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amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for free

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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby cneutron on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:04 pm

Alright dudes and dudettes, here's a pretty well reasoned take on the whole Amanda Palmer thing by a (very talented) artist I kinda know that has actually sat in with her. Co-incidentally we both just "sat in" with my touring friends act, since we both appear on the record as guests. I think it's a cool take on things though since... you know... she's actually played with Amanda Palmer and all.

Gonna excise the whole thing because... I know folks be lazy.

Why I'm Fine With Playing For Amanda Palmer For Free, By S.F. Cellist Unwoman

Unwoman wrote:Editor's note: There's a flurry of arguments floating around online about independent artist Amanda Palmer asking skilled musicians to play a couple of songs at each stop on her upcoming tour for just beer, merchandise, and affection. Many argue that it isn't fair that Palmer -- who raised more than $1 million in a Kickstarter campaign for her current album -- is asking musicians to play without pay. S.F. cellist and solo artist Unwoman (aka Erika Mulkey) played with Palmer in July, and will again perform with her at the Fillmore later this month. Here, she explains why she's happy to do it for free.
I'm a solo singer-cellist. I've been performing as Unwoman for 12 years now, after studying cello, composition, and electronic music rather seriously. I've been a fan of Amanda Palmer since I saw the Dresden Dolls open for Nine Inch Nails in 2005-ish. I've found her music inspiring -- of tears, musical expression, and confidence in my ability to do this as a career. In fact, it was her blog "Why I Am Not Afraid To Take Your Money," that inspired me to take the plunge into doing music full-time, supported directly and solely by my fans. In a slow and steady climb, my most recent Kickstarter -- partly because it got Amanda's attention and she tweeted about it -- raised $23,000, or 306 percent of my goal.

Now, that's about 2 percent of what Amanda raised on her last Kickstarter. But her endeavors are on a vastly greater scale than mine, and she actually talks about where all that money goes, even though in my opinion she doesn't need to justify taking money that people want to give her. In fact I will say this: if you think artists are accountable to use Kickstarter funds beyond the goal (and apart from obviously delivering their promises) for what you want them to use them for, please do us all a favor: Stop pledging on Kickstarter and STFU. As my dad said once, some people give you a dollar and think they own you.

Anyway, I'm nowhere near rich -- I live with my parents, and very modestly, but for the last four years, every year I've made $8,000-$10,000 more (gross) than the last on my music, after having supported my (small-scale, DIY) solo project with a day job for seven years so that I was never in debt. I've been really intentional about doing things that are long-term profitable all along, like having sources of passive income, rocking my own engineering and production, and not spending much money on marketing until recently.

I was overjoyed to have the chance to play with Palmer when she came through San Francisco in July. I got the gig through my friend and occasional collaborator Charith Premawardhana of Classical Revolution. I played two shows with the Grand Theft Orchestra and Amanda. They were magical experiences, and I would have done it for free, but they paid (more than I usually get paid), and Amanda put me on stage to do a surprise solo song the first night. That exposure alone was huge for me. The second night I brought some of my CDs, and I sold a bunch.

There, they told me about the Sept. 26 gig (at the Fillmore) and that they hoped I could make it. I had planned to fly to Boston with my mom on that day (which happens to be my 32nd birthday) for my cousin's wedding, but a few weeks ago I confirmed that I'd be playing the 9/26 show, and I moved our flights to the following day, which cost $240. I didn't find out till later that it would be unpaid, but I thought, "Eh that's kinda lame," then went right back to looking forward to the show. If Amanda lets me sell CDs there, and mentions that I have CDs for sale, I'll probably make that much money. And even if I don't, this is a much better way to celebrate my birthday than on a plane!

So those are the economics of the situation for me. Now, here are some points.

* I worried, as I began to write this piece mostly defending her, that I was just excusing her because I want to kiss her butt, because she's cool/famous/has been helpful to me personally. But I am absolutely honest about my bias toward her, as both a fan and a musician. And the fact that people like myself -- both her fan and potential collaborator -- exist, is kind of the point of this whole thing.

* Amanda Palmer is not a support system for struggling classical musicians.

