Re: I need to lie down somewhere...
It does rather make one's head spin, doesn't it?
Amanda Palmer, the artist who raised $1.2m from her fans on Kickstarter to fund a new record and tour, is now asking classical musicians to work for her for free. The money has been on lavished on studio time, a luxury booklet, and an abundance of expensive promotional material. But there's nothing left for the classical …
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So I wouldn't go as far as say I actually agree with the article (there isn't really any opinion to agree or disagree with) - I just couldn't find anything fundamentally wrong with the article.
(beer icon - Orlowski can pay for good comments with "beer" - mines a Cider, and I'll be in the Haymarket Bar, Edinburgh from about 5:30)
> This is the first Orlowski article I've actually agreed with.
Indeed. If there's one thing that musicians really *should* be able to make some money from, it is live concerts.
How you can sell out at venues and still make a pittance is quite honestly a mystery to me.
I realise that concerts are expensive to put on, but one of the major costs are people. If you're not paying the people, then where is all the money going?
"This is the first Orlowski article I've actually agreed with."
Usually I can tell it's an Orlowski article from the tone at the outset - but I didn't even know it was him until I read the final bit that said:
"Now we know what their vision of the future looks like. It's one where wealth never trickles down..."
So one artist (who I actually like btw - I have several Dresden Dolls albums and her solo stuff) turns out to be a bit of a douche and tries to trick musicians into supporting her for free - that doesn't equate to this particular scam she has pulled to being the model the anti-big-label gang are endorsing. Seems like a very odd thing to pull from all this.
She's also more likely well know than Neil Gaiman... so to name her as an anonymous wife in the title is a bit of an odd thing to do too. Having said that, thanks for pointing out what she's trying to do - because if I didn't know she was this big a douche I may have bought the next album in support.
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I'm very familiar with the Dresden Dolls and knew who Amanda Palmer is. I had no idea she was married to Neil Gaiman who I am vaguely aware of as a comic book artist.
Shame on El Reg. for referring to an established and successful female artist as "the wife of..."
"I am vaguely aware of as a comic book artist."
ehhhh.... And Nebula award winner, and Hugo award winner, and NY Times bestseller, and television writer, and had major films adapted from his books...
Never heard of Stardust? Coraline? American Gods? No?
"Established and successful"...?
Never heard of the Dresden Dolls myself. Googling them, I see they managed two studio albums and one live album in a decade, and their act is *very* niche. They certainly haven't troubled public awareness to any great extent. And she's *so* successful that she can't afford to pay musicians on her tours...?
Neil Gaiman OTOH has been writing for over 20 years, and doing *very* well out of it. The "Sandman" comics were somewhat niche, sure. But his first novel "Good Omens" with Terry Pratchett did very well, and "Anansi Boys" went straight in at number one. He's won all sorts of awards. "Neverwhere" was a BBC series back in the 90s, before he adapted his own screenplay to a book. "Stardust" and "Coraline" have been filmed. He wrote the CGI film "Beowulf" a few years back (the Sean Bean/Angelina Jolie one).
So compare niche cabaret act with number one NYT bestseller author. Yep, "wife of" is about the shape of it.
I've not really seen much from Gaiman since the early 1990s - but I'd wager el-reg's audience is just as likely to include listeners of "current" music than graphic novel writers, if not more likely so.
My point about it was I just think it's needlessly insulting - the article has bugger all to do with the husband, yet he gets the title and she didn't even get named in the sub title.
Anyway - bugger it, it's the weekend and I need a drink! :)
No, she's not. Gaiman has written for Doctor Who and several of his own books have been adapted for the screen; his global audience numbers in the millions.
Amanda Palmer should be ashamed. Compare what she's done to what Thea Gilmore did when someone in her £52-a-year subscription fanclub commented that she wasn't delivering any of what she'd promised apart from the private forum and the monthly exclusive song. Thea agreed, apologised, ditched subscription fees until she figured out how to get it all working again, and has carried on giving existing members forum access and the monthly song for free in the interim. I can't imagine that Palmer isn't in a position to make this comparison, either, as Neil Gaiman is one of Thea's fanclub members.
I was with it up to the last line, when the hyperbole broke down into the fallacy of guilt by association. The fact that she's a grasping greedy little snit doesn't mean the people that she used for promotional purposes agree with that stance. In fact I'd suggest rather the opposite.
