid in the thrill of the shakedown/beatdown. Plus, they get to say the whole “dude, I worked for the IRS!” thing.

  9. Practically everyone—here, there & everywhere—who keeps on quoting the fact she made $1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter & implying that she’s cheap to not pay for volunteer musicians have no clue how economics in entertainment works or even how economics in general works.  And the general sense of a pig-pile forming on her for daring to be independent & successful is past belief.

    You want to know what the truth is? She is being punished for asking fans to participate for 100% no valid reason. Doing work for spec sucks, but if you do it for the right person at the right time & for the right reasons it does pay off.

    Or to be put more aptly do folks remember that episode of The Simpsons where the kids learned how much he made a year? EXACTLY!!!

    Nelson: Hey, look how much Skinner makes–$25,000 a year!
    Bart: Let’s see, he’s 40 years old, times $25 grand…whoa, he’s a millionaire!
    Children: Wow!

    1. No way man. She didn’t get funded 1.2 in order to keep her going for 40 years. She got funded 1.2 for this album and this tour. And she only asked for 100K. Fans wanted a quality tour that supported musicians and artists themselves. 

      And look, I’m not even mad about the 250K she used to wipe out her debt – upfront costs of making the album and management, etc. are no joke. But in ANY entertainment situation if 1.2million is your budget, then you better be paying the people who work for you. Even if 950K is your budget. I know she’s not drowning in money, but she’s swimming in enough of it to throw her up into the tier of having to pay her musicians, or at least expecting to have to do so.If I directed a 1.2 million dollar movie and most of it was already tied up in paying for certain things, budget items, etc. I would STILL be expected to pay my postproduction team at least a small amount. “Copy of the film, some free food, and credit” (which is the film equivalent of beer and hugs) would not be an appropriate payment for a film of that budget.

      I’m not saying she even had to pay them SCALE or something. I’m saying at least 50 bucks. It sucks that an orchestra is that expensive, but maybe she should have thought of that when planning the tour. At that budget she has a responsibility as a successful working artist to treat other artists correctly, by offering to pay them. By at least offering. By acknowledging that yes, at this level of capital the people who play music for her need to be paid for it.

      1. Do you actually think that something that grows to be 10x more popular than initially conceived that doesn’t mean it will require 10x more planning, logistics & even with the best budgeting it still might barely break even.

        Also, I have 100% no clue why anyone is complaining about this being “busking” since the music industry is 100% dead as we know it. Events like this are the future of entertainment.

        She made money? Good for her! Or would it be better to go back to the good old days where record companies pocket all the proceeds & artists complain in some zine?

        It’s all sour grapes & nonsense. She did good & people don’t like that.

        I’m not saying she even had to pay them SCALE or something. I’m saying at least 50 bucks.

        Nonsense. And if she did pay them $50 a pop then the nonsense debate would be, “Lady who made a million dollars is paying musicians $50! Unfair! Below scale!”

        Look, do some genuine work in the real world of the commerce of art & you’ll understand how incredibly disconnected your argument & outsider logic is.

    2.  have no clue how economics in entertainment works or even how economics in general works.

      Please educate us Ludwig Von Mises…..

  10. Until this is looked at in full context, hold your off the cuff judgements. Her career has been a continuing experiment / experience of art, life, money, fame, relationships, theater, love of & by fans, rejection of corporate control, risk, lessons from critics, LIFE~!
    AFP is, in many ways, a political statement; take a close look / listen from start ’till now; this is a snapshot kerfuffle.

  11. Oh wow! She got #10 on the Billboard charts? 

    You know what the other nine people on the top ten have in common? It didn’t take pressure from thousands of people for them to pay musicians that played for them.

    It’s good that pressure from fans and unions resulted in her doing exactly what she should have in the first place. But I’m not going to pat her back any more than I’ll buy Chick Fil A now that they’ve been pressured into no longer supporting hate groups. 

    1.  devils advocate.

      “It didn’t take pressure from thousands of people for them to pay musicians that played for them.”

      Im pretty sure the other ten artists only ever had to sign their contracts and didn’t have to worry about signing paychecks as-well.

  12. Ssssssso she’s needing some video help… when she’s in the Indiana area, is it okay if I volunteer for that??? Or would that be in poor taste now? Because I’d film Amanda Fucking Palmer’s music for free any day, even if the musicians were paid.

  13. arguments from both sides of this debate are valid and well thought out. I fall for the ‘she should have paid them anyway’ because its the principle of the thing, music can be free but the artists and performers should also get money when they need it.

    im not trying to go down the middle ground here: she should have offered to pay from the start, on principal. The volunteers of course they have the option not to accept the payment. I hope that happens a bit.

  14. See, Amanda Palmer, was that so hard? It’s good to see her make this simple response to the criticism.

    To the people bringing the fact that she used to busk into this: it isn’t really relevant in the least. Playing music in public, where people can’t choose whether to hear you or not, is very different from playing in a venue that requires tickets. Also, buskers expect to get paid, too (especially in Europe, where she did a lot of busking). People are really just mentioning her past as a busker to remind everyone she was once not as incredibly successful as she currently is. Which is a really stupid argument since, as Amanda Palmer mentions in this very same post, the album just got on the Billboard Top Ten.

