The first rule of Art Club? Don’t talk about how you run Art Club
December 13, 2014 12:26 PM   Subscribe

 
Sady Doyle brings us up-to-date on Amanda Palmer media criticism and her new book.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:52 PM on December 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


She managed to avoid talking about herself for a little more than half the article, which is progress for her, I guess. If she was just making the point that people shouldn't be complaining about Pomplamoose admitting they lost money, this would have been a pretty good article. It seems like sour grapes when she begins to compare the way people talk about their story and hers.
posted by lownote at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just spent ten minutes trying to find a (recent-ish) music video a friend showed me a couple of months ago which ended with the duo kind of begging their fans to...not even pay money for their music or come to their shows, just to take part in some sort of annoying social media nonsense that I guess in theory would generate a little bit of revenue that they would probably get an infinitesimal cut of. It was just so full of fake bonhomie papering over the faint but unmistakeable whiff of desperation that it made me pine for the days when musicians could just sell out to Coke or something and be done with it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've enjoyed Amanda's music and performances but stopped going to her shows because of her business techniques.

At the last show I went to, I bought tickets for me and my girlfriend. During the show, she stopped midway through so that the performers could go around and collect money from the audience, because that's how they were paid. Then she auctioned off something (a guitar maybe?). And finally she stopped it a third time for everyone to get out their phones and add themselves as twitter followers.

It's her show, she can do what she wants. But I ended up feeling like I was being barraged with in-app purchases to unlock the next set.
posted by justkevin at 12:54 PM on December 13, 2014 [48 favorites]


That Sady Doyle piece is quite good:

"The hatred for Palmer was uniquely gendered. There are male celebrities who achieve something like her level of notoriety—Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke—but they tend to be both more outrageous and more famous (Thicke performed the most-played song of 2013). Amanda Palmer got dropped by her label and self-released an album, but she managed to get just as much disapproving press, if not more. For a man to be so reviled that it's considered wrong to support him—and make no mistake, it is considered quite offensive in many circles to have any positive reaction to Palmer—he usually has to be accused of a real and violent crime, like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski or Bill Cosby. Amanda Palmer, meanwhile, was mostly just accused of being annoying. The conversation was about her personality and looks (so loud! so overbearing! so needy! and those eyebrows!), with a tone of derision that even the creepiest, weirdest-looking or most irritating of male rock stars (Rivers Cuomo, Ed Sheeran, Bono) never manage to attract. It was also, yes, about the fact that she was offensive and had bad politics—but Eminem has made an entire career out of being morally and personally reprehensible, and we’re not publishing thinkpieces on “Why Everyone Hates Eminem.” Everyone doesn’t. Eminem is a legend. Palmer is roadkill."
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


why do people hate her? Cuz she doesn't cater to their feelings/agendas. So what, fuck 'em. That puts her at 'jay-z' cool.

But then the having people go around collecting money from her shows, and $1.2m kickstarter, yet lying musicians with "hugs".

That's like robin thicke lame. Whoever this Amanda Palmer person is.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:09 PM on December 13, 2014


Oh man. Please let's not have this thread get full of people hatin' on Amanda Palmer. Which I do not get at all.

In the interests of furthering the discussion about how the Art Club is run, here's a wonderful Bruce Sterling talk I watched yesterday:

Whatever Happens to Musicians, Happens to Everybody

In which he gives a number of examples of how musicians could be supported. That won't work :)
posted by maupuia at 1:15 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't hate AP, but I do know that AP threads tend to be pretty divisive, because she's that kind of capital A artist, at one time touting how bold and innovative she is, all the while seeming so fragile in the way she reacts to criticism.
for the life of me though I can't see how she can't see a difference between what she's done (asking members of the art community to enhance her shows and build her fanbase for no money) and what NIN did (pay her, albeit a nominal fee) or what Pomplamoose did (pay musicians to back them, possibly changing the nature of what the audience expects, i.e. a 2 man band). is she just being dense?
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


When The Dresden Dolls were invited to open up for Nine Inch Nails’ summer tour in 2005, we were ecstatic. We were offered $500 per show to perform about six shows a week. We had to hire a tour bus and driver (no amount of sleeping-in-the-van or cheap flights could match the speed of the NIN caravan), and we had to hire our own sound guy. I have not, until now, written about the huge loss we took on that tour, nor would I ever criticize Trent Reznor for not offering us a “living wage”. He made the offer; we didn’t have to take it. To this day, I still meet people who discovered my music because of that tour: they became fans, they supported my Kickstarter, they come to my shows, they bought my book. We figured we’d make it back when we went back on our own tour as headliners. And …we did.

I'm glad this got brought up - I'm one of those fans who discovered The Dresden Dolls because of the NIN tour!
posted by lizzicide at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


"The hatred for Palmer was uniquely gendered. There are male celebrities who achieve something like her level of notoriety—Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke...

Her treatment reminds me more of Morrissey than anyone.
posted by dng at 2:09 PM on December 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


On the subject of Amanda Palmer my opinion runs strongly to "Huh, yeah I think I've heard of her." With that said, I think this is a well written piece and references to her own band and finances are entirely relevant and in-context.

Kickstarter is a learning experience about the management of large sums of money for many people I think. And, the new trend of small but moderately successful folks in various industries laying their books bare is, for me, exciting. But it definitely invites armchair quarterbacks into the equation. For me it's just a sobering assessment of how many people would run events and art like this with an eye on the money first and the experience second. And perhaps it is the slight reversal of these priorities, and an eye for artistic value, that makes successful artists, well, successful.
posted by meinvt at 2:58 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


for the life of me though I can't see how she can't see a difference between what she's done (asking members of the art community to enhance her shows and build her fanbase for no money) and what NIN did (pay her, albeit a nominal fee)

well, that's the thing, they are all the same thing: what you have to do to run a business, i.e. exploit whoever you can. it's the problem with having every musician be their own business, you can't blame the behavior which is the core of any business on those scumbags at the record label or that sleazy manager.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:48 PM on December 13, 2014


So they "lost" $12K and got a new light set, new road cases (neither of which are cheap...at all.), and a bunch of people got paying gigs? I'd call that a win-win.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:02 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


for people who want to be upset about hugs and beers thing, you might like to know that every single performer got paid on that tour. also, when i was still following her, the performers she invites get paid and she offers them a place to pass the hat or set up merch. it's not everyone's cup of tea, but her theory has seemingly always been that she wants to create a space where artists and fans can ask for things - i can see not enjoying that show if you just wanted a rock show, but even back to the dresden doll days she's run more of a variety show than a rock show.

i don't really fuck with her much anymore - her constant cycle of "say something boneheaded, walk it back" and "say something provocative on social media as a prompt for my book" grated on me after a time. i'll probably go back at some point, but it'll probably be the next time she's releasing an album, not going on a speaking tour.

i will say, echoing something sady doyle said in her piece, as much as i'm done with amanda palmer the blogger, writer, social media personality, i think "theatre is evil" is a really great album - and, as i happen to enjoy "high-gloss, guitar-driven, Ric-Ocasek-inflected pop-punk " i had a lot of fun with it. i do think it's probably her greatest single work to date.
posted by nadawi at 4:10 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The hatred for Palmer was uniquely gendered. There are male celebrities who achieve something like her level of notoriety...