Wow... I suppose you could sumarise that response by "Amy, you just don't get it. Go away."
It's the little revelations in there, like how it's fine for her to do this because 'Beiber's fans would jump at the chance of supporting him', or 'David Byrne' once spent a few hours doing vocals with me', which shows how out of touch she is with peoples concerns. Like David Byrne is going to struggle to pay the rent by doing something for free for a few hours, and he'll probably get some good exposure to a different market by doing this, it's not like she's planning to introduce the all the supporting artists on stage.
But it's the 'for the big important shows, we've decided we have to pay people to do this, so we've contacted some professionals' that blows her entire standpoint out of the water. She needs these musicians, without them her show isn't going to work, and she acknowledges that she's going to have to pay for this on the big shows, but she just doesn't get how this is exactly the devalument that was discussed by Amy in the post which kicked this all off.
Sorry Amanda, it's you who doesn't get it. Now go away.
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People have been saying for a while that it's only going to take one moron to duck with kick starter crowd source darlings before the trust bubble is best and confidence in the platform and method breaks.there was a brief scandal a couple of weeks ago. But this is wholly different, with mismanagement and hypocrisy at the firing.
I feel it is a bit harsh to judge boingboing here, as they were probably trusting her to not act like an idiot and betray that trust. You could label it foolish to trust someone asking for so much for what is essentially a vanity project, but there you go. No one forces people to donate.
It does make me wonder if kick starter has any protectionor contingencies in place against morally outrageous user of funds raised, or if there ought to be some other form of recourse for people who feel let down.
But one thing for sure. 35k is a small percentage of that total to save so you can get the best for what I would imagine is a fairly crucial part of the project and critical to its success. I guess exposure was more important to this clown than actually giving punters what they want (an awesome live show). Oh well.
Janis Ian, who has been recording for over 40 years and hence knows more about it than you, has stated that she's never received a royalty statement from a record company that didn't say she owed them money and that she makes all her income from touring.
All that financial security doesn't seem to stop them getting their snouts into more and bigger troughs.
Although, strangely, many seem to think the rest of us need to be starved and threatened into doing anything, or we will be 'too comfortable' to bother.
Perhaps they are too far up themselves to question their own sense of entitlement?
The studio time will probably have swallowed most of it, directly or indirectly.
Presumably she hired a proper studio and some professional musicians and then spent months there, working at the pace bands used to in such big expensive studios back in the 80s when profit margins were high.
On top of that, factor in all the money spent sending the tea boy out for food, drinks and whatever else took their fancy whilst watching TV inbetween takes (which can be several hours in my experience). Don't forget travel costs.
Promotional material will have swallowed the rest of it, unless she did it all herself in a pirated copy of Quark and had it printed in Walmart. Having an agency do it all will have cost tens of thousands if not over a hundred.
And people like this tend to give work to their friends (real or strategic) so that they can share the money around and earn brownie points & favours.
There's also things that had to be bought for the project... like a particular piece of equipment the studio didn't have, a nice new MacBook Pro, an iPad, a faster home broadband connection to send large audio files to and from the studio, etc.
Given that she says throughout that her sums are based on a backing of $1,000,000, and she actually raised $192,793 more than that.
Last time I checked, $35k was less than $192k, and she'd still have $157k more than budgeted.
Unless of course the budget was simply wrong. However being out by more than $150k is pretty serious, enough to bankrupt many companies.
The odd thing is that she acknowledges that the designers and crew aren't going to work for free, yet she expects the musicians to do that.
I suppose the weirdest part is that it's usually the other way around in the UK.
What's the problem here? Remember, no-one's forcing musicians to do anything. Those who don't wish to perform with Amanda, or feel they'd be being ripped off, are free to stay away in droves. Those who are keen to have some fun playing music with an increasingly high-profile act, and gain in the process valuable exposure to an evidently supportive and music loving fan-base, are also free to do so. Rewards can come in many flavours.
It's also worth remembering that the $1M+ raised by the Kickstarter was not pure profit. An awful lot of music production, CD and other merch manufacturing, packing, shipping etc had to come out of that bucket. There's undoubtedly some profit in there, but certainly not a gravy train of the proportions alluded to above.
"What's the problem here?"
Try applying the former part of your argument ("... Rewards can come in many flavours") to the latter part ("An awful lot of music production, CD and other merch manufacturing, packing, shipping etc... ").
