Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
AMANDA PALMER'S $1.2 MILLION KICKSTARTER PT. 1
Originally Posted: 09-21-2012 4:47 PM
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This past week the internet has been abuzz with the news of Dresden Dolls vocalist Amanda Palmer putting out a call to have regional “professional-ish” string players and horn players to augment her stage show on her upcoming tour dates on the tour she's calling “Amanda Palmer and the The Grand Theft Orchestra”. She's also gotten quite a lot of press over the summer as setting the record for a Kickstarter.com campaign. She asked for $100,000 to make her new record/art project and tour and ended up raising a whopping $1.2 million from contributing backers.

With those two pieces of news side by side, perhaps “The Grand Theft Orchestra” was a poor choice in names when asking musicians to play for merchandise, beer, hugs and high-fives. She's just asking for trouble among musicians who are trying to eek out a living, especially those in musician's unions, as most horn and string players dodge in and out of, but sometimes one just has to allow for an artist's edgy sense of humor. I hear Marie Antoinette had a bit of the old “artist's sense of humor” too.

On the Facebook wall of super-talent Buddy Pearson, bassist for Chicago based Freek Johnson, The Unit, and Dave Carlock's Funkin' Rock Orchestra, Palmer was ripped a new one over and over by Buddy's muso friends with language that was almost as musical as Buddy himself!

One of the more balanced comments that stood out was, “if you're good at something, never do it for free.” I always find that old axiom to be horrible advice, but to each his own. My professional career began by doing things for free, which launched relationships that led to significant opportunity and subsequent dollars for me.

I find the principled stubbornness of many musicians on this topic to be pretty mindboggling. Scheduling conflictions are one solid reason to not take part, but spending an evening intoxicated via their preferred poisons and kidding themselves into thinking they're somehow making their point by watching TV, surfing the net or “fill in the blank” seems counter productive.

I've spoken on this before, but if any major act asked me to play one show for free, I'd be there in a heartbeat provided there was no limitation on talking to the artists or some other nonsense. People connections are worth much more than the dollars. And if there were going to be any filming or post show promotion featuring my involvement, that's marketing materials for me as well. Yet, so many musicians are so tied up in the “extra $20” game that they miss out on countless opportunities.

Every live show is a promotional event for a musician and their talents. To miss experiencing/exploiting that because of a few bucks is silly. To not take advantage of the promotion bump gained from working with a major artist is nothing short of career self-sabotage. NOT EVERY GIG IS CREATED EQUALLY, certainly not Amanda Palmer's.

UPDATE: just as I submit this for publication, today's news states that Palmer has decided to pay her volunteer musicians with cash and is doing so retroactively for the already completed shows of her tour. It isn't clear what she's paying them, but it shouldn't matter since they were willing to volunteer anyhow. It makes one wonder if this whole thing was planned to find musicians who were in it for the right reasons. Kinda Willy Wonka-esque, I'd say.

Plus the press she's gotten and given to her volunteers due to all the "outrage" has been amazing. She's already posted video, shot before the musicians knew they would be paid, in which she showers attention on the volunteer musicians. She tells us who they are and effectively gives them a professional recommendation bar none wrapped up in a solid 15 minutes of fame. Notably, everyone looks like they're having a bang-up time.

NEXT WEEK: A breakdown of where Palmer's $1.2 million is going in a fascinating look at the cost of breaking an artist nationally and why people griping about her haven't got the first idea what it takes to have a national/international music career.

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Dave Carlock
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