There are plenty of female celebrities in that category, too, who also don't get slagged the way AP does. I'm not seeing a gender slant to the AP hate. It's pretty diversified, actually. Calling bullshit on ego-stroking knows no boundaries.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:13 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


if people only insulted her ego stuff that would make sense, but that is hardly the span of the comments.
posted by nadawi at 4:17 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


for people who want to be upset about hugs and beers thing, you might like to know that every single performer got paid on that tour.

Only because people made the point to her that her conduct was utterly unacceptable, and forced her to change course. And considering the passive aggressive message she announced the payments with, she wasn't happy about it.

It doesn't matter to me what she's trying to create - that is no excuse for wage theft.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:20 PM on December 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'll probably go back at some point, but it'll probably be the next time she's releasing an album, not going on a speaking tour.

Oh god did you make the right decision. I know you and I have both been staunch defenders of her here for a long time, but I went and just between us large stretches of it were insufferable.

I do find the vitriol to be vaguely gendered. I've never heard that a man stole or swindled money from fans for a Kickstarter, but it's an insult still leveled against women. But it's also just stronger as well, people still say that Evelyn Evelyn was a crass exploitation of conjoined twins and I've barely heard a peep criticizing Sarah Paulson on American Horror Story.

Anyway, let her do her thing, internet. She's making art on her own terms. If it annoys you, it's not for you. And that's fine. Roll your eyes and move on.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:26 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


people often complain that she doesn't make the right decisions initially sometimes and that she's bad at apologizing and taking responsibility when she does fuck up - no argument from me (although, the way people expect her to defer and grovel does feel somewhat gendered) - but if your concern is "wage theft" it at least seems pertinent that everyone got paid.
posted by nadawi at 4:35 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


(I've seen the "AP wasn't going to pay her musicians!" fiasco go through an internet game of "telephone," where a lot of people now seem under the impression that she wasn't going to pay her touring band, when in fact the touring band was always and unquestionably on payroll; it was local fans in each city who were invited to jump up on stage for a few numbers who weren't originally going to be paid . . . no one here has explicitly made that error, but the fact that the error seems to be the commonly-understood version, I think it does go back to the internet's puzzling - and, yes, unquestionably gender-related - ability to think the worst of Palmer and cast her as uniquely despicable.)
posted by erlking at 4:43 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


but if your concern is "wage theft" it at least seems pertinent that everyone got paid.

Yes, everyone got paid - after people took Palmer to task and forced her to do so. And she didn't do it all that willingly, considering her rather passive-aggressive post announcing that she would be paying all her backup players.

Just because the right decision was ultimately made doesn't mean all the history that lead up to it just goes by the wayside.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:46 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


as eriking points out - her backing musicians were going to be paid the whole time - iirc they were actually salaried for a year. you keep being mad at 2 blog posts that were kinda shitty if that makes you feel good.
posted by nadawi at 4:50 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


it was local fans in each city who were invited to jump up on stage for a few numbers who weren't originally going to be paid

Nope, that wasn't what she did. She put out a formal gig for local musicians(yes, I know how she worded it, which doesn't change what she was doing), and planned on not paying them at the "less important" venues on her tour (major venues, on the other hand, she made paid arrangements for, adding further insult to the whole affair.)

Fandom isn't an excuse for wage theft either.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:52 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


and yet, no wages were thefted. everyone wins!
posted by nadawi at 4:54 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It isn't enough that in the end Palmer did the right thing - she didn't grovel submissively, as would have been proper!
posted by erlking at 5:00 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


and yet, no wages were thefted. everyone wins!

Which only happened because people, especially her fellow musicians, took her to task for her conduct and forced her to pay up. And again, instead of showing contrition, she announced the payments in a passive-aggressive nonpology that asserted that not paying her local backup at venues that weren't as important was about "the art".

I'm sorry, but I tend to not think much of people who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing, even if they ultimately do the right thing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:03 PM on December 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


ok, so she didn't apologize to your liking and you think criticism equals force, now what? it seems if you hate her so much you can just pass her by.
posted by nadawi at 5:19 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hate her almost as much as I hate that dude from Pomplamoose.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:21 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but I tend to not think much of people who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing, even if they ultimately do the right thing.

Oh, she's definitely worse than Hitler. You won't find Hitler paint jungle music at 3AM.
posted by happyroach at 7:32 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, she's definitely worse than Hitler. You won't find Hitler paint jungle music at 3AM.

Come on. People don't have to like her and they don't need to be okay with her. Because some remain un satisfied with how she handled that bit of business doesn't mean she's being compared to Hitler, and it's ridiculous that this even needs to be said.
posted by maxsparber at 10:32 PM on December 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'll just say this - I saw a ton of Amanda Palmer's retweeting of her fan's tweets about her book. I found it interesting that I was attracted to buy the book by what people were saying about it, but I also felt like I was being manipulated into it by the evil marketing forces. I did buy it on Kindle, read it, and found it to be one of the most moving things I've read all year. I just bought it in hardcover to give to a coworker, as well.

Whatever she is doing, it is working for her, and for me as well since I got a great experience out of it, and now I have some more music to explore, that I appreciate more knowing something about the artist.

I think every artist should read her book, along with "Design is a Job" by Mike (Fuck you, pay me) Monteiro. There's nothing crass about commercialism when it is feeding you and paying your rent.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:44 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Hitler thing is a Father Ted reference
posted by cadge at 10:56 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought this was a thoughtful article about how artists make decisions on how to further their careers as a business. I think she's on point in that the hatred being poured out over Pamplemoose is uncalled for, in the same way that raking her over the coals for how she runs her business is. It's incredibly hard to make a living creating beautiful things out of nothing.

To make this just about Amanda Palmer is missing the point, and rather petty. I was hoping for more insightful comments.
posted by monospace at 11:45 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's Pomplamoose hatred?
posted by freyley at 11:59 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fundamentally she is wrong. Art is not a business. It is Art. Capitalism forces it to be a commodity but that is tertiary and, I think, increasingly untenable for many kinds of Art.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:21 AM on December 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


you keep being mad at 2 blog posts that were kinda shitty if that makes you feel good.

Rather, that whole bizarre let's pretend to be conjoined twins art project and who cares how actual people with disabilities feel about this thing.

There's Pomplamoose hatred?