How many manufacturers, packers, shippers, and so forth do YOU believe would volunteer their time and materials to get "valuable exposure"? If she, or anyone else, expect profession X to donate time, effort and material (yes, instruments get worn), then surely professions Y and Z should do the same!
No? There's the problem. The supporting musicians, who will get far less exposure than Ms. Palmer, can't pay their foodbills with differently flavoured rewards. I'm sure SOME can, and some probably will, but it's the assumption that they SHOULD which grates 'pon many.
Us of the all-should-be-free generation doesn't pay a living wage to most of the artists who entertain us as it is.
No surprise, really, that some of them get a little cranky when one of their own make the same assumption.
> An awful lot of music production, CD and other merch manufacturing, packing, shipping
What? You mean they're giving all that stuff away for free?
That's weird because usually they charge a wad for all merchandise at those gigs, including the programmes and any CDs. If fact, a great deal of the profit from concerts is typically made from the sale of merchandise. It certainly shouldn't be a big loss for them.
. <- the point
| <- you
You are correct insofar as you have identified the very obvious point that musicians are free to stay away in droves. They are also free, as it turns out, to castigate Amanda for raising a ton of money for her tour and then demanding that they work for beer. Their reward, as you would have it, is to bet their time and training on an "increasingly high-profile act" (who no one has heard of and whose main qualification appears to be having a famous husband) doing well enough that they get some sort of reputational boost as a result of playing with her, when what they need is rent money right now.
I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd bet on Amanda fading into even greater obscurity, so working for her for free on the hopes of future employment seems a foolish choice.
You're suggesting a big proponent of the brave new music industry spent all the money on pressing and shipping CDs? The irony is laid on thick in this story.
Overall though I'm glad to see Ms Palmer adopting the dot-com model of spending the VCs money, keeping what's left for yourself while not paying the staff. Perhaps she should offer the musicians stock options, then try to persuade Goldman Sachs to take her public before the inevitable bankruptcy and subsequent memoirs. It's not cynical if it's true.
The "problem" is that you'd, well not YOU per se, but most people would expect her to have maybe just a little empathy and some kind of feeling of solidarity - however weak and attenuated - with other musicians, and here she is trying to enlist people who are basically scabs and strikebreakers, really.
As for how much of the $1.2M is "profit": your arithmetic is way off: it was ALL profit. SHE got it and SHE decided what she wanted to spend it on, and she spent it all on herself. Her PROFIT, in other words, is the album and the tour. Along with the chance to enlist any gullible musicians who are willing to work for "exposure"... as opposed to something that can actually "pay the rent" or "fund health insurance" or help with whatever other trivial concerns that they might have and which Amanda Palmer doesn't ..
> Those who are keen to have some fun playing music with an increasingly high-profile act, and gain in the
> process valuable exposure to an evidently supportive and music loving fan-base, are also free to do so.
How exactly are these musicians she recruits going to benefit? Has she offered to introduce them all and who they are to her audiences? Has she offered to link to their profiles from her website? Has she offered to do a write up on her site about them? As far as I can tell, no.
So how exactly are these people getting exposure to the supportive and music loving fan base, if none of them have a clue who they are?
I think the problems are these:
1/ People paid her a LOT of money to produce the music. Then they're likely to be paying again between seeing the show and buying the merchandise. Yet despite having paid once/twice/more already, they're still getting absolutely no guarantee of quality. Maybe one city will have rubbish volunteers. Or nobody will turn up to volunteer at all.
2/ She clearly can afford to pay for this. She used $250k of the money to pay off her personal debts, admitted there was over $100k left in slush before charging anything for the concerts, and the events themselves - if sold out (as is allegedly often the case) - will also generate money.
3/ She's admitting that "unpaid" isn't as good as "paid" by then spending money in certain big cities where there are more likely to be critics and the like. Why the differentiated treatment of fans?
4/ This devalues professional musicians dangerously. If you look at most not-for-profit / volunteering schemes, they're usually very careful around not doing things that would see people who would otherwise have earned an income out of pocket. As someone who's been a struggling musician herself, she should realise that this is damaging to those on the bottom rungs of the ladder. Not least when she's not even promised to give them any promotion - publishing who they are, what they do, links to their work, etc.. Also, there's using volunteers to do something for charity as a whole, and there's asking people to work for you for free so you can line your own pockets. Again, there are generally a lot of codes-of-practice around this that are generally accepted as being "good things".
