Published Sep 14, 2012Yesterday (September 13) the internet was all a-tingle when infamous indie studio whiz Steve Albini branded cabaret-geared singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer an "idiot" for resorting to crowdsourcing to release her recent Theatre Is Evil LP. He was also critical of Palmer's call for fans to volunteer their string and horn services pro bono on her current concert tour. As it turns out, the prickly producer says his words were blown out of proportion by the media.
While the D.I.Y. practitioner previously noted that if you're "pleading for donations and charity work, you are then publicly admitting you are an idiot," a follow-up statement on his Electrical Audio forum admits that he might have been a little harsh.
"I don't think Amanda Palmer is an idiot, and it was rude and sloppy of me to make that impression," Albini wrote. "I'm sorry Amanda Palmer, the internet is going to tell you that I think you're an idiot, and while that's not true, it's my fault."
Albini did, however, critique how the nearly $1.2 million attained through Palmer's Kickstarter campaign was spent, noting some costs he felt were questionable.
"I saw a breakdown about where the money went a while ago, and most everything in it was absurdly inefficient, including paying people to take care of spending the money itself, which seems like a crazy moebius strip of waste."
He then went on to note that he actually isn't against crowdsourcing campaigns as a whole.
"I've said many times that I think they're part of the new way bands and their audience interact and they can be a fantastic resource, enabling bands to do things essentially in cooperation with their audience. It's pretty amazing actually."
As for Palmer, she addressed some of the issues in a blog post yesterday. She directed most of her response to an angered musician named Amy and went through the pros of both crowdsourcing and her critiqued concert set-up.
"Anyone is allowed to crowdfund a record. and anyone is allowed to crowdsource a musician. or a pair of socks. or a place to crash. or a meal. Anyone," Palmer wrote. "The band at the local pub can do it, i can do it, tom waits can do it, and justin bieber can do it (his fans would FLIP to be up on that stage making music with him. i'm imagining a crowdsourced belieber playing violin on "boyfriend" right now and loving the image, truly. it's also fun to think of tom waits wearing fan-knit-socks.)"
She added of the volunteer scenario, "I originally fantasized that we'd write super-easy-to-learn parts, and then musician volunteers -- of varying backgrounds and skill level -- would join us to play them, in every city. as an experiment, as the concept behind the grand theft orchestra. ... Sometimes we get seasoned pros, sometimes we get people who barely play at a high school level. sometimes it's a lot of work. and every night, we work with who and what we've got."
Palmer further argues that while the volunteers may not be getting any monetary compensation, they're being rewarded with the experience of getting to play with her and some pros. On Palmer's side of things, she gets to play with people, regardless of skill level, who love her music on a different level than someone who might just treat the gig as another job.
"I'd take a less experienced horn player who was overjoyed to be on stage for the fun and experience over the pro who's clocking in to get paid and doesn't care about me or my band any night of the week."
That answer may not exactly satisfy the musicians unions, but Palmer seems to be sticking to her guns on this one.
You can read Palmer's full statement over here, and check out the breakdown of the Kickstarter money over here.