If I hear ONE MORE PERSON boycott Amanda Palmer…

Just so we’re clear on current events, here’s the story: Amanda Palmer raises over one million dollars on Kickstarter to fund a massive project, announces that she’s going on the road and wants to have horns and strings in every city but is NOT going to compensate those musicians, and suddenly everyone is at her throat because WE ALL KNOW that she’s hoarding millions of dollars while other musicians are starving, and it’s just not fair.

First of all, let me say that I don’t get worked up about things very often. I really don’t. But right now, I’m angry. Angry enough to give everyone boycotting Amanda a piece of my mind.

If you are furious at Amanda’s so-called selfish behavior, please realize that you have no idea what you’re talking about. You have no idea how much it costs to make an album, let alone put together a show of the magnitude Amanda is attempting. You have no idea how little money – if ANY – will be left over by the end of the project. And you have no idea how insulting it is to her – not just as an artist, but as a phenomenal entrepreneur – that you are questioning her spending.

You may THINK you have an idea, but I’m going to venture that you don’t.

Take a trip with me back in time to one year ago, when I was beginning my own Kickstarter project. I set the goal at $20,000, even though I was quite aware that I would not be able to make the album I wanted to make without reaching at least $80,000. The support from my fans, however, was overwhelming – $104,000 – more than I was even willing to hope for. But here’s the great thing about having a public budget: everyone wants a piece. The reasonable $80,000 budget that I had put together did NOT leave room for all of the extra expenses, nor for the fact that most people charged a primo rate for their services. Not that I BLAME them, mind you. I would have done the same had I been in their shoes.

Sadly, in many people’s minds, I will always have most of that $104,000 because I probably only needed $20,000 to make the album in the first place. I mean, how much can making an album really cost?

Let me tell you how much it cost: $150,000.

I opened FOUR credit cards, just in case my $20,000 of life savings wouldn’t be enough to cover extra costs, and boy, am I glad I did! I’ve been seriously in debt for the past five months, owing money to friends, parents and the bank. And I’m not telling you this because I want your sympathy (or your financial advice)! I knew EXACTLY how crazy I was to invest the largest sum of money I’d ever made on a project that guaranteed me zero return on my investment.

That level of financial disregard can only stem from an unflinching belief in what you’re creating.

So, to all of the people who are saying that it’s “not fair” that Amanda Palmer isn’t riding through the streets in her million-dollar carriage throwing gold coins to all the “less privileged” musicians, or that it’s “not fair” that I made an album with Kickstarter funds and then signed to a label, please let me reassure you: in the end, there will be nothing left from the monies raised. If we wanted to be rich, we wouldn’t be investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in art. Hell, if we wanted to be rich, we wouldn’t be musicians.

I will admit that the phrasing of Amanda’s advertisement could have been softer. But Amanda hasn’t gotten to where she is today by sugar-coating. She’s Amanda Fucking Palmer in case you hadn’t noticed. And I’m sure that she’ll do a far better job investing her funds than I did, primarily because no one expects her to be Amanda Generous Palmer or Amanda Sorry-To-Have-Offended-You Palmer. Jack pointed out to me that if she had made a category in Kickstarter where people could GIVE $400 to be a part of the show, everyone would have considered that incredibly generous of her. He is completely right: it’s all about presentation.

So in conclusion, whether or not you agree with Amanda’s tactics, you are not shareholders in her Kickstarter project. When you gave her your money, you decided to trust her to invest it wisely. So keep trusting her and keep helping her. She has a plan. A completely insane plan to spend one million dollars on her art. If that’s not generous, I don’t know what is.

143 thoughts on “If I hear ONE MORE PERSON boycott Amanda Palmer…

  1. Nataly,

    so what’s the best way to help you retire your debt? As a minor kickstarter backer, be pretty easy to pitch in a few more $s..

    d.

  2. You may recall my post of last week where I suggested she cut from the video budget in order to pay the side musicians.

    And, voila:

    >>
    Ms. Palmer, who raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter for her new album, “Theater is Evil,” said her managers “tweaked and reconfigured financials, pulling money from this and that other budget (mostly video)” to pay the invited musicians — including those who have already performed.
    >>

    :-)

    Seriously, I am impressed that Ms. Palmer took action on this. It was the right thing to do, and she did it.

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/in-switch-kickstarter-darling-amanda-palmer-will-now-pay-volunteer-musicians/

    • In my 33 years in radio, I watched as more than a few artists either went broke, or stayed in hock to a record label for years, trying to get that big hit record out to you. Methinks Nataly and Jack knew that too well; that’s why they’ve been independents this long, and Nat’s correct on the costs of musicians, producers, engineers, other staff, making the physical product and promotion. Even though the business has radically changed over the past decade and a half, much of that has not. I hope it never gets to the point where there are no labels to release music, but I can also remember when 50 or more would send (gasp!) 45′s to me every week, hoping I’d play a few of them. Nonesuch was always the quirky sister label to Elektra and Asylum, but they also had a good reputation; Nataly should be OK there.

  3. Pingback: Amanda Palmer Responds to Uproar, to Pay Musicians | Under the Gun Review

  4. Sometimes, I feel like people are sitting on a cloud thinking they know everything but in fact they dont have a dam clue. Just like most poeple wont argue with their mechanic. If its the pump that is broken then change it. But, with music, everybody think they know how it works but those who ,really know have their feet on the groung with wise one: people who knows they know nothing or knows to liltle to talk. The rest, on their cloud, dont have a clue what their talking about. They dont know that fater computer and internet has change the way music will be done in the futur just like apps has change the game industrie. Why? Because they dont need editor or publisher too sell game on iOS or Android. And some musician are gonna feel the same way because today its possible to do it their way and not the record compagnie way. Contract can be has long as 50 pages with many clause and condition that some artist found the need to get rid of it. Just like AFP did by asking fan to help her fund the album.

    Was she asking for to much? Well… a few years earlier i would had kept my mouth shut, since, I learn alot like i thought that misician/group/signer where making most of their money with concert/shows well i was wrong its a myth. I won get into details because i don’t know them all. but what i can say is: when I found,a link to an artcle on how to make money by selling music on Itune music store, I was literally blown away with the number and how much artist where receiving after everybody took their share. Artiste need every penny , cent they can get to make a living.Everybody agree with that but they copy song or CD from friend, familly or the college radio, they are/were working for, on their MP3 player. To them they are not stealing or pirating music. Why? Because, pirating music = illégal download from internet and not the copy from someone who legaly paid for the music. As I said Musician need every cent to keep making music and if this include asking fan for 1M$ I dont see nothing wrong about that.

    I also learn that alots of musican can make you believe they are rich but in fact their not. they probably make less money then average people will and without a second job they would be in debt. Because their so many thing to pay (car, rent/house, mobile phone, food, equipements, kids,…). Life is costly and musician are expert on finding way to reduce the budget because they knows that their music style isn’t as popular as they would like it to be but they would never change it. They are aware of all the hidden cost that we don’t know about. Thats why they ask for 200K for production, 300K for distribution/promo , … Musician also knows that some people are willing to pay to help musician make more music and thats good because we all need music but most of all we need music that is as diversify as we are to other humain or it will end up like some radio station the same old thing in kinda loop

  5. Pingback: In response to the response to Amanda Palmer « TheCrowFromBelow

  6. Why didn’t she ask the studio, producers, or engineers to record this album for “exposure and beer?”

    ps. If you spent $150,000 (let alone a million) on a record, you got robbed. Go buy a house or save some starving kid and if you just NEED to make your amazing record, find a cheaper rate. In the end, if it’s good BEFORE it hits the mic, it should sound good by simply hitting “record”. If you need to polish your turd to the tune of $150,000, man, find a new turd polisher.

