Whoa! Amanda Palmer reverses course, pays crowdsourced musicians

After a week of some pretty passionate back-and-forth between Amanda Palmer, her critics, her fans and well — just about everybody — the singer said that she’s now paying volunteer musicians recruited to back up her band in its current tour.

On Wednesday, Palmer  blogged  that she had listened to people’s concerns about the use of free “crowdsourced” musicians, and sees their points.

me and my band have discussed it at length. and we have decided we should pay all of our guest musicians. we have the power to do it, and we’re going to do it. (in fact, we started doing it three shows ago.)

my management team tweaked and reconfigured financials, pulling money from this and that other budget (mostly video) and moving it to the tour budget. ?all of the money we took out of those budgets is going to the crowd-sourced musicians fund. we are going to pay the volunteer musicians every night. even though they volunteered their time for beer, hugs, merch, free tickets, and love: we’ll now also hand them cash.

The on-stage volunteers who played early on will also get checks — for how much we don’t know. She also reminded people that her band is on salary year-round.

The Palmer brouhaha raised anew questions — at least for some of us — about whether it’s right to use free or near free labor in what amounts to a commercial enterprise. Palmer’s reach-out for volunteers raised hackles coming as it did soon after she got $1.2 million from a Kickstarter campaign to finance her latest CD.

One GigaOM commenter made the point succinctly:

Volunteerism is for benefits and non profits. Volunteering to raise money for a food bank? Awesome, sign us all up. Volunteering to raise money for a musician with a million bucks to spend? Pretty damn exploitative.

For her part, Palmer seemed to come away from the whole experience no worse for the wear.

 i really appreciate those of you who came to the table and made your voices heard. despite a few of you haters who were just along for the fun, i really value your various points of view, and into conveying your thoughts – even if we don’t all agree. this is how we grow. we are the media, and we are a peaceful community who communicate with each other. this is how we do it, this is how we’ve always done it.

Love her or hate her, Ms. Palmer certainly knows how to get a conversation going.