5/ The fans have spoken. There's been a huge amount of feedback to her - including from people who've opened for her and played with her in the past, and those who contributed to Kickstarter - stating that this isn't acceptable behaviour. She's ignoring this rather than addressing it, despite continually claims of how in touch with her fanbase she is and how she's "one of them".
6/ She uses particularly inappropriate comparisons to try to justify her actions rather than just being far more open. Nowhere does she say 'sorry' to her fans - those who've made her career possible by *trusting* in her and paying in to Kickstarter. She should at the very least apologise that she didn't have the foresight to budget properly, and that now they goods/services they've pre-paid for may well be substandard as she's first and foremost funneled the money into paying off her own personal debt.
Paris, because she's never short of a string of volunteers with horns.
If she were giving these concerts for free, then few would complain about her also asking others to volunteer their time and talent. But she's making money, so asking others to go unpaid strikes many (me included) as an abuse of her status. Just because she can find plenty of people willing to be used doesn't make it less tacky.
Homeless guy to represent the unpaid musicians.
You might as well ask "what's the harm in opening a bar and asking for volunteer barmen?"
"You will be paid in free beer, hugs, merch, and the opportunity to chat up good looking young trendies while serving them a professionally-mixed cocktail."
What's wrong with that is that it cuts the bottom out of the market for bar staff, and it has rightly been rendered illegal by UK law (and probably EU law too), except when the bar in question is operating for a genuine community group or registered non-profit.
Which leads to the interesting possibility that the MU could take this muppet to court as a high-profile way of proving that the same labour laws that guarantee a (barely) living minimum wage apply to musicians as well as public lavatory cleaners.
Her response goes on about doing lots for free, because that's the way it's always been in showbusiness.
But that's the way it was in finance, law, etc too, with high profile employers exploiting unpaid workers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H "interns" with promises of experience, exposure, and the possibility of a paid job at a later date. The laws that stopped them doing that apply.
... but i would of thought that you get a band in place, then crew/gear, then venues AND THEN PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS.
sounds like she has got it ass about face thinking everyone would flock to be in the presence of someone so obviously talented as herself let alone play music with her for free!
i agree with the last quoted section, stupid, arrogant and greedy.
"The money has been on lavished on studio time, a luxury booklet, and an abundance of expensive promotional material."
I would hardly say lavished, studio time is pretty expensive, as is promotional material. As for a luxury booklet, I know that if I was contributing a few hundred dollars on Kickstarter, I would be pretty pissed off if my reward was a home burnt CD wrapped in a sheet of A4 paper with a few pictures printed on it with an inkjet and shoved in an envelope.
I say fair play to her.
The price of failure was over a million. It was all about shelling out from there.
A million could have hired a meeting hall to practice after the auditions and the residue spent on an opening night.
Then the money starts coming in all over again.
Spending money you haven't got is a crime. Spending money you have got, wastefully, can be classified as lavish.
Before you all rush to grab your matches, Gaiman has stated publicly that he is not a scientologist.
His parents are (were? I don't know if they're still alive) and his sisters are, it's possible that he was badgered into handing over some cash by them rather than doing it out of any actual belief.
It's personal choice of course but when a professional(ish) singer offers hugs & beer it would be better if it was for charity. Its not like amateur musicians are expensive.
If I could play, then given an opportunity of jamming with Springsteen or McCartney I like most would do it for free, this lady (what was her her name again?) seems to have over estimated her fame.
Her name's Amanda Palmer. Whether she's Neil Gaiman's wife doesn't factor into the decisions she makes as a musician or businesswoman. Why drag him into it, unless you're trying to make a scandal out of the fact that she's married to a man who may or may not be wealthy enough to pay for what she says isn't in her budget? That doesn't make any business or tax sense. Just because a wealthy person is near a person being quite open about their expenses doesn't mean that wealthy person is automatically responsible for the situation.
Also, the implication that as her husband his existence suddenly trumps putting even her own name in the title is pretty dang sexist.
"Whether she's Neil Gaiman's wife doesn't factor into the decisions she makes as a musician or businesswoman." (Well, for "musician" and "businesswoman" read "attention whore" and "con artist", for the sake of intelligibility.)