Hipster, pretentious, overhyped in certain circles, coasting on twee intepretations of songs from much better musicians, what's not to hate?

But they paid their musicians and didn't have to be forced into it.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:34 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


You can add: rich as shit but still running Kickstarters and using "volunteer" musicians.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:54 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've never heard that a man stole or swindled money from fans for a Kickstarter

Established game developers get that one all the time (Schafer, Molyneux, the Oliver bros, that guy with the $60m game), let alone in cases were the product gets abandoned (Towns, that Yogscast fiasco).
posted by ersatz at 2:20 AM on December 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have no opinion of Amanda Palmer, but I want to point out that "wage theft" refers not only to not being paid, but also to being underpaid. /organizerpedantry
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:50 AM on December 14, 2014


There's Pomplamoose hatred?

Hey, my mind still hasn't stopped boggling at people describing what Amanda Palmer does as "Art".
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:33 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Potomac Avenue:

"Art is not a business. It is Art."

(insert enormous eye-roll here)
posted by jscalzi at 6:13 AM on December 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


there will always be a struggle between those who view kickstarter as some sort of charity push for under-served artists and makers and those who view it as a place for artists and makers of any level to come directly to their fanbase for funding. where ever you sit on the spectrum, the fact of the matter is that the big projects by known names bring more people and money to kickstarter for the smaller projects.

that's certainly what happened with me - i joined kickstarter to back her project, backed at the $50 level which got me probably the best deluxe lp i've ever purchased (something i would have spent $50 for at retail) - since then i've spent over $300 at kickstarter, all on projects much smaller than afp's theatre is evil.
posted by nadawi at 7:16 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I came in here hoping to see some discussion about art as business and why it's taboo to talk about it, but it seems the conversation's about how despicable Amanda Palmer is, so I guess we've lost this one.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 7:40 AM on December 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


One of the reasons people have trouble talking about art as a business is that the conversation almost always turns straight into a discussion of the personality, persona, merits, and failings of the artist.
posted by feckless at 8:17 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the reasons people have trouble talking about art as a business is that the conversation almost always turns straight into a discussion of the personality, persona, merits, and failings of the artist.

See also: the thread about Alexei Sayles' critique of reality shows: not much about his ideas, but a whooole lot about the veracity of his Marxist credentials.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:46 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I enjoy Amanda Palmer's music but don't really have the energy to care all that much about the past history of this all. I'm just a casual fan.

Before the past few weeks or so, I couldn't have told you who Pomplamoose was.
But I did enjoy reading this: Doktor Sewage's Five Practical Pieces of Financial Advice for Pomplamoose.

Yeah, it's snarky. Yeah it's written from a pretty metal point of view.
But it is an interesting take on how other touring musicians view the finacial aspect of Pomplamoose's tour. The business side to art is not something that is discussed all that often with us laypeople. I get the feeling that it hasn't been discussed all that much by artists in the past, either. Maybe it's because most popular musicians rise out of the seething mass of non-musicians, rather than going through some sort of standardized training program where the business side would be taught. That makes most popular musicians more like a small boutique store or start-up that, when it becomes popular, is unable to deal with the added strain of new, high-risk business decisions. The choice is to learn fast, rely on unknown others to be experts, or fail. I tend to have more forgiveness and sympathy in my heart for a small business that exploded and then fucked up than a business run by a Harvard MBA that makes the calculated decision to fuck with people.
posted by Seamus at 8:48 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Don't eye-roll me Mr. Scalzi you write science fiction novels. People buy those and that's great. Are poems a lesser art because nobody wants to pay for them? Ikebana? Sand-painting? All music in a few years?

Some Art is made in a business context these days. That's all good and practically can be a useful thing to discuss among artists trying to make a living. But Art predates business and will out live it. Enjoy your career while you can, before a new style of art comes along and makes what you do an arcane hobby--though no less important despite that gradual shift.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:59 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Okay, let me rephrase it: I think the way certain participants have turned this thread into a Palmer-hating snarkfest is pathetic. I was hoping MetaFilter could do better, and I don't even particularly care about her myself. She brought up some very good points that deserve a better discussion than this.
posted by monospace at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fundamentally she is wrong. Art is not a business. It is Art. Capitalism forces it to be a commodity but that is tertiary and, I think, increasingly untenable for many kinds of Art.

Capitalism does nothing of the kind; indeed, capitalism makes (made?) it possible for creatives to quit their day jobs and create a better product. Everybody gains. That more people are willing to pay for music or even science fiction than for ikebana is simply a matter of taste. However good the latter two things may be, and they can be world class, they simply do not fire a mass imagination.

The case of Ms Palmer suggests to me some kinds of hypocrisy out there. Now that it's easier (and to many minds perfectly acceptable) to take the product without giving, creatives are told to get creative in finding new ways to monetize the work.

So she did. And got roundly slammed for it. And call me snide, but I'm guessing a lot of those who bayed loudest have a whole bunch of unpaid downloads on their devices.

Pay the writer (painter, musician) or content yourself with fan-art.

Or ikebana.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:56 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So she did. And got roundly slammed for it. And call me snide, but I'm guessing a lot of those who bayed loudest have a whole bunch of unpaid downloads on their devices.

What on earth are you talking about? Several people in this thread, including those who are critical of the particular ways AFP "monetizes", have mentioned going to her shows. Your piracy ad hom is weird and stupid.
posted by kagredon at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Only because people made the point to her that her conduct was utterly unacceptable, and forced her to change course.

Bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

No one forced to her apologize. Frankly, it's pretty damned clear that she didn't win back many of the haters to her concerts, so it's not like it was financially necessary. She chose to also correct what she did that she decided was wrong, after people hated on her for doing so - and it's frankly not easy to say "I screwed up" when people are throwing mud at you that mercilessly.

Literally mercilessly. That thing she did "wrong" in the eyes of many was years ago; she apologized and made reparations. And scads of Mefites are still hating on her for it.

Fuck anyone who wants her to do more than apologize, admit she was wrong, make amends, and never do it again. All of which is true. You are in love with hating. And it doesn't make you a better person.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


admit she was wrong

I would not call myself a "hater" - "mildly annoyed" is more like it - but this seems to be the sticking point for a lot of people.

From the Guardian article in the FPP: "I got widely raked over the coals in the media for not paying fans who’d volunteered to come to my show and play with me and the band for two or three songs in exchange for tickets, backstage beers and hugs."

"Fans who'd volunteered."

That phrasing sure sounds to me like once she'd announced the tour, she was deluged with requests from fans who wanted to get onstage and jam with her.

But the whole thing started with a request from her for volunteers, on her website. Link.

