Amanda Palmer is someone who I've deeply admired. She's a wicked awesome, passionate musician, artist, advocate, and activist. Not to mention, she's married to one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. I recently learned that after raising over $1 million on her kickstarter campaign, more than enough to cover her costs, she's been asking for local volunteer musicians to play with her while on tour. Below is my response:

Dear Amanda Palmer,

I admit, when I heard that you were going on tour and looking to have local musicians play for you for free my first reaction was "sign me up!". You've been an amazing role model for musicians everywhere, giving your time for the Occupy Movement, empowering others to express themselves, and showing musicians everywhere that they can create their own vision and be successful at it.

In fact, you are so successful that your last kickstarter campaign for your new album and tour raised over 1 million dollars. This is fabulous news, and obvious evidence of how your music and stance inspires!

The other night, while spending time with some of my musician friends, I learned that you may recruit volunteer players from resources such as Classical Revolution for your tour. This makes perfect sense, given that we have branches worldwide and our musician base has grown exponentially with individuals that are largely musically educated, in addition to discovering their own voices and aesthetics. We're a perfect match for you and your tour!

Classical Revolution, by its very nature, empowers musicians. We're a fantastic community that inspires and stands up for one another. We have each spent countless years developing very keen skills and wish to share our talents in gratifying ways. These are all things that I'm sure you can appreciate. Not only have we spent years doing this, but we're also paying off student loans, and trying to cover basic bills in order to survive and continue to use these very honed and valuable techniques.

We have unions that stand for us, but they can only do so much. Artists are feeling desperate. I confess, I have found myself giving free performances in order to get ahead and perhaps have something notable to put on my resume. You'd think that this would help, but it doesn't and in fact it's made my position worse. Volunteer opportunities have effectively lead to more volunteer opportunities. Very very seldom have I found it leading to compensating gigs. As a result, my desire to share my craft and my feeling of self-worth have waned, while people around me are mocking,  saying "yes, but aren't you happy you get to create music?" Not while I'm starving, stressed and frantic… no! I can only imagine the clever and snarky retorts that you would tell those (insert expletive and plural nouns here) that approached you with that sort of BS. In fact, it makes me blush just thinking about it!

My friends and I are looking to bring back the respect that musicians deserve. As a personnel manager for my branch at Classical Revolution, I've been working towards assuring that my musicians are compensated for their talents and hard work. So, looking back at your ultra successful kickstarter and your request… Here you are, and you've raised over $1 million for your tour and album release. Here we are as musicians on foodstamps, maxing out their credit cards to keep the lights on, are hoping that we have enough money to pay next months rent, and have instruments that are in need of repair, need to be replaced, and even need to be insured. We are looking at you now and your request for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we'll respond? We're f*&king perplexed, agitated and disheartened, to put it mildly! What would you say to you if you were in our shoes? I have a pretty good guess...

The naive ones will say "sign me up!" I most certainly had that as my first response. But in looking at the whole picture, this time you're coming across as the 1% looking to exploit us. I'm guessing this is not the impression you were going for. If this is the case, please respect the musicians who are giving you their time and specialized skills. We would love to play for you! Please do the right thing, Amanda. This all seems so contrary to your vision.

The future of music is musicians being compensated for their specialized skills and the beauty and difference that their craft brings to the world! We all know you can certainly afford it…

Your fellow musician,
Amy

9-19-12 Addendum: Amanda has just announced that she will be paying all of her guest musicians on her tour in every city! Major kudos to Amanda for making the ethical choice! It takes a lot of guts to admit that her request, though it felt reasonable enough to her at the time, was perhaps not the best call for action. Hopefully, we have all learned a lot from this and can move on in a way that empowers performing artists and everyone alike!

 


Comments

Matthew Pak
09/10/2012 18:32

From someone that knows your passion for music Amy I am very proud of this letter. Also very impressed with how clear and concise your point is driven home. I hope for you to do great things in music seeing you persevere in your musical cause, long after mine has faded.

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Rob
09/12/2012 08:59

Never play for free. Playing for free, only leads to more playing for free. Value what you do. It's always easy spending someone else's money.

Kickstart huh. I could use a million dollars as well.

You should be ashamed.

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09/13/2012 12:46

But it's quite likely that if you tried a kickstarter, Rob, you wouldn't get anywhere near a million dollars. That is because Amanda has talent, a fanbase built over years of honing her craft and playing her heart out, and the saviness to fully utilize all the resources available to a musician with talent a fanbase today. You, I suspect, do not possess these things.

Shae
09/13/2012 21:34

Well first, Amanda has responded to this letter, in an open letter - so you can read her response - and follow the link in that letter to her blog post giving a specific accounting of how the Kickstarter money is being spent: http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120913/

And secondly, the idea of never playing for free, I find simply ludicrous. Value what you do? Absolutely. But in music (and for that matter, most careers) and often what is needed in the short term is exposure, so that you can then build a future in the career (not unlike doing an unpaid internship). Amanda gives shout outs to everyone involved in everything she does - and as we all know she has a huge devoted fanbase (hence the million in the first place). Getting exposure before such loyal fans can only be a good thing, and I find it sad that this opportunity is being scorned.

Amy, while I disagree with your point, I think this was a beautifully thoughtful piece, but unfortunately seems to be feeding the trolls, which we can all tell you didn't intend.

D
09/14/2012 15:47

A devoted fanbase is meaningless to people who are trying to make a living playing instruments other than guitar or piano and who don't sing. I don't think anyone will go "hey, that trumpet player was awesome, I'll have to find other stuff they played on."

09/15/2012 12:50

I think it was really classy of Amanda to invite you to be on the guest list and I hope you take her up on that...I'd be really interested to read about that.

Bob
09/15/2012 22:24

Amy I want to personally thank you from the very bottom of my heart for standing up for what you believe. It is very hard to do sometimes when successful performers try to tell you that you aren't worth paying for sometimes regardless of whatever the excuses they might give us. Yes, if someone is able to raise a million dollars on Kickstarter for a tour they should definitely be able to afford to pay the talent that work very hard and diligently to make them look wonderful. Amanda Palmer obviously has some seriously needed soul-searching to do at this point, or at the very least come to some kind of rationalization that all performers have needs. Some big and some small, but none the less important needs. If money exists, and has been allocated for a tour like "Theater is Evil", then that money should be spent towards everyone that is involved in that performance. Amanda Palmer is a very talented performer and she of all people should understand your point-of-view the best of anyone out there. I tried to read her response to your very professional and sincere message to Amanda Palmer, but it sounded like Amanda was mumbling through it with a glass of wine in one hand, and a bunch of nonsensical excuses in the other. We don't need excuses if you have the cash to afford to tour. If you want a string section, then you pay for a string section. If you want an Opera singer to back your songs, you pay for an Opera singer. If you want someone to haul your crap around from one show to another show, you pay them to haul your crap around. Amanda is being dumb - imho.

04/24/2013 23:33

Never play for free! I couldn't agree more. Would the people who listen work for free?

Anamorphosis
09/12/2012 22:04

I did not mean to respond directly to Matthew. More that there was an overall glich in the blog system that disallowed me to post on the end. I don't know that I have a good answer for this. I know that AFP is not making bank off the money from Kickstarter and so does not have a lot to spray around after pumping it all into her album. I know that lots of musicians are dying to play with AFP for no pay. I know some of them personally. I also know that when a friend of mine recruited all of his artist friends to donate free labor in order to make a Nautilus replica for a wealthy man to use as their personal Burning Man art car, while he was getting paid and they were not, I balked. I refused to join that crew. Others tried to convince me of the cause and that these people were worthy of giving time and artistic effort to even if I had and may not in future ever meet them. I felt that they ought to have either thought to pay an entire crew if they wanted to drive an expensive art car they did not design nor build, or they should let the crew have joint rights, which they didn't. I was told how they did help a lot of people. It did not sway me in my position. So here I am again with a similar dilemma ( though not the same.) An artist who wants something big and cannot afford to or does not want to pay the crew to create the dream. I do have to say that in this case I appreciate that she actually designed and structured the vision, unlike the folks who commissioned the Nautilus project. Part of me, in this case, says "What the hell? What can it hurt?" I have done so much art for free and for the hell of it. Though I do hope Amanda Palmer can compensate them, if not sooner than later, with something. A gift. Some money, A tangible thing that will let those who donated their talents really feel that their music was appreciated and valued in a way that they can look back on and say "Amanda Palmer was very gracious when I helped her out at her concert." And if she doesn't, I will still like her music.

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09/13/2012 11:01

Thank You for this letter. It is incredibly arrogant of Miss Palmer, and hypocritical, to offer no compensation. I'm a signed recording artist who is poor. I have an amazing fan base and I work my tail off. If i ask someone to open for me or perform with me I ALWAYS offer splitting the earnings. For her to think that her presence alone is equal to compensation, that is incredibly arrogant.

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09/13/2012 12:55

It's not arrogant if it's accurate. A lot of people are happy to play with her, for less than she if offering. They aren't doing it because they desperate, and are being forced to do this because of a lousy economy. They are doing this because they are fans of Amanda Palmer, and now they get to sit in on a session. Fans like doing that sort of thing.
Look at Gotye, with "Somebody I used to know". There are dozens, maybe hundreds of people on Youtube playing covers of that song, in all sorts of variations. There were so many covers that they could make a mashup of the best ones, which created some great synergy. The fans did not make money off of this. They didn't get money for the cover, or the mashup. But ask any of them, and they will tell you they came out pretty good in the deal.
The arrogance is in assuming you know how Amanda 'should' treat her fans, or how her fans 'should' treat Amanda.

shane
09/14/2012 10:32

what is a link? sarah june that is. love to hear what you do.

09/10/2012 20:57

Wow. Well said Amy. This is definitely not a NEW problem in the music business but seems to be a growing one. If you ask ANY established artist most of them will probably tell you that while coming up they took "good exposure" gigs and that those experiences helped them in some way or another...but most would also agree that there is a certain point when a "good exposure gig" has no reason to not compensate that artist in a fair way. It can get into a very murky grey area sometimes but this example with Amanda Palmer is one that I think most people, including her fans and especially the people who put money into her kickstarter, will be bummed to learn about. It also baffles me that Amanda and her management didn't think this part through - in this day and age of "fair trade" you have to at least make an effort to let folks know you are doing your best to compensate them and it seems like they are completely clueless to this...(oh but wait, the name of the band is "Grand Theft Orchestra" so maybe they are completely aware of it...
One last thing I'd like to babble about is that as I understand it they aren't just looking for musicians to come "sit in" and jam on a few songs, they are looking for highly qualified players who can learn lots of difficult music and play as part of the opener set and Amanda's set! I bet that's one LONG soundcheck rehearsal!
Power to the real musicians!

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Flora Sussely
09/10/2012 23:03

Brava

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09/10/2012 21:23

People have been known to die from exposure.

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Christopher Vaillancourt
09/10/2012 21:28

I can relate, I can relate...I recently lugged a whole PA system along with my rig over to a shitty dive bar because their system didn't work, played for four hours with four other musicians, and in the end, the owner paid us $200 when they sold so much alcohol, they had to switch from glasses to plastic cups. The bar made almost $1300 during the time we were performing, and we could only talk another $50 out of the guy. Point is, we were ripped off, and that didn't help the morale (our bassist made a note-to-self to scream at the bar owner and insult his mother if he ever does call, but the guy's cheap, so he won't.)
ANYHOW, I too, love Amanda Palmer's music, but for fucks sake, she could AT LEAST buy the contributing musicians each a complimentary puppy and vegetable burrito as a peace offering. You know, lighten the mood....
But in all seriousness, it's difficult to advocate for fair pay when every musician ultimately wants to feel appreciated by an audience. When that opportunity to get that audience is in front of you, it's hard to refuse, but by taking it, it also trivializes your integrity as a musician. There are too many "top 40" cover bands in my area full of musicians who have no choice but to put their talents toward shitty pop music. Yes, that's right, musicians will go THAT FAR just to be able to play for a living. I am lucky - I get cover Poker Face just for fun.
Ultimately, there is many a dead dream and/or goat that have been sacrificed on the Altar of Gig Acquisition. I'm glad you are voicing your discontent - it definitely sparked my thinking on the matter, and while I am not one to often express my opinions publicly, I don't regret doing so. Good luck to you, Amy :)

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Mathme
09/14/2012 12:11

Puppy and vegetable burritos are delicious!

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B
09/15/2012 22:35

I once played a Bar Mitzvah as a DJ when I was teenager and with some help from my friends. We hauled out all the gear. Setup a booth. Took requests for hours and hours. We stayed until they literally kicked us out at the very end with hardly a thank you on the front curbstep. When it came time to pay us they gave all four of us 80 dollars to split. Slammed the door and that was it. It hardly covered the gas. Some people just want something for nothing. It's not a new thing. It's a old idea left over from a old era. Amanda talks about this being the "new" era of music promotion. Yeah, right. If you create a kickstarter and make over a million dollars you damn well better pay everyone that is on stage, and behind the scenes. Nobody needs her excuses when you have that kind of money either. What a joke.

09/11/2012 00:01

Simply put-if you've raised a Kickstarter Campaign amount of $1,000,000-you owe it to your community to at least pay your musicians something decent. I'm a Bay Area native musician who has been totally out of the loop here in the SF Bay Area as I used to live and work and play a 'job' in Tokyo from 2008-2011. I have been extremely lucky to make a 'real living' playing music for a few years where I didn't have to worry about when my next gigs were going to be. I may be barking up the wrong tree when I say I've always wanted to find some sort of stability in the music world without sacrificing my musical ideals and personal values; I might not be the best judge of that but I'm comfortable in my own skin with the decisions I had to make for myself and my family. What I mean about owing something to your community: when I was fortunate enough to get an NEA grant back in the mid-90's-what was the most rewarding aspect of getting $11,000 was the ability to pay some of my favorite musicians what I thought they deserved-within my budget but what I would consider nice pay. I would wish for them the same thing I'd want: good, steady work that is respectful, decent, professionally done. Being able to see them relax, take the money and dig into the gig with smiles on their faces was way more worth it to me than taking more of a cut out of that amount of money. You create a reality that you want both for others and yourself with your actions. Yes-there may be some people that will 'get exposure' by playing for free-but seriously: how does this create a sense of community within music? Please-call me old-fashioned, I'm 50 years old. If we musicians don't take our careers seriously and support each other just by being able to pay one another a fair and decent amount of money-how do we expect people who aren't musicians to look at us? I mean-it's bad enough that club gigs still pay exactly (or less)than they did per person than when I started playing clubs (which I don't anymore) back in 1982? And I would love to do a club gig once in awhile because it's fun-however I have a lot more expenses than I did when I was 20 years old. And we all do-and we all will with time. This trend of playing for nothing just to 'get exposure' is so lame. Might as well play in your living room and do some YouTube videos or do your own thing on a street corner if you're not going to be paid-you might get more exposure that way. Just my 2 cents.

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Strand
10/07/2012 18:30

Paul, just catching onto this "controversy" a little late.

Interesting arguments from both sides, though I'm leaning more towards the insight you've provided based on your experience, as well as the fundamental fact that, after amassing more than $1M on Kickstarter, calling out for volunteerism amongst musicians - some of the bottommost of the wrung for freelance - seems a bit tasteless.

Thanks for sharing.

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Jman
09/11/2012 01:03

Never heard of her

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musicians' advocate
09/11/2012 05:01

Amanda's comments on how her kickstarter money is being spent:
http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120821/

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Bruce Fife
09/11/2012 10:59

Well said, Amy. You know how I feel about this, and I have posted several times on her blog regarding this disrespectful treatment of the talented musicians she is looking to use. It is so refreshing to see a musician stand up for themselves and just say no to a crappy gig. Now if we can get more to do the same, we can elevate the level of respect and compensation that musicians deserve.

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John
09/13/2012 12:57

I respect Amanda. I don't respect you.

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David
09/14/2012 11:22

we get it you insufferable fan-boy. You don't want your precious queen to get besmirched for bilking a loyal fanbase. Now move along.

Elo
09/11/2012 15:52

Raising 1 million for your tour and cd via kickstarter and then not paying the musicians at your shows....wrong on so many levels I don't know where to begin. Sad how money can put people so out of touch. I suggest people write them and tell them so. http://www.amandapalmer.net/contact/

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Kevin
09/13/2012 23:28

I definitely think she should pay the "volunteers" she's recruiting. But the money she raised via Kickstarter was *not* for the tour she's on now; it was for completion of the album, paying related expenses, and covering the costs of the six-city tour she and her band played in conjunction with the art shows prior to the album's release.

A fairly detailed "back of the napkin" breakdown can be found here: http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/where-all-this-kickstarter-money-is-going-by-amanda/

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Gilberto
09/14/2012 13:48

Regardless of how she spent the million, it's ridiculous of her to describe to press how much money she can raise in a single evening selling shirts or over the course of a Kickstarter campaign and then shrug her shoulders that she can't pay people to help her out. I'm sure the fans that so eagerly supported her other projects would chip in to a money-raising event for this. And isn't she making money selling tickets or at the door anyway?

09/11/2012 20:08

Yes, to all of the above.

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Jonnie Gilman
09/11/2012 23:16

I looked at the announcement about it on her site. Sounds like it would be a good opportunity for someone who is transitioning out of being an amateur. Professionals charge for their work. That's how it is. No need to get up in Amanda's business because she chooses not to hire professionals to work with her. It is really your choice to make.

