Albini expands on his totally correct views re: Amanda Palmer | Bleader

Albini expands on his totally correct views re: Amanda Palmer

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As you may have heard, last week Chicago-based food blogger and poker enthusiast Steve Albini chimed in on a thread on the Electrical Audio message boards regarding singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer, her $1.2 million Kickstarter campaign to finance her latest album, and her decision to ask fans who play horns or strings to sit in during portions of her concerts and not get paid in actual money. As anyone who's familiar with Albini's opinions on the music business may have suspected, he wasn't for it.

When the blogosphere predictably ignited over his statements, the headlines were typically along the lines of "Steve Albini calls Amanda Palmer an idiot," because he did more or less call her an idiot (twice) in his initial post. But given room to expound on the subject in an e-mail interview with British music zine The Stool Pigeon, he lays out an insightful and I think completely correct argument against Palmer taking advantage of her fans' ardor to increase the profit margin of what will presumably already be a profitable tour, considering how insanely devoted her fans tend to be (e.g. the $1.2 million dollars she already raised from them). And it's worth reading, especially if all you know of the beef is "Steve Albini called Amanda Palmer an idiot," which doesn't even scratch the surface. (He even sort of apologizes for that.)

Yeah, it's not the worst thing happening in the world, and in terms of the frustratingly popular trend of asking musicians to play/record/whatever for free in exchange for "exposure" or some other vague and definitely-not-redeemable-for-food-or-rent type of compensation, it's just a drop in a massive and growing bucket. But it still doesn't change the fact that she's if not an idiot then at least a real asshole for thinking this is OK. If there's one line that sums up Albini's lengthy response, it's this: "It's cheapness repainted as generosity and it's gross."

Oh, and if you want to call Albini a hypocrite for that attempt to pay off Electrical Audio's lease via crowdfunding a while back, that was (a) not something he instigated or would necessarily have accepted if its payout goal was met and (b) a "prankish" experiment, according to the Albini fan who started it.

This concludes my annual Agreeing With Something Steve Albini Said.

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