    • As a guy who has only a few guitars, a bass, laptop and a Blue Snowball, I vaguely sympathize with you, but c’mon. The point (unless I’ve missed it) for Nataly’s Kickstarter was to make something she couldn’t otherwise make. That’s like saying “why spend $150,000 on a car when a Camry will get you from point A to point B?” Yes, it will. But it won’t give you Porsche performance.

      For Ms. Palmer, if she had already allocated her funds, what is the harm in asking for volunteers? No one is forcing anyone to do a damn thing.

      [I apologize ahead of time for comparing your music to a Camry, Ms. Dawn. It's at least a nice Volkswagen.]

  7. I’d like to hear the sound of two bricks being smashed together. Thank you. My brain hurts.

  8. Once again, she is not asking for professionals. She is asking for FANS who happen to be able to play an instrument well enough to join her on stage for A COUPLE OF SONGS, not an entire show. If you don’t like it, then guess what? You don’t have to do it! See how that works?

  9. “I was never her fan”

    Then maybe you shouldn’t be commenting on an artist and fan base you clearly know nothing about.

    “But I do know that if any of my friends/colleagues choose to do her show for free then they will be getting a right bollocking from the music community.”

    Then I feel very sorry for your friends/colleagues, as they should be able to do whatever they feel is right for them without being harassed for it. As a musician myself, I don’t want anybody telling me who I should or shouldn’t work for, or for how much. That should be my decision and my decision only.

  10. Except she’s not just asking fans to play on stage… she wants them to audition, rehearse and show up for the gig.

    • And if they want to do that, then what is the problem? Why should you get to dictate what people do or don’t do with their lives?

      • Because it affects other musicians. The precedent is set that an act can plead poverty and not pay people fairly. It’s why ford can’t bring in starving undocumented workers to build cars when union workers are being laid off.

        • Ford doesn’t have the community power to do that, they only have 1/4 of the Twitter followers of Amanda.

          • Thoroughly missing the point…

            The fact is that if Ford did that, they would be fined heavily, and some execs might even go to jail.

            In many jurisdictions, an unpaid internship is illegal if it a) displaces regular employees, b) doesn’t provide training and c) the employer gets any monetary gain from the use of the unpaid interns.

            I’m not a lawyer, but I think this use of “volunteers” could be breaking at least c), if not the others.

  11. Did you ask fans to send in audition tapes, then have them hold rehearsals? Did you, say, pay other people to perform those dances on a more “important stage”

    It’s wrong when you’re paying some people and not others for the SAME WORK, and when you’re getting paid for that gig.

    She’s asking for a certain level of talent and profesionalism, and yet she won’t pay.

    • She didn’t ask for an audition tape, she asked for a link or resume just for some proof that they can actually play their instrument reasonably well. And this is verbatim from her blog: “you’d need to show up for a quickie rehearsal (the parts are pretty simple)” Doesn’t sound like a big deal to me. The musicians in New York were seasoned professionals — not amateur fans — who she knew would do the job well, and who knows what they were actually paid. With amateurs, she is taking a huge risk every night, and for whatever reason — maybe because of higher ticket prices — she didn’t want to do that in New York. That was her choice, just like it’s any musician’s choice whether they want to do the gig or not.

      • But it’s screwing over people who could have used that gig, and making it easier for future acts to lowball musicians.

        And if “the parts are pretty simple,” there goes the argument that this will provide any kind of meaningful exposure.

  12. It’s just a few freaking songs for one night, not an entire tour, or even an entire show. I think that so many people are completely missing the point here and blowing this way out of proportion. If artists are rigid about always getting paid for every single second of their time, they will miss out on some truly amazing life experiences. Sometimes it’s about the passion for the art and not always the cold, hard cash. Sometimes the “payment” is fun, memories, good times, meeting new people, and hanging out with an artist who has brought you some joy. When you get to the end of your life, the most important things will be the experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve met, not how much money you’ve made. I feel very sorry for anybody who doesn’t get this.

  13. Thanks, Nataly. I agree with everything you’ve said here, and I would like to add: I don’t think her fans are necessarily viewing this as work or an opportunity for exposure. I think they view it as fun, entertainment, a party. All she asked is for some “professional-ish” (read: high-level amateur) musicians to join her on musical backup for a few songs, in exchange for a free ticket to her show, maybe a t-shirt, and some quality time with one of their favorite artists. I would say that’s a pretty good value for a hardcore fan. For god’s sake, she isn’t asking for their first-born children. People really need to get a grip and put this whole thing in perspective. I understand that professional musicians need to make a living, but she is not asking for professionals; she is asking for FANS who would otherwise never get the chance to perform on stage with an artist they love.

    • Then why is she treating other artists – professional musicians – like her…

      It’s shitty business practise, and it’s shitty labor practise. It’s what I would expect from Mitt Romney, not a committed artist.

  14. Nataly,

    I think you conflate a lot of ideas here and attack something of a straw man argument. Forget about Kickstarter for a moment. (Some of the people attacking AFP are doing so on the basis that she is now wealthy off the ‘donations’ of her fans, but that doesn’t make any difference to the substantive point.) Now imagine that instead of AFP it’s, say, Peter Gabriel. Is it okay for ANY established artist to ask others to play free?

    AFP paid all the visual artists on her album, I presume that she pays her band. Why ‘these guys over here’ but not ‘those guys over there’? With the visual artists she was at least giving massive exposure through her album art: a definite cash value. Is there equivalent value to the professional-standard musicians that she is seeking to join her on stage? I don’t see it.

    She’s looking for volunteers, but volunteerism is not good for the music industry: if people work for free, it reduces the market value of professional musicians.

    Now AFP doing this feels worse that Peter Gabriel doing this because she employs a very collectivist rhetoric: as though everything she does is for the good of all. The line was that ‘we are the media’ not ‘AFP is the media’. Even the old-fashioned, corrupt music industry doesn’t usually pay performers with beer & hugs: is this a question of ‘meet the new boss, worse than the old boss’?

    Oh, and by the way, I backed your Kickstarter project AND hers (both at medium levels as well, not just a dollar). I’m not sure that she’s completely wrong over this, but I do know that there’s a serious point beneath the attacks on her. If an artist values their time and expertise at $0 per hour, that’s bad for them and bad for every other artist as well.

    • First off, thank you for your thoughtful reply, and for backing me on Kickstarter. I can see where you’re coming from and as a musician I also understand what it’s like to be asked to do things for free. I usually say no.

      But in this case, I feel like everything is being blown out of proportion, mainly because Amanda is NOT reaching out to a symphony orchestra for free work – she’s reaching out to her fans. And I believe that there is nothing wrong with soliciting help from fans.

      I don’t know if Amanda couldn’t work a touring orchestra into her budget or if she just preferred the thought of working with fans. It was probably a little of both. But if she is anything like me, she probably wishes that she could pay all of the musicians around her TWICE what they’re getting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like my musicians weren’t getting enough, but when you’re working with quartets or quintets or more, it adds up fast. Established musician or not, multiple string or horn players costs a considerable chunk of money. That’s why Jack and I tend to only use one violinist and one cellist when we’re recording and get multiple tracks of the same people. But when you’re playing live, nothing beats multiple string players.

      Part of why I went over budget so fast is because I was trying to pay everybody a “fair” amount for their services. Unfortunately, “fair” is determined by the amount of money you currently have, so people have no sympathy for someone like Amanda. But knowing how fast my money went, I’m sure she’s being very careful to not splurge where she doesn’t have to.