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D
09/14/2012 21:57

However, she's paying pro musicians for dates in major cities, I.e. gigs that "matter," and she's making the "volunteers" audition and learn new material beforehand.

It also makes it easier for

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Travis Hartnett
09/12/2012 07:52

Ironic considering she spent a decade complaining that her record label wouldn't fund her projects. Now she IS the record label, and she's...unwilling to fully fund her projects. However, as a bonus gift to her Kickstarter supporters, she did ship out a color stereogram nude photo of herself. So, there was budget for that, just not for all the musicians to stage her ever more elaborate tours.

New Boss = Old Boss.

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09/15/2012 06:57

yes, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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09/12/2012 08:20

Excellent letter, Amy. Bravo.

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Robb Jarrett
09/12/2012 08:38

I have only played in crappy cover bands so my experience in music as a profession is limited. Does Amy believe Amanda needs to "pay her fair share"...?

If you don't like the terms of the gig don't take it.

I read this as an opportunity to intern. Outside of music, I have benefited from intern experience. The reason I can now bill for my services is because I payed it forward with a little sweat equity. I believe, in a free society, you get paid for what you do (if you are good enough).

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D
09/14/2012 09:54

That isn't the problem. The problem is that professional musicians playing for free undermines the value of all musicians' work.

The corollary of "you get paid for what you do:" is :"you get what you pay for;" my guess is she won't be getting a lot of quality musicians.

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Uncle Mikey
09/12/2012 08:54

I am of two minds on this. First, undoubtedly, you ask a very good question. As a designer/photographer I have done tons of pro bono work for musician friends, but I'd feel differently about plying my trade for free for someone who was making a decent living. So I will be interested in hearing Amanda's response to this.

At the same time, while I understand your strong feelings, this all comes off as kind of harsh. I do not think Amanda Palmer is "the 1%," I think she is sincerely passionate about her art, and about promoting and helping other artists, and more generous of herself than she needs to be (I'm thinking of concerts where I would have paid double what the ticket cost was, long meet-and-greets, free shows at Occupy last year, and other things). I think at worst this is a misstep, not a case of success going to her head or some deliberate attempt to exploit still-starving artists.

Short form? All things considered it would be appropriate for her to offer some sort of compensation to the fill-in musicians. But unless somebody posts pictures of her killing puppy dogs, I don't think my overall positive opinion of Amanda Palmer is likely to change anytime soon.

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RobK
09/12/2012 11:36

This is the fundamental problem with this whole movement of "have-nots," you're no better than anyone else when you suddenly become "haves."

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09/12/2012 11:59

Thank you for posting this!

I just released a Kindle title about the whole Amanda Palmer/Louis CK crowdfunding efforts and its implications for the independent musician. [“An Indie Musician Wake Up Call “] and I wish I had read this before I published the book as I would have added some additional comments!

In terms of crowdfunding, I think that what worked for Amanda Palmer and Louis CK worked because of the unique efforts and situations around them. Following either path verbatim will probably not give anyone else the same result. Musicians who wish to succeed in that manner will have to adapt those models to what works for them.

I don't know anything about Ms. Palmer's volunteer requests but I've had my college alumni office (of an arts school) ask their musician alumni to play for them for free and they were genuinely surprised that it ruffled people's feathers. I think that as a professional you're 100% right to want to get paid SOMETHING to perform. I suspect, as you do, that there will be a line of people willing to play anyways to put a line on the resume. It would be interesting to talk to them a year from now to see if anyone was able to parlay that into a paying gig.

Years ago, I attended a lecture by the former manager of the band Boston. The asked the class how many people in the room had every played a charity gig. A number of us raised their hands. He then asked us how many people were paid for those gigs and no one raised their hands. We all thought he was kind of an ass to even think that way.

He then told us that the band Boston was often approached to do charity gigs and that the band’s answer to any charity was that they'd be happy to play for free under the condition that every other person associated with the event (from organizers and administrators to facilities) also worked for free. Because the manager didn’t see why an organizer would be paid to work an event while the band that people came to see, played for free.

They never ended up playing a single charity.

Bands and artists need to look out for themselves. It's a valuable lesson (if an unintentional one) that Ms. Palmer is demonstrating here if the situation is what appears to be.

Thanks again!

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Kevin
09/13/2012 23:36

I haven't done it myself (haven't done that first book yet), but I believe you can update Kindle ebooks; the revised version will then be available to both new purchasers and those who've already bought copies.

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'End To End' Benton
09/16/2012 18:32

Are you suggesting Scott should rewrite his ebook.... for free?

Deb
09/14/2012 11:49

Exactly! I will do charity gigs for free if everyone else is working for free. Otherwise, they can pay me, like everyone else. Charity is big business and few people realize that.

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KEITH FIELDS
09/12/2012 12:05

She got a deal, good for her. If she has integrity it will show

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09/12/2012 12:15

I've been doing projects of my own with orchestra for many years. I always find a way to pay the musicians union scale (like we are going to get rich on that!). It can be done the right way, I have no sympathy for Ms. Palmer. If she would like to approach the Colorado Chamber Orchestra, we'd be happy to talk about a collaboration for her appearance here in Denver. We can help supply real working professional musicians who get paid fairly.

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MS
09/14/2012 22:42

She already has professional musicians for Denver. ;) We're doing it for free, because we would be there anyway. Sometimes, you play music just for the fun of it, and that's what we're doing.

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Nancy Nickle
09/12/2012 12:50

Amy: I tend to agree with you. An artist needs to be paid for their work. Amanda wants free labor. She, if anyone, should understand about an artist receiving payment for their work.

I wish you well, and would love to hear your music.

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09/12/2012 17:37

I never heard of Amanda Palmer until I saw this info posted on a friends FB thread. I am impartial to her work, influence and history.

Here were my 2 responses.

I think this is horseshit. Stuff like this goes on all the time in the spiritual world. It's called "Give me something for the opportunity to be with me". People can use as many words they want to describe it differently. Pay the people who do work for you. Period. To me it keeps the transaction clean. If she is going to crowd-source, pay them something.

and....

I found this other statement on line that I have kept with me...

It was directed to a graphic designer.

"Your teacher is completely correct. Don't work for free, ever. First, because it devalues the work everyone else does and the field at large. Second, you don't want to develop a reputation as an artist who is totally okay to do work for the glorious opportunity to show it off in their portfolio because that's how you end up never getting paid."

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Wayne
09/13/2012 00:28

As a musician I would be more than happy to play with Amanda for free. I don't believe that makes me naive. As an artist and an individual we all have a right to decide what we do with our talents and our energy. It's not up to you to convince people not to play music for free - that's their choice.
As a musician/artist I don't attribute an hourly rate to my work. She's not forcing people to play, she's not tricking people into doing it for free she's asking for "volunteers" - people who WANT to do this with her.
I appreciate your opinion but I disagree.

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madrigorne
09/14/2012 10:26

yup, its not like the job interview you got all dressed up for for the 'awesome sales position' that turned into door to door Amway a half hour in, AFP is asking her fans to come play with her, if they want to. Don't do it if you dont want to, noone is being sneaky, underhanded or dastardly.

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D
09/14/2012 15:44

It wouldn't be sneaky for, say, GM to invite people to work for free for them,. but it would undermine the union workers who have negotiated a fair wage.

I know the situations are not analoguous, but they're called "union scale rates" for a reason.

Lana
09/14/2012 22:43

THANK YOU.

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09/13/2012 05:40

Amy, firstly, I would like to say that your letter is incredibly well written, and obviously heartfelt. I can feel your passion for your art through your words.

I have been a long time fan of Amanda, starting back when she was with the Dresden Dolls. At every show I have attended, they have always passed a hat around and asked for donations for their opening acts, and reminded their fans to support any buskers that entertained them in line. Amanda continued this in her solo shows, sending a hat around for acts like Nervous Cabaret. In her latest email she again reminds her fans of the importance of supporting buskers, emphasizing that two members of the Grand Theft Orchestra were full-time buskers before joining her band. I personally do not believe her intention is to exploit free labor. I think that she is looking for people who are as passionate about art as she is.

When the opportunity came to support her via Kickstarter, I was excited to do so. I contributed to the campaign at the $300 level, thanks to a tax return windfall. Looking through the various package choices, I chose the Summer Mailbox Invasion Surprise Arts and Crafts Package, which included 4 "arts and crafts style surprise packages", a glossy art book, four 7" vinyl singles, and the album both on vinyl and CD. I got amazing quality records with gorgeous art sleeves and a beautiful display case. Each is a different color translucent vinyl. I got stickers to label the world ART or NOT ART and then posted photos of my creations to Amanda's website and twitter. My favorite item was a gorgeous Moleskine journal with the AFP GTO logo embossed on the cover. There was a project to make a poster with a supplied frame and cleverly designed stickers from the art book, which were again posted on the website and twitter. The final package contained a cool 3D spectagram thing of the entire band saying "thank you", post cards of various "ART/NOT ART", a phone book page from the New York City Party, the book and the album. I totally felt that I got my money's worth. Other higher tier packages were even more involved- some had hand-painted turntables, and some even got personal visits from Amanda. The sheer amount of time and effort involved in getting all of this stuff together for 25,000 supporters is mind-boggling to me- but Amanda and her team pulled it off, AND THANKED EACH SUPPORTER BY NAME. 25,000 names. Then there are the actual costs of producing a record and going on tour. So I really don't think that Amanda is banking a whole lot of money here.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is freedom of choice. If you WANT to play with Amanda then great, do it. She is not masking the fact that this is an unpaid gig. If you do not feel that this is a good fit for your talents, then that is also your choice. Please, though, stop and consider the points I have raised. Thank you.

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Wayne
09/13/2012 06:06

Ardency,

Well said. I think people forget the amount of money going back into the kickstarter bundles (and the cost of producing the record which i think was around 250K?) and think that Amanda is now $1M richer.

But what can you do? Some people will ignore 90% of the facts to make their opinion more attractive.

Wayne

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Mab
09/13/2012 20:12

An extremely important point people keep forgetting that you've now mentioned here: "(and the cost of producing the record which i think was around 250K?)"

Why exactly was it 250K to produce this record?
Well, because artists of all types of artists, including musicians, insisted on being paid. Perhaps more importantly, Amanda saw fit (or was forced to see fit) to pay those who's time SHE BELIEVED was valuable. Sadly, how is this determined? Most often by their quota of fame, name recognition and/or friendship status. But professional-ish (sic) musicians with no name recognition are worthy of beer and merchandise only? Wonder if Tim Pope would have let beer and merchandise suffice for his time spent creating "The Killing Type" video.

This is what worries me, that suddenly the chance to just be on stage with AMANDA seems to be 'gift' enough in her eyes.

It's a simple question (once again) of the haves and have nots. Those that have yet again have no reason to truly respect the have nots, even when they are truly going out of their way for the haves.

Still love Amanda, but think she needs to rethink this one (and not just to fill her mind with great sounding counter arguments), think of those who can't pay their bills and yet have the very same dreams she has, and perhaps the same (if not, shockingly enough, more) talent than she has. Their only crime, not having the same luck she has had. This idea that if someone hasn't made it it's because they didn't fight, practice, work hard enough is an inane excuse and so therefore can be taken advantage of. Luck will always play a huge role in those that make it and those that don't, and while waiting for their lucky day these working, struggling, talented human beings deserve at least to be able to feed themselves and their families, just as those who earned part of that 250K get to feed their families (most likely in grand style).

Those that do play for her, hope you all have a ball and that she takes the time to put each of your names in her personal rolodex to give you the recognition (and true opportunities) you deserve in the future, and/or you're able to turn the 'opportunity' into something better for your careers. Because that's what music is to most, a dream career.

Wayne
09/13/2012 06:06

Ardency,

Well said. I think people forget the amount of money going back into the kickstarter bundles (and the cost of producing the record which i think was around 250K?) and think that Amanda is now $1M richer.

But what can you do? Some people will ignore 90% of the facts to make their opinion more attractive.

Wayne

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Gene
09/14/2012 10:20

Well said.. is someone going to argue that a million isn't enough to make a great record and tour? She kind of makes it sound like "me and my friends are going to paint the barn and have a show"

Wayne
09/13/2012 06:06

Ardency,

Well said. I think people forget the amount of money going back into the kickstarter bundles (and the cost of producing the record which i think was around 250K?) and think that Amanda is now $1M richer.

But what can you do? Some people will ignore 90% of the facts to make their opinion more attractive.

Wayne

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Wayne
09/13/2012 06:06

Ardency,

Well said. I think people forget the amount of money going back into the kickstarter bundles (and the cost of producing the record which i think was around 250K?) and think that Amanda is now $1M richer.

But what can you do? Some people will ignore 90% of the facts to make their opinion more attractive.

Wayne

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09/13/2012 06:16

I agree that public perception of Ms. Palmer's earnings are not in alignment with her actual net.

This perception, however, has nothing to do with paying musicians to perform with you.

If she wants to cut costs, she could tour with backing tracks. If you want to perform with professionals, you should pay them. If you want to perform with amateurs, you shouldn't charge people money for the performance.

She was bound to get a backlash after the kickstarter campaign, but
she should budget for musicians if she wants to play with them. The public perception of her ability to pay out of pocket, is the issue between the lines that I think is generating the rancor.

Here's the funny thing.

She could have done the same thing - BUT approached local universities in the towns she wanted to play in and done a quid pro quo with the music departments. Hell, she probably would have gotten an honorarium to lecture about crowdfunding, a venue to perfom in AND free musicians because she wouldn't have had to pay out of pocket for them.

Same result. Different perception.

That million dollar + raised figure will be both a boon and an albatross. I'll also bet that if she does another crowdsourcing effort it's not going to raise anywhere near what she did this time.

Amy VS
09/13/2012 10:33

Thanks, Ardency! All excellent points, and the best supporting argument I've heard yet.

Though I did not contribute to Amanda's kickstarter this time around, I did contribute what I could when she was on tour with Neil. It was one of the most memorable shows I've witnessed, and I too was pleased with the gift I got for contributing. Also, yes, gratitude does go a long way!

Here are some new points to offer in response, and I would love to get your take on these. All the items you mentioned you received, were those donated items? Did the artists, sound engineers, copiers, editors, and all others going into realizing these gifts get paid for their services? If these items and services were donated then I would see a valid point. My guess is that they were not, so how are a musician's services any different?

Another thought, it is an amazing and wonderful thing that Amanda and some of her bandmates got their start busking. I love that she supports buskers, and adamantly so! That is certainly a route to success, and even more so with technology making art so accessible. Consider though, is she making ANY money off of ticket sales and merchandise while on this tour? If so, then she's providing this opportunity for volunteer musicians and making a profit off of it. Are the musicians not adding value to her performance? How is this not patronizing and exploitive?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this!
Warmest regards,
Amy

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09/14/2012 14:38

Hi Amy--

Since my own thoughts mostly echo your own, I'll keep it short: Thank you for your time, energy, and thoughtfulness in speaking on this issue. I have a ton of respect for Palmer, and was thrilled to see how successful her Kickstarter project was. This, though, this is just exploitative. I think it's an abuse of power, and I join you in hoping that she'll be receptive to the outcry about this.

Great work on this, and thank you for speaking up!

Best,

Andy

09/13/2012 09:21

Very well said.

Although I have never been a fan of kickstarter, I was impressed with her accomplishment. I hoped that she would pay that forward including paying musicians and anyone else who worked for her.

I only play for free when the proceeds are going to something that I believe in. But where there is a profit being made, then everyone should be rewarded accordingly.

I always pay musicians who play for me, including my teenage daughter when she joins me on fiddle.

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JohnB
09/13/2012 09:36

A big problem with this, as a volunteer, you are thought of as a volunteer. You're NOT a paid performer and that can change peoples attitude around you. If you have a better idea or a different way of doing something, they don't want to hear it. You're just a volunteer. There are times to volunteer and there are times not to.

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Cat
09/13/2012 11:38

If I were lucky enough to be musical, I'd be right up there joining Amanda's band. It sounds like a lot of fun. Besides that, I'd be playing with someone whose music I admire, I'd be meeting other musicians, I'd actually be on stage not only having a blast, but learning another baby step in how to do it. To me it would be a valuable experience. And just like every other musician fan who is up there in the volunteer band I'd be dreaming of being discovered. I think this is a great opportunity for amateur musicians to gain a little knowledge, show my stuff to professionals, meet other musicians and have a blast. Stop being grumpy people. Amanda, write me, maybe I can at least try to sing back-up. Thanks!

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Mab
09/13/2012 20:30

This is exactly what I have a problem with, this idea that you are less than and THEY are more than. So much so that you're willing to play with someone you 'admire' in the hopes of being what? admired in return? "meeting musicians", "actually being on stage", gaining "a valuable experience"? The problem with this is firstly, she asked for profesional-ish musicians, people who have already done all these things you've mentioned and perhaps more, secondly, your seeing it only as a 'dream come true' situation, where as these musicians are not only dreaming, they're trying to survive while doing what they've trained, lived, and breathed every day of their lives, just as Amanda did and does. The only difference is that she has a rapt audience and they've not yet found one (or a large enough one) to be valued by Amanda. Valued enough to be paid for that experience.
And if you're naive enough to think any "showing (your) stuff to professionals" will be going on, well then... your naive about what limited time there is in putting together a show, let alone one in which you have to train 8+ new musicians before that night's show. Hugs and a nod to the merchandise table will be about all the attention these musicians will most likely be afforded if I go by my experience. Though I'll admit Amanda seems to always be a bit more gracious with her time after shows, so I'm hoping, again, that they truly will be making lasting musical connections that will re-pay them for their time. Just have significant others take a quick pic of them on stage with the Great AFP isn't enough, after all the Great AFP is merely a young woman named Amanda who dreamed and worked to become a working musician, just as these volunteers are hoping to become.
No one is grumpy, no one is angry... we just see an hopefully overlooked injustice not worthy of the Amanda we've come to love and hope she will see fit to at least see our side, if not reconsider.