And to quote that link:

"the deal:
you’d need to show up for a quickie rehearsal (the parts are pretty simple) in the afternoon, then come back around for the show!
we will feed you beer, hug/high-five you up and down (pick your poison), give you merch, and thank you mightily for adding to the big noise we are planning to make.
CHAD is going to be in charge of sorting the horns, JHEREK is going to be in charge of gathering the strings, and
they’ll also be CONDUCTING you on stage.
you need to know how to ACTUALLY, REALLY PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT! lessons in fifth grade do not count, so please include in your email some proof of that (a link to you playing on a real stage would be great, or a resume will
do. just don’t LIE…you’ll be embarrassed if you show up for rehearsal and everyone’s looking at you wondering why you can’t actually play the trombone.)"


So she was asking for a time commitment (proof of skill and a rehearsal) and a skill level on an instrument for which it is not unreasonable to expect to be paid. Maybe not union scale for a major symphony orchestra, but something.


It's not surprising to me that people are looking at the way she describes the incident two years later and thinking that these are not the words of someone who has admitted they're wrong.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:23 PM on December 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Holy sacred cows, we do not need to rehash the entire debate about that tour, just read the 634 comments on the original thread if that's the argument you feel like having today.
posted by polymath at 1:17 PM on December 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Fundamentally she is wrong. Art is not a business. It is Art. Capitalism forces it to be a commodity but that is tertiary and, I think, increasingly untenable for many kinds of Art.

Because of course, in no other time than the modern capitalistic era have poets needed to buy paper, pens and ink. Writers never needed to buy food, and never EVER did painters hunt out patrons in order to finance their work.

See before, artists never needed to eat; food magically appeared on the table while the artist nobly looked out to the horizon before creating their masterpieces. I think garrets were involved somewhere, but that's basically the gist of it.
posted by happyroach at 1:42 PM on December 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


Potomac Avenue:

"Don't eye-roll me Mr. Scalzi"

Then don't make eyeroll-worthy assertions, if you please. Otherwise you'll get an eyeroll from me, and it will be deserved.

Art certainly is a business -- or at the very least can be. There is also art that is made without any reference to commercial intent. The motivation for art is all over the board, as are its channels of distribution. Great art (and good and mediocre and terrible art) has been made for money, for love, for amusement, for god or politics or for any other possible reason one might be able to imagine.

Art is not some fucking holy thing merely by virtue of the fact it is art. It is simply another thing humans are capable of, and do. Likewise, capitalism does not force itself on "Art," or force it to be a commodity; capitalism rather provides an environment in which small-a art can be (but does not have to be) a commodity. Other social and economic models created environments that the artists of the their time did their thing.

What I have a problem with is the frankly appalling arrogance of telling an artist that she is fundamentally wrong with respect to what her understanding of what art is, particularly when that assertion is followed up by another assertion I know factually and from my own experience as an artist is complete nonsense. What I see is simply another attempt, from a different avenue, of trying to minimize Ms. Palmer's artistic experience by declaring her understanding of art to be inauthentic, and false, and possibly crass.

Well, I call bullshit on that. You may or may not like Ms. Palmer's art or her; you may wish for art to be unsullied by mere commercial consideration. But what you wish for is not what is, and your opinion of Ms. Palmer as an artist or a person as no bearing at all with regard to the validity of opinion of what art is or how it works, at the very least in her experience, which is, it should be noted, substantial.

Fundamentally, she is not wrong about art. Fundamentally, I find your opinion of what art is and is not to be provincial. And I suspect it's just another attempt to shit on Ms. Palmer, for the sheer kicky fun of doing so.

(Disclosure: I am not a disinterested party with regard to Ms. Palmer, who is married to a friend of mine. I have yet to meet her, but I've conversed with her on Twitter.)
posted by jscalzi at 2:10 PM on December 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


From the article: "on the other hand, musicians aren’t supposed to be concerned with profits if they’re “real” artists – Didn’t you get into this job just for the love of it?"

She's definitely got a point, here - a widespread cultural assumption that artists can't or shouldn't be interested in money is, IMO, one of the reasons so many musicians wound up in debt to labels or the taxman or signed horrible publishing deals giving them pennies on the dollar or watched huge amounts of money disappear over the horizon in the hands of former managers.
posted by soundguy99 at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2014


Fundamentally, she is not wrong about art. Fundamentally, I find your opinion of what art is and is not to be provincial. And I suspect it's just another attempt to shit on Ms. Palmer, for the sheer kicky fun of doing so.

So you agree with me entirely but your problem is you think I'm being mean to Amanda Palmer? Let me clear that up: 100% of the statements you made I agree with, and I have no problem with Ms. Palmer outside of these broad sweeping generalizations about the nature of Art that insist that it is inextricable from a commodity which I find short-sighted and limiting. If you're looking to defend her from knee-jerk hate there are plenty of other examples in this thread yo. I just wanted to point out that the choices that folks make about how to get money from their art aren't always necessary. One can be Fugazi. One can be Neutral Milk Hotel or Peaches or Eric Andre. You don't have to have a career as an artist to make great art. Hell, at least half of the bands people love on this forum have day jobs. I respect people trying to make money off their shit: go for it! As long as it doesn't affect the more important work of making good shit, as you say: Art CAN be bought and sold, and though it does affect things about that product it doesn't alter its potential for greatness or anything. Part of what she is saying in this article though, and what a lot of the Fuck You Pay Me crowd says, is "People have to make money off this art thing somehow!" And I'm saying: No they don't. Not intrinsically and not practically. Many artists, of very important Arts, do not. And someday perhaps nobody will. I'm not saying that's a good thing either! But it is a reality. And maybe we'd be better off as a culture of Art enjoyers if we started assuming that great artists need support outside of what they scrape out of their fans pockets, and that most artists are going to be of necessity amateurs and that's not the end of the world.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:32 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


And another thing (lol) (help I can't stop talking!): Art and Business are seperate skills. Are we really all loving the idea that the only artists who deserve to be popular are the ones who are naturally also good at marketing? I'm not. And for that reason I'm glad some kid in her basement in Nigeria has a chance to be heard globally just by uploading a track to soundcloud, even if that means a million mid-tier indie rock bands with some really well-marketed viral 1mill+ view YouTube videos still have to tend bar to make ends meet.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:39 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


One can be Fugazi. One can be Neutral Milk Hotel or Peaches or Eric Andre. You don't have to have a career as an artist to make great art.

wait - are you suggesting that fugazi, peaches, etc haven't intersected art and commerce or that they aren't career artists?
posted by nadawi at 7:26 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue:

"So you agree with me entirely but your problem is you think I'm being mean to Amanda Palmer?"

Well, no. To recap, you made an eyeroll-worthy assertion, which I duly eyerolled. After I eyerolled it, you shifted or at least expanded your position and are now trying to assert that I've agreed with you all along. Which, you know, fine. From my point of view it would have been better had you simply not made an eyeroll-worthy generalization about art in the first place, because evidently I have button to push on people declaring what is or is not art, particularly in relation to it also being a professional endeavor.

