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Palmer pledges to pay musical fans involved in her shows

By | Published on Thursday 20 September 2012

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer has announced that she is now paying fans who are joining her band on stage to play on certain songs as part of the singer’s current Theatre Is Evil tour.

The tour is part of the project Palmer funded by raising $1.2 million on fan-funding site Kickstarter, the album from which was released earlier this month. Palmer, now widely recognised as the queen of online fan engagement, invited musicians amongst her fanbase to join her band, the Grand Theft Orchestra, on stage at their local Theatre Is Evil gig to play strings or horns on certain songs.

Plenty of fans came forward, thrilled at the privilege of playing with Palmer. Some musician groups, however, were less than thrilled, hitting out at the singer for expecting musicians to play for free as part of a million dollar plus venture. Palmer initially hit back at the criticism, arguing her musical fans saw the opportunity to play as an added benefit, while adding that her budget – which has generally been public domain since the Kickstarter fundraising campaign was in full swing – didn’t allow for the additional string and horn players to be hired via traditional routes.

But discussion about Palmer’s fans-play-for-free initiative grew online, not least when Steve Albini waded into the debate calling the singer an “idiot” for using unpaid musical talent. And with all that in mind, Palmer has now announced she will provide a fee for fans who participate in her show, and will send fees to those who have performed at past gigs.

Palmer wrote: “Me and my band have discussed it at length, and we have decided we should pay all of our guest musicians. We have the power to do it, and we’re going to do it. My management team tweaked and reconfigured financials, pulling money from this and that other budget (mostly video) and moving it to the tour budget. All of the money we took out of those budgets is going to the crowdsourced musicians fund. We are going to pay the volunteer musicians every night, even though they volunteered their time for beer, hugs, merch, free tickets, and love: we’ll now also hand them cash”.