Since Adland's Kidsleepy first posted about the call for free musicians in who killed Amanda Palmer's career? we received mainly comments that were ad hominem attacks on Kidsleepy being a "bitter cynical person". Ah, well, haters are gonna hate as they say, but it's sad to see that so few of them can read. The update more on Amanda Palmer's greed has choice quotes from a live sound engineer who has worked with Amanda, making his points. Amanda now has a new post on her blog, Amanda Palmer & Emily White….resisting the trolls. Emily White? The young lady who posted a post on NPR stating "I never owned any music to begin with", which prompted responses from all over the world, including this one from David Lowery and inspired Kidsleepy's series Collateral Damage: How Free Culture destroys advertising. How, exactly, is Emily's situation related to Amandas? One ripped all her albums off college radio stations collection without paying for it, another promises free beer and hugs to musicians who back her up on tour. Oh, it's the "no pay" thing, is it? Either way, they have met and drunk beer or ten after a gig Amanda did - paid in beer - which looked like a grand old time as depicted in her post. Not sure where the gas money that got her to the gig came from. Maybe her car runs on beer. But back to the trolls, they are indeed a problem. The ones who will build straw men just to set them on fire, call you names, and miss the point by a mile. We had them dancing in the comments around our first Amanda post, and Amanda seems to have gotten angry mails.
i got an email a few days that was so profoundly nasty it took my breath away. it was from one of the erstwhile violinists from a big, legit-as-fuck orchestra i’ve played with (about as PRO and UNION as it gets in music world, and they’re a really wonderful orchestra who i was honored to play with). it began: “dear amanda, you ignorant slut…” i sat there staring at the screen, almost unable to believe what i was seeing. a professional, symphony-hall-level violinist? was starting an email to me like THAT? no FUCKING way.
The thing is, there are very well thought out responses in Amanda Palmers own blog comments to her posts, many admitting to being huge fans before they state their reasons for thinking not paying musicians on tour is a bad idea. Level-headed discourse is being held, but the squeaky wheel gets the oil. David Lowery has in fact weighed in on this at Occupy Amanda Palmer, his post is a polite well thought out one, sans any hate or trolling in it. Which is, I guess, the reason it will be ignored.
It appears that Ms Palmer has very conservative financial instincts she probably learned by years of down and dirty touring. I get that. Her mistake is she didn’t realize that her financial situation has changed, and many of the old rationales are not there anymore. Once there is profit it should be shared equitably. She simply failed to adjust to her new success. If Ms. Palmer is able to adjust her thinking and accept that she is now an employer in the 1% of musicians and pay all her musicians, we should all move on. Until then I am adding my voice to those asking her to fairly compensate all her musicians.
I knew it, she has gas money already. Free beer is just a perk! Here's the really interesting thing though - from a brand perspective you see. Amanda Palmer is the queen of punk, drawn eyebrows, half-gloves, and now a poster child for kickstarter. Her fanbase has grown organically and she engages them in her art. She's done this since the Dresden Dolls where fans who could hula-hoop to their music could join them on stage when they toured their hometown. This is her brand. Her brand is also now veering dangerously close to becoming the woman who yells "hater" whenever anyone disagrees with her. By sharing nasty emails she martyrs herself as she digs herself deeper into the whole she built out of a one million dollar extra budget she gained with her kickstarter campaign. The unpaid "intern" way of gathering a new backing band in every city she has a gig in isn't the same issue as the kids who digitally download music without paying for it. Or is it?
this is always the problem….can the world remember that the human beings behind the issues are not the issues themselves, and restrain themselves from making it personal? I can’t tell you how many “you’re such a stupid cunt” and “i’d pay to travel just to fuck up your gig…if i played violin” tweets i’ve seen in the past few days, and emily had to field similar trolls who weren’t interesting in actually talking but more interesting in just being dicks.
I hear that, Amanda. The intartubes has a way of making people keyboard warriors, and you can with some experience soon see the difference between trolls and those who simply disagree. You may not have planned to pay anyone with your napkin budget plan that you posted on kickstarter, but now that you have budget and chose to not compensate parts of the ensable that stands on stage with you, you are in fact being anti labour. Anyone who works has the right to be compensated for it. I didn't vote for Amanda Palmer to be my king.
"no doubt about it: my band has hit a DEEP, PAINFUL cultural nerve."
This polarizing topic of creators rights has been hotly debated for years, Amanda, welcome to the party, have some death threats like the rest of us **! The two sides will never meet as long as the trolls are doing most of the talking, so please Amanda, ignore them, and address those who make their points politely.
The Free culture movement rides on the myth that it is actually free, and that free isn't hurting anyone. "If they want to play for beers, it's their choice!" you say, but nobody is giving them the option to chose "being paid", so it's not a choice. "Free" digital downloads built Kim Dotcom's mansion - you remember him, he's the billionaire who made his money on insider trading causing a stock crash - while the musicians that made the songs you loved have to pass the hat around to pay their rent.
Not everyone who can play an instrument gets a one million dollar kickstarter buffer, and I seriously doubt anyone would fund an oboist who wants to travel with various bands. If we all are famous for only fifteen minutes like Warhol says, who will have time to look at all these kickstarter campaigns? And where will we make the money we donate - as photographers, illustrators and designers were offered only beer for work too. They say it'll get us "exposure". Can we pay kickstarter in beer? No? Hugs then? I'm willing to hug every current kickstarter campaign out there right now. FREE HUGS FOR EVERYONE.
**... in fact, some of us received serious death threats - complete with photographs of myself taken by unknown people outside of my home and posted to Chinese messaging boards - simply for allowing the red cross to post their work on adland, which they had to pull because an internet mob in China was offended, but that has nothing to do with kickstarter, music or the brave new link economy.
However it does illustrate how internet mobs quite easily can scare many people into remaining silent, on any given topic. Less famous people than Lily Allen have deleted their pro-copyright posts, this is a two-way street and you are not the first to one to battle with words on the internet. Don't wrestle with the pigs in the mud, it'll only sully your own name - I'd offer to manage your brand reputation here, but I'm afraid I don't work for free. I like beer, but not that much beer.