      And just so we’re clear on “old boss vs new boss”, I know some incredibly established artists who can’t get a dime from their label for touring OR recording, especially if they want to employ an orchestra. The labels just aren’t spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on most of their artists anymore, so do you really think that a label would be counseling Amanda to pay more people right now?

      I mean, there is NO LABEL that would give Amanda one million dollars for ANY project. That’s why she’s not with a label. And that’s why she has to make difficult budgeting decisions like this.

      Honestly, I don’t know any artist who treats their fans better than Amanda. And I think it was a wise decision for her to ask her fans for help rather than paying professional musicians. But that’s just me.

      • So why does she have pros at some gigs and not others?

        A better decision would be to forgo some of her share of the ticket sales to pay for the musicians.

        Is it fair? Sure. Why? Because she’s the boss now. She has to accept the risks, not pawn it off on her fans.

      • Nataly,

        Thanks for your response.

        A lot of the people attacking AFP over this are doing so for very weak reasons, and with a lot of unjustifiable heat, but it illustrates how easy it is for an artist (and especially a Kickstarter artist) to step over a line.

        I’m sure that you spent a long time working out pledges that were attractive, deliverable and which still gave you funding: the challenge being to leverage the good will of your fans without being seen to exploit them. (And I think that both you and AFP hit this about right.) But if the perception arises that there are people on Kickstarter who are looking for a free ride, that hurts everyone who comes afterwards.

        Like I said, I’m not sure that AFP is over the line with asking for free musicians, but I do know that she is close enough to it for there to be a serious debate somewhere in the middle between the two extremes of regarding her as a saint or a slaver.

        So, coming back to what you wrote originally, yes, talk of ‘boycotting’ AFP does seem absurd (and I doubt that many of the people recommending this had ever paid a cent for her music before this all blew up) but I do think that people got overexcited about this whole thing because they sensed, rightly, that there was a dangling thread there to pick at.

    • “(Some of the people attacking AFP are doing so on the basis that she is now wealthy off the ‘donations’ of her fans, but that doesn’t make any difference to the substantive point.)”

      No, it doesn’t make a difference to the point, and is also factually inaccurate as they weren’t strict donations (people pledging recieved a digital/physical product) and she isn’t wealthy (I can’t link this enough to people that assume she’s now a millionaire so can afford it http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amandapalmer/amanda-palmer-the-new-record-art-book-and-tour/posts/232020)

      “Now imagine that instead of AFP it’s, say, Peter Gabriel. Is it okay for ANY established artist to ask others to play free?”

      In principle, yes…

      In principle, I have no problem with anyone saying to anyone else “ok, I’m inviting you to do this for kicks, but you don’t have to.” as long as it’s all upfront and honest (people don’t think they’re getting paid when they actually aren’t).

      In actuality, I’d have more of a problem (I don’t know if Gabriel has or not, for your specific example) if it was an established artist who hadn’t offered free gigs and songs themselves to the fans.

      It shouldn’t matter, as the point above still stands, but personally I would only volunteer MY free time to someone or something unless I enjoyed doing it and felt they were worthy of my awesomeness. (if I had any awesomeness). I would say she is deserving because of all the free playing and music she’s provided for fans. As a fan, I would happily return the favour.

      “She’s looking for volunteers, but volunteerism is not good for the music industry: if people work for free, it reduces the market value of professional musicians.”

      Hm.

      Does it in this instance? That seems like something of a blanket statement with an unproven causal link. The willingness of a “professional-ish” member of Amanda Palmer’s fanbase to join her on stage MAY effect the market value of professional musicians in general…but personally I have a suspicion it won’t have any affect whatsoever.

      It also sounds a LOT like the argument that downloading music for free reduces the market value of music. Given Amanda Palmer is a huge proponent of a “download and pay what you like model” (and, yes, has spoken out in favour of piracy) I wonder if that has a bearing in this debate…

      “is this a question of ‘meet the new boss, worse than the old boss’?”

      I wonder that too, but not in the way you mean.

      Her kickstarter caused a lot of controversy as an idea of a “new model” and one criticism was that the removal of “the middle man” in the form of the record company would simply create a patronage system where the artist would have to be creatively accountable to their donors/fans rather than the record company.

      I scoffed at that, because I viewed her kickstarter in terms of a pre-order (I donate $1, it goes towards making a record, but also pays for my ownership of the record once released) rather than charity. In terms of a pre-order, I would never expect to tell a record company what to do after pre-ordering one of their clients records, so if they are removed, why would I tell Amanda what to do?

      But maybe people didn’t see it as a pre-order. They don’t accept that their money paid for the album, but also paid for…well, whatever they paid for, so they got a return (digital download, cd, vinyl etc). Now, after having donated, they feel they have a right to dictate what she does, and have a say in how that money is spent…a bit like a record company excerises control on artists after giving an advance and wanting a return.

  15. Its about respect, If your going to ask people to respect you enough to pay you for your work (ie: the kickstarter) then how can you ask others to work for nothing?

    And if this was such a non-issue then why does it leave such a bad taste in the mouth of so many?

    Unfortunately when you pioneer as Amanda does, everything you do is subject to scruitiny. Her response via tumblr was a somewhat rambling justification for something that was just poorly thought out, she comes from an artistic, community led environment and simply wanted to bring this to the big stage, perhaps unaware of the reaction from a larger audience – these are exciting new times we live in, everyone is learning.

    However, to suggest that no-one else could possibly understand how much it takes to make an album is either arrogant or stupid and frankly it’s irrelevant which one. Do you really think an indie artist raising a million dollars on a crowdsourcing platform to create an album/ tour experience hasn’t been noticed by people familiar with these matters?

    • “Its about respect, If your going to ask people to respect you enough to pay you for your work (ie: the kickstarter) then how can you ask others to work for nothing?”

      OK.

      Because:

      a) the kickstarter was to produce a CD, when you donate you buy the CD
      b) she’s worked for nothing, so it’s completely fair enough to ask others to

      (though as an addition to b) even if Palmer HADN’T done free gigs in the past or offered songs for free downloads and behaved more like a “normal” artist in that she got paid for everything she did, it STILL isn’t wrong or unethical to ask for volunteers)

      “And if this was such a non-issue then why does it leave such a bad taste in the mouth of so many?”

      Because people have read an article without knowing anything else about her and have got the wrong end of the stick.

      • thank you very much, Miss Nataly for this post. I had to read it when I saw the post title. I’ve been feeling that way, myself…

        love this whole bandwagon thing. all I see is a bunch of people who are jumping on while having absolutely no clue or a valid argument (not valid as to say that you don’t believe it, but marked with fact and cited with evidence, etc). doesn’t sit right with you? well hey, good for you. you’re entitled to your opinion. you’re even allowed to voice it. what you cannot do is make people side with you. people have free will, and it seems to be the defining factor all the naysayers seem to be forgetting. you don’t want to volunteer? don’t. you want to be paid? fabulous. go get a paying gig. want to have fun and a singular experience that you could never replicate again? do that too. whether you decide to or not is your choice, and all of this negativity only feeds the media machine. no such thing as bad publicity, kids.

