Fresh Paint


By Daniel J. Wakin

Published Sept 12, 2012

Imagine that after you put in hours of work your boss pays you in beer. Absurd isn’t it? Not to Amanda Palmer, a rock musician, who in her recent tour had asked her fans to play for her as backup musicians on stage. On her website, she posted “Wanted: Horn-y and String-y Volunteers for the Grand Theft Orchestra Tour” (“Rockers Playing for Beer: Fair Play?” ) where she sought out people who played certain instruments. She asked her fans to show up for interviews and then lets them perform on stage. However, she promised only hugs and alcohol as compensation. This led to many negative comments on the singer’s Twitter account. Many believed that her actions were ridiculous and unprofessional while some believed that the situation was just sad. Despite all the negativity, she refuses to pay. She claims that the $1.2 million dollars that was raised from the sale of her album “Theater is Evil”—which some argued could have been used to pay these ripped-off musicians—“went toward recording expenses and the costs of promotion and touring.” I certainly do not believe that all that money went to those expenses, and Ms. Palmer is merely trying to save money by having her fans play for her. Furthermore, I certain do not see a point in why Ms. Palmer would harm her self-image by being cheap.

Also, Ms. Palmer believes that there is nothing wrong with what she is doing and she claims that if her fans are happy playing for her and her audience is happy then there is no problem at all. However, Raymond M. Hair Jr., president of the American Federation of Musicians, completely disagrees with this. Mr. Hair believes that “If there’s a need for the musician to be on the stage, then there ought to be compensation for it, Playing is work and there’s a value associated with it, and that value ought to be respected.” The argument presented here is that whether or not the fans should be paid in monetary means.

I agree with the fact that if Ms. Palmer’s fans were willing to play at the tour for free because they value the concert rather than the money, then there would be no wrongdoing for not paying them. However, I think music should still be appreciated. I believe that the fans should still be paid with money because playing for the tour is a professional job, and all work done should be compensated.

What do you think? Do you think that Ms. Palmer’s tour is so great that her fans would want to play for her for free? Do you think that it is just for Ms. Palmer to compensate her fans with beer and hugs? Since the fans are happy, does the work they put in have to have valued? Is Ms. Palmer being unprofessional and being a jerk for not paying the fans? Is Ms. Palmer doing what’s right? Do you think Ms. Palmer is keeping her profit and slurping off of these ripped-off musician fans?

7 thoughts on “Fresh Paint

  1. This is such a prickly issue. Palmer does seem to be up front with what she is doing but I’ve known musicians who are fed up with being exploited in just this way–not being compensated for performing. I’m not surprised the federation of musicians has gotten involved.

  2. I think it comes down to what these fans/musicians feel. If they are okay playing for free, then why should there be any fuss? If they are not okay with it, they they should back out of the tour or form a united front and demand monetary compensation.

  3. I thought this was a pretty interesting article. I’ve heard of musicians offering a lot of perks to fans, but playing onstage for hugs and beer is a first. That being said, I don’t think there should be any issue with what Palmer is doing. She told the fans before hand their only physical compensation would be hugs and beer. I think the fans are honestly happy just to be playing onstage on tour with what may be one of their favorite artists. To the fans, that is the real reward. The fans knew what they were getting into. If they valued money more than playing with an artist they liked, then they probably wouldn’t have done it.

  4. I think in the end it depends on the fans and what they feel. If they knowingly decide to play for the musician without compensation, then they should not feel obliged to get paid at the end of the gig. I think that if the fans feel uncomfortable with receiving no pay, they should not volunteer to do so in the first place. Palmer does acknowledge the fact that in her post looking for musicians that they would not receive money and only hugs and beer. I think if these fans are willingly to accept this form of compensation then there is no problem at all.

  5. I understand why some may disagree with Ms. Palmer’s actions and call her cheap, but in all honesty, she wasn’t hiding anything from the fans. She told them from the start that they would only be paid with hugs and beer instead of cash and yet they still agreed to perform for her. If the fans are okay with performing without any monetary compensation, then I think the public should just let Ms. Palmer do what she’s doing. And as for the fans, I think the opportunity of standing and performing on stage with a singer they like might be more valuable than money.

  6. This article just reminds me of how obnoxious and disgraceful people can be sometimes. It’s bad enough that we Americans have gained the reputation of being people who constantly sue each other for absolutely no good reason. This is yet another example and it is just truly embarrassing. These people take advantage of a great opportunity to do a once in a lifetime thing and then decide to try to weasel their way into making some cash out of it while they’re at it. It really disgusts me to hear about such selfish and ungrateful people. Truth is that Palmer actually was doing them a favor by giving them beer instead of money; she saved them a trip to the store.

  7. This was a really interesting article. Being a musician myself, I can know how hard many people work to get a chance to play professionally and should rightfully be compensated. Yes, Palmer is allowing her fans a unique chance to play on the big stage with her but she is ripping them off by not paying her when she can easily do so. Musicians, like people in any other type of work, should be compensated for the work they do in monetary means when possible, not by “hugs and beer” because someone is too cheap to pay them.

Comments are closed.