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LM
09/14/2012 23:32

Oh whatever.

Also, you're*.

Bobby
09/13/2012 13:00

I work part time as a musician and do play charity gigs. Those are the only times I play for free.

If someone is getting paid for the event they are splitting it with me or they are getting someone else. It's that simple. My time and skills are worth something to me.

I have a vision of a beautiful house that would enrich my nieghborhood. Here's an oppurtunity to intern and help create while honing your skills to make my vision come true.

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Zeke
09/13/2012 17:10

Interesting. I'm a visual artist. People see my works and gush about them then say "will you make one for me?" When I tell them they can purchase one for $350.00, they look shocked. What they were obviously expecting was either for me to take it off the wall and hand it to them and say "here" or spend several hours of my time and a couple of hundred dollars in materials to create one for them. As I've said to the more rude individuals at the receptions, "If there were a gastroenterologist here tonight, would you go up to them, drop your pants, and say, 'Hey, Doc, care to give me a free colonoscopy?' No? I didn't think so. Now have the same courtesy to me--pay me for my work."

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Cat
09/13/2012 18:18

Bobby and Zeke, I think you're losing sight of what happened: Amanda asked for volunteers. Playing in her band was not a requirement of attending her show. But by joining in, if you wanted, you could meet and play with musicians you might not have met otherwise, and, so, make new contacts. You could also meet Amanda -- probably you have some interest in her music if you are here now talking about this. I really don't see a down-side to or anything underhanded about this offer.

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D
09/15/2012 17:05

The downside is that it sets a precedent that big acts (and let's face it, she's better off than a lot of artists) can lowball musicians. It's not a good thing.

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Abi
09/13/2012 19:48

Hey Amy,

So I actually just stumbled across this blog rather by accident as I was interested in people's reactions to this whole mess. I'm glad I did though as you seem to be both logical as well as trying to hold an intelligent discourse. After reading hundreds of random hateful comments from people who appeared to be completely unfamiliar with Amanda's work and under the erroneous impression that she just earned $1 mill profit---it was refreshing to hear a thoughtful critical response. My below comments are not meant to be confrontational, yet merely add a different perspective.

First of all, I'm biased. I've seen Amanda three times in concert (and actually am planning on going to a concert again on this Friday) as well as paid for multiple DD and solo studio records of hers. I respect that she is searching for answers and trying to forge a viable path to success in an industry that is on hard times to say the least. I've also watched her bend over backward by promoting fellow musicians both online & in person, not to mention passionately call on audiences to contribute to her opening acts (and drama troupe one time). And while I've never been to one of her "ninja gigs," according to Twitter and pictures people have posted from said events over the past 10ish years--I know that Amanda has done literally hundreds of free gigs herself. So I find the whole "she's part of the one percent trying to profit off the backs of the little people" trope to be a little farfetched.

However, I understand wanting to be paid for your work. I worked my tail off working three jobs to put myself through college on my own so that I could graduate debt free. One of these jobs though was as a photographer. It's my art. The thrill and joy I get out of both crafting a picture as well as getting someone who is uncomfortable or thinks themselves unattractive in photos to really open up---is one of my life's greatest pleasures. Despite loving what I do and happily doing it for free when I knew the people I was doing it for were broke as well, photography has been a business for me for several years. I think I'm above average and I want to be paid accordingly for my work. Therefore, I tell people what I charge almost immediately when contacted based on the situation. I've had plenty of people not contact me again after telling them how much I charge. It's their choice. I've also done free shoots for connected people who I knew could afford it---after they agreed to promote my work. Sometimes I make several new paying clients--sometimes nothing comes about from free shoots. But it's my choice to work for free as well as charge rates that I know are too high for a lot of people.

I guess what I'm driving at is that I believe life is all about choices that people need to own. I don't really have sympathy for struggling musicians whining about how they have no food or can't pay the rent--when the majority of them could find work in other fields if they were so inclined. There seems to be a prevailing attitude among many artists that they are entitled to spend all of their time making work that may or may not be successful or have a purpose or be aesthetically or musically pleasing--but that the rest of the world "owes them" as they are a special breed.

Nonsense. The fact is that due to technology, globalization and several other factors which have enabled people to both create art (especially music) as well as instantaneously share it rather cheaply--has led to an over-saturation in the market. The fact is, sometimes talented people just are never going to make it. Harsh, but that's a reality and the sooner they learn that and seek other jobs/stop being a burden on society-- the better. Granted, there are a lot of great artists who if they had simply quit making art when they were broke, would have made the world a far sadder place. In fact several of my favorite painters were broke till they day they died (Van Gogh being a prime example). I hope these people with exceptional talent continue making art even if they have to turn to other sources of income or have strong support networks of friends, family and spouses to fund them.

I firmly believe though, that nobody owes artists a living. Or anyone else in any other profession for that matter. It is up to the individual to make exceptional work that is lucrative. Or to realize that for whatever reason (luck, timing, culture), one’s art will never be lucrative and then make the conscious choice to either be content and find a way to continue on—or accept that one needs to change professions and hopefully will still have the time to create art on the weekends. But demanding that someone pay you a certain wage by virtue of being broke or because you are an artist is absurd. Even if they can afford it. Simply set your terms and say no if the opportunity is offensive.

And for that matter---from a purely business perspective, Amanda is paying her professional musici

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Abi
09/13/2012 19:54

.......And for that matter---from a purely business perspective, Amanda is paying her professional musicians thousands of dollars already. It makes no sense at all to spend tens of thousands more to have an additional 7ish people fly around the world with her just for them to play for about three songs during her set. Especially when there are several people willing and eager to get up on stage with their musical hero for free. And especially when these sounds can be fairly well replicated on a computer or keyboard. At the end of the day—it was never a question of “should I pay thousands of dollars for professional musicians who would be foremost doing this for the money and expecting a ‘union wage’ despite only playing three songs even though fans or my computer would happily do the same service for free?”

Want higher pay? Create better art with a better client network and focus on a niche market. Want more respect for what you do? People aren’t going to better appreciate classical music/musicians if they hide their head in the sands in and petulantly say no to opportunities that could hold a crossover market one day. Doesn’t work? Change jobs.

I apologize for the book length of this post and hope I have walked softly enough to not trample too many dreams.

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Ak
09/27/2012 07:14

09/14/2012 07:47

Hi Abi,

This whole debate has really got me thinking. I didn't really have an opinion before reading Amy's letter and Amanda's reply, but as a beginning writer and artist, I realize it's an important issue.

And I really agree with you! One of my favorite writer/artists of all time, Harvey Pekar, never quit his day job working at the VA hospital. Even though his work became nationally known, he never "sold out," and ultimately never made enough for it to be his only job. That didn't make him any less successful as an artist--his success is the fact that he moved people with his strange, honest art.

I have a day job. I might have a day job forever. It might be specifically art-related, like being a tattoo artist, or it might be something totally different. The thing is, having a day job or not isn't what defines me as a successful artist; my success or failure comes from the quality of my work and how it affects people.

I agree that everyone makes their own choices, and I think you have an intelligent way of going about it. "No one owes you a living." You're right, you have to earn it.

Anyway, sorry for rambling.

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D
09/14/2012 08:46

However, a lot of professional musicians earn ther living through gigs like this.

She's asking for horn players, and aside from the shrinking jazz market there are few opportunities for such players, who have to invest a lot of time and effort into getting good. Trumpet players do not get kick starter campaigns or record deals. Thus is directly cutting into their livelihood, and "volunteers" in this case look an awful lot like scabs.

The problem isn't this one gig, it's the precedent being set.
This sets a precedent as well, be aus

Abi
09/13/2012 19:53

.........And for that matter---from a purely business perspective, Amanda is paying her professional musicians thousands of dollars already. It makes no sense at all to spend tens of thousands more to have an additional 7ish people fly around the world with her just for them to play for about three songs during her set. Especially when there are several people willing and eager to get up on stage with their musical hero for free. And especially when these sounds can be fairly well replicated on a computer or keyboard. At the end of the day—it was never a question of “should I pay thousands of dollars for professional musicians who would be foremost doing this for the money and expecting a ‘union wage’ despite only playing three songs even though fans or my computer would happily do the same service for free?”

Want higher pay? Create better art with a better client network and focus on a niche market. Want more respect for what you do? People aren’t going to better appreciate classical music/musicians if they hide their head in the sands in and petulantly say no to opportunities that could hold a crossover market one day. Doesn’t work? Change jobs.

I apologize for the book length of this post and hope I have walked softly enough to not trample too many dreams.

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D
09/14/2012 08:50

Would you do your job for free?

She doesn't have to "fly 7ish people around the world." she can find and pay local people. For musicians who pay instruments not associated with rock, There is no real possibility of further exposure. In fact, I would think it could ostracize such musicians.

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Abi
09/14/2012 11:17

Hey D,

You're right--she could pay local people, no need to fly a second band around the world with her. But my argument still stands, it would be absurd to pay professionals expecting "performance" rates or a "union wage" for literally 15 minutes on stage + practice. If she was paying them proportionately to the amount of time worked instead of what these pros would be charging for a "performance" then maybe it could work. But then the logistics and contracts would be a little ridiculous. Not to mention again that a computer or fans would do this service for free anyway.

And there's a reason why the classical music industry has been seeing more challenges recently--assuming that people at a rock show aren't going to appreciate their skill/think they're cool/wouldn't later look them up and patronage them is a good place to start though. As long as classical musicians keep within their bubble, that bubble is going to continue to shrink as classical music becomes less and less popular. These musicians are eventually going to have to find new ways to sell themselves/market themselves/gain a individual following as people just aren't going to many orchestras/other like events that much anymore (excluding major cities--and even then...) Despite being a different genre--classical musicians will have to start taking pointers from musicians in other genres if they want to survive and continuing basically doing what they love to do.

Ex. B.o.B has done like three professional mixtapes that he's made available for free over the years. These mixtapes are just as high sound quality as albums (and have had better songs than his studio albums even in my opinion). What do you know--he's made tons of fans that way (like me) who will support and buy his real albums even if they're not really into the studio albums out of respect for him. Say what you will--if people put out quality free stuff, most adults who can afford it and care about the arts will then try to support those artists.

And yes, I've done several free shoots for people---and ended up making substantial amounts of money from connections from my free shoots.

And fyi, Amanda just wrote a huge blog addressing this mess--and it turns out she has been paying a large number of these "volunteers" actually. And intends on paying or otherwise supporting as many of these volunteers as possible.

http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120913/

D
09/14/2012 13:15

Why is it "absurd?" They are profesional, trained musicians who are hired to learn arrangments and play them within a day. They should be paid the proper rate.

Nobody is going to be looking at the trumpet or cello player and thinking "hey, I should buy their T-shirt"

The argument that "the market is changing" is nonsense. Change may be inevitable, but that's not the same as locking in unfair rules out of convenience.

Abi
09/15/2012 12:13

Hey D,

Real quick. It's absurd because a professional musician charges $200-400? an hour for these types of performances. And according to the show I saw last night--Amanda needs them on stage for about 20 minutes (and about 14 of those minutes were actually for Jherek Bischoff--her bass player/opening act). They were all sight reading so it's not like that had lots of practice either but lets add in two hours for that. So for 2.25 hours--getting paid $300... Or $130 an hour for one musician and music that wasn't even really able to be heard that clearly over the guitars/drums. How can you not see that this would destroy her touring budget?

She already spent the 1mill on the record (getting a big name producer/the art shows/promoting and on the insanely high quality kickstarter bundles). So the tour is on it's own now. The show last night was $22 a ticket--and even though it was sold out, it was a small venue and the most that would have been made is about $14,000. To pay her band (three people), the opening bands (Ronald Reagan and the Simple Pleasure so five more people), her tech/videographer girl, her lighting/sound person, stage manager, bus driver, merch team, the venue's percentage, upkeep the very high tech (expensive) stage props, and maybe pay herself if there's any money left. Touring almost never makes artists any money... This is in fact where they tend to go broke. There's a reason why Lady Gaga went bankrupt four times over touring. Not that strange. Amanda wasn't joking when she said she couldn't afford seven $130/hour musicians every night.

D
09/15/2012 14:12

I doubt the asking rate is $300. I've heard closer to $50. She estimated $35,000 herself. It really doesn't seem like that much, considering her surplus from her kickstarter.

Abi
09/18/2012 16:35

Wait, wait, wait. Hold up---D, we went from needs to be performance wages and a living wage to being okay with paying the musicians $50? That's basically the amount of money she's giving everyone! Free ticket, plus free alcohol, plus free merch is actually much greater than $50 in most cases. (And these are all fans who would have spent this amount anyway thus it translates to literal cash).

And according to her massive open letter to Amy on this--she's been trying to pay as many people as she can on top of the money what she's already giving. http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120914/

Entire argument completely invalid now.

Deb
09/18/2012 18:52

Merch is costing AFP a fraction of what she is selling it for. A $20 t-shirt is costing her probably $2. The art book is probably only $10. Even if they get a physical CD, that still like a $1 or $2. Beer is given to performers by the venues so that's not coming out of AFP's pocket. They're on stage so that's a non-issue and I don't think she's giving them extra tickets for their friends so that's a non-issue. So at most, the musicians are "comped" $34 worth of stuff that AFP has written off as a business expense *at its full value* (meaning she's writing off the t-shirt as a $20 expense, not a $2 one because that's how much she sells them for). Why not just give the musicians the option of taking merch or the cash equivalent? That's giving the musicians a choice.

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Abi
09/13/2012 19:53

.........And for that matter---from a purely business perspective, Amanda is paying her professional musicians thousands of dollars already. It makes no sense at all to spend tens of thousands more to have an additional 7ish people fly around the world with her just for them to play for about three songs during her set. Especially when there are several people willing and eager to get up on stage with their musical hero for free. And especially when these sounds can be fairly well replicated on a computer or keyboard. At the end of the day—it was never a question of “should I pay thousands of dollars for professional musicians who would be foremost doing this for the money and expecting a ‘union wage’ despite only playing three songs even though fans or my computer would happily do the same service for free?”

Want higher pay? Create better art with a better client network and focus on a niche market. Want more respect for what you do? People aren’t going to better appreciate classical music/musicians if they hide their head in the sands in and petulantly say no to opportunities that could hold a crossover market one day. Doesn’t work? Change jobs.

I apologize for the book length of this post and hope I have walked softly enough to not trample too many dreams.

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Abi
09/13/2012 19:55

SORRY FOR THE REPEATS! I hate it when that happens.

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Mab
09/13/2012 21:00

Guess the final point I'd have to add to this would be merely... IF (and that's a BIG IF) Amanda CAN pay... for musicians, lodging, food, etc; she should be thrilled to pay those who've gone out of their way for her and her lovely musical entourage... IF she cannot pay yet then I believe what she's doing is absolutely fine... creative, freeing, community building, even artistic. But when the ability to pay presents itself I don't believe any of those qualities would be lost by paying her supporters and volunteers.

And Amanda, whether you like what most of the above disenters have written or not we have (at least) proved once again that WE ARE THE MEDIA!! <3
Long live AFP and her Grand Theft Orchestra (including its more transitory members) :)

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D
09/14/2012 09:57

No. If she can't pay, then she shouldn't get the musicians. Period.

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Trin
09/13/2012 22:10

thank you Amy for this blog post. it's probably the best one I've seen so far, and tries to remain as objective and logical as possible while still putting forward your opinion.

also, thank you to Abi, who was able to say very easily what I've been struggling to convey over however many channels I've discussed this situation on by now. :)

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Abre
09/13/2012 22:30

Dear Amy,

Four things:-

1. No one is forcing anyone to work for free. If Amanda ASKED for volunteers, it's up to you to (or anyone) to decide if volunteering is something you are able to, or want to do or not. Realistically you don't know what circumstances the volunteers or Amanda is truly in - you only have your perception.

2. You seem stuck on the million dollar kickstarter and convinced Amanda is making fistfuls of money from it all. Unless you are also Amanda's accountant or Amanda or someone involved in her business you really have no idea what amount of money has/is being spent and on what – and additionally, only she gets to decide what amount she wants to make/spend on her art - not you or any other person of the face of the planet gets to decide what profit she should or should not make. There’s no law that says she shouldn’t make a profit, or should spend all her money on her art. You make a choice how to earn and spend your own money, you don’t get to decide how Amanda makes hers.

3. Payment comes in more forms than money. Exposure, pleasure, exchange of ideas, goodwill, friendship etc.

4. And this one is the kicker. I buy tickets to Amanda's shows. I buy Merch. I supported the kickstarter. I have begun supporting musicians and artists I have seen through Amanda's shows. I buy their albums/art/merch. I go to their shows. I’ve commissioned pieces. I am grateful and pleased that they wanted to participate to make Amanda's shows awesome and that they're fantastic in and of themselves. I make the choice to spend my money/time/energy and efforts on things that I like. Amanda is absolutely one of the most giving performers out there, and the fact her kickstarter made a million dollars meant that more awesome things were available in the kickstarter. The merch is high quality. The fact that she gets volunteer musicians doesn’t bother me in the slightest because the money she saves there is spent making other things even more awesome than they already were.