        I don’t know about you, but I would be on stage with the GTO in a blink! last I checked, the reason to be a musician was a love of the music, not the money. in case you didn’t already know, there’s no money in music. unless you’re willing to strip any and/or all creative decisions away from yourself and allow other people to dictate and execute your entire IMAGE, let alone your career, then please, become another of the screeching clones that makes money rather than music.

        and another thing that’s really been bugging me, is all this talk about “precedents”. do you even know what the word means when you say it, or is it just another splash of regurgitated filth coming from someone elses’ head? I don’t know any more. I just don’t understand how so many people can be so openly hateful about a person they wouldn’t otherwise know from a bar of soap. all the accusations flying around, and then the downright mean and hurtful comments.

        it keeps being said that she’s not addressing any of the issues, but the point of it all is that yes, she is. if you don’t see the answer then you’re just too fiscally-blinded and close-minded to actually see what’s being said. no offence meant, but I wouldn’t want to be one of you. ignorance may be bliss, but it’s also akin to impudence, in this case. all these keyboard warriors, strong and resolute in their arguments from behind their computer screens. and yes, while you may the think the same of me, I have absolutely no qualms with telling each and every one of you to your faces that in order to have any kind of standing with me in your opinion, you need to support *your* arguments with facts and logic rather than because it’s what all the cool kids are doing.

        Amanda, like so many artists, dreams of a future where the listeners can directly acquire the art from the artist. no middlemen. it’s not so farfetched. just less convenient for the labels, much cheaper for us as patrons and so much more cost-effective for the artists as they actually get to SEE the money go to something useful other than an extra zero in some tone-deaf CEO fuckwit’s bank account via videophone from his obscenely expensive ski chalet in Aspen. win/win, if you ask me.

    • No one is being forced to work for free just like no one was forced to give money to her kickstarter project. It’s not as if she promised these musicians she would pay them, got her Kickstarter funds and then said, “actually, I’m not going to pay you now.” And I never said it was a non-issue. I understand why people are upset. I have always paid my musicians, but I’ve never attempted anything as HUGE as this. And having been through the whole public budget thing, I can empathize with the difficult budgetary decisions that Amanda is having to make. It’s silly of people to think that A. She doesn’t care about treating musicians well, and B. She’ll come out of this with a large sum of money left over from what SHOULD have been paid to other musicians. So if you trust her money managing skills (which I do), then you know that her only choices were to scale down the project or ask people to work for free. And the scale of her project is ENTIRELY her own decision.

  16. I don’t give a shit about her kickstarter. you ask people to play a show where people are paying to get in, you fucking pay them, especially when you’re as high-profile as amanda palmer. all the people here who say that we musicians should be happy for the exposure or experience, you’re the reason it’s so hard to make a living as a musician. amanda palmer is just making it worse for us, and she should know better.

      • You’d never do a guest spot on stage with your favourite band for kicks rather than cash? Tom Petty or Ryan Adams (or Nataly, for argument’s sake) say “Hey, can you play with me for a night?” your first question is “How much?”

        • But this isn’t just hopping onstage. It’s auditioning and showing up for rehearsal to play essentially charts (no room for solos) for hugs and beer when your boss is getting money off the gate. Not cool.

          • OK, so … how much? How much should they be being paid for a few hours practice and 2 songs for one night? Should they lose the other stuff they are getting and just get a single payment for performance, or should they get it all?

            No one has answered this question yet. Apart from some saying they should at least get a token payment (which is actually worse I think).

          • Hugs, beer, food, merch and free tickets, place on the merch table, great night out, experience playing with a rock band, meeting new people in the local area who play too, etc. For those starting out, or those who play well but not professionally, and who are actually fans of the band, it’s actually a bloody good deal. But you’d rather see “Here’s your $50, thanks for playing, bye.”?

    • I’m sorry, but I’ve been a musician long enough to know that:
      1. You DO care how much money she has and it DOES affect how much you want to be compensated for your work
      2. You have the right to feel that way. There are VERY few people who I would do free work for. Most of them are close friends, but working for “exposure” is not out of the question depending on the artist.
      That said, NOWHERE in Amanda’s ad does she request that people work for exposure. The promise of beer and hugs was very obviously not aimed toward the qualified session musician: it’s directed to her FANS. Pomplamoose made a video recently where we asked 100 people to dance in our video and we “compensated” them with a pizza party and some one-on-one time. We couldn’t afford to hire a dance troupe, but we knew we wanted a lot of people to show up. Much like Amanda, we did NOT put an ad out on craigslist asking people to work for hugs (because that would be ludicrous), but we did reach out to our fans. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with soliciting work from people who will happily work for free.

      • Uh oh, you’re gonna have the AGMA on your ass now. That’s 100 professional dancers who missed out on work because of your “volunteer” schemes.

      • “Pomplamoose made a video recently where we asked 100 people to dance in our video and we “compensated” them with a pizza party and some one-on-one time. We couldn’t afford to hire a dance troupe, but we knew we wanted a lot of people to show up. Much like Amanda, we did NOT put an ad out on craigslist asking people to work for hugs (because that would be ludicrous), but we did reach out to our fans. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with soliciting work from people who will happily work for free.”

        There isn’t at all. Which is why I think crying exploitation is trivializing the entire concept. People who are exploited tend not to be enjoying it.

        It’s incredibly patronising to tell someone they’re being exploited, but because they’re young and naive, or a whacko rabid fan (or having too much FUN) they just haven’t noticed.

        (and yes, I have seen that exact rhetoric in this debate…)

        I think the difference between what Pomplamoose did though, and what Amanda asked for is the unfortunate use of the word “professional-ish”, which is somewhat open to interpretation – anywhere between someone who can play an instrument well enough not to screw up badly and someone genuinely on a professional level.

        (I’m making the assumption here that you guys didn’t ask for “professional-ish” dancers, anyway)

        And I think people are thinking, well HEY. I’M a professional musician! How dare you downplay my years of hard craft and say it has no value!

        Without realizing she simply *was not talking to you*.

        She was talking to her fans who WANT to be on that stage with her, which has a value way beyond monetary to the people it was directed at.

        Yes artists should be paid and need to eat. No one is disputing that. But they should be able to have fun in their ‘free’ time if they want to, as well.

    • Since the show I saw was broadcast free via YouTube, and from what I can tell the tickets go for about 25 bucks, maybe she should pay the people who volunteered freely of their own accord 25 dollars. After all, their choices as artists aren’t as important as getting paid.

      • My problem with you is actually the “pathological hatred for mayonnaise.” Everything you say is suspect, and you start from a point of negative credibility.

        • After reading his “blog entry” which I was graciously allowed to do for free, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is basically a Limbaugh-esque interested in promoting himself shamelessly by chiming in on something that he has little or no real interest in. I’m sure he hasn’t pledged money to either Nataly Dawn OR Amanda Palmer. Otherwise, he would understand how the system works. He’s just an everyday blowhard.

          • Heres how “the system works”: you pay your side musicians.

            Limbaugh? Really? Which end of the political spectrum supports exploiting labour?

    • Interestingly, everyone else here seems to be able to put their two cents in without taking $1 out promoting their book/blog.

  17. I mean really, she is just asking if anyone WANTS to do it. For Fun!! No musician that didn’t get excited about throwing in for a couple of songs would look twice at it. Or for that matter have even heard about it since they would be unlikely to be following her. If you’ve ever seen her in concert you’d probably want to jump up on stage and join her as well.

    People who are exploited aren’t generally having a blast.

  18. I thought that the entire idea of inviting musicians to join her onstage for the evening was both a creative idea, and an attempt to extend the idea of inclusiveness that’s so much a part of what the Amanda Palmer/Theatre Is Evil Kickstarter project is or represents. I play an instrument, and if I had the chance to go out and join onstage for the evening, I’d expect a 7734 of a time, and why would/should I expect more? The project has become this force, this wonderfully freaky sort of extravaganza that even the people that sent in props for a video shoot can feel a part of. Grrr,

    In any case, great post.

