Ask any musician, writer or artist online and we can guarantee that they’ll have at least one story about some shithead trying to get them to do work in return for “exposure”, a magical currency only freelancers seem to get paid in that is accepted at as many businesses as lightly slapping your balls on the counter. Today we’re here to talk about the time musician Amanda Palmer tried to do that despite having at least a million dollars in cash to pay them.
This story began in 2012 when Palmer launched a Kickstarter to crowdfund the release of a new album, asking for $100,000 so she’d have enough capital to release the album “with a big fucking bang”. Palmer, who doesn’t have a record label, turned to Kickstarter to fund the album to put the power back in people’s hands and heralded her way of funding the album as “the future of music“. A message that resonated with people and saw Palmer blowing past the $100,000 she asked for in 6 hours, eventually raising over 10 times that amount to the tune of nearly $1.2 million. The success of the Kickstarter was massive news, in part because her album was the most funded music project ever on the site, which of course begged the question, what the fuck she was going to do with all that cheddar?
People soon got their answer when Palmer posted a breakdown of how she planning on spending the money on Kickstarter. The breakdown, for the most part was fairly typical, $105,000 for CD printing, $80,000 for artbooks to go with the CDs and a nice chunk of change for the visual artists who’d made that artwork. However, for many people one particular thing Palmer had earmarked seemed a little out of place, mainly the $250,000 she was setting aside to pay off her debts.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t something journalists found out by digging through her accounts or something, she openly admitted she was going to spend twice as much money as she was setting aside for printing the fucking album on herself. Speaking of which, the same breakdown also noted that, if the resulting tour she was planning was conducted on a strict enough budget, Palmer expected to be able to put about $100,000 in the bank. Which isn’t entirely accurate since she’d already put $250,000 in the bank, but whatever.
When the time came to arrange the tour to promote the album, Palmer put out a number of notices in the cities her band planned to tour in asking local musicians to play on stage with her in return for that most valuable of commodities, exposure. When this decision was met with a resounding “fucking really?” from local musicians who felt a little miffed that a woman who was planning on personally paying herself $100,000 was asking them to play for free, Palmer clarified by stating that she was planning on paying musicians, but only ones she knew personally. Specifically Palmer explained that she needed to set money aside to pay professional musicians for the bigger shows and wanted to let amateurs have a chance at playing at smaller shows.
Again this didn’t exactly sit well with musicians considering it basically translated to “I’m not going to pay you because you’re not established yet“, which is how every fucking person tries to swindle free work out of creative people. A further sore point for the “volunteers” Palmer was asking to play for free is that she admitted in the same blog post that she pays her own band a yearly salary even if they aren’t touring or recording an album because she feels that they need to feel secure in their jobs as musicians. That whooshing sound you just heard is irony folding in on itself and fucking off out the window.
After more backlash Palmer mysteriously found the money to pay all the guest musicians he’d asked to play at her shows, congratulating herself in a post where she nearly snapped her own arm off patting herself on the back for having the decency to pay people for work. Truly a hero for the struggling artist.