Amanda Palmer 'Can't Afford' To Pay Her Backup Band

· by Sasha Geffen
Amanda Palmer 'Can't Afford' To Pay Her Backup Band

 

Professional musicians: what would it take for you to play on tour with one of your favorite artists? Would you do it for a stipend? For beer? For free?

According to Amanda Palmer, the privilege of playing on her Theater Is Evil tour is compensation enough for "professional-ish" horn and string players to join her onstage. The cabaret-punk superstar, who recently broke the high score on Kickstarter, put out a notice on her blog a few weeks ago asking her musically talented fans to volunteer to play dates on her worldwide tour. When it came to payment, she could only promise beer, high-fives, and good times. 

Rather than bringing a few musicians along on the road, Palmer sought to crowdsource each city she stopped in to get the instruments she wanted for her live set. One can see how this would cut costs; not only is the tour bus less crowded, but lodging is easier the fewer people you're traveling with. Oh, and not paying the musicians for their sets helps, too.

When interviewed about the unorthodox move, Palmer replied that paying the musicians she needed (a string quartet and three to four brass and sax players) would cost about $35,000 all told--a fee she simply "couldn't afford." With a $1.2 million Kickstarter campaign recently under her belt, we wonder how exactly musician fees were written out of the budget. But hey--Amanda says the fans that have volunteered so far seem happy to be on board, so it's all good, right?

But many professional musicians have smarted at the concept, laying into Palmer in comments on her blog. They claim that the singer has no respect for artists and should be ashamed to ask working musicians to play for free. Is this exploitation or just another form of fan interaction? Would you play an Amanda Palmer show for hugs and booze? [NYT]

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