    • No-one actually involved is feeling any shame or remorse, they are all pretty proud of what is achieved each night, and are happy to do it. And every Kickstarter backer that I’ve talked to (about 50 people or so) that has got their rewards has been blown away by them, and couldn’t be happier.

    • Chris, you’re obviously either NOT a musician or not the kind of musician that many people want to play with. Most musicians play for free for many years before making any money. But what they DO get is exposure. You’d have to leave your shirt and tie and briefcase at work in order to understand what this is really about.

      • Fuck off I’ve played music for 20 years. I’ve worked professionally as a writer, comedian and actor so I know what the fuck I’m talking about, “Jeff.”

        • I’m sure people are lining up to collaborate with you too. With such a positive attitude why would they hesitate?.
          And what is with the quotations around my name? Are implying that “Jeff” isn’t my real name?
          Also, I’m sure you’re comedic skills are top notch, you certainly have given me a laugh!
          What else do you do? Host games shows?

        • Oh…and I see you write a blog!
          How much does that pay? Or do you just do that for the EXPOSURE so people will buy your “book”?

      • You don’t know what you’re talking about. She’s not asking for wide eyed kids with guitars. She’s asking for people who know their instruments (ones which take years to play competently) to learn new arrangements in a day. In other words, seasoned professionals who will likely be at a stage in their careers where they don’t need “exposure” as much as money. plus, it lowers the value of the musicians market, allowing other artists to not pay them because, hey, its good enough for AFP.

        • “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’m sorry, but that’s utter nonsense. She has said she wanted to make sure she had real pros for the NYC gigs, implying that it doesn’t matter anywhere else.

            It’s not about spontaneity. It’s about being cheap.

          • A token payment is NOT worse,because it meeans that the next big act that comes into town can’t say “well, people played for free for AFP, why should I pay them?”

            The more I think about this, the less cool it is. She should pay them. Period.

          • Actually, that would be the bare minimum of what I would call professional, and if it’s a commerrcial gig, it should be compensated. Period, full stop.

            I believe indentured servitude was voluntary as well.

          • “I believe indentured servitude was voluntary as well.”

            I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the indentured servants didn’t get merch, drinks and had a blast. Or had diary entries like this:

            “Had an awesome couple of nights jamming with Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra! Those guys are all badasses! If you get a chance, check them out on the rest of their “Theatre is Evil” tour!!!”

          • Back to fan = scab, of course. Stop making up other arguments when this is all your point is.

            People should stop writing blogs for free too. It gives people things to read so they aren’t buying books and it’s causing professional authors to miss out on sales. Stop the volunteer fanfiction!

          • I’m not going onstage or contributing to Time or Rolling Stone or whatever for free.

            Actually, I’ve tried to be a paid writer and guess what? You apparently have to do it for free now in the hope that someone might eventually pay for your work.

            I would rather not see musicians put in a similar situation just because ‘the future of music” is getting your fans to take the place of pros.

            Interestingly, Beck is doing an end run around this by releasing his new record as sheet music. If you want to hear it, you gotta learn to play the music yourself. Maybe it’ll teach some people that learning and playing music is actually work.

            Brilliant, actually. If you want to hear Beck play them, you have to pay to see him.

            And his paid band.

  19. Maybe I’m odd, and my listening and buying habits aren’t indicative of most people who go to Amanda’s shows but … 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.

  20. Yes, you went into credit card debt to finish your record. You didn’t ask fans who’d already contributed to play for free. Pomplamoose and Nataly Dawn have done things the proper, principled way, and Amanda Palmer has crossed a line. Notice how people aren’t boycotting YOU. She messed up, and she should apologize and pay the sidemen in EVERY city. She can make this right. As it is she is coming off even more narcissistic and exhibitionist than she does in her videos.

    • “You didn’t ask fans who’d already contributed to play for free.”

      …Hm. Again, not sure you understand how her kickstarter worked. They’d contributed, but recieved the album they’d contributed for. Contract fulfilled.

  21. I read all the negative comments like they think Amanda’s asking them to volunteer for the entire tour and not get paid. It’s ONE night. If I had kept up playing the trumpet these past 10 years since high school, I’d give up a night to play with her or any other artist that I really enjoyed. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t get paid, just to be playing with her/them would be enough.

    But that’s just me…

    • Kate, that is EXACTLY how I feel. If Pomplamoose came through my town and needed a guitar or bass player for a couple of songs, I’d not only be happy to do it for free, I’d be HONORED to do it!
      I think it’s difficult for non-musicians to understand the non-monetary incentive for doing things. We play out of love of music. All most musicians really want is to make enough money doing what they love to make a living. Few of us are able to do that and even if we are able to do it for a while, it’s fleeting. It could end anytime. I’ve played with hundreds of players over the years and I’ve never hear ANY of them tell me that they do it for the money. You can make a lot more money working in an office somewhere. It’s steady. You probably get health insurance and other benefits.
      Most musicians get no benefits. So many of you are speaking without understanding what you’re talking about.

  22. I’m glad you can sum up so much anger when an artist from a double-celebrity household gets a million dollars from her fans to make an album and then expects musicians to work for her for free. Wait, no, it;s fucking stupid, and so are you.

    • Just because a person comes from money, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have that much themselves. If you had wealthy parents can you imagine asking them for a a couple of million dollars to pay for orchestras on a tour that may or may not be a success? That may be a losing proposition? I’m not a big fan of Amanda Palmer (truth is I don’t know much about her), but that makes no difference. She is putting her OWN neck on the chopping block. She is putting her faith in herself to the test. She is the one taking all the risks. Nobody MADE you contribute to her Kickstarter project. No one is going to make you buy her album. If you gave money to her project then you did that because you have faith in her talent and her abilities as as an artist. Don’t question her now. You’re not out one thin dime! If you gave money for a CD or for tickets to a show or whatever, you’ll get it! Outside of that you have no stake in the project. Why can you not just be happy that you’re helping an artist realize a dream and just maybe make the world a better place through music?
      And, keep in mind, she is ASKING for musicians to play with her. She is not putting a gun to anyone’s head! I’ve played more than one gig for free in my lifetime.
      And ALSO, don’t forget about Nataly and Pomlamoose…how many hours of work do you think she and Jack put in to put videos up on Youtube that you enjoy for FREE! How many free downloads have they offered? How much enjoyment have they given us without asking for one fucking penny?
      Some of you have NO idea the amount of work and time goes into recording just ONE song and making just ONE video for it. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, but don’t kid yourself that it’s not work…and HARD work at that.
      So, lighten up, those of you angry at Amanda and or Nataly and realize that know one is forcing you to do anything. You’ve been give a lot of entertainment for free. If you want to waste your time and energy creating some “boycott” to try to hurt someone else, then you’re a fool and wasting YOUR own time! Why don’t YOU find something constructive to do instead of trying to drag someone else down.

    • Ok, what? what does “double-celebrity household” mean? You think Neil Gaiman funds her? I don’t think theirs is that type of marriage…

      And Amanda’s “celebrity” has never really equated to personal wealth. You’re thinking of Lady Gaga or something. She’s not that type of celebrity…

      “gets a million dollars from her fans to make an album” which she made and people recieved. the people who contributed/preordered the album got it. The point Nataly is making, is that *she doesn’t have a million in the bank, the money is gone – on doing all the things she pledged to do.

      “expects musicians to work for her for free” or that could possibly read as “asks fans proficient in an instrument to volunteer to play on stage?”…if they want to? It’s all in the emphasis, no?