Of course the fact that she is married to Gaiman "factors in". Why exactly didn't her husband (worth, I have read, $20 million) fund this project? That's an interesting question, don't you think? How did it become preferable to put out a tin cup and panhandle on the internet instead of investing her own money? Do you really want to say that "Amanda Palmer the Attention Whore" and "Amanda Palmer The Wife Of A Man Worth $20 Million" have nothing to do with each other - or that neither of them have anything to do with her husband? You must be joking. What the fuck do people get married for in the first place, in your opinion? To pretend that they are complete strangers and have never heard of one another?
"Just because a wealthy person is near a person being quite open about their expenses doesn't mean that wealthy person is automatically responsible for the situation."
No one has said that Gaiman is "responsible" for "the situation" - but the fact that he could have financed the whole operation (or even cosigned a loan) but didn't, is telling - even if it tells *you* nothing.
But you know, I think that the whole Kickstarter campaign was primarily a publicity stunt. It really is difficult to believe that she actually *needed* to use Kickstarter. I think that Palmer, the grasping little pig, found herself, almost certainly via her husband's connections as illustrated at least partially by his membership in the "Open Rights Group", in the position of being able get herself a great deal of free publicity, and someone in her camp realized that a Kickstarter campaign could be used not only to nab some cash but also garner publicity in a way that simply funding the project with, let's say, a loan under her own name, cosigned by her husband, could not have - thereby satisfying, at the same time, both her greed, and her need for attention!
And the fact that she wants musicians to work without pay just makes it even more "Web 2.0" now doesn't it?
The one cynical abusers always employ. "Do this for free and you'll get a credit". "Do this for nothing and I'll pay double next time". "Do this for free for me and I'll recommend all my friends".
Anyone in any line of business soon learns that such promises are worth as much as the fee. And twice as much as the value placed on their services by their 'patron'.
I have read in several studies that it takes on average 7 years to master something. Professional musicians are business people that play music. If they aren't going to get paid, they will have to find other employment. It would be a hard shot to spend another 7 years mastering something else.
While it might be the chance of a lifetime to go on tour with a top name performer, if they asked for a qualified musician to work for free for several months while they collected all of the money from the shows, that would be a little disconcerting. You might get some good exposure from the "job", but you may also get known as the schmuck who worked for free on a high grossing tour. It is possible to spend $1,000,000 making an album and promo materials, but it's tough to do without taking a lot of drugs.
As she says in her lengthy response to this issue Amanda Palmer chooses to operate in a barter system.
She played a show for my friends last year in Canberra that was as much a party as a performance.
It never occurred to us to offer payment, and she didn't ask for any.
A good time had by all.
There is a slippery slope here but for someone who gives a lot back for free I think there are better targets to pick on than Amanda Palmer.
We're not talking huffpo levels of exploitation here.
1) She had $1.3 million; she should have factored in the costs of tours before spunking the dosh on velour CD sleeves and what have you.
2) Some of the musicians might be willing to work for living/transports costs and a share of the tour's gross. A band that is playing together for a while has got to be better than a bunch of folks who only met two days ago.
3) Some might even be willing to do it for the billing (those who a wanting to get out of some other career, perhaps).
But this just reads of desperate naivety and hoping that by embracing the new funding model it will somehow just all magic out her ass. Kickstarters etc are a great idea, but it still requires the person getting the money to have some clue about WTF they are doing.
And Mr. Orlowski, please stop writing articles like this. I can't be a good sign of my mental health if we are in agreement. :)
...plenty of lead singers have gone on to a solo career, and you see them on telly without any apparent mucians or instruments, and they still sound ok...
Sorry, but those clowns aren't singers. Grace Slick, David Byrne, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Robert Plant and Mick Jagger were singers. Posh Spice, Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift are not.
I'm a professional designer and illustrator, and while I can't speak for other cities, the "creative gigs" section in Washington DC Craigslist is good for little but cheap laffs after I've finished my morning hitting the real job boards, getting some resumes out, and "tickling" all my temp agency and magazine contacts.
I read the "creative gigs" on DC Craigslist and I'm laughing just to keep from crying. People with no idea of the amount of time and effort that goes into a proper branding/identity design offer a flat $100 to design a logo. "Start-ups" offer a share of the profits after they "get established". Outfits label themselves as "non-profits" as if this somehow means that "non-profit organization" means "no budget". Some offer "the possibility of future paid work", which makes me want to find out where they live so I can go over there and smack the shit out of them.
