Amanda Palmer has responded to criticism over her request for “professional-ish” musicians to join her on tour and play for free.
The singer, famed for raising over a million dollars via crowd-sourcing platform Kickstarter asked “professional-ish” horns and strings musicians to join her ontage for her tour, offering to pay them with beer, hugs and high-fives.
The request sparked controversy with some directing criticism, including Nirvana and Pixies producer Steve Albini who suggested that Palmer doesn’t know ‘how to conduct herself’.
He posted the following in a forum on Electrical Audio:
“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.
“I wouldn't stoop to doing any of them myself, but horses for courses. The reason I don't appeal to other people in this manner is that all those things can easily pay for themselves, and I value self-sufficiency and independence, even (or especially) from an audience.
"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, and demonstrably not as good at your profession as Jandek, Moondog, GG Allin, every band ever to go on tour without a slush fund or the kids who play on buckets downtown.
"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.”
President of the American Federation of Musicians Raymond M. Hair Jr. asked, “What’s so great about her show that I want to play for free?
“If there’s a need for the musician to be on the stage, then there ought to be compensation for it,” he said. “Playing is work and there’s a value associated with it, and that value ought to be respected.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Amanda Palmer defended her request, suggesting that fans were genuinely excited about the opportunity to play with her.
“If you could see the enthusiasm of these people, the argument would become invalid,” she said. “They’re all incredibly happy to be here.
“They fundamentally believe it’s worth their time and energy to show up at this gig,” she added before emphasising that the regular players in her Grand Theft Orchestra are being paid salaries.
“To me it seems absurd,” she said. “If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?”