Amanda Palmer Faces Backlash Over Unpaid Musicians

After earning $1.2 million though her album Kickstarter campaign, fans and producer Steve Albini are made that Amanda Palmer is asking musician fans to perform on her tour for free.

Ultimate Guitar

Amanda Palmer, formerly half of the Dresden Dolls but now a pin-up for the digital music generation, is facing a backlash after asking fans to play in her band for free.

Even producer Steve Albini (Pixies/Nirvana/Jesus Lizard) has called her out for hypocrisy, calling her an "idiot" in an online rant.

Palmer hit headlines this year when she raised over $1.2 million on the crowd funding platform Kickstarter to release her new album "Theater Is Evil". Now she's asking fans to fill out her live act to save on touring costs.

To pay the semi-professional musicians, Palmer said: "We will feed you beer, hug/high-five you up and down (pick your poison), give you merch, and thank you mightily for adding to the big noise we are planning to make."

In response, producer Steve Albini wrote this:

"I have no fundamental problem with either asking your fans to pay you to make your record or go on tour or play for free in your band or gather at a mud pit downstate and sell meth and blowjobs to each other, but I wouldn't stoop to doing any of them myself.

"If your position is that you aren't able to figure out how to do that, that you are forced by your ignorance into pleading for donations and charity work, you are then publicly admitting you are an idiot. Pretty much everybody on earth has a threshold for how much to indulge an idiot who doesn't know how to conduct herself, and I think Ms Palmer has found her audience's threshold."

Palmer has now defended herself, calling the backlash "absurd" and insists the musicians are happy to play for free anyway:

"If you could see the enthusiasm of these people, the argument would become invalid. They're all incredibly happy to be here. They fundamentally believe it's worth their time and energy to show up at this gig. To me it seems absurd, If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where's the problem?"

What do you think? Has she exploited the good will of her fans too many times, or is it an awesome opportunity for the musicians? Share your opinion in the comments.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I am not familiar with her or her music but if an artist I was into was looking for a guitarist to do a couple of free gigs I would leap at the opportunity, shit like that opens doors for you that can lead to more serious, paid gigs. Gotta love Albini though.
    I saw "Amanda Palmer faces" and all I could think was face palm
    Only reason I clicked on this is because I read "Backlash Over Unpaid Mexicans". Disappointed
    Why are they so mad? I mean to play on stage with your hero is reward enough. They'd get to hang out with her and such. I see no problem. If they don't like it, don't do it.
    The only idiot I see in this article is Albini, what's his problem, really? For most of Palmer's fans, this would be a great opportunity to meet and play with one of their musical idols, which I would see as sufficient payment. Like Veronique Vega says, though, the question is if this is for separate tour dates or for the majority of the dates, which for the latter I could agree it seems a bit desperate. Still, if I had the chance to hang out and play with one of my favorite bands, for example Testament or Metallica, I wouldn't think twice before I said yes.
    As far as i could gather it was just a matter of fans joining them on stage for a couple of songs.
    Veronique Vega
    Is she looking for a lineup of fan / musicians for the whole tour, or fans to fill in for 1 or more gigs each? The former doesn't sound very enticing to the performers, and the latter won't yield any kind of consistancy gig to gig. Interesting concept, but not very feasible IMO.
    The fact is Palmer is saying she cant afford to pay these fan musicians. which is bullshit after the FANS just gave her over a million dollars to promote and tour this album. The same fans she cant afford to tour, I mean even with the tour revenue alone she would be able to afford to pay these people. Its really cool concept but I think she is taking advantage of people excitement