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Letters from Rosie 9 – Amanda Palmer and the naive sleeping beauty scene kids

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By Rosie

The veil continues to be lifted on an industry that is utterly dysfunctional.

We’re all trying to find a way to realize our vision.

The vision is selfish, consuming.

In Amanda Palmer’s case, her vision is this multi-platform, highly ambitious – and these days, very rare – full band perfomance extravaganza. NO ONE brings a full orchestra on the road these days. My fave, Lana Del Rey toured the highly lucrative festival circuit this summer NOT with a full band but with a string quartet that she re-hired in each new country she played. So her on-the-road team was as small as possible. If you estimate a minimum $50,000 appearance fee for each festival, 10 per cent to her booking agent, 15 per cent to management, random percentages going to the various producers and writers she has worked with who have smart lawyers who know the first big sniff of cash is from live music, each live musician getting about a thousand and her travel and accommodation sometimes included, sometimes not … How much did she take home at the end of the day? Not so much that she could afford to go on a proper arena tour with her own full band in the first place. As luck would have it, no one complained that Lana Del Rey’s live shows sounded nothing like the record because her PR has been 100 per cent successful at exploting her curiosity factor, which this time next year will probably have deflated a bit. We crammed into sweaty tents just to gawp at her.

[Insert image of even Anton sodding Newcombe gawping at her backstage at Melt.]

Anton Newcombe gawping at Lana Del Rey

Maximising profit is the name of the game. Punk or not, that is a damn fact.

Amanda looks bad cos we all know she got a huge amount of hard cash pumped into her project. It’s a matter of public record. But I bet, in response to that, the project has also gotten proportionally bigger. Compared to major label budgets for the world’s top artists – marketing and tour support being the two most important ones – she’s still gonna have to work really hard to keep this thing alive without a label. And that means saving money where ever she can and being the bitch. Madonna does it with a big red pen. Mick Jagger still claims his national pension … The fact that her fan-base is so strong that she is able to rely on them for all her resources is wonderful. They want her to fill their demand for her product. So that’s their choice.

The rest of us are trying to push promoters for fees that will cover our expenses and perhaps pay the guys in the band something – anything – so they feel respected for their efforts. Should you support a big-name band for free in return for exposure? You must evaluate each case individually, like an effing social worker. These kind of basic ethics DO NOT APPLY in the world Amanda Palmer is now entering, but neither does the, “Hey dude, will you play for free for me tomorrow night?” casual, buddy-vibe way of going. I love playing live as much as this guy, but, honey, neither of us plays for free:

She can’t have both. She’s paying professionals for the big shows in NYC or whatever, but she’s not paying the ‘amateurs’ for the ‘less important’ ones, (i.e. shows not going to be swamped with industry she needs to impress). What makes them amateur – their playing skillz?? No. The fact they are NAIVE sleeping beauty scene kids who don’t have managers and booking agents screaming at her team demanding fees (and expenses on TOP). Or they are self-aware punk rock godheads who know all the rules but still choose to fight on and work for free because they want effing Ian McKaye-stained martyrdom. Or they rich.

Either or, she’s fucked off the grassroots musicians a bit. But all this internet press will actually help her, and she’s probably smart enough to know that. I wouldn’t be suprised if she shows up on Ellen. She’s definitely gonna have to make some kind of mainstream gesture if she wants to keep generating the money to fund this kind of shizz. But cos her brand attributes value to being ‘cult’, this could be where her fans turn on her and the whole thing implodes.

As for her music – well, as Albini said, horses for courses. Poor Steve – he apologized! The unique-page-views media mafia exploiting his big stinky mouth again. Just a pawn in their game, son. This industry IS fucked but let me finish with a quotation from The Age Of Innocence by Edith Wharton because I am not pessimistic, there is so much great music and art coming out from truly fresh voices unaffected by the old rules and naturally adept and navigating the new structures: and guess wut the fuck. They are all female. (That Vaccines cover is a hoot! If ever a signifier that the old model has been dismantled and replaced).

The world of her youth had fallen into pieces and rebuilt itself without her ever being conscious of the change



Jazmin Garcia

Fatima Al Qadiri


Eddi Front

Related posts:
Playing for love instead of money: On Amanda Palmer, Punk Rock, and Compensating Musicians Fairly 
10 Questions for Amanda Palmer – Are you simply being penalised for your transparency?
It’s Amanda Palmer day, here at Collapse Board

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