  23. Nataly, I’m so very glad you’re there to speak out for musicians. I’m a musician too, but without the name name recognition you obviously have. I have been working for close to 20 years making music. Working crappy jobs, eating crappy food and sometimes being in bands that make really crappy music. The amount of money I’ve spent over the years so eclipses the amount of money I’ve put into it, it’s not even funny. This is not even counting the time – the years of rehearsals. The nights of not getting paid when we were supposed to only to have men much larger than me tell us to “have a good night”. I’ve shown up for gigs only to be turned away as they got somebody “better” or a “bigger draw” at the last minute. It’s a rough existence. I love it, but it is tough. You have to have thick skin and a hard head and faith in yourself AND you have to be soft and kind to whatever fans you are lucky enough to have. It’s one hell of a balancing act. So, on behalf of ALL of us unsung musicians thanks for spreading some truth about the glamourous life of being a musician. You’re the best!!!!!

    • And to those who continue to be critical of Amanda Palmer, stop and consider that YOU are not in her shoes. She’s trying to make the best of the situation that she can. To make the best decisions as this an opportunity that may not come again. Has she lied to anyone? Has she cheated anyone. Is everyone going to get what they paid for? Then what is all the bitching about? At least she is being upfront about what she is doing. Would you rather her tell you what you want to hear?

  24. Hey, Nat, one thought is to let her and her fans duke it out themselves, and let us keep being your fans without an angry interference, irrelevant to some of us ~ love!

  25. As a professional musician myself, I have been asked to do things for free (for the exposure, experience etc) constantly. To keep my head up and protect my industry I must say no, if I didn’t I would be undercutting my colleagues and selling myself very very short.

    If a restaurant owner asked someone to work for free, you would laugh in their face! But apparently in the arts its ok to exploit people. As a professional Amanda should have known better. If she succeeds in getting musos to work for free then that will only encourage other people to expect free work, or severe pay cuts.

    I was never her fan (because frankly her music leaves a lot to be desired for me) so therefore I can’t really boycott her. But I do know that if any of my friends/colleagues choose to do her show for free then they will be getting a right bollocking from the music community.

    • Actually, in response to your restaurant owner comment, I have donated my time in every profession that I have worked in. As a server I came in early or stayed late regardless of what tips I brought home. Occasionally I served friends of the owners who tipped nothing at all. It was frustrating but worth it because I needed the job.

      Closer to this example, though, I have donated my time as a massage therapist (giving free chair massage or working in the student clinic) to gain experience and reputation. As a physician-in-training I have donated countless hours as a volunteer, despite multiple jobs or classes, because the experience is valuable and because it is expected of individuals in my field.

      The musicians aren’t indentured servants, nor are they forced into this gig out of desperation. They are offered an opportunity and choose to take it. If its worth it to them, why are we so angry on their behalf?

    • “As a professional musician myself, I have been asked to do things for free (for the exposure, experience etc) constantly.”

      She did not ask for professional musicians. She asked for fans who happen to be good at playing an instrument to join her onstage for a few songs, in exchange for admission to the show, merchandise, and beer. Oh, and the opportunity to perform and hang out with an artist they love. That’s a pretty fantastic exchange if you’re a fan.

  26. Here’s the problem, Ms. Dawn: Ms. Palmer’s priorities are badly misplaced.

    In her own accounting of what she’d spend the Kickstarter $ on, she included this:

    >>
    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). i might up that to $100k now that i know we can afford it.
    >>

    She’s also been quoted as saying that paying for the strings and horns in every city would cost a total of $35K.

    All right, then. How about, instead of taking the video costs UP to $100K, take them DOWN to $65K.

    Not really any great loss to her album or career. And, hey, there’s the $35K freed up that’s needed to treat these talented colleagues with the respect they deserve.

    She is, ultimately, a bad businesswoman, and an artist whose priorities don’t respect the very core element of her profession.

    • Not doing things the way you would want her to do things does not make her a bad businesswoman. I’ve been repeatedly amazed at her business savvy in planning, managing and organizing this record, campaign and tour.

      To paraphrase her — if she had prioritized things differently could she have added an extra bus to bring 8 musicians along on the tour? Yes.

      Would that have resulted in the tour she wanted? NO.

      She wants to give her fans the experience of seeing spontaneous magic with local musicians who are thrilled to be onstage with her. And she does. It’s freakin’ epic.

      • You say epic, I say exploitive. So it goes, I guess.

        I think it’s a basic respect to fellow musicians that she’s refusing to extend.

        It IS ultimately up to the musicians to say no to this woman. And I hope they will, when they really think about their place in this equation.

        • No one has to say no. They’re not being forced into this. People will volunteer, and I’m sure she’s already filled all spots by now.

          • There are people who will do a lot of other peoples jobs for less money, but it’s considered exploitation.

        • So you’d much rather they stay great, unknown, unpaid musicians with no profile having problems getting a gig? Shows with international musicians on your resume, and in your portfolio (with YouTube exposure, etc), open doors that would otherwise stay closed, session work that you otherwise wouldn’t have, plus working with some great people. For a night’s work. Rather than just bus in and bus out musicians and do nothing at all for the local talent (who do actually do get paid a lot of the time – in kind and in cash – at least at the AP gigs I’ve been to).

          They also get a place for their CDs/etc at the merch table, and exposure to a local audience who most likely never knew they existed.

          • I’m happy to see them want to come aboard and take part. And it’s fine if they want to volunteer.

            And she should STILL find a way to pay them. (In something more than high-fives and hugs and a backstage beer.)

            It’s not that she CAN’T pay them. She paid a whole lot of people for a whole lot of different things in the process of putting together this album and tour.

            In the end, she looked at these string & horn players from town to town and decided, “Well, THESE people I don’t really need to pay.”

            Ask yourself: Why?

          • Exposure? Give me a break.

            Not all musicians want to make their own recordings. Especially if you are a classically trained musician, you are more likely to make money off of live gigs.

            And frankly, other local musicians would not be impressed with someone who “volunteered” in this way.

      • Yeah, no. It’s not about “spontaneous magic,” otherwise she wouldn’t be paying pro musicians to play the same parts in major venues like NYC. The “volunteer” nonsense is only for the smaller markets.

        • You understand D, just want to spin it. The fans don’t actually mind either way.

          AP + professional horns = amazing.
          AP + local amateur horns = amazing.

          Different vibe, but one is no less an experience than the other.

          • opinions are like arseholes, D. everyone has one and thinks theirs doesn’t stink. it’s simply that. you won’t change our minds. we won’t change yours. simple as that. drop it. this is getting tiresome to keep reading. it’s just going to be a whole forum of you responding to yourself. not even got enough conviction to sign your posts.

            if you were so adamant, wouldn’t you want people to know who you are? support your cause? fly the martyr flag with you?

            not all musicians are trained. if people feel a need to get paying gigs to pay back mummy and daddy for their tuition, sure. fine. get a job. put a hat out and swallow your pride or flip burgers for a career. free gigs are for fun. making music is a really beautiful thing and it has nothing to do with the level of tuition that a person has. some of the best musos I know are those who just decided one day to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. they’re not inhibited by all the staunch rules and supposed ethos that goes with it. some classical trained musicians are stuck up snobs who think they’re better than everyone else coz they can hold a note. pfft. big deal. and there are also a good deal of classically trained musos who have a genuine love of the music and have no problem playing a free gig. and I’m thinking they’re the ones that get up on stage with AFP+GTO the most. I hope that more are borne from this.

