I contributed to Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign because even though I don’t adore her music (I like a lot of singles, and have friends who see her in multiple cities, and was fortunate enough to see her show in NYC last year), I have a lot of respect and admiration for her as a hard-working performance artist who wanted to change the system. I wanted to play a small part in that change.
Today, I found out she’s allegedly refraining from paying fan musicians who have been invited to join her on stage during this tour. There is some controversy around whether this is a “controlled fan invasion” or “unpaid work.” @tomcollins76 quoted her to me on Twitter as saying, “If you really want to play music with me on stage, go for it…I just can’t pay you, it’s your choice.”
Will Ms. Palmer be playing for for free on these occasions? Or donating all ticket proceeds to charity? Or finding another way to put money in the pockets of performers invited to appear on her stage?
I didn’t support Amanda Palmer to support Amanda Palmer; I haven’t even downloaded my free digital copy of the album yet. I supported Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter because I believe the entertainment industry models have got to change. This – asking people to do what they love for free (plus beer and hugs) – is not a change in the industry model.
Musicians – even if they’re fans, even if beer and hugs make them happy – should not be exploited by other professionals for no money.
Especially not by a musician who sold herself as being out to change the face of the music industry.
By not paying musicians who are appearing on stage at a professional, ticketed gig (and I’m not referring to GTO here, as they are getting paid – this is about the fans who are joining her on stage for free), Palmer is recycling the same old model. It wouldn’t stand in SAG, it wouldn’t stand in the Director’s Guild, and maybe it shouldn’t be what the revolutionary darling of the social music industry – and with over a million bucks fronted by backers, this is absolutely an industry, even if just the early days of one – encourages.
It’s definitely not what I signed up to support. The Kickstarter parties (pictured left, and thanks to both Ms. Palmer and @karohemd for getting it to me) were private fundraisers. These are, from what I understand, public concerts.
So while I think the video for WANT IT BACK was incredible work from a visionary artist, and I admire this small-businesswoman-gone-largescale for her chutzpah, I won’t be supporting further fundraising campains by Palmer. And this makes me a lot more cynical about supporting other Kickstarter campaigns by “known” artists looking to “change the system.”
“It doesn’t matter if you want it back/You’ve given it away, you’ve given it away,” Palmer sings in WANT IT BACK, and when I heard her song I aligned the sentiment with the intimacy an artist reveals when they create for an audience; the metaphor of a crowd-sourced piece of work and the artist who created it.
Not so much, anymore.
Edit: Two pieces I highly recommend:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lJQjihCp1E (Amanda speaks near Harvard Square)