* Classical Rev musician and letter-writer Amy Vaillancourt-Sals would believe me naïve for wanting to play unpaid, and I just can't believe that after 12 years. On any given night, would I rather be playing with one of my top-10 favorite current musicians, or hanging out at home? Or buying a ticket, merely watching the show, wishing I were on stage? The answer is obvious for me. A musician who only wants to play paid gigs? That's valid too; neither of us is more serious or righteous than the other.

* The thing that bothers me the most about this debate is the people who guilt those who do work for free, as if we're devaluing the work by doing so, as if we're scabs. I am very firmly for labor unions, but playing a super-fun rock show is not at ALL the same as manual labor, or teaching. Or playing a corporate gig no one really wants to play. As soon as actual musical love and sparkly fame come into the picture, you're looking at currency that's not dollars. That currency is, in Amanda's case, invisible to anyone who doesn't love her music or want to play for her fans. But it's real to us.

* Of course we'd like to have dollars, too. It's nice to get paid for whatever you do. And probably, in the budgets for these shows, $400 to get everyone $50 or so would be a drop in the bucket -- but then, $50 for a gig is quite possibly more insulting than $0, and if you look at the rate schedule of musician's union wages you'll see why. Also, I don't know what their budgets are. The tour is certainly expensive, and the Kickstarter money that she raised can't be conjured up indefinitely. The general public is under the misapprehension that live shows are the profitable solution for musicians to replace revenue lost due to file-sharing -- but touring was never profitable for many artists, it was always a marketing venture, so why would that have changed just because people don't buy CDs anymore?

* Not every musician has solo CDs. Not every musician loves Amanda's music as much as I do. I am basically the perfect example of who she wants there: people who are happy to play for free and happen to be skilled artists, too.

* I play a lot of unpaid shows. Most of my guest appearances with friends, for which there aren't more than one rehearsal, are unpaid (if you're one of the bands that insists on paying me for guest appearances, bless you, and please don't stop). A lot of my appearances on friends' albums, even fairly successful ones, are also unpaid, or paid in copies of CDs. This is because I believe in sharing my talent and I know these friends are not rolling in dough.

My good friend Kitty Stryker points out the privilege and entitlement inherent in asking for volunteers. This is absolutely true, and I completely recognize that I'm privileged to be able to afford to play unpaid gigs, in ways many musicians aren't. But in indie music, where so much is done as trades and favors and volunteer work, it would be absolutely crippling to expect bandleaders to pay everyone union rates. I know, I know, I sound like an evil capitalist decrying the minimum wage -- but playing music is just not the same as labor. All the Facebook memes in the world aren't going to get around the fact that people enjoy doing creative things and will do them for free because we need the fulfillment that doing them brings.

* Amanda Palmer asks for a lot of things. She asks for couch space, food, musical instruments, and money from fans. Now she's asking for musicians' time. Is it okay to ask for things even if not everyone believes she deserves them? Of fucking course. She is not bullying anyone into giving her anything. And you know what? It feels really good to give, and she does appreciate it. If at any point you're not into what she's doing, you're free to ignore her.

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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby 154 on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:09 pm

That was surprisingly endearing until I read she was 32 years old, then it was a bit sad. She should be paid to be in her backing band, not some Avon-scheme chump.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby Ernest on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:13 pm

Unwoman wrote:The thing that bothers me the most about this debate is the people who guilt those who do work for free, as if we're devaluing the work by doing so, as if we're scabs. I am very firmly for labor unions, but playing a super-fun rock show is not at ALL the same as manual labor, or teaching. Or playing a corporate gig no one really wants to play. As soon as actual musical love and sparkly fame come into the picture, you're looking at currency that's not dollars. That currency is, in Amanda's case, invisible to anyone who doesn't love her music or want to play for her fans. But it's real to us.


You heard it here, folks, art is above capitalism.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby The MayorofRockNRoll on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:14 pm

BadComrade wrote:Amanda Palmer should pass around a tip jar at each one of these shows so the audience can pay the people she's not paying for entertaining them.


That's not a terrible idea.

If it were me, and I were touring with a rotating cast of backing musicians supporting me from town to town, I'd take maybe enough for gas, food and lodging to the next town and decree that everything left over after venue overhead be divided among the musicians who'd backed me.