You are absolutely entitled to your opinion. And I’m sorry you’re doing it so tough, or that others you know are. But I honestly think you are wrong – and you just don’t get it.

Thank you,

Abre.


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Vikt
09/14/2012 00:47

Abre, you get it. Amy and those like her do not get it. This "Letter To Amanda Palmer" is the typical reaction (whining) to those who have worked and discovered how to succeed.

As is typical in our society, those who are too ignorant and/or too lazy to figure out how to make something work usually become jealous and demanding from someone who has figured it out. It's pathetic.

Palmer has given many examples of how to succeed, yet most of the examples will be "unseen" or outright ignored or by those with jealousy clouding their vision.

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D
09/14/2012 08:55

Nonsense. These are not potential singer songwriters with their own CDs for the merch table. She is asking for pro horn and string players, who make their living "volunteering"for a for-profit gig simply ruins the market for others.

The sad thing is that this is the kind of stuff someone like Mitt Romney would love to get away with but because it's being done by a "cool" musician people are defending it.

D
09/14/2012 09:59

Sorry, this got screwed up...

Side musicians do not get to record their own albums, sell t shirts, etc. They live and die on gigs.

Any exposure would be null and void because people hiring "professional" musicians would not be interested in anyone who would play a for-profit gig for nothing.

Zach
09/13/2012 22:31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Zach
09/13/2012 22:50

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

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

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D
09/18/2012 07:03

This is late, but I just noticed something:

You argue that the call for musicians was on a "relatively private" channel, and that she's been "public" about her finances.,,


Both the call for musicians and the "where the money's going" document were on her blog. So which is it?

Betsy
09/14/2012 07:54

"It's shitty but that's the way it is."
Yes but that doesn't make it right and I think people in the arts need to change this perception of it being ok to do things for free. Artists of all types are having their work disvalued. They are being told that their work is less important than others. Yes it is a choice whether to volunteer or not but the bottom line is that the musicians who do choose to volunteer are devaluing what they do. Being an artist is wonderful but food must go on the table. I would be curious to know how many people who are willing to volunteer actually have another source of income.

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Chrismunk
09/14/2012 09:42

Unfortunately, artists who share this point of view for whatever reason (naivety, insecurity, dabblers who don't take art as a vocation seriously) contribute the most to the misconception that art has little or no value by acting as representatives of an already undervalued community.

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Chrismunk
09/14/2012 09:44

(And by "this point of view" I mean "Zach's point of view" for clarity's sake.)

Zach
09/14/2012 10:18

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

for these guys, I don't think the concern is trying to get food in their mouths.

Chrismunk
09/14/2012 12:34

Zach:

This is where the confusion in this argument lies. I don't think the fans that wish to donate their time and talent should be criticized. I don't even think most of the complaints about this issue disagree with their motivations or choices.

The problem is that Amanda Palmer is in a very high-profile position as spokesperson of a new paradigm of indie artist culture. She has the opportunity (whether she likes it or not) to represent struggling artists and musicians who have forever been fighting to be taken seriously as valued craftspeople with tangible goods worth paying for.

If she asked people directly or in more private channels (if any of her channels are private) to help out, fine. But making a public call for free work is as bad as or worse than big businesses thinking they're helping artists by doing things like holding design contests for a new logo instead of paying someone for their work. She's basically telling the world that it's OK to expect artists to work for free or beer, that the promise of "great exposure by association" is actually fair or valid compensation.

Deb
09/14/2012 12:46

AFP doesn't want people to be "part of the magic", ala "if you have an instrument, bring it and we'll all jam together" kind of thing. She wants pro type musicians to back her up at some of her shows. She's hiring pros for some of her shows and asking for volunteers at others to play *the exact same music*. This is a shitty way to treat musicians. Either you pay everyone at all shows or you do without the horn section at the smaller shows if you can't afford to pay them. But AFP, knowing that her fans will do anything for her, won't budget to hire musicians for all shows and counts on volunteers to work those smaller shows. They probably will get sort of meager payment and she'll pass the hat for them but still, how professional and respectable is that to those other musicians? She's at a point in her career now where she should be able to budget and hire musicians for all shows or know at least crowdsource the funding for them like she did her record.

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Zach
09/14/2012 14:13

Deb and Chris, I understand your points, and I think this boils down to how we define value and compensation. It's clear that she did budget payment for the strings and horns at the larger shows, and is depending on volunteers for the smalls shows, which raises questions about consistency. But she did say in the call for musicians (which, to my knowledge, were on "private" (if we can call it that) circuits--to her mailing list and blog subscribers--that she would give them free access to the show (with I'm sure, in AFP tradition, includes access to intimate after-party festivities, merchandise (cool), beer (lame), high-fives (cheesy) among other things. No, it's not a pay check. And yes, the artists should probably be given the opportunity to spend the money or the equivalent of what she's giving them in goods as they wish, but it's certainly not for free. They also getting the opportunity to perform with an idol, which for some, could be considered richer than a paycheck. Some are in it for the experience, some for the art, some for the chance to network. Obviously if people weren't getting something out of it or thought they were being ripped off, no one would be signing up to play at the shows. I really doubt these volunteers are aloof or star-struck and not acting rationally. I'm pretty sure they're fully aware of what they're doing and the conditions of the situation.

She's been pretty open with where all the money is going: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amandapalmer/amanda-palmer-the-new-record-art-book-and-tour/posts/232020

most of it going back into the physicals albums, vinyls, the artbooks, costs for recording and loans borrowed to record, studio fees, advertisement, the visual artists who created album art, the art shows, kickstarter/amazon/itunes fees, etc. I'd like to hope she isn't hoarding money. And I truly think she isn't. sure, it might be an attempt to be more frugal, but I think more than that, it's an opportunity for her and her talented fans to play together.

But I do see your point, about the consistency issues. Maybe she truly saw the trade-off as fair, and it seems the volunteers are getting A LOT out of it, even if the compensation is intangible.

and speaking of professionalism, what do you make of the angry musicians who plan to sign up and sabotage the shows? I know some feel she didn't set a ethical precedent, but it doesn't seem like a very productive or mature response either.

D
09/14/2012 22:02

But it isnt a house party....

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Mab
09/13/2012 22:49

I'm noticing this argument is getting well out of bounds on Twitter, being 'steered' in directions that have nothing to do with the issue, and this is frustrating me. Whether purposefully or not, Amanda is able to steer the argument in favor of her opinion merely by RT-ing only those msgs she feels the desire to.
If there is going to be a true WE ARE THE MEDIA discussion it's time an appropriate hashtag was assigned so ALL opinions can be seen by interested parties... No!
Perhaps #GTOdisc (GTO discussion).
I'll be using it from here on out.

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Debbie
09/14/2012 06:21

Bravo on a great letter. Working for free sets an industry precedence which becomes a vicious circle where people no longer expect to pay or be paid for work. This filters up, so low-no pay jobs are the norm regardless of the size and prestige of company one works for.
With freedom comes responsibility. Those who choose to play for free so they can play at all affect the whole industry, and then being an artist is only for those who can afford it. Art becomes based on money and not talent. A playground for the elite.
Honour your talents and act with your feet. If we all agreed to not work for no or dismall wages, then companies would have to think differently about the pieces the perform based on their budget and paying people fairly.
I also resent paying my ticket price knowing only a selected few performers are getting paid.

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Jem
09/14/2012 07:15

I came here via Neil Gaiman's tumblr, I'm just wondering if he'd let me have his next book for free (I'd like that) and maybe he can ask his editor to volunteer his or her work.

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thinkbigger
09/14/2012 08:42

Neil Gaiman makes a lot of his work available for free online and frequently points his tumblr followers in the direction of this free material when asked, so I'm not sure where the snark that you are directing towards him comes from. No one is asking anyone to give EVERYTHING for free, but I can see why people who frequently share their art without asking for payment would feel ok with asking others who share their mindset to do the same. Problem is, you don't know who shares the mindset until you ask. No harm in asking, and no harm in responding with a no thank you. It's just a different perspective.

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D
09/14/2012 08:57

This would be more like Gaiman asking booksellers to "volunteer" at a signing, or printers to "volunteer" their presses. I don't think he'd think that was cool.

Deb
09/14/2012 14:46

Neil's blog and tumblr are his solely own work. No one asked him to do either of those. They are also ways of advertising his other paid work so it indirectly pays for him to keep up his "free" tumblr and blog.

Neil also does other "free" works when he has time and when it benefits him, i.e. charity work for the comics defense fund of which he is a part. He's also at a point in his career when he can afford to do work for free if he wants to. I can bet you if you ask Neil to write a story for your 'zine and say, "Hey Neil, I'm looking for volunteer authors for my magazine. I get paid but none of my authors do," his answer will be "Um, no."

Deb
09/14/2012 14:46

Neil's blog and tumblr are his solely own work. No one asked him to do either of those. They are also ways of advertising his other paid work so it indirectly pays for him to keep up his "free" tumblr and blog.

Neil also does other "free" works when he has time and when it benefits him, i.e. charity work for the comics defense fund of which he is a part. He's also at a point in his career when he can afford to do work for free if he wants to. I can bet you if you ask Neil to write a story for your 'zine and say, "Hey Neil, I'm looking for volunteer authors for my magazine. I get paid but none of my authors do," his answer will be "Um, no."

Deb
09/14/2012 14:46

Neil's blog and tumblr are his solely own work. No one asked him to do either of those. They are also ways of advertising his other paid work so it indirectly pays for him to keep up his "free" tumblr and blog.

Neil also does other "free" works when he has time and when it benefits him, i.e. charity work for the comics defense fund of which he is a part. He's also at a point in his career when he can afford to do work for free if he wants to. I can bet you if you ask Neil to write a story for your 'zine and say, "Hey Neil, I'm looking for volunteer authors for my magazine. I get paid but none of my authors do," his answer will be "Um, no."

Betsy
09/14/2012 08:01

As a photographer I see the same thing every day. No one values artistic work anymore. Everyone thinks all anyone has to do is pick up a camera and click a button.
Other photographers devalue photography by offering a package for $25. I simply can't compete with that and no professional could. But these photographers are just looking to make what they think is easy money. They are usually not a real business and don't pay taxes etc. as a result the photography market is saturated and photography is devalued. I have found that doing shoots for free never helps me. I get tired of "gently" reminding people they need to give me credit when they post my photos. The same people I took for free when I was starting out don't come to me now because they didn't value what I did the first time Becsuse it was free so now why would they pay over $200 for the same thing.

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Abi
09/14/2012 10:27

Hey Betsy,

Two things: first of all--you're right in that a pro who is making their living off of photography can't be charging $25 for a shoot unless it's like a mass event like a church needing pictures which you can then charge each family for single pic. But if you're talking about serious individual shoots--then you don't want to "compete" with anyone charging $25 for the simple reason that that photographer must be terrible and no one who is serious about high quality pictures is going to hire them. So saying amateurs charging low rates is devaluing real photography isn't exactly true. They're really tapping into a different market (people who would never pay $200 for a shoot due to a host of reasons). The market of people who are willing to pay $200 for a shoot are not going to be using these amateur photographers due to the fact that they want a different product than what the amateurs can offer. And if a pro isn't offering a different product/better pictures than an amateur--then there is a much deeper problem.

Secondly, I actually have gotten my highest paying jobs (weddings mainly) through connections that I did free shoots for. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I do consider things like how rich/what would they be into of the people likely to see pictures from a potentially free shoot. Also, I have never done a free shoot for someone who I wasn't sure wasn't going to give me a glowing review.

A potential way of stemming off people not giving you credit on your pics tho, is to make sure your watermark is on the pics--and then post them to facebook a week or two before you give the unmarked pics to the client. Usually, my clients like having the pics early--and post them as is to their profiles. Then later when they have the unmarked pics, they generally don't see the need to upload them again. Also tagging the clients in your pictures helps drive a ton of traffic/potential clients. It's simple--but makes a huge difference.

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D
09/14/2012 15:40

Just a guess, but I imagine you got to keeop the negatives for your free shoots and put them in your portfolio. The magicians here will get... a T shirt.

Abi
09/15/2012 12:18

Hey D,

Of course I got to keep the negatives/put the pics in my portfolio. And the musicians here are going to get exposure--which you apparently doesn't think matters despite there being tons of people like me who actually do pay attention to the backing band/will then go and buy any solo albums they have if they're good....It's like a sports team---just because Kobe is out on the court doesn't mean people aren't paying attention to the rest of the team...

D
09/15/2012 18:09

Abi Ah, but you point out in another post that you couldn't really hear them over the drums and guitar... Plus, it's "simple charts" that are not likely to mpress anyone. Plus the fact that likely they normally pay music in a genre that is not exactly commercial...


As many have said before, you could die from that kind of exposure.

Evan
09/14/2012 09:24

Amanda Palmer worked hard to get where she is without compromising her vision or values. She has experienced being dicked around by a label and promoters, which undoubtedly fueled her DIY motivations and sensibilities.

Yes, of course there are people who would love to work with her for free and are capable of deciding on their own to do so. Regardless of their choices and viewpoints it's simply an un-classy move on Amanda's part to expect free talent so publicly. I'll assume she sincerely does want to support the indie music and art community and simply didn't think this completely through.

She must realize that her actions are under a powerful media microscope. Everything she does is super-analyzed for its influence in redefining the music and performing industry. Given her influential position as a self-respecting artist who made it on her own terms, it's surprising and sad to see her contribute to the idea that artists' skills are not valuable.

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Flora
09/14/2012 09:58

It is symbolic. She is not inviting amateurs---she's too smart for that. She wants real talent on stage with her. It is symbolically disrespectful to refuse them payment. I do not think it is a question of how much she pays but that she pays. Otherwise, she is falling into the trap of "Because I am known, I am better than you." which is an attitude true artists fight. Fame does not equal talent.

Amanda needs to be careful she is not embracing a self-aggrandized feeling of entitlement and superiority herself, lest someday her career tank and she comes up against this unsavory level of hierarchy falsely set up by those momentarily famous/powerful.

We cannot rail against the old system of pitting ourselves against one another as if success is a place as small as the head of a pin and we cannot pull others up with us and then turn around say "you should be honored to next to me!". This is duplicitous and arrogant, which I don't think is the image Amanda is trying to create.

Joy over one's success is beautiful to see; conceit is not.

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shane
09/14/2012 10:29

you are spot on in your remarks. i think she is a diva bitch. the only people who have any retort are working musicians. i could give a shit what someone who doesnt play an instrument thinks. i do not play classical music. i have been playing gigs since i was fifteen in punk bands and such but i have also played blues and really all sorts of things. it sucks not being able to get better gear and touring and eating a mcdonalds hamburger a day. i have played for tips and played gigs on tour and not been paid. i love music and it isnt about money. but when you have money and dont pay musicians its not ok. they need to strip down there live show and play smaller venues. or get ableton. she doesnt make that good of music anyway. she isn't sigur ros. not even in the same league. they pay their musicians im sure. this whole issue has really ruined my day so far. not you but her response to you. i think its just rude. she says she gives away her music but so does radiohead. in fact im pretty sure they did it first as a huge band. you think they dont pay their crew? i think i read each show they play costs one million dollars. she is a joke in comparison.

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Geoff Gallegos
09/14/2012 10:50

Well said, Amy. Thanks for being a voice for the cats.

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Oraien
09/14/2012 11:27

I think a lot of people are missing an important aspect of all this. Amanda isn't (and never has, to my knowledge) saying "Bow down before me because I am awesome and grovel for the opportunity to perform beneath me peons!" Its more along the lines of "Hey, guys, I've got some space on the stage with my, anybody wanna help kick off this party?"

The awesome thing about this is people get to live out a dream. I don't think most musicians daydream about *getting paid* to play with their favorites. They just dream about doing it. So those people get an otherwise possibly unattainable dream made reality and the rest of us get good music.

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Maryann
09/14/2012 12:48

Amanda's heart seems to be in the right place, and she doesn't seem to be anything other than what she writes so candidly. She seems sincere in sharing the fun and giving people some time in the spotlight.

She's undeniably the "star du jour" that all the media is talking about. Her every action is covered in the press as if she's writing the Bible of 21st Century Rockstardom. Her Kickstarter campaign is being held up as the model for what all musicians should try to achieve.

With that much attention she has a responsibility to set an example for how her fellow artists should be treated. Unfortunately she's telling the world that artists can be easily bought with hugs and beer. It not only further devalues art as something worth investing in. It also justifies the kind of bullshit she fought against while struggling her own way to a successful career.

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d
09/14/2012 13:18

But it's not just letting some folks onstage for a kitchen party. They are being asked to audition and learn a set of charts before the gig.

And she's not asking for fanboys and fangirls with guitars and kazoos. She's asking for semi-pro musicians who play instruments that are not in high demand (when was the last time you downloaded an album because you liked the cellist?)

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shane
09/14/2012 13:34

last week. the dirty three. violin. warren ellis. google it. it is amazing improv stuff.

