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I'm not going to try to guess how much mainstream appeal the people at Roadrunner Records expected an Amanda Palmer solo album to have, but considering that they'd already released a handful of Dresden Dolls records I'm sure they knew that it wasn't going to be much. But the upside to having Palmer and the Dresden Dolls on your label is that they come with a built-in army of the sort of fanatical devotees who will buy not only the albums but every last single from those albums and who are almost scarily eager to work as an unpaid street team for their beloved artists. In this business climate it's hard to imagine anyone at any label kicking a golden goose like that, but that's exactly what Roadrunner seems to have done.
In an e-mail blast a week ago, Palmer (who's playing at Metro on Wednesday) told her fans that label execs had asked her to recut this video for her single "Leeds United":
Their reasoning, in Palmer's words: "they basically told me that i looked too fat."
The downside to signing an act like Palmer is that her fans will swarm anyone they see as having wronged her. Currently the "Fuck Roadrunner..." message-board thread on the Palmer/Dolls fansite theshadowbox.net runs to 70 pages and has evolved into a tummy support group with fans posting pictures of their exposed midriffs in solidarity with Palmer.
It's worth pointing out two things. One is that only in the bizarro world of high fashion modeling could Amanda Palmer be considered someone with a gut. In a blog post after the initial e-mail blast she says, "dude. i’m a vain motherfucker. i know when i look fat." The video shoot was obviously not one of those times.
Secondly, the sizable Roadrunner roster includes only a tiny handful of bands with even one female member--the only ones I can find are Nightwish, De Novo Dahl, and a Dutch symphonic metal band called Within Temptation that I'd never heard of before going to the Roadrunner site to follow up on this story. They have a model-esque female vocalist who's not averse to wearing revealing corsets for publicity photos--maybe this makes them more "commercially viable" than Palmer.