The worst of all, though, are the freeloaders who offer "exposure". Christ. In most localities "exposure" will get you thrown in jail, except in the winter, when you'll likely die of "exposure".
I am really amazed at the level of vitriol being directed towards AFP on this forum. I can't understand the hatred towards her. She's not a child molester, she's simply looked at the available business models open to a musician and decided she doesn't like them. Good for her.
There has been some really unpleasant trolling going on here, it's actually worse than the whole Fanboi/Fandroid hatred that has started to spoil the forums.
If she really is funding Scientology then she'll get caught out at some point and she'll never be able to recover from the class action that'll ensue from the Kickstarter donations. Frankly I'm not sure the Scientologists even want her in the first place, she's mad!
As for not paying musicians, would somebody in the music industry (not an AC, let's know who you are) please tell us all how much of $1.2 million she'd be left with once ALL the costs of producing the album, promoting it, filming the music videos, making the merchandise (a lot of specially made "exclusive" merch is going to the donators), organising the tour (not the actual costs of the tour) and any insurances, travel, hotel, venue hire, catering, costume, sets, tech etc. is paid for? I'd not reckon on a whole heap of cash being left over to pay herself and the band that much. In fact, having seen how Iron Maiden looked to cutting costs of a world tour by getting Capt Shorty McDickinson to fly them himself then I'd be happy to believe that they'll not make a huge amount after everything is over and done with. Especially now she's giving the album away.
Oh, Gaiman may well be a Scientologist but after marrying AFP I'd rather doubt that too. They'd never give him permission to marry a mad person.
Do you think she did something like this?
AFP to recording studio: "How about letting me record free? It'll be great publicity for you."
AFP to video guys: "How about making the video for free? It'll be a great experience for you."
AFP to merch makers: "How about giving me this stuff for free? Think of the exposure you'll get."
AFP to tour organizers: "Just imagine the increased bookings you'll get if you volunteer to help us out for free."
AFP to hotels: "Letting us stay for free will bring you a lot of good will, and you can even put up an 'AFP slept here' plaque."
AFP to set makers: "Your work will be seen by thousands of people; you should be grateful for the opportunity!"
She knew better than to even ask. What those people provide was of value to her, and she was willing to pay. So then we finally come to this:
AFP to musicians: "Send us an audition tape, and if we like it and you agree to rehearse with us, you'll get to play backup for free! Sorry that we can't offer you any of the gate receipts, but we'll give you a T-shirt, buy you a beer, and I'll personally give you a big hug!"
That's a bit tone deaf to say the least.
(As an aside, she says that she paid off $250K worth of debts from the kickstarter money, so obviously she got a big cut too, and that's not counting whatever she'll make from the tour itself.)
About $190,000, according to Amanda Palmer. Is she somebody in the music industry that you know who she is?
Of course, Palmer didn't include the gate money from the tour in her estimate, which should pay for all tour costs - that's how it works. So that $190k is by her own admission clear profit for her.
Why do you think she's not a Scientologist?
She comes from a scientologist family, they were floating around with L Ron Hubbard on his Apollo in the 1970s.
I suggest that they did give him 'permission' to marry a mad person, in the same way they gave her 'permission' to marry a mad person - unless you believe that millions of people, dressed 1950s-style were killed by Xenu (and psychiatrists) 75 million years ago using hydrogen bombs is a measure of sanity
There was a now-removed reply to the "This is the first Orlowski article I've actually agreed with" comment, agreeing but adding that Amanda Palmer should be set on fire.
May I suggest Andrew Orlowski prints himself a T-shirt to wear around The Register offices and media events saying "People who disagree with Andrew Orlowski also like setting light to women®" or some such.
One of my cousins is a famous musician / celebrity here in Italy. I've worked on lyrics with him, and am a (very) amateur musician myself.
Preparation and planning are crucial: it's the difference between making a profit and losing the shirt off your back. Insurance, travel, venue hire, catering, sets, etc. are very much dependent on the kind of touring you're going to do. U2 will be renting rooms at the best hotels, with plenty of room service. An indie band is going to be staying in B&Bs and eating at a greasy spoon—assuming you even have that much money to spend.
