Recently I’ve written much about musician Amanda Palmer’s (formally of the Dresden Dolls) clear understanding of how music should now be packaged, sold, enjoyed and generally consumed in the no-way-am-I-paying-for-that age (here; here). After raising a whole butt load of money on Kickstarter to manufacture and distribute her just released, Theatre is Evil, she upped the ante yet again for fans by offering them the opportunity to perform with her on stage. The caveat? They won’t be compensated. Well, not monetarily anyway. They’ll get beer, hugs and high fives.
Because the party was not stuffy enough, Internet commenters and professional musicians who are seriously serious about being professional have chimed in to deride her way of treating her fellow musicians as if they’re her human chairs like she’s some sort of God King.
Writes one commenter who is especially stuck in mud:
I’ve been a professional touring musician for 23 years, and I’ve never heard of you until today. With all due respect, your request for free labor sounds like a promotional gimmick dreamed up by a corporate republican who has no concept of the history of working people in this country. Americans fought and died for the right to have a union, for fair pay, for a forty-hour work week, for the concept of a weekend, and for the dignity of all labor. And working people are still fighting for a living wage, health care and pensions in the USA, the stingiest of all industrial democracies.
The problem, silly goose, is that she’s not asking you. She’s not demanding working musicians meticulously pluck strings for bread crumbs. She’s offering fans of hers the opportunity to be heard and to share a stage with someone they admire. Do you know how many seventh grade erections would’ve popped at Suffolk Downs in 2001 if Blink 182 asked the crowd, “WHO HERE CAN PLAY ‘M+Ms’ ON BASS? MARK CAN’T PLAY IT STANDING UP.” Do you? All the erections.
But go on, Sir Beethoven Von Commentier III:
You raised a million dollars! I know that does not go far, but please… Hire your musicians, DO NOT ASK FOR CHARITY, this is disrespectful.
But… but… the erections! No, but seriously. They have totally misconstrued the point of what she’s trying to accomplish here. Palmer told the Times, “If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?” It’s not like she’s sitting in some throne in a giant orchestral hall screaming “PRESTISSIMO!” from the balcony at the underfed men and women in tuxedos on stage blowing on piccolos. She’s offering to hang out and jam with fans. For those angered, I’d recommend dropping 15 bucks on the LP and definitely not watching this YouTube video, but here’s what you need to do.