"Part of what she is saying in this article though, and what a lot of the Fuck You Pay Me crowd says, is 'People have to make money off this art thing somehow!' And I'm saying: No they don't. Not intrinsically and not practically."

Only to the extent that anyone doing any work anywhere doesn't intrinsically need to be paid for their effort. You do let me know when we reach that glorious socialist paradise; I'll be delighted to be there. In the meantime, from a practical point of view, people who do creative work professionally -- with the intent to make money from it and perhaps even make a living from it -- do need to be paid for their work, just like your professional plumber needs to be paid to snake drains and replace pipes.

And if you want to argue that ART is somehow different than PLUMBING in this regard, you're gonna get another eyeroll from me, because no, it's really not -- it's a talent/skill/trade that other people desire and thus allows the person with the talent/skill/trade to leverage, and in this time and place that means getting paid. Unless you're willing to argue that no one has to make money off work, you should not arrogate "Art" to this special, vaunted position to which, I assure you, very few artists would like to see it hoisted.

And artists especially need to be paid for their work if anyone else is going to get paid, which, speaking as a solid proponent of the "fuck you, pay me" camp, is the thing that apparently you are eliding in your formulation of their mental processes. I write a lot of things for free, with no expectation of recompense, because I felt like writing it and because I didn't care to do everything I need to do to get paid for it; that's my choice. But if someone comes along and tries to take that work and make money from it, or asks for work from me for their own gain without sufficiently compensating me, or wishes to use work I've created for commercial purposes without adequately compensating me for the use, then yes: Fuck them. Pay me.

"And maybe we'd be better off as a culture of Art enjoyers if we started assuming that great artists need support outside of what they scrape out of their fans pockets"

Who is a great artist? What metric do you propose to identify them? Who will decide who makes the cut? What shall we do with all the other artists who are not deemed "great"? How shall we fund them? If it is to be through taxes, what if I disagree with the assessment regarding who is "great"? Given how incensed people are with NEA grants here in the US, do you believe this process will be any less contentious? Do you likewise believe that whatever process we employ to fund "great" artists will not, in itself, warp the dynamic of the artistic process as artists -- who still need to eat -- compete to be deemed "great" artists under this process? Do you not believe this process could be manipulated by those from the outside from social/political/other purposes? Why do you assume that this process would be any better than a direct exchange between the artist and those people who specifically wish to enrich the artist, i.e., the fans?

What does any of the above have to do with fostering a "culture of art enjoyers"?

"Art and Business are separate skills."

Aw, come on, Potomac Avenue, how many eyerolls do you want me to throw in your direction? This assertion is silly. Art and business are not necessarily separate skills at all -- there are a quite a few artists who are adept at both and who have one inform the other in any number of ways, meaning they are not separate at all. I speak from experience on this one.

Additionally, the rest of your statement doesn't logically follow at all from the assertion above. Particularly the part about you happily consigning a million indie rock bands to day jobs for a single Nigerian in a basement. One of those does not necessarily imply the other -- the Nigerian in the basement can upload to Soundcloud entirely independently from what the indie bands are doing; her being heard has nothing to do with how adept those indie bands are at marketing themselves.

That said, your (rather petty) wish has been granted; right now, our Nigerian friend may upload to Soundcloud, and the large majority of musicians in indie bands do have to keep day jobs, because the economics aren't there to allow them to support themselves from their music alone. Yes, but let's not let them worry their creative little brains about the business skills they might employ in order to get their work better heard, whoever they are. The poor dears really just don't have the head for it.
posted by jscalzi at 7:40 AM on December 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yaaaaaay!!
I was, and several years later, continue to have been 'saved' from ever being able to volunteer to play in a grab bag orchestra with Amanda Palmer.

Why? What is it to you? Does no one play instruments who isn't a professional musician?
If you weren't going to volunteer, why do you care?

I've never thought of myself as a fan of hers, but I've only SEEN Amanda Palmer for free, because every time she's been in my town, she's done one or more free 'ninja' concerts.
People bought their kids (which apparently weirded out her & other Americans). People bought instruments and joined in. She went to the Uni GLBT student group because someone emailed her - did she get any advertising for that? Not that I've ever seen online, but it was apparently the best meeting they ever had. People I trust said she was neat to hang out with.
She busked, she does free concerts, she had people joining in with instruments - did that not happen in other cities? Was that just New Zealand?
All these years later, I have no more comprehension of what is going on with all the people who are outraged by her inviting people to join in on something that already happened on an informal basis. It wasn't a case of the volunteers being paid or not, it was whether you wanted to join in or not. You didn't want to, you didn't have to.
Look, it wasn't an internship, it's not something you have to do because you've been dangled hope you'll get a job from her at the end of it, it wasn't even aimed at professional musicians (does nobody jam anymore?).


I wish it was about some kind of living wage argument. But it comes across as more, some kind of kneejerk capitalism, where it couldn't possibly be ok to want to contribute to something without moolah being involved.
But wait, no! Because when she discusses that you have to actually make a LIVING if you want to do it full time, not just as a one off volunteer thing, suddenly 'Art is not Business'!?
Well, yay, you must know different artists to me, because the ones I know that didn't figure out a bit of the businessing right smart, aren't the ones doing full time art now.
You no Eat, you no Art.
Urgh. They're both moral judgements I don't even understand.


You don't like her? Great. Silence is golden. I give you permission to stop listening to her, and, please please please, stop talking about her, especially on Mefi, because there are few things I see Metafilter do more badly. There are plenty of things that Mefi doesn't do well (Especially recently!). But they're usually things that the whole world sucks at, but this has been going on for years, and I really don't understand the particular scapegoating that goes on here any time the dreaded 'A* P*' name gets mentioned.

It's not proportional, it's not cool, and it's really pretty depressing.
posted by Elysum at 8:32 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, i see a hell of a lot more of what looks like "bad faith" on the for side than the against side. Every single time this comes up it gets kind of passively brought up that this is some kind of gendered attack, with the seeming implication that anyone who doesn't like her is some kind of closeted misogynist.

And i think that's a lot more gross and dirty pool than 99% of what has been said by people who don't like her, or don't like things she's done. I'm really, really sick of that "anyone who disagrees with me is actually a bad person!" stuff going down on here and getting back slaps and high fives.

Maybe it's hard to find other examples because it's hard to find equivalent cases or equivalent people doing similar things? That's one of those things, that if you're going to make some "people just hate her because she's a woman!" type of point and really try and tar the other side in a gross way, you better show your work. "No one cares when a man does this stuff!" is something anyone can say, and is a pretty cheap club in this type of argument.

And seriously, especially when there's guys like Morissey out there. C'mon, really?
posted by emptythought at 4:46 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was, and several years later, continue to have been 'saved' from ever being able to volunteer to play in a grab bag orchestra with Amanda Palmer.