D
09/14/2012 15:38

Well, you're the rare person. I still say that few people will pay attention to the backup musicians.

brooke
09/15/2012 12:53

I can think of three violinists or cellists whose work I've gotten recently. Argument invalid. Plenty of people like/buy the work of supporting musicians they've heard.

D
09/15/2012 14:13

Except that not every backing musician can afford to record, or even wants to. Some think that, gosh, maybe they should get paid FOR THE WORK THEY DO.

Deb
09/14/2012 12:06

In a perfect world, all musicians and artists would get paid for their work. AFP is in a position with her "crowdsourcing" where she could help all musicians and give everyone a nudge by putting out a call for musicians and say, "Hey, I need musicians and I can pay you because you are talented and deserve to be paid for your work." But instead, she's falling back on old models of "I worked for free to gain experience and exposure so you can too." That attitude devalues EVERYONE. Now all of us have been set back 2 steps because hey, AFP uses "volunteer musicians", why should we get paid too?

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belvedere
09/14/2012 13:35

Here's a crazy thought:

What if Amanda really does agree that paying musicians is the right thing to do, and planned for the public stink that would rise out of pulling a stunt like "will work for hugs"?

Maybe she's orchestrating (ha ha) this whole ruckus as the best way to bring the important issue to the public eye, therefor being the martyr instead of the devil?

Genius!

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shane
09/14/2012 13:36

that would be rad. ill give you that.

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Joe
09/14/2012 14:02

I think there are two things not really clearly addressed here.
1. As a consumer of art and not a producer of art, I am far more concerned with the bottom-line quality of a performance than I am with the process. Still, when I buy a ticket to a movie, art exhibit or concert I have certain expectations. I do not expect big-budget special effects from an indie movie, nor pyrotechnics or lavish staging from indie bands. Notwithstanding, I do expect quality in all situations. I expect that my enjoyment is worthy of your attention. I am suspicious that consistent quality will be in evidence when the musicians are assembled nightly and can build no chemistry. I am not saying it cannot happen, only that I paid cash-money for the ticket and do not want to have my experience determined by whichever musicians show up who had nothing better to do on that night.
2. Not all “free gigs” are alike. Translating a free gig into a paying gig says more about the nature of the gig and about your ability to turn a free gig into a paying gig than anything else. I would wager that it is easier to turn a free gig taking photos at a charity event into a paying one because you can connect with and engage with the subjects of your photos as well as build long-running relationships with the people running these events. I am not convinced that musicians will be able to translate this into anything meaningful unless AP is writing recommendations or those musicians are able to network with anyone in the business who happens to be backstage.

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Smash
09/14/2012 14:31

Why don't you do a kickstarter campaign to pay your musicians?

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Deb
09/14/2012 14:59

Zach, AFP's e-mail list and blog have like half a million people on them. Hardly a "private" list. Plus she's one of the most public musicians out there. She could whisper a request to a bum on the street and it would be retweeted by a few thousand people within the hour.

I think AFP would have gotten more respect if she had said, "Sorry, no after party, I have to pay my musicians." Or she's incredibly naive if she's equating t-shirts, merch, beer, and parties with hard cash. Those things are practically free. As for the thrill of playing with her, musicians need to get over the star treatment. Who cares? I get that crap all the time. It's elitist. My instruments and costumes (if I'm dancing) are worth just as much as the "star" performers. Why should I essentially SPEND money to perform when the star gets to earn it? And like I mentioned before, performing for "experience" sets a really bad precedence for everyone else.

I don't think that musicians should disrupt her performances but I do think that they should come out and make themselves seen and known. Unfortunately, knowing her fans, they'll probably get nothing but shit and run off as soon as they get there so nothing will come of it.

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Zach
09/14/2012 17:40

hahah I think the musicians are definitely making themselves seen, known and HEARD.

"performing for "experience" sets a really bad precedence for everyone else." and the precedent being: perpetuating the idea that it's okay for musicians to play for free, which ultimately devalues the artist. makes sense.

I guess my question is, how do we then, in turn, empower the artist again? we've already mentioned that the artist and their art/music have been reduced down to an undervalued commodity? Everyone talks about how important music personally is to them, but in this day and age, people are less likely to support an artist and pay for their products because it's so much easier to simply download something off the internet for free. Some artists (Radiohead, AFP, etc.) have gone for the 'pay what you want' route, allowing people to "buy" their work for $0.00. Does doing this also devalue the artist and their work? Because if that becomes the new precedent, asking consumers to ACTUALLY pay for a product makes the artist seem unaccessible, even though asking a consumer to pay for a product is how anyone makes money.

I realize this is getting off topic, but I think it's an important question: how do we revitalize the artist and the arts?

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Zach
09/14/2012 17:43

Paying the performer for their performance, obviously. but how else?

Deb
09/14/2012 20:09

Oddly enough, people start to value you MORE if you charge for your services and products. The perception is that if it is free, it must not be worth much. While I can understand AFP and other bands doing the "pay what you want" route, there still should be a minimum amount charged that is a reasonable amount to help cover costs.

As an example, my community concert band started getting more respect when we started charging for gigs and sticking to our prices. Suddenly we became "real musicians" by simply asking for more money instead of a bunch of "for fun" musicians. We were the same as we had always been - a mix of current and retired pros and people who just wanted to keep playing as adults - but charging for concerts gave us a measure of "legitimacy" that we were lacking from our free concerts. We still do free gigs for our sponsoring city because they give us rehearsal space for free but that's a specific arrangement.

So I'm all for ninja gigs and random acts of art done by artists on their on time to promote themselves or just for the hell of it. But if artists are hired or produce work for sale, we should all insist on fair wages and fair prices for our work. We should also remember that our wages and prices are not only for us, but for other artists as well. Word about fees and prices gets around.

09/14/2012 15:51

You know, I am torn on this one. On the one hand, touring with Amanda Palmer, getting the exposure and experience that this would bring sounds fantastic! Plus I have admired Amanda since the first Dresden Dolls album came out. On the other hand, I have wondered of late about the call for musicians to do stuff for free. I have performed a lot for free in my time and you know what, people just keep expecting you to perform for free! (Well that has been my experience anyway). Don't get me wrong, I am someone who will perform "anytime, anyplace, anywhere" BUT I really think there comes a time when you should say,"No, I will be paid this time" - all the stuff that goes into being a musician year after year after year. The practice, the preparation, the successes, the failures etc etc etc. I guess that hasn't been much help to anyone looking for a definite answer, but yes, an interesting conundrum. V <3

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09/23/2013 02:27

No, amaterus should be allowed onstage, that's how they become professionals.

However, she is asking potential musicians to send in audition tapes and rehearse their parts. In other words, professional quality at no pay.

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jeff
09/14/2012 18:32

I would just say that, if you know how it is to play for no/little money, why wouldn't you want to chance that for someone else? Just because you suffered, doesn't mean other people have too. It's a classic Frat/Hazing line "I had to do it, so you do too." And what is worse is you have the means to change it, break a cycle and you choose not too. I get where your coming from, but it's still a crappy thing to do.

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Pie Hard
09/14/2012 19:18

What part of "volunteer" did you not understand ?

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D
09/14/2012 19:23

What part of "union busting" do you not understand?

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Abi
09/14/2012 23:55

what part of "unions are one of the major reasons so many manufacturing and other jobs went overseas because unions caused employers to have to pay exorbitant rates" do you not understand?

sorry--that was mean. i didn't mean to be a hateful troll but sometimes i just can't help it :(

D
09/15/2012 05:36

Good god you can't be serious. Living wages, health care plans and stuff people take for granted (like, say, weekends) are things that union member have fought and in some cases literally die over.

Did hipsters suddenly start reading Ayn Rand or something?

Abi
09/15/2012 11:46

Hey internet buddy,

So I'd rather not get into this over the internet (difficult debates are much much better had in person), but while healthcare, living wages etc.. are all great things--and that unions were desperately needed at one time, i don't really think it can be argued that pretty much the only impact unions have now is negative. Take the recent Chicago school system issue....

Currently Chicago is essentially bankrupt. The Chicago teacher's union wants continued automatic pay raises based on length of service, advanced degrees etc as well as having laid-off teachers be first in line to new job openings. Doesn't sound that unreasonable, right?

The Chicago mayor wants to institute a system were more weight is put on how students are actually performing as a form of teacher evaluation as opposed it it essentially being within the discretion of the principal. Also, I think (don't remember precisely) that the future pay increases would then be based more off of this new evaluation process instead of happening automatically. This is the key point that the teacher's union refuses to agree to. Why? Well, according to the teacher's union president---the new system would dismiss 6,000 teachers within two years... Which is essentially admitting that there are currently 6,000 totally inept teachers---that are being protected by an archaic system that can't get rid of them based off of their actual performance--thanks to the union....Maybe the 80% ILLITERACY rate of MIDDLE SCHOOLERS in Chicago has something to do with that. Oh, and those pay increases the union wants---in economic times when the average US income is about $50,000---the teachers are among the highest paid in the country at around a $76,000 average... How are you okay with this?

D
09/15/2012 17:13

So because one union is getting greedy we should get rid of all of them?

I don't even BELONG to a union, but I'm no fool. Organized labor helps all labor.

Kirk Angell
09/14/2012 19:46

I didn't read through all of the comments, and probably someone else has touched on this thing that I noticed. Amy's letter is all "I, I, I" and "Me, My, Mine." And yet she's bitching about someone else. You really just want to bitch, Amy. I don't know how any sensible person could see this any other way. And yes, I do believe that there are a lot of similarly un-sensible people responding to your words. Why are you going so far out of your way to bitch about an empowered performer doing things their own way and being successful? Do you hate it that others are more successful than you? It appears that you do. If you spent this personal time you have used to write this long letter on your blog learning to be the talented performer that Amanda is, and writing and recording an amazing album like she has, you might get somewhere with your crappy little indie career. But let's face it, you want the career, but you're really just a lazy bitch who wants to talk about herself while complaining about someone else who has, frankly, worked harder and been more successful because of it. Ten years from now, a lot of people might (probably will) still be listening to Theater Is Evil, but nobody will remember you, your stupid whiny blog, or your crap music. And it's nobody's fault but your own. You and that hideous douchebag Steve Albini need to get together and make ugly babies and fade into the welfare landscape. Because neither of you will ever become truly successful artists. Because you're not. Long live Amanda Fucking Palmer!

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D
09/14/2012 20:05

"Do you hate it that others are more successful than you?"

Where have I heard that philosophy before?

Oh yeah...


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Tom Everett
09/15/2012 05:55

What a nice person you are, Kirk, with your view that because a rock star is more famous than a horn player, the horn player, that rock star should not be criticised. You're right. Because Amanda Palmer is more famous, she probably should get exactly what she wants, all the time, and not be criticised. After all, if you're not internationally famous, you shouldn't really be treated with any kind of respect.

I think your argument that if Amy had only put the time spent to write a short on article on her website into practise she would be as successful as Amanda Palmer CLEARLY holds up, too. Good point!

After all, it's not like Amanda Palmer spends any time promoting herself online. Clearly Amy Vaillancourt-Sals is missing a trick. Instead of shamelessly displaying her thoughts online she should be a pure, toiling musician who cares not for cheap publicity and blogging. I fear for Amy. What's next, eh? Endless pictures of her face everywhere? naked video appearances? If she isn't careful she'll turn herself into a brand rather than a musician, known more for her internet presence and approach to publicity more than her actual music. Perhaps she'll try and associate with a bunch of famous musicians, maybe show up naked in other bands' videos. Who knows, perhaps she'll drag her partner out with her on some concert tour to trade off their joint names.

Oh, hang on, I think I may be thinking of someone else. Steve, you're a complete idiot.

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flora
09/14/2012 20:04

What a very angry and vulgar, insulting missive. Kirk sounds like a sad person. He has not heard you music so his slurs are really just his own self-loathing hurled onto whatever displeases him. I hope this does not dissuade you from making your contributions, musical and otherwise, to the collective body of work about, for and with artists, Amy.
Kirk, you owe all of us an apology for your frankly, distasteful insulting and ignorant comments.
We are not, ever, denigrating Amanda's talent---or anyone else's. We are struggling to become more united at a time when the arts are under-funded and so many artists, talented and hard-working though they may be, are fighting for respect.
Respect, Kirk.

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Zach
09/14/2012 21:00

Amen, Flora.

Amy wrote an incredibly thoughtful, articulate, and RESPECTFUL open letter. And, for the most part, this entire discussion/debate has been civil and intelligent--until your post.

All of us are just trying to better understand one other; do everyone a favor and show her the same respect she showed AFP, and we've shown each other.

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Zach
09/14/2012 21:11

to clarify: I was talking about Kirk's post.

ken
09/15/2012 00:42

I'm not sure what I feel about this debate, though I think I side with Amanda Palmer.

A question, though: Does anyone know if the Boredoms paid the hundred or so drummers for their BoaDrum events? Did Rhys Chatham pay the guitarists that played with him on his concerts with 100 guitarists?

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D
09/15/2012 05:39

100 guitarists does not equal a string quartet.

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Jem
09/15/2012 02:59

I'm sorry, I'm failing to see how this will give these musicians any exposure. No one's gonna notice anyone except the person centre stage and up front.

But these musicians can always say, 'Hey I played that Amanda Palmer gig.'
And the other person will go, 'Didn't you do that for beer and hugs? Hmmm, so you're giving it away for beer and hugs cause you love playing so much. So why should I pay you anything?'

People in the arts are constantly asked to do work for free, cause isn't making art so much fun. But we still have to pay the bills.

BTW Neil Gaiman's free words on his blog etc are publicity for Neil Gaiman and his work. Nobody's going to remember who these musicians are. Maybe the people who stand center stage forget that people can get lost behind them.

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D
09/15/2012 05:40

Id say it goes beyond that. I think other musicians might not take kindly to this.

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09/15/2012 08:39

Excellent letter Amy. I learned of this issue through Facebook's Tampa Bay Musicians Group. I have been professionally performing my whole life for 35+ years. It astounds me that our craft and industry has been de-valued, de-moralized and flooded with non professionals just to get the spotlight and be seen or get the most likes on their pages, or views on their videos.

The quality of music, musicianship and skill have diminished, and will continue to do so with this collective mindset. I'm very glad to hear of someone strongly taking a stand for the true professionals. Professionals that put themselves through education, and years of experience.

I'm a strong advocate for new technologies and greater and easier access to all of our platforms through the internet. These tools are only as powerful as we hold our self worth and dignity on our craft and skills.

Great job. I look forward to following your lead and seeing how this plays out. Best wishes.

Scott Curts

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dhani
09/15/2012 10:05

I disagree with this letter. Amanda has impressed me with her work ethic and he creativity. I feel that she IS offering an opportunity to people who are fans as well as budding musicians. I was at her show last night in Carrboro and the extra musicians were clearly enjoying themselves. Now they can put on their resumes that they played with a major artist. I didn't see any exploitation there at all.

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D
09/15/2012 11:03

It's taking the opportunity away from pros. That's the issue.

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P
09/15/2012 11:54

So only professional musicians are allowed to perform publically? That seems kind of backwards and exclusive, maybe even a little elitist?

D
09/15/2012 14:15

No, amaterus should be allowed onstage, that's how they become professionals.

However, she is asking potential musicians to send in audition tapes and rehearse their parts. In other words, professional quality at no pay.

deb
09/15/2012 11:23

In the pro music world, no one looks at resumes. A symphony orchestra isn't going to see "Played backup horn for AFP" and say, "Oh wow, she must be good. Let's give her an audition." No. They're going to want to see a degree from a credible music school, that the person studied with some reputable teachers, and is that person working as a paid musician in other symphonies or classical gigs. Symphonies also understand that no musician can make a living off of a symphony salary so they play other gigs to literally pay the rent. They don't really care about those other gigs. Musicians who need to eat, do. Therefore, musicians need to get paid for those gigs.

Maybe a horn player isn't a symphony musician and plays jazz, blues, or session work. Resumes mean even less then. Paid gigs do. VOLUNTEER gigs mean even less. "Oh you played for AFP. Yeah, she'll take about anyone who can read her charts." So volunteering for her gigs doesn't get anyone any cred in the music world. She's really not known for having a "full brass sound" or using incredible session musicians. She's known for taking people off the street and putting them on the stage and having a great time. There is nothing wrong with that and it's a fun, unique, concert model.

The real point is, like D said, when she's paying for musicians at some of the gigs and not paying for them at others, that's just wrong. She is getting paid to perform and knows what it is like to be an unpaid musician who needs money. The kinds of people she is asking for are professional quality musicians who make a living at these types of gigs, not garage band players who do it for fun. If she wants pro quality people, she needs to pay for them, pure and simple.

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d
09/15/2012 11:11

A few things (sorry if I'm doiminating this discussion Amy!)

1. When people point out unpaid interniships, they're not making this sound better. I've done a couple unpaid internships, and they were good because I learned stuff and got course credit. If I had had no remuneration at all, I would have felt exploited. It's not slavery, but it's awful close to indentured servitude (which was voluntary, BTW).
2. If she was to go a route similar to internships, she could have contacted local universities' music departments and asked for their best players. This, of course, would be more work and less fun than a blog post.
3. About the "being honored just to be on the same stage": I know someone who is a part time professional wrestler (yes, that is a thing). I asked him what it was like to meet big name wrestlers, and he said that he didn't ask for their autographs or act deferential to them because the wrestlers wouldn't respect that. If you are an aspiring professional musician, you should check your fandom at the door.
4.i'm really sick of the attitude that "if you love doing something, you should do it for free." If you want to get good at anything, you have to put a lot of time into it, whether it's Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours or not. That should be valued, especially by someone who does the same thing for a living.
5. People are defending AFP because of her DIY attitude. Consider someone who has been doing DIY for over twenty years, ani difranco. While I'm sure she would do free gigs to help out someone at the drop of a hat, and she would accept offers from friends to be onstage for free, she would never, ever ask someone to "volunteer" their time and talent like this.