I mean, if it were me.
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The staff weren't giving me the things I needed to do my job effectively and give the kids their money's worth...it wasn't too hard considering the concert was only $5
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby The MayorofRockNRoll on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:22 pm

For she is complex, and I am but simple.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby Arson Smith on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:29 pm

Cooley wrote:These people are MILLIONAIRES with the nerve to beg for money (and now actual work) from their fans to fund their projects and tour expenses.

BUT OF COURSE. How the hell do you think somone gets to that millionaire level (and then subsequently stays at that millionaire level)? BY SCROOGIN' IT UP, THAT'S HOW.

For example:

My girlfriend works for a major "financial services firm", and routinely has stories where ALWAYS it is The Richest Clients who fucking FLIP THE FUCK OUT over having to pay some totally insignificant fee for a transaction or a report to be printed or something.

99% of everyone else just pays the fee without much thought. The Super Rich Folks whine and squeal bloody murder every time, and then the brokers will try to weasel and ask to get her department to just eat the fee, and then when her department tells them "No, fuck you", then eventually the broker will just eat the fee, all just to keep The Really Rich Clients completely happy.

YOU WANT TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, YOU GOTTA PINCH LIKE 100 MILLION PENNIES, YO.

Anyhow:

You or I or most any of us here would never do what this Amanda Palmer lady is doing, and that's why we will never be millionaires, and I'm totally OK with that.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby Luzwei on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:38 pm

Ernest wrote:
Unwoman wrote:The thing that bothers me the most about this debate is the people who guilt those who do work for free, as if we're devaluing the work by doing so, as if we're scabs. I am very firmly for labor unions, but playing a super-fun rock show is not at ALL the same as manual labor, or teaching. Or playing a corporate gig no one really wants to play. As soon as actual musical love and sparkly fame come into the picture, you're looking at currency that's not dollars. That currency is, in Amanda's case, invisible to anyone who doesn't love her music or want to play for her fans. But it's real to us.


You heard it here, folks, art is above capitalism.


yeah, she should have asked for that invisible currency in her case. She should have paid for vinyl and CD's with that currency as well.

If that "currency" don't work in the real world, we have spare unicorns and rainbows left from the civil war with what we meant to bribe NATO to come here and protect us.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby Waltz Mastering on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:50 pm

Ptommydski wrote:I'm actually with her on this one. She's inviting musicians to come up on stage a play along if they like. They don't have to. They don't even have to come to her shows if they don't want to. She's breaking down a barrier between the performer and the audience. I don't really have a problem with that.

The Who used to do that too. ...whenever Moony would O.D. in the middle of a set they'd have a drummer come up from the audience and finish up the night. ..
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby bomberz1qr20 on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:50 pm

steve wrote:or the kids who play on buckets downtown..


Like I was telling you the other day, those kids fucking SHRED. I would gladly pay to watch them any day over some stuck up alterno chick with too much makeup.


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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby DrAwkward on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:53 pm

Just...how much cooler would it have been if she had said, "you know what, i was so totally blown away by the generosity of my fans donating $1.2 million that i'd like to give something back to you, the fans.

"At each show, we're looking for some professional-ish musicians TO HIRE to be on a few songs. You show up for rehearsal, come back for the show, play on a few numbers, and then you get PAID like a REAL, PROFESSIONAL musician. After banking $1.2 million, it's the least i can do to show my appreciation, and i think it'll be really fun for all of those involved."

Just like that, it'd be the coolest thing. Buuuuuut, no. Playing on stage with AMANDA FUCKING PALMER is apparently reward enough.

If i had a nickel for every time i wanted to scream "get over yourself" at a goth, famous or not, i'd have $1.2 million.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby 154 on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:56 pm

Palmer should take 20% of Unwoman's (and any other backing musicians) CD sales at her shows. After all, it's her exposure and affiliation (and tweets!) that is selling those discs. Hell, make it 50%, she's gotten this far..
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby steve on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:56 pm

cneutron wrote:Alright dudes and dudettes, here's a pretty well reasoned take on the whole Amanda Palmer thing by a (very talented) artist I kinda know that has actually sat in with her.

There's a huge distinction between someone wanting to play for reasons other than money, and a millionaire who has repeatedly asked for money and gotten it asking people to play in her backing band for free.

You get why one is cool and one is gross, for the exact same reason, right?
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby bomberz1qr20 on Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:59 pm

To me it's simple - if you are struggling and poor but talented, and you do this crowd sourcing thing to pull in musicians to help you put on a show, then yeah - beer and hugs. Maybe it will network around and you can contribute to other artist's shows as well. Give and take.

