Amanda, you lost me (and you've angered lots of musicians)
posted at 9/18/2012 2:29 PM EDT
The internet exploded over this. Backlash anyone?
You may have read about Amanda Palmer's ad for "volunteer" musicians for her upcoming tour.
That's right. Volunteers. As in play without pay. No compensation. Play for the fun of it, the experience, for the love of it and for the love of Amanda Palmer.
Professional musicians who aren't in it for the money, I suppose, have no problem playing without compensation. The reverse of "in it for the money" in all its glory. :)
However, Amanda has made herself look greedy, with rather self-serving values in her misguided decision to advertise for no-pay musicians, in the eyes of many of her fans, and fellow musicians.
She created a "Kickstarter" project for her new album and tour. Thousands of fans came to her support and donated money, raising a staggering $1 million dollars. She can now work outside the corporate label world, as the money allows. But the catch is that the people who donated the money can voice (like stock holders) and register dissatisfaction if Palmer makes unpopular decisions. Tough.
The "cliff notes" version of the story is thus:
1. Amanda Palmer made $1 million to fund her album and tour, among other things.
2. Amanda Palmer wrote a blog seeking volunteers in the various cities her tour is hitting to compliment her touring band. These "professional-ish" musicians would be paid in beer, high-fives, merch, and/or thank yous.
3. People got really upset with this request.
"The core of the argument against Palmer is that she is exploiting these musicians who sign up to perform with her, and by not paying these string and horn players a fare wage she's no different than the corporate music labels she hates so much. In the words of the Musicians Association of Seattle, "Hugs don't pay rent."*
I'm not a musician, but I can honestly say the heated debate as to Palmer's intentions is well-deserved; this is especially true after her "DIY" way of raising money to fund herself. She didn't "earn" any of it, and could have gone nowhere without it.
Playing as a musician is a career for some, a hobby for others. There are many issues involved in responding to an ad with no compensation. Yet, there's no right or wrong answer if you're a musician responding to the ad. What's right for you is all that is needed. This isn't about judging the musicians who are willing to work for nothing. This is about Amanda Palmer. So ...
Was Palmer out of line asking for volunteers in the first place? From one musician to another, especially? She is a "for profit" enterprising musician. Is she justified in doing this as a way of keeping her costs down, and "making good" on the million dollars she raised to bring music to her fans? Is it a stretch to call her "no pay" ad exploitative?