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After “The Trolls Threw Some Pretty Nasty Stones”, Amanda Palmer Will Pay Musicians

image from a week of controversy and stone-throwing, Amanda Palmer has reversed course and will pay the guest musicians that she had just recently asked to play for free. "Me and my band have discussed it at length. and we have decided we should pay all of our guest musicians. We have the power to do it, and we’re going to do it. (in fact, we started doing it three shows ago.)", wrote Palmer.

For her current tour, Amanda Palmer put out a call for volunteer musicians to "hop up on stage with us for a couple of tunes." This request led to widespread attacks from musicians, music industry pundits and music fans as well as a seemingly smaller number of supportive responses from those same sectors of the population. Others – myself included – felt that as a social media pioneer, Palmer is uncharted waters and we all needed to cut her some slack.

On her blog, Palmer wrote:

"my management team tweaked and reconfigured financials, pulling money from this and that other budget (mostly video) and moving it to the tour budget. 
all of the money we took out of those budgets is going to the crowd-sourced musicians fund. we are going to pay the volunteer musicians every night. even though they volunteered their time for beer, hugs, merch, free tickets, and love: we’ll now also hand them cash."

Amanda Palmer Requests Volunteer Musicians, Chaotic Discourse Ensues

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  1. I hope that ultimately the focus is on Kickstarter funding and what that means for funding collaborations. Who gets paid what hasn’t been discussed nearly enough given how common Kickstarter collaborations have become. If you create a project with people in other media or with musicians who aren’t part of a band you have contracted with, who gets paid if extra money is raised should be thought about in advance. If funding an arts project is a community event, then sharing in that funding might also be viewed as a community event.

  2. i don’t care if she pays or doesn’t pay. I’m just sick of seeing her fucking name every time i get online.

  3. Yes! I just got her newest release and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has my vote for best album of the year! From listening to it I would call her the female, modern equivalent of Bowie. In my opinion she deserves every sent of that Kickstarter money for the great album alone!
    Download my album for free at

  4. For me, I don’t agree with not paying musicians on tour dates that they’re the only musicians she has planned to play with her (the ones volunteering). I think she was just trying to find another way to involve her fans with her music and show because staying connected and creative in the current industry is a must if a musician wants to be successful. I give her a lot of credit for going and being as honest and close with her fans as possible. When you open yourself up like that, no matter what kind of relationship it is, there also becomes a much greater ability for negative subjective outlooks upon your decisions being made.
    Most people don’t know how hard it is trying to be a successful musician, especially in this day and age. I’m sure if companies and musicians were more honest with their book keeping, you’d find a great deal of worse mistakes and neglectful practices of spending revenue.

  5. Amanda learned a lesson the hard way on behalf of other musicians who make significant money via kickstarter–people care about how you spend THEIR money. In that sense, Amanda has been a guinea pig and I do cut her some slack because of it. However, what’s disappointing is that between the million+ dollars she earned from kickstarter and the significant sums of money already in the possession of Amanda and her husband, paying the musicians was still a non-priority. And Amanda’s reaction to the criticism was inept–she sounded a lot more like a trust fund kid who went to prep school in Lexington than an indie artist.

  6. Why are you concerned about how a private entity uses its earned money? Are you seeking some sort of “social justice”? If you are hell-bent on auditing an artist you give funds to, then maybe you should not fund them in the first place! It’s quite simple.

  7. Raising money on Kickstarter isn’t private. It’s there for all to see. And crowdfunding itself is about asking people to contribute to your project and then sharing with them info all along the way.
    Charities have long been asked to be accountable for how they spend the money they raise. Projects on Kickstarter are a lot more like charities than they are private enterprises.

  8. If you want to think of artists as charities, or if there are artists who want to act like charities, that’s fine with me.
    It only becomes a problem when you start pushing the idea as a standard. Meaning, insisting on all artists having to operate like charities and/or being subject to complying with an x-set of rules.
    If artists own the choice to their privacy, then the ones that don’t agree with privacy can opt out of it (you don’t see Zoe Keating having a PR crisis). If artists are forced into public audits, then the ones that don’t agree will be perceived as evil if they try to opt out of them.

  9. The collaboration issue and how everyone gets paid is something I asked about years before Palmer got involved in Kickstarter. As more projects involve more elaborate collaborations and more of them are crowdfunded, people (both participants and funders) are going to wonder how to split up the money that gets raised: who gets paid what.
    Palmer’s case and other Kickstarter campaigns, where people have contributed money and haven’t yet gotten what they were promised, have put Kickstarter under some scrutiny. That’s a good thing to help us move crowdfunding forward and work out the kinks. Here’s a link to an article from a few days ago to illustrate. I save articles on crowdfunding and can point people to more of them asking about Kickstarter and accountability if people want to see them.
    Amanda Palmer’s Million-Dollar Music Project and Kickstarter’s Accountability Problem

  10. That might be true if she was just inviting buskers onstage with whatever instruments they had. However, she was asking them to audition, rehearse and in the case of the strings be the opening act (NOT playing their own music, however.)
    And other people doing the same is no excuse.

  11. Amanda is an experimenter and an entrepreneur. She is on an uncharted and very public path. It is interesting to me that we all have the capability to express opinions about “fairness” in this hi-tech interactive environment. It is also interesting to me that she is so nimble in considering her response. Consider this in light of behaviors by the old industry monoliths like EMI, BMG, Universal, Sony, et al. Fairness vs. exploitation of an asset. I admire her energy. Independent musicians that log into Hypebot should be of the caliber to observe and take the lessons they need.

  12. Yes, I don’t fault Palmer for inviting fans to play on stage for hugs and beer. She’s done it before and everyone has been happy.
    What I have wanted to shoot down, though, is the idea that musicians who complain about not getting paid are bitter and jealous. I don’t think that is the case. Rather, they see that Palmer raised a significant amount of money and have wondered why there’s not enough left to pay everyone.
    And the reason everyone knows how much money she has raised (aside from all the stories about it) is Kickstarter. People can now see how much a Kickstarter artist has raised, what the rewards are and how many have sold, and, if the artist is open, what she/he plans to do with the money. Plus Kickstarter encourages everyone to think of these projects as “their projects.” Therefore the community becomes involved and may be more inclined to voice their opinions on what should or shouldn’t happen with the money. I think all of this is good, but it does change the dynamics between artists and their patrons. Yes, contributors to Kickstarter can be considered patrons rather than fans, and patrons tend to give out more advice about the projects they are supporting. It’s no longer artist-to-fan. It’s artist-to-patron-to-artist, a continuing feedback loop. Palmer knows that and does adjust what she does based on what her fans/patron/audience says.

  13. Its not innovative, it’s a ponzi scheme.
    “I can’t pay you, but you might get exposure, after which you can get your friends to pay for free, and so on and so on…”
    I honestly don’t care what the bg labels did, that’s a pitiful excuse.

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