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Neemo_
09/15/2012 14:32

Agreed. It takes alot of time and money to become proficient in anything. These people aren't going to get any exposure out of all this, it's not going to help their careers and just undermines professionals charging for their work. Maybe I should ask the people who work for me if they enjoy what they do, and if they do I'll dock them their wages as per their level of enjoyment.

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Janis
09/17/2012 13:48

There are also class issues about unpaid anything that people are sort of dancing around -- the only people who can pretend that money doesn't matter are trust fund kids and people whose relatives foot their bills (trophy wives, kids with rich grandparents, and teenagers living with mom and dad). If you are responsible for earning every penny that you will ever spend on yourself, unpaid ANYTHING is not in the cards.

I don't see how much made by spoiled folks is going to speak to me.

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D
09/17/2012 14:12

Even if you leave out that she's married to a very rich man (I agree with those that say it's immaterial) it sounds like she came from a fairly privileged background. She attended a posh school (Weslyan - ninth highest tuition in the US) and her "busking for change" days took place in Europe and Australia, suggesting she had money to live abroad.

You know the saying about W that he was born on third base and thought hed hit a triple? This sounds like she ran back to first

Janis
09/17/2012 16:22

Or likes to hang out on first base with the cool people, and goes back to third base to sleep. When you're born on first base, you get to recognize that sort quickly. *sigh* Gawd save me from people who treat poverty and scrimping like a theme park they can point at from behind an air-conditioned bus window.

Janis
09/17/2012 16:25

Also, I have to disagree that it's immaterial. It should be, but it never is. People -- particularly progressives on the left end of things -- are quick to admit that their skin color might influence their opinions on racial issues, but extremely defensive at the suggestion that their monetary situation influences their ideas of what constitutes fair pay. When someone else's money keeps your lights on, that is absolutely a factor in one's decision-making. It can either be faced and honestly named or denied, but it's always there.

D
09/17/2012 17:02

'Or likes to hang out on first base with the cool people, and goes back to third base to sleep. When you're born on first base, you get to recognize that sort quickly. *sigh* Gawd save me from people who treat poverty and scrimping like a theme park they can point at from behind an air-conditioned bus window."

Marry me.

As to your other comment, what I meant was immaterial was Neil Gaiman's wealth. There have been some comments along the lines of "why can't her husband chip in," and I don't think that's really fair. As to her own background, that's another story.

Janis
09/17/2012 17:20

Ah, yes -- agreed on that. He can't chip in and shouldn't have to. If this is a business -- and it is at this point -- it should succeed or fail on its own.

I should find out first if you're already married. :-)

D
09/17/2012 17:29

Nope, not married, although all I know about you is that you're exceptionally witty.

That said, do you have any music/writing I can buy?

Janis
09/17/2012 17:54

Ask me again in a couple months, and I'll probably say yes. :-)

(I should tell you which proposition I'm answering with that sentence, but I'll let you work it out. :-D)

I've got a blog up called fireandair at Wordpress FWIW, so there's some words for you. It's almost entirely composed of yammerings about writing music, though. Nothing for sale yet; I've got a lot more nose-to-grindstone before that happens.

d
09/18/2012 10:14

Actually, you might now want to read this on a full stomach...

one of her defenders said that Palmer was reaching out to "guys like him." He was a member of a jazz band composed of a two scientists, a doctor, and (I believe) a lawyer... yeah...

If she goes through with this, I think she needs to relinquish the term "punk." I'm surprised Ian McKaye hasn't had a stroke over this.

Neemo_
09/15/2012 14:25

Professional means you get paid for your work. I guess 'professional-ish' means paid in beer and hugs.

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Rain Lynham
09/15/2012 14:31

I've posted this in a couple of places now, but I think it bears repeating.

A lot of people are asking, basically, “who the fuck does she think she is?” I’ll tell you who she is. She’s someone who routinely plays for her fans for free. More often than not, she does a free ninja gig with her ukelele when she does a big paid gig. Anyone who dismisses that as just shameless self-promotion _is_ an idiot, for anyone that turns up to those is either already going to the paid gig, or can’t due to lack of funds, but gets to see her anyway, even if she’s mainly just goofing on covers and hanging out talking. For that is what its about, getting together with the fans.
Its in that same spirit that she eats with her fans, either in their homes or at the venues, on food they’ve brought to share with someone they love. Its in that same spirit that she crashes on their couches and floors. Anyone who is so cynical to think that she does that because she doesn’t want to pay for meals and a hotel is to be pitied. In the Dresden Dolls days, the fans were part of the show, with their wonderful costumes, performance art, circus skills, and improv theater bits. This is just a way to extend that vibe to the current tour. As for the idea that just because she has money now means she shouldn’t crowdsource anymore, that is just ridiculous. First of all, its not as much as people think, not if you read and understand how Kickstarter _actually_ works.

The fans didn’t “donate” money to make the album. They paid money for goods and services, in this case a dollar got you a digital download of the record, and a substantially larger amount got you a lavish physical package including a big art book with original work commissioned from many different artists, and private gallery shows that included everything, that were just for Kickstarter backers.
For this _is_ the future, and what Amanda is proving is that this far more participatory model works, and can work for anyone, even if they are on a tight budget and don’t have a million dollar Kickstarter or a millionare husband. (The idea that she should ask him for money, which has been suggested, is absurd.) Anyone who is both willing to put in the work and who loves their fans as much as she does, that is.

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D
09/15/2012 17:11

Franklyl, it doesn't matter who she is. She's lowballing musicians who are trying to make a living, and that's really messed up.

Doing "ninja gigs" on your own is one thing, asking people to forgo payment when you're getting paid yoruself is, frankly, shitty.

If you're the boss, you have to play by different rules than if you're working for a label.Sometimes you have to pay people out of your own pocket. That's not an "antiquated business plan," that's common decency.

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Deb
09/15/2012 17:26

Just because she will do free gigs herself doesn't mean it is right for her to ask people to play for free at a show where she is charging admission. It's one thing to say, "Hey, I'm doing a ninja gig. Anyone wants to play along, bring your instrument and come!" No one is getting paid and anyone can participate. There are also no auditions and rehearsals for said gig and no expectations of performance quality.

It's quite another to put a request for "professionalish" musicians to not only come and play your paid concert, but to do a rehearsal before the show as well. It's even more dickish to try and justify this as a) playing for free and sleeping on couches worked for me, and b) I'm paying for pros at some of my concerts. That is where we as professionalish artists take offense. Anyone who is asked to come and play a rehearsal and a concert should get the same pay. It doesn't matter who they are. Pro, amateur, fan, guy off the street. They do the work; they get the money. The music isn't any easier because it's in a smaller venue or the show is in a less glamorous city. She's not using a cheaper band for those smaller venues either. Fans know that smaller venues see a much different show than larger venues. If AFP cannot afford to pay musicians at smaller venues because she won't make enough in ticket sales and merch then she shouldn't use extra musicians, period. Or she should set up a second kickstarter for her tour, which is separate from her album kickstarter. I still don't understand why a musician who has spent most of her life struggling to make ends meet by making music would ever not want to find a way to pay musicians or even ask a musician to play for free at a gig where everyone else is getting paid.

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D
09/16/2012 10:20

The more I think about this, the more I think it stinks. I've heard an argument that legally Palmer might not be able to do this. That's pushing it, but I think it is a really, really bad thing for her to do.

What Palmer seems to be ignoring or doesn't understand is that now that she is free of the record company, she is in essence her own company, and it's a really crappy thing to make sure the boss gets paid before the employees do. (And that is, let's face it, what is going on here: she framed this as not being able to afford to pay the musicians, and then turned it into a "let's get the fans involved" solution. It might seem cool and revolutionary, but really it's just exploiting people's goodwill.

Also, I think there is a disconnect between singer-songwriters or popular performers and musicians who play classical or jazz instruments. To use a religious metaphor, singer-songwriters are the priests. They command the attention, get all the accolades, and are in general at the center of things.

Classical and jazz players are more like monks. They spend a long, long time learning their instruments and learning how to express themselves solely through those instruments, often on music that has been written by somebody else. They are no less creative, but they are considered more like tradespeople. To use an art analogy, singer-songwriters are painters, while side players are more like sculptors. One can use a wide palette to create, while the other uses a more disciplined medium to create out of a narrower set of parameters.

I hope this isn't the case, but I get the suspicion that Palmer thinks "what's the big deal? I learned ukulele chords and just played." She doesn't understand that playing a horn or a bowed instrument requires a different discpline.

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Ariock Knight
09/17/2012 00:49

Ms V-S,

This is funny because Classical Revolution (That organization you're in) is being paid for the show. You said that Ms. Palmer should pay, so she and Mr. Bischoff gave your group money. So that's it, right?

Oh. No. It's not enough. Classical Revolution is doing a benefit to pay those musicians more.

So if there's a certain specific minimum payment, isn't it disingenuous to pretend that the problem is that she's paying zero, when your ACTUAL problem is that she's not paying X, where X is a number significantly larger than zero?

I mean, why wouldn't you just say that? How much is enough? I love that you've tapped into this populist support when you're asking for Ms. Palmer to pay a significant amount of money.

I hope that Ms. Palmer decides not to pay your group anything and lets the fans who asked to participate do so. I'd rather see 4 enthusiastic and imperfect fans play for love than 100 of your group's most talented self-important pompous let-us-tell-you-how-to-spend-your-money "disciplined" windbags.

I've now donated $10.00 to Classical Revolution to NOT play at the Fillmore. For some reason, I think that ACTUAL MONEY won't be as important in their decision making process as the other less-tangible reasons. All of which kind of blows your whole rhetorical boat out of the water.

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D
09/17/2012 06:27

Did you actually read the article?

"self-important pompous let-us-tell-you-how-to-spend-your-money 'disciplined' windbags."

Yeah,those pretentious labor unions asking for a decent wage....


Again, since when did libertarian screwing over of other people become cool?

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Ariock
09/17/2012 12:10

Yeah, I read it several times. Here's a quotation:
"We are looking at you now and your request for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we'll respond?"
So no. It wasn't about "a decent wage," that's you shifting the goalposts now that the lie is exposed.

The issue is that certain people will look at a payment of zero and agree and say, "yes, she should pay them SOMEthing. Hell, even gas money." (I've seen this argument SEVERAL TIMES NOW). So she's in effect DONE that, and it's still not bloody enough for you. So this response isn't really directed at you. It's directed at the ones who think that ANY amount would be good enough. Those people can now see that it wasn't about that at all (contrary to what the article says).

Do you want more evidence that I'm right? Where does the article say how much money should be paid? I mean, if you're right about the "decent wage" bit, show me where it says how much that wage is? Please. Show me I'm wrong. Show me the prices. How much for 2 strings players? How much for a quartet? Is there a discount on volume?

So stop lying about what the article is about. Stop moving the goalposts. You're arguing from a rhetorical black hole. You provide nothing and demand everything.

Oh, and I'm by no means libertarian. Your strict adherence to WORTH=MONEY proves that you're more free-market capitalist than I am.

Ariock
09/17/2012 12:15

Oh, and I've paid 10 dollars for them to not perform at the Fillmore. That's no audition. No rehearsal. No on-stage time. A grand total of zero hours of work. 10 dollars/5 people is 2 dollars. 2 dollars/0 hours of work = Infinity dollars an hour. You can't get a better rate than that.

D
09/17/2012 12:28

Yeah, I didn't write the article. But again you didn't read the part about how volunteer gigs lead to more volunteer gigs.

"MONEY = WORTH" is not free market capitalism. It is fair labour practices.

If hugs are worth something, then Palmer can get paid in hugs.

Janis
09/17/2012 13:45

"Again, since when did libertarian screwing over of other people become cool?"

2008.

Ariock Knight
09/17/2012 17:54

"If hugs are worth something, then Palmer can get paid in hugs."

She is for the CD. Your argument is invalid.

d
09/17/2012 18:18

Ah. but as she has pointed out so many times, the KickStsrter was for the CD, so that's already paid for (and why she claims she doesn't have the money to pay). No one is getting into the gigs for hugs or beer.

What do you have against musicians being paid? Obviously you're a fan of Palmer, but what if it was another act at a similar level that you dudn't like? Or do you think musicians don't deserve to be treated like any other profession?

Ariock Knight
09/17/2012 21:32

Sorry, D, but the above argument, and yours, and of the reprehensible "Union" below is that Ms. Palmer is greedy. That's your narrative. It's the only way you're able to treat another giving and generous human being like shit without looking in the mirror and hating yourself. She's taking all this money that should be going to musicians and putting it in her pocket! Am I wrong?

"But in looking at the whole picture, this time you're coming across as the 1% looking to exploit us."

she doesn't have to do a "pay-what-you-want-including-hugs-and-high-fives" but she does. hm. not exactly greedy.

And she DID pay for the music with the kickstarter. You're r....oh, is the website free? is the bandwidth for downloads free? no? So she's losing money when people do that? oh, so close. You almost had a point, but you still don't.

Hey, instead of me giving you argument lessons for free, how about you you give me the "professional musician menu." For example, if I want to hire a union carpenter, I can find the prevailing wage information for one. it'd be around 60/hour depending on where in California (that includes benefits). So how much for a violinist? I can't find them in the prevailing wage rates. Are you sure this is even a legitimate union?

D
09/17/2012 21:54

Im having trouble seeing your point. The album has been paid for, and she's charging for the concert. There is actual money coming in the gate, not beer and hugs.

Again, what is your problem with musicians getting paid? How is it infringing on her rights?

Ariock
09/17/2012 22:16

and I 100% believe in musicians being compensated fairly. FAIRLY. in whatever agreed-upon way they find to be pleasing. If hugs and high fives are an insult, don't take the job. If they're an amazing, incredible thing that makes rainbows shoot out of your eyeballs, then take the job.

I paid $300 for Ms. Palmer's kickstarter because I thought the intimate concert would be amazing. I was right. I also got pulled out of the audience to hold her bullhorn and dance on stage with everyone.

How much was that worth? You think it's worthless. How much is it worth that I can tell people the story of how there was an empty whiskey cup bouncing in my hat while I grinned and danced and tried to keep up? Again, worthless to you.

I feel like it was priceless.

D
09/17/2012 22:25

Being pulled onstage to hold a bullhorn sounds great. Being asked to send in an audition video, come into rehearse and then play the gig (including, in the case of the string quartet, being the opening act

Ariock Knight
09/17/2012 22:34

You still haven't answered my question. How much?

Is it door receipts? What percentage?

Is it a living wage? Living for exactly how long based on a few hours of work?

Answer the questions.

Ariock
09/17/2012 22:42

"Being asked to send in an audition video, come into rehearse and then play the gig (including, in the case of the string quartet, being the opening act"

You're right. I give up. That's exactly like:
1. An unpaid internship.
2. Indentured servitude.
3. Outsourced labor.
4. The worst thing anyone has ever asked of anyone ever.

I go to "events" sometimes in SF where they have volunteers work the door. They get free access, but have to work for a couple hours. And they have to take a training session on how to work the register, what to do in case of problems. I choose not to do that. I have the money, and this way someone who doesn't have the money can attend.

At best, I think that offering real money would attract players who don't give a damn about the artist or fans, and prevent broke amateur players from being able to attend, let alone participate.

D
09/17/2012 22:35

Being pulled onstage is awesome. Having to audition, show up for rehearsal and play the show (in the case of the string quartet be the opening act, playing someone else's music) is work. If people are paying to get in then it should be rewarded with actual money, not beer and hugs.

The fact is that settling for that means that the value of musicians work is being devalued, whether you're happy for the experience or not. It means that dilletantes who can afford to do this for fun are shafting hard working people whO need the money.

So yeah, if she's making money off the concert, but not compensating monetarily the musicians, all the hugs in the world doesnt make her a generous person.

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Deb
09/18/2012 05:09

A professional is not the same as someone who volunteers to take tickets at the door to see a gig for free. Does the ticket taker spend several hours each week taking tickets? Did the ticket taker learn to take tickets as young as 3 or 4 and take tickets throughout his or her life? Did the ticket taker major in ticket taking and take lessons in ticket taking? Does the ticket taker come with several thousand dollars worth of equipment just to take tickets?

Likewise, do you need someone with years of experience and a specialized skill to take tickets? This is why ticket takers are comped a ticket for a show with minimal training and pro musicians get paid for rehearsal time and performances. Anyone who is competent can take tickets. Few people are pro musicians.

And it doesn't matter if the pros are fans or not. Are the guys working the club fans? Do you get a better experience if the house lighting and sound crew love the band? Can you tell from the audience? Hopefully not because those guys are pros too. They get paid to do their jobs professionally and make the band look and sound good whether or not they actually like them. Musicians are the same way. They will pay enthusiastically and professionally regardless for whom they are playing. And given that the original poster is both a pro and a fan of AFP, I'd bet that there are plenty of pro musician fans of AFP out there who'd enthusiastically play for her and like to get paid like the rest of the pros in her band.