  27. What’s even weirder is that people don’t realize Amanda is not making much profit (if any) from this. Kickstarter takes 5% from what she raised. Amazon Payments takes another 5%. And by looking at all the crazy cool things she’s been sending to all backers (especially the higher ones), it is obvious she’s pouring all the money she got BACK into the fans.

    I’m glad I backer her Kickstarter, and I can’t understand why everyone is acting as if she is feeding puppies to orphans so she can cook them and make a stew.

  28. Kudos to you, both for sticking up for Amanda Palmer and for following your dream. I think you’re right that people automatically see well-known musicians as rich — but I suspect a lot of the anger and frustration is a symptom of the helplessness so many people feel right now. People are worried about paying the bills, keeping their jobs, keeping a roof over their heads, and so on — and it’s easy to point fingers at someone they perceive as well off and carefree.

  29. And this is exactly the type of ass-reaming I was ready to give a few of your Kickstarter backers who decided to throw accusations and make asses of themselves by whining “Oh, Nataly Dawn stole my money! I’m being screwed! Blah blah snore”. They DONATED money so you could make your album. You made your album. Just because they helped you doesn’t mean they own you.

    And the same goes for Amanda Palmer: Her backers donated money for her project. She’s getting ready to follow through with said project. They helped her, but they don’t own her. They need to shut up and suck it up. Nobody’s getting screwed, the people are going to get what they want eventually, the artists are getting to do what they love and what they wanted to do. There is no intent to hurt the fans or cheat them out of their hard earned money. Some people just need to wake up and realize that the music business is NOT a major money making business. No business based on the arts is. You said it best: “Hell, if we wanted to be rich, we wouldn’t be musicians.” You both took a major leap of faith for sake of careers, and for that, I applaud you. Kickstarter is making things possible that wouldn’t have normally been possible otherwise. Now hopefully this will shut up the whiners for awhile.

    I’m also SO glad that that is out of my system! Thanks for the chance to put my 2 cents in!

    • Unless someone gave money without choosing a pledge level, they didn’t donate anything to Amanda. We pledged to give her money if she reached her goal, in return, we received which reward we wanted from the list she provided. How that money is spent is entirely up to Amanda, after she takes care of fulfilling those rewards. She didn’t actually have to use the money for the stated purpose if she could do that and still manage to fulfill her promised reward levels.

      Since I am pretty certain that Amanda does not have any supernatural powers I would guess that all of the musicians that are joining her on stage are doing so voluntarily. If they are willing to do it, because they are fans, or for the exposure, then I don’t think anyone else has any right to complain.

  30. What amateur musician wouldn’t have given everything to be in Scot Halpin’s shoes in November 1973, being pulled out of the crowd to finish a set with The Who when Keith Moon passed out? Here is a chance for enthusiastic fans with a bit of talent to play with a top star.

    I can’t see the downside for anyone – some fans get to play with a big name, AFP gets her band within her budget, the tour goes on for the rest of her fans to see her.

  31. her intentions might have been noble, but her execution….yikes!
    “we’re looking for professional-ish horns and strings for EVERY CITY to hop up on stage with us for a couple of tunes.”
    if written, for example, “would you like to play with us on stage? can you play the horns or strings without terrifying small animals? before each show, we’ll have a bit of an audition and if chosen, we’d love for you to join us on stage for a couple tunes!”
    what do you think?

  32. Thanks for this, nicely explained. I hadn’t heard about the Amanda Palmer stuff, but… it’s Amanda Palmer… what do people expect? I’m assuming she isn’t forcing people to go on stage with her, but she’s never been renowned as demure.

    As for your situation, that’s terrible that you had to get credit cards to finish the album. Seriously, it’s so long since I put in for the Kickstarter that I’ve forgotten about the money by now. Happy to send more. I know what it’s like to live on credit cards, I did it for years. Thankfully past that now, so if you need more just say. You’re worth it.

  33. It does not cost that much to make a record. I have been making records for 10k and less for my whole career. Just sayin. I don’t care how much you spend on what. But, just know there are ways to do it on the cheap and still be quality. That’s a different kind of entrepreneurship. If a musician is dumb enough to play for free, I gots no sympathy.

    • this is kind of problematic for me…did she state on her Kickstarter that she needed the money for the tour or to pay off her debt?

      “let’s say this kickstarter hits a million dollars in pledges by may 31st.

      TRULY? first i’ll run naked through the streets, yelling hallelujah.
      because this WORKED.

      but financially, realistically?
      first i’ll pay off the lovely debt – stacks of bills and loans and the like – associated with readying all of the stuff that had to happen BEFORE i brought this project to kickstarter.
      for the past 8 months or so, i wasn’t touring – and therefore wasn’t making much income – but every step of the way, there were expenses. so, during that time, i borrowed from various friends and family who i’d built up trust with over the years.

      i had to pay my staff and crew to get this album ready as well as keep the ship afloat and headed in the right direction. i also needed to come up with the cost of the recording itself (which was pretty whopping), and any other expenses the band racked up in the meanwhile.
      to put a number on all of that behind-the-scenes stuff which just got us to DAY ONE of kickstarter: $250,000.”

      • The thing is, she had actually RECORDED the album before the Kickstarter launch (in fact, the Kickstarter video was set to a mash-up of).

        The travelling for meetings with the producer, the travelling to Australia and the stay there while she recorded the album along the course of a month or so… That’s what she did before the Kickstarter, that’s the debt she had to pay. It was the actual making of the album.

        Pretty much everyone who read that blog would know which debts she is referring to, since she had previously blogged and tweeted as she recorded the album. But if you read it without knowing, then it just seems like she’s paying her rent or something—but that’s not the case.

  34. Yes, thank you, Nataly. I’m just an old guy who has no real idea who Amanda Palmer is, but I agree with and like what you have written. And although it involved a little more disclosure than you may have preferred regarding your own Kickstarter project, maybe now certain Kickstarter backers will stop trying to destroy you on account of their PERCEIVED mistreatment at your hand. You are a great artist and I wish you all the success, financially and otherwise that you may desire.

  35. The detractors speak as though Amanda were running a sweatshop and forcing people to work at gunpoint or as though she was shanghaiing unwilling musicians. No one spent money on her Kickstarter fund that didn’t want to and there wasn’t a promise she would save orphans in Calcutta with any unlikely leftovers.

    Sharing one’s talents with Amanda for no financial compensation is perhaps like willingly giving/buying into her Kickstarter campaign. There are many rewards for playing on stage with her beyond beer and hugs but if you can’t see that and don’t want to be a part of it, don’t volunteer. Your loss.

    Rock on, AFP (and Nataly)!

    • It’s not like a sweatshop, but it’s an awful lot like bringing in day laborers because you don’t want to pay the union minimum. It hurts people other than the “volunteers.”

      • It really isn’t, and it really doesn’t. You’re making false analogies. There’s no paid gig to lose. The people onstage who have the paid gigs are being paid. The volunteers are extra, and doing it for fun, by choice.

        That’s a far, far cry from exploitation which generally involves *unfairness* and mistreating people, when they are forced into difficult positions. And that’s what unions are there for – to protect the workers.

        Not to cause a stink about fans who’ve been invited to join an artist onstage and play on a few songs. Not only is this a complete storm in a teacup, the fact that you and others are even using the word “exploitation” here just…simply trivializes the entire concept.

        And as for the scab comments you made before…where are the strikes and the picket lines? I do not think it means what you think it means. To suggest anyone who chooses to play on that stage is a “scab” is downright nasty bullying tactics.

        Musicians should be able to collaborate with other musicians, either for money or for free or for whatever reason *they* choose without having to feel intimidated.