  15. Her blog post didn’t read like an apology, it read like she was forced to do it.  She kept repeating how everyone was so thrilled to volunteer, etc. as thought she was trying to maintain her argument.

    It’s very simple – if you are making a profit, the people who help you make that profit deserve compensation.  End of story.

  16. Interesting to compare this to another musician who also uses local volunteer players, and who has never attracted any ire for it.  Damo Suzuki – ex-singer of legendary krautrockers Can – now travels the world on a ‘never-ending tour’. He has no band – musicians pre-arrange to play with him in their town when he tours down their way.  I have been part of this band of ‘sound carriers’ on four separate occasions, all unpaid, all incredible.

    It’s unimaginable that any of the musicians involved would be sore that Damo gets paid and they don’t.  Why?  Because most of them grew up on Can and to play with him is a near-spiritual experience!  I literally had a full pins-and-needles body orgasm the first time I was a sound carrier!  Also – he is the one putting in the hard tour work, criss-crossing the world – we just turn up, play our hearts out, then nip off home to bed.

    I should point out that in all other bands, touring and session work I’m involved in I’m very much adamant that I should get paid.  A singer-songwriter recently asked me to record in a studio ‘for cake and appreciation’ – I told him, in polite terms, to fuck off or give the the money, and he opted for the latter.

    The thing people are missing is that – yes sometimes being a musician is a job and you should get paid just like a plumber gets paid.  But there’s a side to it that is more than that – it’s a passion, a devotion – and you can see that in AFP’s wide-eyed excitement over what she is doing.  You have to feel sorry for those musicians that are so wrapped up in being a ‘pro’ they might as well be laying a drainage pipe every time they go off to play.

    1. Pigface also did this way back in the eighties. Audience members were encouraged to join the band on stage at every stop and play.

    2. I think this is a good point.  Indie music at times work like that. I think that music is not just viewed as a consumer product or a piece of art handed down from the hands of an expert, it’s much more about being a piece of communal property, on some level?  People involved in underground/independent music, far more often tend to view it in terms you are talking about, a passion (both on the making side and the consumption side).  Part of the problem might be that this was not just impacting “rock” musicians, but it seemed to be calling for people who work in the classical world (strings, horns) and I think maybe we are talking about two different world views about music and how it should operate in society?  Maybe not.  But even the response from people who play classical music seems varied.

      If there is a difference, it might be that Palmer has made comments about this being a business venture for her (she raised the money, and laid out her expenses etc). I don’t know.  I am glad she decided to pay them but I am not sure that the people who are still pissed off (and accusing her of not really apologizing or not being humbled enough by the response or what the hell ever) will ever be happy with this or her.  Despite the very real concerns people had about this, there are just a contingent of haters out there.  I hate to be so flippant, but I think that’s just true.  Of course, that is probably true for everyone, no matter how nice, generous, or open-minded we try to be.

    3. Damo Suzuki does not have a top 10 album, nor did he make his financials publically available to his backers, nor has he been an advocate of enthusiastically paying musicians for their work.

      And just because a musician insists on getting paid every time they put the instrument to their proverbial lips doesn’t mean they’ve lost the soul and passion. I don’t fault the volunteers who signed up to play with AFP, they’re doing what they love. I fault AFP for not at least offering to pay them, and I’m glad she’s now doing it.

    4. Can only speak to my town, but Damo Suzuki would play tiny clubs, like Empty Bottle, The Fireside Bowl etc. Palmer’s filling the Metro, House of Blues etc., has top ten song ffs.  Just not even in the same universe.

  17. I don’t really get why people are still angry about this. How can she make it up to you? Should she sell all her belongings and donate every last cent to charity? Would that be sufficient atonement? Or should she be forced to quit the music business forever and go live in a cave in Siberia, isolated for the sake of humanity? :P Perhaps a public flogging? Tar & feathers?

    The level of rage continuing even after she amended her previous stance really, really smacks of spite, not just disagreement on a matter of principle.

    1.  I think some people are truly hurt by this. They like and respect her music, what she is trying, and they felt that not paying artists was a betrayal of the principles that she upholds. I’m sure some of those people will come back around, while others will never get over it…

      But some people just don’t like her and never will.  And since at least some of those people perpetually live in high school, they will never be happy with anything she says or does, and will use every single mistake (real or imagined) against her to try and bring her down.

  18. For my part, I’m a fan, and have followed her work for…well…wow that’s longer then I though, a while. I think Amanda is human. I think she thought it’d be cool to jam with people all along the way, and I also think 1.2 million isn’t as much as people think it is these days. She heard an outcry over the volunteer thing, and cut her video budget to address it. Instead of a response that is rational, she’s still be raked over the coals. You can’t have it both ways. If your action elicits a response, in this case, her addressing what people were kvetching about, you can’t keep castigating someone, why? because eventually they’ll figure out nothing will please you, and ignore you.

    I feel it’s okay to ask people if they want to do something for free. If they say no, well then, they said no. If they say yes, it’s their decision. If my friend is who is well off asks me to help him move, and doesn’t offer me remuneration, I will, and I won’t expect to be payed, because I like him, and want to help him out. Maybe that’s a false equivelancy, but that’s how I see things.

  19. Sure would be nice if the music was better…   The emphasis on using the word “fuck” is just so puerile, too.   It was radical when Lenny Bruce did it.  It isn’t anymore…

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