Why? What is it to you? Does no one play instruments who isn't a professional musician?
If you weren't going to volunteer, why do you care?


Because this sort of stuff devalues labor, especially creative labor, which has a long history of people devaluing it with all sorts of excuses, such as the classic of "exposure". And despite your attempt to equate the two, this was not some impromptu public jam session - this was a concert at paid venue, where the attendees had paid good money for their seats. And while she might have described it as fans volunteering, what she was asking for was clearly a professional gig (and at the big venues, she treated these positions as such.)

So no, it's not about saving you from giving your time. It's about not letting our labor be devalued by your actions.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:47 PM on December 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jscalz: I wish I had more time to argue this but it is very interesting and I thank you for your expansion of the initial eye roll. You're still wrong about Plumbing tho. Artists have a prehistorical, maybe prehuman place in our culture. There are very few other jobs that exist like this. Maybe cop? King? (Boss cop) Science healer? IDK. But you have to admit that the impulse to create Art has just historically been around since before we had jobs. Yes my assertion is that it is in fact more important to humanity than plumbing. Yo plumbing is very important though no joke. Let's say there's a person who is a plumber who also paints pictures of uh, pipes. The plumbing has a positive effect on his society, he fixes things and makes good money. Thank you plumber! But if the art is great art (which it sounds great right? Pipes!). What is the effect of those paintings on the world, 10, 100, 1000 years after he's dead? Let's make this lady (now she's a lady!) the Shakespeare of pipe oils--her effect is beyond positive, it is transformative. Her plumbing makes the world better but her paintings make (or reveal) a new world that everyone can access and then instantiate. That is a magic thing, a supernatural thing. If you want to eye roll like a broken robot feast your peepers on this sentence: Fiction is more real than reality in my opinion. That's why Plato was so dang scared of it.

Anyway that may be gibberish, but that's where you (and Miz Palmer)'n me disagree. It'd be great if artists could all get paid what they think is fair by distributing directly to their fans OR we had a Scandinavian style grant system for pop artists OR we destroyed capitalism and lived in naked space-pioneer utopia where artists barter songs for uranium pellets (the second one is probably the least likely) but in the end it doesn't matter. People will make art even if it's free. And very soon (unfortunately for the dozens of working musicians I have been friends with for decades) 99% of pop music will be mostly free to consume. And all I'm sayin RE: this article is, maybe if the next Pamplemoose worried more about how to create great shit rather than how to make money off it, they'd be better off. Financially, psychologically, creatively everything. Because at this point they probably have a better chance of recording the Basement Tapes than they do of being paid more than or actually anywhere near $500/night 6 days a week for 3 months. Make a good thing. Find a way to get it out. Fuck thee consequences.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:28 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you or your band are soloing, maybe.
But being part of a crowd of people playing instruments? That's not exposure. That's - hey, in that picture, I'm third from the left!

The reason that interning, 'trial periods', and other manipulative labor practices are a BAD THING is that they act as gatekeepers, and a motivation or pressure to accept unfair working conditions, as employers dangle the HOPE that you'll be able to get a job or referrals to jobs at the end of it.
No one's going to book you for being backup in a one off concert (that's if you even do paid gigs - again, a lot of non-professional musicians out there, why is the problem with that?), there's no pressure to accept it in the hopes that this will get you into the scene.

There's nothing wrong with doing something one off, for fun, for free, for someone you do not have a employer/employee-like relationship with.
I mean, I'm currently watching the labour rights that my own grandparents and great-grandparents fought for with their unions be eroded and undermined, but this? Isn't it.


Oh, and is this why people hate Burning Man? Well, I mean, one of the reasons, because I really haven't seen anyone have a problem with thousands of people contributing their own time and money to build art projects for a festival where the attendees have paid REALLY good money for entry. Is that devaluing labor?
posted by Elysum at 6:29 PM on December 15, 2014


wait - are you suggesting that fugazi, peaches, etc haven't intersected art and commerce or that they aren't career artists?

Nah sorry if I was confusing I was saying they were brilliant geniuses who found non-traditional ways to make money but that also those ways implicitly avoided making lots of money. Some may be bad examples. A better example might be Billy Childish. An even better example might be: Weird Twitter. "Let's do something that blows my friends' minds" is my favorite kind of thing, and, in the long run, sometimes the best thing.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:33 PM on December 15, 2014


>People will make art even if it's free.

This is a very, very important difference, and why we never have to have these discussions about plumbers. Plumbers must be compensated or there will be no plumbing. The same cannot be said for art.

I'd argue--and jscalzi would likely disagree--that it is this art impulse that has the true value and that those who would not make art without compensation are less valuable, less meaningful.

In fact, in my (rarely humble) opinion, the minute an "artist" makes her ability to find shelter and food reliant on her art practice, she has already limited her creative freedom. She now requires (she doesn't just desire or prefer!) people to like her work. That means that if people don't like it, she has to change it, and if people do like it, she has to keep doing what they like (to some extent, at least--I'm not arguing that commercial artists are inevitably stagnant).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:12 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


No one's going to book you for being backup in a one off concert

Uh, yes they do. It may not be as common as it was 20 or 50 years ago, but this is still very definitely one of the ways that pro or semi-pro musicians make money from their creative work. Hell, part of the whole Pomplamoose kerfuffle was because they actually hired musicians.

There's nothing wrong with doing something one off, for fun, for free, for someone you do not have a employer/employee-like relationship with.

True, no argument there.

But by requiring the "volunteers" to show up for an afternoon rehearsal, and to provide proof of a minimum level of skill before they were allowed to actually perform, it can be argued that Ms. Palmer established a relationship that should have been employer/employee. She essentially said, "You have worked to establish skills that are demonstrably worth actual cash money, but I'm not going to give you any."

I mean, I'm currently watching the labour rights that my own grandparents and great-grandparents fought for with their unions be eroded and undermined, but this? Isn't it.

It may not be as direct an attack as when Giant MegaCorp refuses to let its warehouse workers organize, but it is absolutely an example of contributing to a cultural assumption that creative workers should be willing to provide their labor for free.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:26 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


No one's going to book you...
Uh, yes they do.


I meant, you're not going to get any "exposure" from being in the backup band (the tactic used to draw in people who otherwise wouldn't be involved in a project, in "F You, Pay Me" type situations).
I feel like it this meltdown came right after a bunch of discussion on why "Interning is Bad" (which it is), and that I'm not going to build a website for you after you contacted me for the 'exposure', but that a lot of people just missed any discussion of why it is bad.

I used to work in a webdesign company nearly 10 years ago, so I still get offers of little one off jobs that are barely worth it when they do pay me, and yet, I've been happy to, as a volunteer, build a website for a low income school.