Many of the items you list aren't paid for up-front, so the revenues from a concert can often be used to pay them off. Indies aren't going to go for costumes, (unless they're Lordi, where the costumes are very integral to the band's image).
Instruments and technology is something you'd bring with you, not hire on the day. The only exception is the front-of-house mixing desk, which is often provided by the venue, but may need to be hired-in if the concert is being played outdoors. (In Italy, many bands play small villages and towns, setting up prefab stages in their piazzas. The local communities often pay towards the costs in the hopes of making the money back from visitors at concession stalls. The UK tends to prefer pubs and similar venues for young bands who are still learning the ropes.)
As for studio time: six figures tops. Any songwriter worth their salt will prepare as much of each track as they can in advance using their own home studios (i.e. for free). This speeds up the studio recordings, which are expensive if you need to hire in an orchestra as well. Very few studios can handle that—we're talking AIR or Abbey Road—so the cheaper option is to hire a much smaller, cheaper, studio for a little longer and record the orchestra sections separately instead. (I.e. the string section, the woodwinds, percussion, brass, etc. don't get to play together.)
That "six figures" estimate assumes every single track on the album will require an orchestra. This is not necessarily the case: most orchestral backing tracks heard today are actually sampled orchestral sound banks, such as this one, from Garritan. These "sample instruments" are now so good that you can usually get away with using them exclusively. (The first few demos at that link are impressive given that they're not being performed by a real orchestra.)
As for promo videos: this one, made in 2003 and shown at the ICA in London in 2004, cost all of about £2K—most of which was for developing the 16mm. film.
The only 'cheats' here are the music and actors, all of whom worked for free. Had library music been used, the cost would have bumped up by £100 or so. If the actors had been paid Equity rates (currently £130-ish per half-day). Let's assume AP cannot find a single close friend or relative who can do her a favour, so she has to pay everyone. Even then, we're talking about not much more than £10K or so for a straightforward "film the band playing live from a few angles" music video.
Merchandising—T-shirts, fancy posters and other folderol—isn't that expensive either. Only an idiot would order massive supplies of everything up-front; the sensible way to do it is to order just enough for two or three concerts (she'd know how many people can be accommodated at each one well in advance), then use the income from the concerts to pay for the next batch of supplies. Thus your up-front capital expenditure isn't that great. Again, we're talking about a pretty small portion of that 1.2 million from Kickstarter. Unless she's playing Wembley, she only needs to pay for a few thousand of each standard piece of merch. (The Kickstarter bait items are also unlikely to be more than a few grand or so in total, and they're a one-off expense.)
Finally, much of this can be set against taxes—which may well account for her decision to give the album itself away for free. AP is married to a multi-millionaire and clearly doesn't need money.
No matter how you try and wiggle your way around this, AP's request for a 'fan-orchestra' is hard to justify.
Fair enough on your breakdown of costs. I'm not sure just how accurate they are, especially as she went all the way to Melbourne to record and she's not playing pubs. Still, thanks for the explanation.
As for not paying musicians. So what. She has provided an opportunity for people to get involved and that's their decision. I don't think most people realise the number of freebees that people do just to participate in something that they enjoy. I, for example, have been a very unpaid extra in music vids (for well established names), short films and other "visual" media and I've done it for free. Why? Because it's great fun, I get to meet some interesting people and see the otherside of the business.
I don't have the talent or dedication to make it a career. I would imagine that those joining AFP have very similar drives.
Just in case you're wondering I didn't give anything to her Kickstarter, haven't bought her album and won't be paying to go see her.
by some of the other posts, you could argue that "Am-Dram" is killing stage performance!
How are established professionals, looking to push the boundaries of their medium, expected to survive when they're competing with those that do it for nothing?
I also take slight offence at the term "musician" - surely there are many musicians that play music because they enjoy it. Making it your source of income, is your choice.
To take an example, Andrew is paid to write this article, as the market has ultimately decided it's worth the expense. We, fellow repliers, are not paid to contribute as nobody really cares what I/we type.
Now whether the good kickstarting lady's concert will be equivalent to the Reg sacking Andrew and asking me to bang out some articles for nawt... well we'll see.
In am-dram, the director, designers and cast don't get paid, they are members of the am-dram society - paying subscriptions just like being a member of any society.
When they put on productions, the society will pay for the materials, venue hire and venue technician(s) and in the UK they will often pay the orchestra.