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D
09/17/2012 12:34

Also, you realize that Amy is not just talking about herself, right? She's looking out for the musicians at gigs where none of the pickup band is being paid?

It's called solidarity. Y'know, looking out for others when the bosses are screwing them.

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Check out our petition: Amanda Palmer: Pay ALL the Musicians that Perform On Your Tour
https://www.change.org/petitions/amanda-palmer-pay-all-the-musicians-that-perform-on-your-tour

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Ariock
09/17/2012 17:52

I notice you still have that photo up. The one you modified contrary to the license and didn't pay the photographer for.

How's that hypocrisy working out for you?

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cat
09/17/2012 14:26

LOL, Janis! (above) I like the cut of your jib. :-)

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D
09/17/2012 23:07

How much?

She claimed not to have the $35,000 to fly around a full band; however, in her budget she says that since they got more than they planned she would up her video budget by $20,000 because "videos are fun to do." so... Why not just take that $20,000 and add that to the tour budget, just for fun?

She's doing 35 gigs with the pickup musicians. The string quartet should get more because they're the opening act. 14000 for the quartets divided by 35 gigs gives $400 for each quartet. The rest gets about $100 each for the horn players. Or maybe the quartet should get $125 per member and the horn players a little less. Seems fair to me.


Yeah, amateurs might be more excited, and you can pay them nothing! That's exactly the point. When the next band comes to town, they'll think hey, why don't we do what AFP did?


And people who actually do this for a living starve. If you have no problem with that....

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Christopher
09/18/2012 04:40

Just get over it - it's always a shame when your idols become breadheads, but that's what AFP has become, or maybe always was?

In fairness to Amanda, however, it must be tough having to pennypinch in order to support her struggling, underpaid, deadbeat, award winning comic book/script/novel writer husband.

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09/18/2012 12:18

In the end it's the world we've come to. Everyone says - don't let those amateur photographers offer their services free because it devalues photography. I've heard that argument for years in photography (which I'm a part of) so I know exactly how this argument goes.

My position has always been this - guess what? This is called economics. People pay as much as they have to pay to get the amount of quality they want. If you want an awesome photographer you pay the thousands or tens of thousands for Scott Kelby. If you're ok with less you pay less or go with a talented relative. If you don't give a crap, then you just let whoever do it for free.

In the old days it was hard for people to record music so that created artificial barriers on the economics. Now anyone can do it with their computer and spread it on the net. So that means there are tons of people offering stuff for free which means the price a musician can charge is lowered - unless they're awesome. There's never going to be an amazing musician doing it for free. There will be good ones, maybe even great ones, but not amazing ones. So if you want an amazing musician you pay otherwise you get it for free.

I know when I am working on video work I search around to see if there's free music (CC licensed in the right way) that I can use. If there isn't then I look around to see what paid music there is and if it's super important then I pay someone to compose me a piece and someone to perform it. So it all depends on the level of music I need for my video.

The fact is that, thanks to technology and economics, the era of making insane money off music is mostly over. We're going back to the era of the artist being supported by patrons. Which is how we did it for most of humanity. And that's life - at one time there was a huge market for people who could do stuff with gas lamps or horses. Now it's computers and service jobs.

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Janis
09/18/2012 13:12

"My position has always been this - guess what? This is called economics."

The problem with this is that Palmer was also told that when she was requested to lose 20lbs and freaked out. "Too bad -- it's just how things are, now get in line." Not only did she lose it, but she encouraged a whole lot of other people to lose it on her behalf.

That answer wasn't good enough for her back then, nor was it actually correct. Turns out that many people didn't need her to lose 20lbs before they liked what she did.

Now that she has to cut back or take more money out of HER pocket though, suddenly the old cliche of "too bad, that's just the way things are" is fine and dandy.

So either she's a hypocrite, or her persona of someone who fights <i>against</I> "That's Just How Things Are" is a coldly calculated effort to bullshit gullible idiots into handing over THEIR money and she doesn't actually believe any of it and never did. Or she only believes it when it gets in HER way, or when she doesn't have to reach into her wallet, which is hardly some sort of noble political statement made by a revolutionary artist but is just bald self-interest and egotism.

If that's the case and her mask slipped, she is in for a rough ride. And that's Just How Things Are, too.

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09/18/2012 13:42

I'm not sure I understand the correlation here. Economics is what it is - that's why it's called the invisible hand. I offer you a widget and Bob offers you one as well. And you pay for the cheapest one. That's the way it is - it's the way the entire world works.

Being fat or skinny - that's not the way the world works. There are fat or "fat" artists like Missy Elliot and Adele that have been able to make tons of money. If you truly have the talent you can make the money. Does it help if you're attractive? yes. Does it allow some people to skate by who have lesser skills? yes. 99.9999% of the time when I listen to music I don't know what the person looks like. I don't know if they're tall or short or fat or skinny. I just know that I like the voice. And I'll buy the music. And I've been super surprised that someone I thought was black based on their voice or other assumptions (eg a certain style of R&B or gospel) turned out to be white. April Smith, whose music I fell in love with months before I saw her in concert, turned out to be fatter than I pictured in my head. So? I'll still buy her next album. I'm buying something for my ears, not my eyes.

So while you make a good point about how it sucks that women are told that they have to be a certain weight - it's a bad point to compare that to economics. Because econ is the way it is - it's not quite as strict, but almost as certain as gravity. But being fat or skinny is a matter of preference.

Janis
09/18/2012 16:16

Hon, there have been a zillion Ayn-Rand worshipping little boys who ARE convinced that fat-or-skinny is indeed the way the world works. It's just biology honey, nothing personal ...

It seems to me as if you are trying to weave your own personal philosophy into the fabric of the universe, and it might not actually be there.

Janis
09/18/2012 16:20

It's also important to remember that there is more than one The-Ways-Things-Are.

People trying to get the most for the least is indeed one aspect of the way things are.

However, people screaming bloody murder and organizing when they feel they are being shafted is another. :-) You shrug and go, "Economics," and I shrug back and go, "Politics." Sure businesses are like that, but workers are like something too, you know.

Palmer will have to tread carefully. We'll see what happens.

D
09/18/2012 16:37

Hypocrite? Maybe. I'm guessing more narcissist.It sounds like she thrives on combat and likes to think of herself as sticking it to the man. That kind of attitude doesn't disappear when you become successful. The writer Thomas Frank made some interesting points once about how tech billionaires like to see themselves as rebels, even when they're rebelling against common decency and fair ethics (Wired once had a tribute to John D. Rockefeller, for pete's sake)

She's certainly pitching this as a battle for her own freedom of expression, which is what I personally find most annoying/frustrating/infuriating. No one is trying to censor her or stifle her creativity.

Janis
09/18/2012 13:13

BTW, "lose it" means "lose her temper" and not lose the 20lbs. :-)

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09/18/2012 12:22

Just read AFP's response and she did exactly what I said - she paid where it counted - in NYC and didn't where it didn't.

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D
09/18/2012 13:01

Eric Mesa... wow.

That's exactly WHY THIS MATTERS. She has repeatedly held up her model as the future of music (tired of capitalizing it) and that this is her way of acknowledging the way to survive as a musician and an artist. Musicians are constantly told they have to tour to make money. Now she wants to take that away? Not cool. Not punk rock in the least.

You can't just say "it's economics." If a millionaire can pay undocumented workers for peanuts and get away with saying "it's economics," that's (pardon my language) a fucking shame.

If you're comfortable with a future of yuppies who can afford to make music because they have great outside jobs, that's fine.

Just know that you've screwed over a lot of nice, innocent people.

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09/18/2012 13:23

Economics isn't pretty - it doesn't care about innocent people or lots of people wouldn't been been screwed by the Wall Street mess of 2008. The fact is that it may be the case that music as a way of living may be gone. Or it may be there for people who can make it work like MC Frontalot and Jonathan Coulton.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not trying to be a jerk about it - but if people are willing to do music for free - and a lot of them are - then economics means that everyone else has to take less pay unless they're awesome. (see the musicians she hired in NYC)

Let me make it personal - a few years ago I explored being a professional photographer. I studied the market and found that there are just too many people who were find with photos that were just OK. And I am not awesome - I like to think I have some great photos here and there, but I'm nothing compared to some of those I see on flickr. There's no way I'd be able to replace the income I was making in my day job. So I decided to just continue to take photos for fun. And I have photos that have been viewed by 11k+ people which is great for little nobody me. And when I shoot alongside the paid photographers in my friends' weddings - sometimes they tell me that my photos came out better than the dude they paid for. And that makes my day, but I'm stuck in my day job. (Which is actually incredibly fulfilling, but I would have preferred to have my passion - photography - as my job)

So maybe you do music on the side and you get happy when people throw some money your way on bandcamp or whatever website you use. Or you find some quirky niche in which you can become the next BIG THING. I don't know. But I do know that technology changes things and jobs that were once viable no longer are. One last example - thanks to Kindles, iPads, etc we may soon reach a day when all comics are digital. So paper companies will lose business. Comic shops will close. Should we demand that digital comics keep the old businesses afloat somehow? Nope. But there might still be some people out there who prefer paper and will make a fanzine and have a base of some size.

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09/18/2012 13:23

Economics isn't pretty - it doesn't care about innocent people or lots of people wouldn't been been screwed by the Wall Street mess of 2008. The fact is that it may be the case that music as a way of living may be gone. Or it may be there for people who can make it work like MC Frontalot and Jonathan Coulton.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not trying to be a jerk about it - but if people are willing to do music for free - and a lot of them are - then economics means that everyone else has to take less pay unless they're awesome. (see the musicians she hired in NYC)

Let me make it personal - a few years ago I explored being a professional photographer. I studied the market and found that there are just too many people who were find with photos that were just OK. And I am not awesome - I like to think I have some great photos here and there, but I'm nothing compared to some of those I see on flickr. There's no way I'd be able to replace the income I was making in my day job. So I decided to just continue to take photos for fun. And I have photos that have been viewed by 11k+ people which is great for little nobody me. And when I shoot alongside the paid photographers in my friends' weddings - sometimes they tell me that my photos came out better than the dude they paid for. And that makes my day, but I'm stuck in my day job. (Which is actually incredibly fulfilling, but I would have preferred to have my passion - photography - as my job)

So maybe you do music on the side and you get happy when people throw some money your way on bandcamp or whatever website you use. Or you find some quirky niche in which you can become the next BIG THING. I don't know. But I do know that technology changes things and jobs that were once viable no longer are. One last example - thanks to Kindles, iPads, etc we may soon reach a day when all comics are digital. So paper companies will lose business. Comic shops will close. Should we demand that digital comics keep the old businesses afloat somehow? Nope. But there might still be some people out there who prefer paper and will make a fanzine and have a base of some size.

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D
09/18/2012 16:43

Yeah, sorry, that's nonsense. The buggy whip argument doesn't apply because people still wnat the content. In the case of the Palmer concerts, people still want to pay to get in.

Again, to use the winds of change as an excuse for unethical behavior is simply dickish.

d
09/18/2012 13:05

And I'm not sure what the deal is with your comment on patronage. You're right, we don't use gas lamps or horse carriages anymore. So artists - and only artists - have to go back to the past?

Patronage... lord help me. If you can find a patron who would bankroll the next Woody Guthrie or Jello Biafra, I will eat my hat.

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09/18/2012 13:32

Again - some things can't continue the way they were. Jonathan Coultan himself has written about how we are essentially already in a patronage model. There's no way to force people to buy your music. They do it if they want to - if they think you're worth supporting.

I certainly always buy music whenever it's available for purchase if I like the artist. But while people can try to stop the filesharing - they can't. Before the internet there was cassette swapping or even CD swapping.

I have x dollars to pay for music per month so here's what I do. I buy music from my favorite artists. Do I still have money? Buy music from other artists I like and so on. Oh no, there's still music I want! OK, I put it on my Amazon wishlist and maybe someone in my family will buy it for me. Now I go on noisetrade and find some great artist - I've already spent my money for the month and they're offering their music for free legally, so I d/l it for free. So they didn't make any money then. However, if I like them, I'll keep my eye for them. (technically, a program that watches my last.fm plays for artists I like will keep an eye out) When they put out an album proper I'll buy it on amazon or put it on my wishlist. If they're an indie dude, maybe they get to keep most of it. If they're with a record company maybe they don't get most of it. That's not my problem - that's how the economy's set up - at least I'm doing the legit thing. And I might go see them in concert if they happen to actually make it out here. Sometimes I buy a T-shirt, but I often don't because I have an embarrassingly large T-shirt collection. I'm somewhat starting to ramble, but if they hadn't given away the first bit for free, I wouldn't be giving them any percentage of my money.

I don't know....As for the Woody Guthrie thing and Jello Biafra thing - there's Kickstarter - what is that but patronage? Hey, I think I'm good at this - pay me? OK, we believe in you here is money.

Look at the great stuff produced by patronage: the works of the masters like Rafael, Leonardo, Michelangelo or for more recent stuff - Salvador Dali who was able to create some of his huge masterworks due to patronage.

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Abi
09/18/2012 16:24

Kudos to you Eric! Thanks for giving the big picture economic view without getting into a moral argument.

I completely agree with you--the music industry has changed drastically in the last decade. Suddenly, thanks to technology and the internet, the entry barriers have almost been eliminated. An aspiring musician can create and then instantly share music using just some software, a fancy mike and their computer. It may not be top quality--but the fact is many people just don't care. And that mixtape on youtube may be what gets you a record deal now (see Justin Bieber, Souljah Boy etc...)

Unfortunately for many (classical especially) musicians and singers who have spent thousands of dollars and years of education on perfecting their craft---there simply isn't a sustainable market for them anymore as they used to know it. Either one needs to be a genius like Yo-Yo Ma, or find other ways of gaining individual exposure and creating a niche market for themselves. But with classical & jazz declining in popularity as genres, the ability of computers to make virtually the same sounds with someone just playing around with software, and the huge over saturation in the music market---gone are the days when a classical musician can expect to both find a job as well as make a decent wage by merely being part of a prestigious symphony.

It's not about screwing anyone over D, it's about acknowledging the fact that technology has changed things permanently---and the way to move forward is not by complaining about an antiquated union wage model or shaming anyone---but to look for new and inventive ways to continue to make oneself and one's craft relevant. I say this with the best of intentions-because the artists who are stuck in the past are the ones who will go bankrupt and continue to starve. The artists who capitalize on the advantages of technology and create new niches for themselves are the ones who are going to be successful (see Amanda Palmer and her insane use of twitter).

D
09/18/2012 16:40

Technology is -changing things?
So why not use backing tracks?

technology doesn't have a single thing to do with what Palmer's doing. What she's doing has been done for centuries.

"gone are the days when a classical musician can expect to both find a job as well as make a decent wage by merely being part of a prestigious symphony"

Exactly. Which is why a fun gig that is not going to mean much to your career in terms of exposure and contacts should be paid for.

09/19/2012 06:45

Yeah, the thing with classical musicians really sucks. However, you do point to the issue - it's declining in popularity which means "no one" wants to hear it. Which means it's not a career option anymore. That sucks because I do enjoy some classical music - I love going to my local Symphony Hall. Maybe we need a new Bach or Beethoven - someone to shake things up. Shoot, one of those guys (I forget who) literally caused a riot when people heard his first symphony. It's a conversation I've had often with my wife - what's the new classical music? Technically, it's film soundtracks.

However, if I could put a cap on all my contributions to the discussion on the comments to this blog post it would be this:
We are all human beings with free will. AFP wants to ask for volunteers and she'll get some because to not allow those people to volunteer would be wrong - it's their right to make that choice. If that messes with the market place - tough! The alternative is a command economy - didn't really work so well for the Russians or anyone else. Now, if someone were to come and force people to play for free, that would be bad. But, as I said before, she knows it's dicey to play with free musicians - it's why she's hiring people in NYC. You can't force her to have the same quality everywhere. But, hey, maybe that means some music blogger who sees her in Podunk, USA writes a horrible review because the volunteers sucked.

And a final analogy - when volunteers man a soup kitchen - they're putting professionals out of a job. When people volunteer for Habitat for Humanity - they're putting contractors out of a job. Should we stop all volunteers?

D
09/18/2012 16:28

It's a very bad idea to assume that a certain change is inevitable. It's dickish to excuse unethical practises based on those changes being inevitable.

I've heard "adapt or die" a lot latelly. What is missing in that equation is that human beings, while adaptable to their environment, are much better at adapting their environmet, whether physical or mental. To say "screw it, that's the way things will be, tough luck" shows a distinct lack of imagination.

The thing about patronage is, well, the patrons have changed. The Medicis and their ilk were, shall we say, a different class of patron than, say, Donald Trump.

Today, patronage is more likely to result in Celebrity Apprentice or Lana Del Rey.

Kickstarter... obviously has some issues. I suppose it could work, but if Palmer is the poster girl for it, we're in trouble.

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09/19/2012 06:35

Hmm....perhaps that's not so bad - I happen to really like Lana Del Rey.

Twinkle, Brad, and Ezra
09/18/2012 13:46

Kudos to you, Amy for a well put and heartfelt letter. We admire your strength and dignity.

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D
09/19/2012 06:57

Well, Lana Del Rey is not exactly a great example of a plucky newcomer getting discovered by patrons (oh, and she toured with a string quartet which she paid)

People may not listen to classical, but they do pay to see Amanda Palmer with classical musicians. In any case, I think using the market alone to preserve culture is a really bad idea.