'Afternoon rehearsal... etc... should have been employer/employee'

Yeah, I'm still just not seeing it. So if the volunteers had arrived a few hours later, it would have been okey dokey? You can't do a warm up rather than risking screwing up on stage?
Again, people already bring instruments along and sing along & join in at the free concerts, which to my knowledge, she apparently holds in most towns.
She didn't contact professional musicians asking for them to work for her for free, or for the exposure, she instead put on her own website, for her own fans, that if you could meet a minimum standard of musicianship, for a live performance, you could join in.
Bringing more participation into a bigger, fancier, night time concert just means you're holding it to a higher standard, because it's a lot more people to disappoint if someone bombs. That's not a bad thing.
I've joined in on fire performances, and even if they were free, people met a minimum talent levels for safety reasons (no burning down the house!), and our own vanity.
People can set their own standards, even for volunteer stuff. People rehearse for community events, and plays, and parades, and all sorts of stuff where some people are being paid and some aren't.
There has always been, and will always be overlap between creative work as a hobby and as a profession, because pretty much every skill existed as a hobby before it became a profession, and will continue to exist alongside it.


If a couple is getting married, it's not ok for them to pressure or coerce someone into providing photos of the wedding, just because they know a professional photographer, but if someone offers to take wedding photos for a friend if they want to, they're entitled to do that, whether they're a professional or amateur, and EVEN IF that means a professional photographer is not hired! (It also means if the couple don't like the pictures, they get to suck it up).
If someone who does it as a hobby has professional quality gear now? That's technology changing, it doesn't mean a professional photographer is entitled to paid work at a strangers wedding.

As long as we aren't putting any pressure on creative professionals to do their work as a hobby when they don't want to, that's ok.


Cultural assumption that creative workers should be willing to provide their labor for free.
So yeah, to recap -
She didn't independently contact creative workers/professionals, she put out a message to her own fans.
She didn't suggest it was anything anyone had to do to further their careers, or anything they HAD to do if they were her fans and also professional musicians.
She just provided the opportunity to be part of a bigger, more glam event if you had the minimum skills to not screw up in front of a crowd.
There's a very big difference there, which seems obvious if you've been on the receiving end of the entitlement that lead to the "F* You, Pay Me" type discussion, but in larger internet discussion, apparently it's a subtle one.
posted by Elysum at 9:27 PM on December 15, 2014


>I used to work in a webdesign company nearly 10 years ago, so I still get offers of little one off jobs that are barely worth it when they do pay me, and yet, I've been happy to, as a volunteer, build a website for a low income school.

She is not analogous to a "low income school," though, is she? She's a multi-millionaire (or at least she's married to one), and her tour produced significant profit for her (she raised a million bones on Kickstarter! A MILLION!).

Of course she has a right to ask for volunteer musicians, and those musicians aren't wrong to take the gigs, but it's shitty that she'd do so--it's more like a profitable company with deep cash reserves asking you for free web design.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:40 PM on December 15, 2014


there is nothing that suggests her and gaiman share money. last i checked they didn't even live together most of the time. bringing his money up is shitty and bordering on sexist. be better than that.
posted by nadawi at 9:44 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


She's a multi-millionaire (or at least she's married to one)
Yeah, everything else aside, this is *really* shitty to say.

And as far as the Kickstarter, she was really transparent on costs, and ended up running cost-neutral-to-loss on it. Sure, she brought a lot in, but she put out a *ton* of stuff in return.

Even all of that aside, I still reserve the right to make a thing which at some point gets used by the US Government (o ho ho, they can afford it) for nothing more than shiggles and the amusement which comes from the idea that I've done something that that scale of entity could use. Or, y'know, alternately to charge for licensing. Or to print out the source code, set fire to it on film, and then post it to YouTube. Whatever.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:54 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's not the same, because the point wasn't that she needed a bunch of musicians, on disparate instruments, to join in on stage (otherwise it would have been "WANTED: 1 drummer, 1 bassist, 1 kazoo player, etc"), and she didn't ask for paid professional musicians - just fans who could play decently and read music, which is a hell of a lot more people.

I doubt they were even going to play backing for every song, because that would have taken much more than one rehearsal.
It was an opportunity for ALL of the fans who could join in on stage, to join in.
Until it wasn't.
posted by Elysum at 10:04 PM on December 15, 2014


I'd argue--and jscalzi would likely disagree--that it is this art impulse that has the true value and that those who would not make art without compensation are less valuable, less meaningful.

But is there actually such a thing as a singular "art impulse", though, and what is it, and who decides what it is? I'm not big on Palmer's music (though her cover of Pirate Jenny is aces), and I pretty much agree with soundguy99's appraisal of why her tour stunt was poorly done, but I respect the hell out of her for the awareness and courage to say that part of the reason she does art is recognition from other people. Constraining art to starving, isolated souls who are pushed on by some divine compulsion is facile. Art has always been about communication (to quote someone who did kind of implode at the intersection of art and commerce, "A BRIEF HISTORY OF ART: "look, look at me")
posted by kagredon at 10:10 PM on December 15, 2014


I will absolutely agree that the "married to a millionaire" argument is irrelevant; at the very least we've no idea how this particular couple works their finances, and it seems pretty sexist to assume that the woman is necessarily supported by the man.

I used to work in a webdesign company nearly 10 years ago, so I still get offers of little one off jobs that are barely worth it when they do pay me, and yet, I've been happy to, as a volunteer, build a website for a low income school.

Which is, of course, fine - if you find value in donating your skills to someone, great. No-one has ever said that the musicians couldn't have or shouldn't have volunteered if they wanted to.

But it would also be valid for currently active webdesigners to point out that by offering your web design services for free or cheap, you may be participating in the process of lowering the market value of their skills, because their next client may well argue that they should work cheaper because Low Income School got Elysum to do it for free, so maybe they'll just give Elysum a call . . . . . .

Volunteer away, but your choice to provide skills and labor and services for free or cheap may well affect other people besides the beneficiaries of your donations, and you should be aware of that and recognize that your actions may have consequences outside your immediate circle.

As long as we aren't putting any pressure on creative professionals to do their work as a hobby when they don't want to, that's ok.

The idea of "We'll get our friends/fans/whatever to do it for free instead of pay someone" seems to me to be the very definition of economic pressure.

Yeah, I'm still just not seeing it. So if the volunteers had arrived a few hours later, it would have been okey dokey? You can't do a warm up rather than risking screwing up on stage?

Time is money, especially for performing artists.

Again, people already bring instruments along and sing along & join in at the free concerts, which to my knowledge, she apparently holds in most towns.

