Crowdsourcing or Exploitation? Amanda Palmer's Search For Volunteer Musicians
Warning: These videos aren't exactly safe for work. View at your risk, preferably at home with the shades drawn.
Amanda Palmer is learning that Biggie was right: More money does in fact equal more problems.
A while back Palmer created a Kickstarter project for her new album and tour. Her thousands of fans came together to donate, and the end result was a project that had $1 million to its name.
Whether she knew it at the time or not, the reality is that money is a blessing and a curse. While it allows her to work as an independent musician away from the corporate music landscape, it also allows people to use that money as a weapon when she makes unpopular decisions.
This is how "Amanda Palmer crowdsources musicians for upcoming tour" becomes "Millionaire wants backing band to play for free."
The facts are these:
1. Amanda Palmer made $1 million to fund her album and tour, among other things.
2. Amanda Palmer wrote a blog seeking volunteers in the various cities her tour is hitting to compliment her touring band. These "professional-ish" musicians would be paid in beer, high-fives, merch, and/or thank yous.
3. People got really upset with this request.
The core of the argument against Palmer is that she is exploiting these musicians who sign up to perform with her, and by not paying these string and horn players a fare wage she's no different than the corporate music labels she hates so much. In the words of the Musicians Association of Seattle, "Hugs don't pay rent."*
I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm not a musician, professional or otherwise. Other than the three years I spent playing baritone in middle school, at which I was awful, I've never learned to play anything. I've also never listened to a single song written by Amanda Palmer; truth be told, I usually confuse her for Emilie Autumn.
That said, having spent an afternoon reading dozens of articles, blogs and open letters on the subject I have a few things to say to both parties.