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09/19/2012 07:02

Did you not just agree with me with your last sentence? If the market is not preserving culture then who is? A patron. Whether that's the city's cultural arts fund or some kind of culture tax we all pay to subsidize music that isn't economically viable. Or the tax we pay that puts all this stuff into the library of congress

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D
09/19/2012 10:26

I'm not saying that patronage is bad, but it is in many ways not a great system. Look at the NEA. Anything remotely controversial - whether it's Karen Finley or Robert Mapplethorpe or David Wojnarowicz, anything remotely controversial or interesting gets conservatives to threaten the whole organization with cuts. Arts funding as it is is doing terribly.

Leaving it to private individuals to be patrons will give us hagiographical works and trust fund kids like Lana Del Rey. anyone who makes anything remotely challenging will have to beg for scraps.

And before you say that classical music is all old, there are still daring new composers making contemporary symphonic music, and some of it beats the hell out of more commercial genres. I'm glad it's there.

D
09/19/2012 07:00

"when volunteers man a soup kitchen"... Yeah, stop right there.

Soup kitchens use volunteers because they are NON PROFITS. Furthermore, the people they are feeding are there because they HAVE NO MONEY. There is no revenue lost because people are eating at soup kitchens.

As for Habitat for Humanity - again, a non profit, and much of the construction is done by the people

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D
09/19/2012 07:05

Sorry.. Got cut off.

Many of the "volunteers" for Habitat For Humanity are actually people who are building their own house. That's the whole point of Habitat For Humanity. I suppose yo could argye that that means that some are paid and some are not, but I don't think most would agree with that,


It doesn't matter, however, because AMANDA PALMER IS NOT A CARITY.

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D
09/19/2012 07:06

"not a charity," obviously.

09/19/2012 07:06

I will agree with you there about her not being a charity.

Ruth
09/19/2012 11:54

The following comment is for Eric Mesa:

Eric,

Be careful about the assumptions you make. You make some very bold claims, such as that "no one wants to hear [classical music]," "[classical music is] not a career option anymore," and that there's nothing new in classical music but film soundtracks.

You are wrong.

It's extremely arrogant of you to claim you know the ins and outs of our industry, which I can assure you does have relevance in today's society, and is still a career option. I won't waste my time elaborating here.

Personal opinions based on uninformed perceptions have no place in this otherwise legitimate discussion. Let us know when you have more valid support for your argument.

P.S. A small tip about persuasion: Don't highlight (by saying "I forgot who" when using a historical event as your defense) the fact that you don't know what you're talking about.

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09/19/2012 12:06

Ruth,

It's possible you misread what I said and it's possible it has been distorted by the fact that this is text and not audio. That's why I said "no one" wants to hear classical music. Obviously some people do or there wouldn't be any classical albums. Also, maybe that part of my comment incensed you so much that you didn't read that *I* listen to classical music - I go to Symphonic Halls to listen to it. I didn't mention the following, but I bought a pack of three CDs with all the classical "standards". I enjoy it. However, someone else was saying it's on the decline and when something's on the decline, it's probably not a great career option. A career being defined as something you plan to do for a long time vs a job which can be 1-3 years. All I know is that it's not the first time I've read that it's getting harder and harder to make a living playing classical music. In most places you can only hear it on NPR when there isn't any NPR programming.

As for the PS - hey, I'm being honest. If I said, I forgot who said it, but some dude said "give me liberty or give me death" it wouldn't undermine the fact that I was talking about that dude. But whatever.

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Deb
09/19/2012 12:30

So classical musicians only play on cheap CDs and NPR? Classical musicians are everywhere. No, it's not as easy as it used to be but there are gigs out there. Larger churches have PAID house orchestras which play regularly. Likewise, many churches host classical concerts with paid musicians. There are orchestras and paid bands all over the US. Some pay enough for that to be a musician's main gig. Other pay enough to be steady work but need a second income. There are dinner theaters, recital halls, and other opportunities for paid gigs as well. And then there are the staples of the music world - weddings, funerals and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Obviously the bigger cities are going to have more opportunities but smaller cities can be remarkably lucrative too due to lower cost of living. My old oboe teacher commuted between NYC and DC to go where the gigs were. Musicians also teach to keep a steady income as well. Some do instrument repair, make reeds, or buy and sell new and used instruments. Some have second jobs doing something completely different. Like any other field, musicians who are innovative and adaptable do the best.

Ruth
09/19/2012 21:35

Eric,

My concern is that your perception of what classical musicians can and are doing is one-dimensional. It may be true that, for you, classical music only exists on the radio and the occasional orchestra concert, but that isn't everyone's reality.

Since you mentioned not knowing what "new" classical music is, you might look into some of the following composers: John Adams, Arvo Pärt, George Crumb, Steve Reich, and György Ligeti, to name a few.

Ruth
09/19/2012 21:35

Eric,

My concern is that your perception of what classical musicians can and are doing is one-dimensional. It may be true that, for you, classical music only exists on the radio and the occasional orchestra concert, but that isn't everyone's reality.

Since you mentioned not knowing what "new" classical music is, you might look into some of the following composers: John Adams, Arvo Pärt, George Crumb, Steve Reich, and György Ligeti, to name a few.

Ruth
09/19/2012 21:35

Eric,

My concern is that your perception of what classical musicians can and are doing is one-dimensional. It may be true that, for you, classical music only exists on the radio and the occasional orchestra concert, but that isn't everyone's reality.

Since you mentioned not knowing what "new" classical music is, you might look into some of the following composers: John Adams, Arvo Pärt, George Crumb, Steve Reich, and György Ligeti, to name a few.

D
09/19/2012 22:06

Ruth: all wonderful examples! One of my favourite CDs of the past few years was the soundtrack for Shutter Island, all full of odd new classical music!

Heres a question for musicians here: whose compositions are the most fun to play?

09/20/2012 06:18

Ruth,

Thanks for the recommendations. Added them to my "music to check out" list on Remember the Milk. I'm curious to see what's up in classical music nowadays.

Out of curiosity - other than Yo-Yo Ma, are there any other composers/musicians that are famous in the classical world? Or are all they all essentially "session musicians" to composers.

Deb
09/19/2012 12:22

Article in Gawker about AFP's kickstarter fundraising:

http://gawker.com/5944050/amanda-palmers-million+dollar-music-project-and-kickstarters-accountability-problem?utm_source=jezebel.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation

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D
09/19/2012 22:08

I'm so glad that Palmer finally decided to do the right thing! Amy, I think you can take credit for starting the discussion, and keeping up the pressure!

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09/20/2012 06:20

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

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Ruth
09/20/2012 12:03

Eric,

My concern is that your perception of what classical musicians can and are doing is one-dimensional. It may be true that, for you, classical music only exists on the radio and the occasional orchestra concert, but that isn't everyone's reality.

Since you mentioned not knowing what "new" classical music is, you might look into some of the following composers: John Adams, Arvo Pärt, George Crumb, Steve Reich, and György Ligeti, to name a few.

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Ariock
09/22/2012 20:05

I was wrong. I'm glad to admit it. Congratulations on getting what you wanted.

Which was for her to say that she's paying everyone.

It turns out the amount didn't actually matter. It can't because Palmer just said she's paying them some amount other than zero, and now everyone's off her case.

Also, when are you folks going to get on AFM for not paying for photography they've used and for violating the copyright on it? So you only care when it's your strike? Doesn't the fact that AFP paid indicate that paying the photographers whose work they appropriate is the right thing?

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Deb
09/23/2012 07:43

Using fan pics is different and not every use of a picture has to be paid for if you have permission to use it. Fans give their consent for her to use their photos when they post them to her site. That's all she needs. It's little different from sharing pictures on Facebook. If she was collecting those pictures and publishing them in a book without at least getting releases, then she is in violation of copyright. She's also not calling for volunteer pro photographers to take professional photos which she will then use for promo shoots.

The sticking point of all of this was calling for professional musicians to do professional work at a paid performance and not get paid. Regardless if those musicians were fans or got other promotional deals, merchandise, or hugs, she wanted pro work for her concerts, which were taking in money and had other paid performers. She should have offered to pay for those pro performers. She is not like she was 10 years ago where she was breaking even or losing money each gig. She is making money and has the budget to pay people and needs to get into that mindset. People will be willing to help you out when you are starting out and trying to make it. Once you are established, they expect you to act like a professional. Professionals pay people who work for them.

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Ariock
09/23/2012 10:36

Deb,

Thank you for the comment. You've unfortunately misinterpreted my comment. AFP is Amanda Fucking Palmer. AFM is the American Federation of Musicians. AFM is a Union.

The American Federations of Musicians created an anti-Amanda Palmer petition on Change.org. As a part of that, they took an image from Flickr and modified it, creating a derivative work in clear violation of the copyright notice on the photo.

Additionally, the Union chose not to pay for the professional quality photo, claiming it was "creative commons" as though that somehow absolves them of responsibility of paying for it. Kind of like how Ms. Palmer claimed that getting volunteers meant she didn't have to pay them $.

The Union has $11,765,052.00 in assets according to this site:
http://www.unionfacts.com/union/Musicians
So they can't afford money to pay a photographer?

Also, they've had the petition and the copyright-violating image up for over a week now. How much compensation is that worth?

D
09/23/2012 11:37

Nice derail, Ariock.
Write to AFM (whose petition was not in any way "anti-Amanda Palmer") and complain. Not sure what Amy has to do with t.

Ariock
09/23/2012 12:19

D.

Derail? It's the exact same issue. Paying artists for their work. Sauce for the goose and all that.

I guess musicians unions have different rules for themselves than they do for others.

Amy V.S.
09/23/2012 10:47

I'm hearing that this is upsetting you, Ariock. Might I suggest that you call the AFM and talk to them about it, or get in touch with someone who can make a difference in this area. Who is the photographer? Are they upset about this? What are their needs and how can we best help them?

I'm beginning to sense that you are just arguing for sport and are less interested in making positive change… Feel free to give me and others a different impression.

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Ariock
09/23/2012 12:16

Ms. V.S,

Why shouldn't I be upset?

I don't like bullies. I don't like it when organizations like AFM or the RIAA or MPAA or Sony or Universal go after extremely giving private citizens with lawyers or campaigns of lies. I mean, we're not talking a Romney here, right? We're talking Amanda Fucking Palmer. Supporter of Occupy. I can't EFFING believe you treat her like some major shareholder of Bain or Halliburton because she made a million and spent it on artists and other supporting people wages but not in the way you'd have preferred! You'd think she'd gotten 40 grand in tax breaks for a show horse.

And now, not only did you get what you wanted, you're telling me I should "call the AFM?" that I could "get in touch with someone who can make a difference" and asking if the photographer is "upset about this?"

Did you call Ms. Palmer? Did you call Ms. Palmer's volunteers to see if they were upset? Did you contact Ms. Palmer's volunteers to find out their needs and how you could help them?

I honestly can't believe you just said all that.

But to answer your question, YES. I DID contact AFM. They said the photo was under a "creative commons" license, and they'd properly attributed the photo. 1. This is false. It is under a "some rights reserved" license, which includes not making modifications (like AFM did) and not implying the artist's agreement (which I think the modifications do imply). 2. So what? Even if he volunteers it you're still supposed to "PAY THE ARTIST!" as you and your friends have very clearly stated.
I DID contact the copyright holder. Because I'm not some jerk who pretends to represent people she doesn't actually represent *cough*. He wasn't happy about them violating his copyright. He didn't expect payment originally, but then, neither did the musicians who volunteered. But as you and AFP have made crystal clear, not expecting payment doesn't mean you shouldn't be paid.

Finally, who am I? I'm nobody. I don't have an organization like a Union backing me up to get my blog posted all over the place. YOU have a forum. YOU have the backing of a professional organization. YOU just apparently aren't willing to use it when a photographer is getting more screwed than the volunteer musicians you spoke up for and who didn't need your help at all.

I guess I don't know why I would expect you to care.

But to be fair, AFM should pay that photographer at least as much as Ms. Palmer is paying the musicians now. Probably more, since they used that image for at least a week and they have at least 10 times as much annual income as Ms. Palmer. AFM shouldn't act like the 1%, now should they?

ps. thanks for the master-class in irony. Consider the $10 I donated to Classical Revolution as my payment. Since it looks like they're still playing at the Fillmore.

Deb
09/23/2012 13:13

(While I hate to continue a discussion on a derailment, I do feel the need to correct gross misconceptions about copyright.) Please research copyright law and what does and does not constitute copyright violation. Copyright exists mainly to protect financial and creative interests of the copyright holder.

"Some right reserved" *is* a type of creative commons license. I can't find the info on what type of license that image has so I can't comment on if the image is violating that license. Most CC licenses allow you to use a work (image, article, story, video, etc.) as long as you are not doing it for pay or making money off it. If the AFM took the image off of Flickr the image could have one of several CC licenses to it.

At worst, the AMF is guilty of not attributing copyright where it is due. They are NOT guilty of not paying the photographer. Not every use of a copyrighted picture requires payment. Sometimes it just requires permission. It also might not be the photographer they need to pay if they were to pay at all; it would be the copyright owner, which may or may not be the photographer. At most, if the owner of the copyright (which could be the photographer or AFP if she hired him to take the picture, or the publication in which the photo first appeared) would write to the AFM with a "cease and desist" letter for them to take the photo down.

So, like everyone else is saying, it is NOT the same issue as asking pro musicians to play for free at a gig where everyone else is being paid and admission is being charged at the door. No one lost money when AFM used a photo nor did AFM ask a photographer to do pro work for free at an otherwise paid gig or for a website that is earning money.

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D
09/23/2012 12:30

Ariok:Amy had nothing to do with the use of the photograph. That's between te photographer and the AFM.

Yours is a classic derail, specifically a tu quoque fallacy, specifically "how can you be upset about ______ when ______ is happening." the AFM may be hypocritical, but that doesnt men they're wrong,

"dd you call Ms. Palmer?" no, Amy wrote ths letter, risking the wrath of AFP fans like yourself, and Amy responded.


Your mentions of the RIAA and the MPAA are irrelevant, nd suggest that you care very little about actual compensation.

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Ariock
09/24/2012 23:27

No, Ms. V-S had nothing to do with the photograph. She also doesn't play one of the instruments that Ms. Palmer was looking for volunteers for (trumpet! bari! sax! trombone!). So she has nothing to do with that either. And yet here we are.

That would be a very apt point you make about the fallacy, if it applied. It doesn't. I'm not saying you're wrong because you're hypocritical asses. I'm just saying that you're hypocritical asses. That can also be a thing. Look. Forget I said anything. I honestly couldn't have any lower of a view of you at this point and I doubt you're going to dazzle me with a display of giving a crap about any artists outside of your little tribe, so to hell with me. I honestly think the guy deserves some compensation because they violated his copyright. He could have DMCA'ed them, and apparently chose not to. That's his call.

As far as the proving wrong, you're been proven wrong by others. By all the other artists who have pointed out that they volunteer to play in barter or for fun all the time. And all the ones who did it for fun on this tour. All the ones who could have bailed with no hard feelings and yet didn't. Their words show how wrong you are better than anything I could say.

And Deb, I didn't thank you for the estimate of 100 dollars for each stringed-instrument player. Thanks. By the way, Classical Revolution was offered that for the SF Public Works show and it wasn't enough. oops. How's it feel to take rent money away from musicians? You goddamn cheapskate 1%er Plutocrat.

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D
09/25/2012 06:38

Well, then.

Im sure Amanda Palmer would appreciate having such a loving, compassionate fan.

Have a nice day.

Amy V.S.
09/25/2012 10:09

Hey Ariock,

If you had looked at the rest of my website you would have seen that I offer lessons in trumpet. In fact, I've played trumpet for 16 years.

In addition, Classical Revolution may have chapters all over the world and offer the same vision, however each branch has it's own director and calls the shots for that branch. The director of the San Francisco branch had a chance to work out an agreement. Ours was originally given the option of free service, and though we offered another option it was turned down. This has since been worked out, and there are a few of our players playing for Amanda this Friday and everyone is thrilled about it. I wish I could attend, but have a conflicting gig.

Ariock, I hear your anger and I'm guessing there's more to it than what we're hearing from you. I wish I could help you, but I can't help someone who is set on attacking and does not wish to be helped.

I wish you well and hope you can find peace, friend.

Warm regards,
Amy

09/29/2012 08:05

I will play man, but I must be paid.

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01/07/2013 16:01

Thanks for sharing this with us.

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01/07/2013 16:02

I really like your blog, like this one, very rendering power, fuel! I will always support you!

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01/07/2013 16:03

Let the nature blossom.
No feedback was left by this

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Steve Albini
02/14/2013 16:16

You represent everything that AFP is not. You created a ruckus over nothing, as did your union, and have gotten what you wanted. Congratulations. I am going to do everything in my power to bring publicity to your overreaction and the fact that YOU felt the need to impose your personal bullshit philosophy on a generous, giving musician. You are trash. She is Punk. You are nothing

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Serena
02/14/2013 16:43

Hi Steve. If you really are Steve, but I'm guessing your not. Nice try though. You must feel real good about yourself...

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07/17/2013 06:04

I am getting back into playing piano and I need a website that has free sheet music. I am not using these to record or perform anything, just for practice. I'd like to play songs by artists I like such as Amanda Palmer, Radiohead, Norah Jones, Ben Folds.

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10/23/2013 02:55

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