These were not free concerts, and the performances were not open to anyone who wanted to bring along an instrument and make a racket. You're comparing apples to pomegranates.

which seems obvious if you've been on the receiving end of the entitlement that lead to the "F* You, Pay Me" type discussion

I honestly have no idea what sort of entitlement you're referring to here. Usually in these discussions the "entitlement" charge is aimed at the people who don't want to pay, but that doesn't seem to be how you're using it here, unless I'm misreading you.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:53 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


But is there actually such a thing as a singular "art impulse", though, and what is it, and who decides what it is?

This really isn't about an "art impulse" (whatever the fuck that's supposed to be), but rather gatekeeping. Defining certain things as "proper art" so other things can be denigrated as "improper art". You know, like a women doing paintings where you can see people's teeth. Got to keep them down lest a century later they end up being the ones in the art history books.

Seriously, anyone who tells you that there's one specific "real" or "proper" style, method or motive to art, either has no fucking clue, or is feeding you a line.

In fact, in my (rarely humble) opinion, the minute an "artist" makes her ability to find shelter and food reliant on her art practice, she has already limited her creative freedom.

Truly, the artist truly falls the day they forget how to photosynthesize. Pity those poor commercial sods like Leonardo or Michaelangelo.

In response to that line you're trying to feed us, I could could trot out equally facile and purile and hackneyed lines such as "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations", or “Embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity … We need to first be limited in order to become limitless” and so on. But seriously, why bother? If the only thing you can do is descend to cliched insults of every artist here who makes a living at their art, and my wife, and most of my frends, I might add, I seriously doubt you have anything constructive to say on the topic of art.
posted by happyroach at 12:04 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


bringing his money up is shitty and bordering on sexist. be better than that.

It's definitely not sexist. I guess I generally assume that married partners share finances, and I totally understand that that may not be a fair assumption, and may even be shitty depending on how you see things and how much you want to judge me for my (probably naive) assumption about marriage.

Man, things have gotten so mean in this thread. I'm not being rude to any of you, and now I'm being told my opinions are sexist and "shitty" and that I don't "have anything constructive to say on the topic of art." Really unpleasant.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:28 AM on December 16, 2014


Usually in these discussions the "entitlement" charge is aimed at the people who don't want to pay, but that doesn't seem to be how you're using it here, unless I'm misreading you.

I was trying to compare the difference between volunteering versus people feeling they deserve to have me work them for free, which I was referring to as entitled - so, a slight misreading, because I do have the same meaning you're suggesting above.

While I have had entitled business owners and distant relatives contact me, expecting me to do work for them for free, and I dislike that as much as the next person, there is a big difference between that, and choosing to do something of my own free will.
posted by Elysum at 5:04 AM on December 16, 2014


soundguy99: No-one has ever said that the musicians couldn't have or shouldn't have volunteered if they wanted to.
Just a short sampling of people who have said that:

The "if you don't want to do it you don't have to" argument in employment situations doesn't usually fly very well on Metafilter. Unpaid internships, under-the-table sub-minimum wage jobs etc. We can all see that those are exploitative, even though in those cases it is also true that if you "don't want to do it, you don't have to."

Yes - it costs money not to get paid due to the opportunity cost of your time (you could be making money otherwise). Further, fixed costs like rent and food can't be paid without paid work. As a result, only those with preexisting wealth can afford to work unpaid and the field is limited to those with preexisting wealth.

Ellison is notorious for knocking writers who work for free because doing so hurts all writers. Ditto here. And speaking as a former professional musician, any other pro musician who tells me that I "just don't get it" if I object to the social consequences of this kind of thing is racking up some major irony points.

Related thread, not about AP:

People will do the most tedious stuff for free if you frame it right. Which is why we need laws and enforcement of them to protect people from their own bad decisions.

In the latter case, is it really immoral to not charge for something that you'd want to do anyway? I have a hard time saying that.
I don't have a problem calling it unethical, not when it affects people who are not you and your employer.

posted by IAmBroom at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2014


You do have a point, IAmBroom, although I don't see how any of these comments negate the larger point that "donated" labor - and possibly especially donated creative labor - can have a depressive effect on the market value of said labor. And that that is a consideration to keep in mind when an individual chooses to donate labor.

Or when considering whether to choose to pay your creative laborers if you have the financial ability to (which AFP most certainly did, as proved by the fact that she re-jiggered her budget and came up with the money) versus continuing to count on unpaid creative labor for . . . . . well, honestly, reasons that she has never really clarified, as far as I know.

Partly, I suppose, she claimed that all the other things she was doing with her Kickstarter money, like different special packaging for the CD's and LP vinyl and 7-inches, and art books, and having a mobile art gallery on tour with her, and creating and transporting all sorts of extra stuff for the live show beyond the bare minimum ate up a lot of her money. And I don't doubt that it did, and, honestly, more power to her for using that money to expand her art, to provide an extra value for her Kickstarter supporters, to "put the money on the screen", as they say in the movie business.

But a heck of a lot of people with just as much (if not more) experience as she has in running a creative endeavor as a business looked at her numbers, and considered the couple/few hundred dollars a night it would cost for her to throw her "volunteers" $50 bucks or so each (and if I'm reading her blog posts right, the volunteer call was only for six gigs), and thought, "Really? Given that you yourself have hard real-world experience in how tough it can be to make a go of it as a working musician, it never occurred to you to budget a small amount for local musicians in the first place?"

Tying this all back to the Guardian article she wrote that's actually the point of the post, I thoroughly agree with her that there are double, even triple standards for artists talking about the financial aspect of their art, and that an important way to combat these double standards is for artists to allow the general public to see behind the scenes and clarify how the numbers actually work. I agree that it's especially valuable now, as more and more artists can no longer rely solely on traditional sources of income.

But while AFP recognizes that opening up the books will result in critiques of an artists' accounting process and how they balance cost vs. creative needs and desires, she apparently fails to recognize that maybe some of these critiques are entirely valid. And not just valid in the sense of (to quote the article) "The critics are partially correct: Conte’s accounting is not how they’ve toured, or might tour if given the same budget" - I mean valid in the sense of "tour accounting doesn't work that way" (see parts of the Doktor Sewage response to Pomplamoose that Seamus linked to above) or "failing to budget for payment for local musicians when you actually have the wherewithal to do so is a jarringly odd omission from your budget estimates." (See, um, the above paragraphs . . . plus a lot of the comments in the previous thread.)

In short, it's a good and important article that raises a lot of good points - right up until about 2/3rds of the way through, where it begins to sound as if she wants public credit for "transparency" but does not actually want to consider whether any of the people critiquing her or Pomplamoose might actually be raising valid points.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:14 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


We had to hire a tour bus and driver

I thought this part seemed odd. The dates didn't seem that crazy when I looked at them. They were there so they know better, but it surprised me when I looked at the locales.
posted by josher71 at 12:49 PM on December 16, 2014


« Older An eternity with Tootie   |   Sit on my face and tell me that this parliamentary... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments