The always excellent Gin and Tacos weighs in on Amanda Palmer’s plan to “outsource” her musical tour by asking musicians to come and play at her shows for “free beer and hugs”:
“Isn’t that neat? What a great way to let the fan community take part in creating the performances, and as a total coincidence I guess she won’t have to pay, feed, transport, and house any musicians throughout the tour!
This kind of explicit middle finger to people attempting to make a living writing, drawing, playing an instrument, painting, and so on can only succeed when there is a critical mass of people desperate for work and struggling to make ends meet. It’s an interesting collective action problem; certainly each artist knows that submitting designs for free is hurting every artist’s efforts to make a living, but the individual incentive for publicity, credentials, (“winner of the….”) and attention is too strong. And of course the internet makes it remarkably fast, cheap, and easy to harness the creative talents of thousands of people with the promise of nothing more than a pat on the back. The majesty of the new economy is infinite indeed, with its myriad ways of providing things that are ostensibly free but carry great hidden costs.”
I agree with his critique (considering she’s married to a multi-millionaire, it’s shitty on the highest levels to not fairly compensate artists who are struggling, as surely she must have once) but I’m not nearly as hopeless about the future. The internet on the whole has been a huge plus for writers and performers who are no longer beholden to record companies or dead-tree publishers in order to find a wider audience.
But stuff like this is still bound to happen. And even supposedly “indie” musicians need to be called on it.
You can basically make music for no cost these days (you did pay for that copy of Pro Tools, didn’t you?). And distribution is easier than ever, let alone self-distribution. But if you can’t make enough scratch to actually compensate people to play your music live just stay home. Or ask your ridiculously wealthy spouse for a check.