After the controversy about crowdsourced musicians, Amanda Palmer now pays them, and she did so in New Orleans.
Amanda Palmer's decision to pay beer, merch and mentions to the local musicians who'd augment her Grand Theft Orchestra became a source of controversy and derision, particularly when she claimed she couldn't afford to after raising $1.2 million through Kickstarter to fund the recording of her new album, Theatre is Evil.
In a blog post dated yesterday, Palmer wrote:
it’s been a week since my cell phone rang backstage in NYC on the opening night of the Theatre is Evil world tour. on the line was a NY times journalist I’d never spoken to. what followed has been a week-long fervid – and at times vitriolic — discourse about the nature and value of art, energy, time and money. i said in my last blog, we’ve clearly hit a huge cultural nerve with this whole “crowd-sourced musicians” kerfuffle. we didn’t expect to hit that nerve, we did, and now we’re dealing with it.
a few of them (the cowards, the trolls) threw some pretty nasty stones. but most of you brought well-articulated views, along with your personal stories and experiences. steve albini called me an idiot, then apologized for calling me an idiot, then called me an idiot anyway. a lot of my musician friends (including zoë keating, and nataly dawn from pomplamoose, who’s been having her own double-edged success with kickstarter), took to their blogs to explain the eco-system of playing for reasons other than cash money. i thank every one of you who spent the the time to explain it to people. lots of the musicians who’d initially volunteered (even some who didn’t get chosen to join us) posted really intelligent blogs defending your decisions.
Then a handful of paragraphs later, she wrote:
for better or for worse, this whole kerfuffle has meant i’ve spent the past week thinking hard about this, listening to what everyone was saying and discussing. i hear you. i see your points. 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. (in fact, we started doing it three shows ago.)
when we handed the musicians their surprise cash backstage in new orleans the other last night, they laughed like mad and said “after ALL THAT, you’re going PAY US??!!”
Ashley Shabankareh of The Local Skank confirms that it went down more or less like that. "It really was a surprise," she says. "We had a fantastic show, and they told us to go see her tour manager, Jarred to get paid. He paid us all quite graciously in cash, and then we continued to enjoy the company of her, her band, and her crew. I can definitely confirm that she in fact paid us, in addition to as much free drinks, hugs, promotion of our own projects, and merch."
Alexandra Scott sang "Map of Tasmania" with her as part of the St. Cecilia's Asylum Chorus, and she found the whole experience to be a positive, supportive one. Besides getting paid, the group received attention it otherwise might not have. The YouTube video focusing on the band that including their performance has already received more than 3,800 views since the Monday night show.
In her post, Palmer also announced that the musicians who played with her on the tour before this decision was made will be paid as well.