  36. I see your point, Natalie…but at the same time, ‘working for exposure’ is a fantastic way to die. I’m a freelance writer and game developer, and I’ll stand firm in my belief that while doing for the love of the art is good and necessary, having a place to live, food to eat, electricity, gas for the car and other essentials for life doesn’t get paid by love of the art.

    If someone’s good enough to play on stage with the tremendously-talented Ms. Palmer, then they deserve to be paid. That’s time they could be using to find paying gigs, or working the day job, or in studio. Time is money, especially for those of us who aren’t the folks that have ridden the lightning strike to the top tiers of success. Compensation, not exposure, is what says ‘you’re worth something.’

    Amanda Palmer is a fantastic musician, a success, and she’s worked hard to get where she is; I’m a big fan. I ascribe no malice nor ulterior motive to how she’s doing business, and people that do, for my .02, are skewing toward discourtesy at best and sheer, ugly mean at worst. But time and talent are valuable, and I can also understand the arguments coming from that corner.

    Take care, and best wishes for you own success. Onward!

    • OK. Most indie contract musicians get 50$ a gig. This horn player will play two songs. So, rounded up about 4.12$ total. I think it would be rude and pathetic to offer someone that. Better to give the opportunity to a FAN who can have a story of a lifetime about that one time they played with Amanda Palmer.

    • Mark, I’d like to share my response to others who have comments such as yours to Amanda’s request

      There are a few key differences between this and say an art contest or spec work where an artist or say writer or game developer was asked to submit their work.

      First, it’s not a competition, there’s no entry fee, no juries. No doing some work that only a handful of people will see unless it does pass the juries approval. And certainly there is no likelihood of absolute silence beyond a “thanks we received your entry” after doing it. (more on that below.)

      Second, it’s not promising the opportunity that this might lead to future work. There’s no indication (again) that you might win a gig in the end. it does, however, bring local like-minded musicians, who might not otherwise know each other, together and thus potentially inspire them to create together outside of the AFP & GTO show. That, to some musicians is sometimes greater than pay.

      Third, It’s asking for volunteers, if you volunteer then you play. It’s not pitting one horn musician against another for one spot. It’s not, again, making them audition per say (beyond proving that you do have some command of the instrument). I’d dare say it is first come first serve tho. if you don’t want to volunteer, that’s fine, she respects that, don’t volunteer. And she certainly never suggested anyone should give up a paying gig to play with her. The people who would likely volunteer would probably be at that show already, but instead, they’d just be paying and watching and now they get to participate.

      Fourth, you could argue that beer and merch and free entry to the show is indeed payment of sorts. Especially since they aren’t playing the entire show, or the entire tour, they’re playing on one, maybe two songs. It’s a couple of hours of rehearsal then playing at the show. That’s hardly a normal booking for a musician I think (note, I’m not a musician).

      Fifth and very possibly most important, to Amanda, playing music is about being heard and performing. I do hear your points, they are valid, but for performers there is payment in the pure act of doing that I don’t think is the same for painters, writers, etc. That’s not to say they don’t have an enjoyment in their work being experienced, and not to say painters or writers never “perform” the creation of their work, but those arts don’t tend to have people experience the physical doing, they usually experience the result from, not the act of.
      So unlike a company asking for submissions to create their new logo in a contest that will likely yield no winners and where no one will likely ever see the work you did, a performer reaps immediate rewards through the physical act of creating. I’m not saying this is all the payment needed, but their craft is being experienced by a thousand people or so, whereas the spec work artist’s final piece will likely never see the light of day.

      Sixth (and very much related to fourth), Amanda is not above playing for free. She does it all the time and contributes at the lowest grassroots level just as much as she might contribute to a well-known charity. She is asking nothing that she does not, even still, do herself.

      • as a painter I would have to say it is very much like that! I do art to get it seen and because it is who I am….I cannot not do art…thus an opportunity to widen the circle of people who may like what I do is a very precious thing worth much more than money! thanks!

      • This is the closest any pro-Palmerite has gotten to making sense. Savour it, reader.

    • “That’s time they could be using to find paying gigs, or working the day job, or in studio.”

      Yes, it is. But nobody is stopping them from prioritizing in this manner, by finding paying gigs, working the day job or in the studio instead if that’s the way they want to be using their time…

      Not sure I understand you’re argument here. It’s time they *could* be spending doing something else, and they *can*.

  37. All I can say is when your new album or CD or whatever you’ll call it is available, I’ll be buying it. Evidently I’m not in this group because I don’t know who Amanda “Fucking” Palmer is! But I’m sure she’s interesting and now I’ll have to find out about her. Sooo…being an amateur musician (guitar bass) and earning a steady healthy paycheck flying business jets…making money as a musician is smoke and mirrors to me. I say, anyway you can do it, get it done Nataly and you too Amanda! You and Jack and all the other cohorts continue to amaze and entertain me…..keep up the great work! Russ Musta

  38. “So in conclusion, whether or not you agree with Amanda’s tactics, you are not shareholders in her Kickstarter project.”

    Whole-heartedly agreed. The entitlement people seem for feel for having donated to the kickstarter is absurd – particularly as if they paid $1 to her kickstarter for an album…they bought an album.

    They don’t get any more say than that in my opinion. I funded the album. I now own the album. I LOVE the album. I’m very pleased to have contributed money to making it, while pre-purchasing it at the same time.

    How she runs her tour? I don’t get a say in that. I just bought a product.

  39. YES! Thank you for writing this! I am seriously crushing on you right now. This has got to be one of the most absurd controversies I have ever seen. I believe it was AFP who said, “No artist is your bitch.” More people need to understand this.

      • If its not okay to ask a professional musician to work for free, why is it okay to tell a professional musician they can’t work for free if they want?

        your application of “no artist is your bitch” is inconsistent.

        Neither AFP or professional musicians are your bitch. You should respect all their decisions about money and music.If people don’t want to play with AFP for free, they won’t. If they do, they will.

        All you’re mad about is that you think you’re worth more money than what people pay you, and you somehow think people playing music for free make you get paid less.

        Nope, sorry. The reason you don’t get paid as much as you think you should is because your music is not as good as you think it is and people aren’t willing to pay money for it.

        • “your application of “no artist is your bitch” is inconsistent.”

          Precisely. On the one hand he’s said “Yes, no artist is your bitch. That includes professional musicians who would like to be paid.” and on the other he’s said anyone who volunteers (also an artist) is a scab.

          So apparently artists should be his bitch lest be branded a scab…

        • Newsflash: I’m not a musician. I dont have to be to know that this is a raw deal.

          Heres what you’re not getting: shes asking pros who play instruments like cello and saxophone. These aren’t instruments you master in a month: they’re ones you have to play for a long time to play right. They’re also not likely to be appeal to an audience for a rock show, even one as eclectic as Palmer’s. Any “exposure” would also be meaningless because the people who hire these musicians normally would be unimpressed with a “fun, easy” gig.

          SHE is the one who is essentially saying play for beer or nothing. Its a shitty deal because regardless of whether they’re willing volunteers they will set the precedent that a visiting act can expect free labor. So yeh, whether they know it or not she is making them her bitch.

          Let me put it this way… Why shouldn’t they be paid? If its because she didmt budget for it, tough. She should be an adult and just live with it.

          That’s what happens when you’re the boss.

    • 150k is the amount I was thinking it cost as we did a project back in 1982 and it was 39k, so factor inflation and that’s the number!
      I think people see the glitz and glamor and figure everyone in music is rich. Boy, what a joke! I can remember us cutting a Big Mac in small pieces because none of us had any cash left after the studio work!