If you're going into it already having raised enough money to pay a full band a living wage, and you offer beer and hugs, and walk with the night's guarantee on top of your charity stash then (male or female) you are a cheap twat. I don't care what the fuck anyone you suckered onto the stage with you says. It's indefensible.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby numberthirty on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:00 pm

DrAwkward wrote:If i had a nickel for every time i wanted to scream "get over yourself" at a goth, famous or not, i'd have $1.2 million.


This isn't even goth. This is squarely in drama club territory.

Besides, don't you perform under a stage name that's the same backwards as it is forwards? You might want to let someone else call this particular kettle black.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby DrAwkward on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:04 pm

numberthirty wrote:
DrAwkward wrote:If i had a nickel for every time i wanted to scream "get over yourself" at a goth, famous or not, i'd have $1.2 million.


This isn't even goth. This is squarely in drama club territory.

Besides, don't you perform under a stage name that's the same backwards as it is forwards? You might want to let someone else call this particular kettle black.


Spend a night at a show at Quenchers and then spend a night at Club Anything in Milwaukee, and get back to me.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby emmanuelle cunt on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:09 pm

bomberz1qr20 wrote:If you're going into it already having raised enough money to pay a full band a living wage, and you offer beer and hugs, and walk with the night's guarantee on top of your charity stash then (male or female) you are a cheap twat. I don't care what the fuck anyone you suckered onto the stage with you says. It's indefensible.



Ta-da.


But also, I'm shocked that Amanda Palmer can start a kickstarter campaign and raise 1.2 million fucking dollars for whatever cause let alone getting her on tour with some artsy project. Going through the pages I thought It's gonna turn out that someone did a typo which got repeated on the web, but no. Wow.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby numberthirty on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:11 pm

DrAwkward wrote:
numberthirty wrote:
DrAwkward wrote:If i had a nickel for every time i wanted to scream "get over yourself" at a goth, famous or not, i'd have $1.2 million.


This isn't even goth. This is squarely in drama club territory.

Besides, don't you perform under a stage name that's the same backwards as it is forwards? You might want to let someone else call this particular kettle black.


Spend a night at a show at Quenchers and then spend a night at Club Anything in Milwaukee, and get back to me.


I just can't bring myself to get worked up over a band that needs to "get over themselves". One person's good shit is another person's pretentious bullshit. I've gone to see Electric Hellfire Club. I used to love Screamin' Cyn Cyn and The Pons. I bet plenty of people roll their eyes at them. Let alone The Mathematicians. I'm sure plenty of people think band's I've gone to see/been friends with needed to get over themselves.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby Isabelle Gall on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:16 pm

numberthirty wrote:
DrAwkward wrote:If i had a nickel for every time i wanted to scream "get over yourself" at a goth, famous or not, i'd have $1.2 million.


This isn't even goth. This is squarely in drama club territory.

No, it's goth. Intrinsic goth behaviour. Although she may as well be upset over this instead of crying over some stupid shit in her head that doesn't really exist.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby numberthirty on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:19 pm

Isabelle Gall wrote:Intrinsic goth behaviour.


Would totally see.
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Re: amanda "$1.2m" palmer wants you to play with her for fre

Postby DrAwkward on Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:21 pm

numberthirty wrote:
DrAwkward wrote:
numberthirty wrote:
DrAwkward wrote:If i had a nickel for every time i wanted to scream "get over yourself" at a goth, famous or not, i'd have $1.2 million.


This isn't even goth. This is squarely in drama club territory.

Besides, don't you perform under a stage name that's the same backwards as it is forwards? You might want to let someone else call this particular kettle black.


Spend a night at a show at Quenchers and then spend a night at Club Anything in Milwaukee, and get back to me.


I just can't bring myself to get worked up over a band that needs to "get over themselves". One person's good shit is another person's pretentious bullshit. I used to love Screamin' Cyn Cyn and The Pons. I bet plenty of people roll their eyes at them. Let alone The Mathematicians. I'm sure plenty of people think band's I've gone to see/been friends with needed to get over themselves.


There's goofy gimmicky fun, and then there's taking yourself too seriously. Six of one, half dozen of the other, i suppose.
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