The up-front and running costs are met by the society members by their subscriptions, the ticket sales are intended to pay for the rest.
The article is about a professional tour. Would you do you job for free when everyone else is being paid?
Out of curiosity I've been looking through the Kickstarter guidelines, and found this page: http://www.kickstarter.com/help/prohibited
The list on that page is titled: "Prohibited Items and Subject Matter," and underneath, "In addition to our guidelines, there are some things we don't allow on Kickstarter," one of which is "Financial incentives (ownership, share of profits, repayment/loans, etc)"
It's clear the intent is the prohibited items may not be used as "Rewards" for backers. (BTW, Rewards are required, and may not exceed $10,000 in value. A list showing number of $5 backers, $100, $1000, etc. would make it probably simple to see how much of AFP's "budget" was spent on rewards, including how many $10,000 Rewards AFP is paying).
But it also seems pretty clear "things we don't allow on Kickstarter" includes "repayment". Somehow I wonder if that doesn't include repayment of loans made BEFORE a Kickstarter project was started.
"first i’ll pay off the lovely debt - stacks of bills and loans and the like - associated with readying all of the stuff that had to happen BEFORE i brought this project to kickstarter. for the past 8 months or so, i wasn’t touring - and therefore wasn’t making much income - but every step of the way, there were expenses. so, during that time, i borrowed from various friends and family who i’d built up trust with over the years."
Yes, well, where is the itemized detail of what expenses comprise the $250,000 she gives as the total of all that? Exactly what is the cost of the recording (made BEFORE the start of her Kickstarter project), noted only as "pretty whopping"? What bills? What expenses?
Moreover: considering "loans" and "financial incentives" are not allowed as Rewards, how has AFP gotten away with listing the Loanspark Collective - a company SHE helped start - offering "creative interest" as an incentive for interest-free loans?
If I contribute to a project that receives over $1 Million Dollars, I expect the required recipient accounting of how the money was spent to be an actual report with actual numbers - not an emotional, badly-written narrative with vague references to "expenses" and "bills" and not "making much income" for 8 months prior to the Project start.
By the way: I'd also note Ms. Palmer received almost $200,000 more than the winners of TV shows such as America's Got Talent and others of its ilk. None of those winners seems to have had any trouble financing everything they need - INCLUDING paying musicians - in order to produce their first "project".
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the guidelines, so I welcome input from anyone who can clarify what is and isn't required and/or allowed by Kickstarter.
For those of you claiming Neil has nothing to do with this situation, your thinking is quite naive. He shamelessly plugs his wife's every artistic endeavor on his Twitter feed. I can guarantee you that most of her Kickstarter funding was a direct result of his pleas to his 1.7 million followers.
Then the other day, some random person seemed to innocuously inquire if he ever "wrote for free". It is most obvious now what the intent of the question was. His response (available on his tumblr) can be paraphrased as "yes, in my youth, for exposure" and "if I like the cause, or as a favor". But of course, he doesn't have to worry about his bills, nor do I think he would get "thanked" in beer or hugs currently.
This whole situation has soured me on the two of them. It makes them look very condescendingly bourgeoisie.
When kickstarter was originally conceived I'm fairly sure the intention was to provide funding for projects from complete newcomers.
So if a totally new musician wanted to release an album and they were sure it would sell at leat 2000 copies at £10 each but they didn't have the start up money to get them pressed and printed, they would essentially sell those 2000 copies up front and use the money from pre-sales to make the album. This was the "free copy of end product" reward that essentially turned the funding into a pre-order, and that was a brilliant idea for people who were just starting out and didn't have the capital to start what would become a creative career.
But it seems like now the model is messed up, and already established developers and creative types are using kickstarter as a promotional tool to simply mitigate risk and advertise virally, then rake in profits on top of the kickstarted funds.
It just goes to show you can't democratise anything without the big players getting their sneaky fingers in.
Can't even post the link to the original story on my own Facebook wall without a fight breaking out, yeesh!
I go to a large amount of gigs including ones with 20+ musicians on the bill and they all manage to get paid.
Musicians are the first to help out other people and a lot of gigs I go to are charity gigs. One of the most popular ones in my city is an Aussie Rules footy match where the players can end up injured and stuffing up their tours, yet they still want to play.
The artist in question has a really devoted fanbase, but that can be exploited also.
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