Pixies/Nirvana producer Steve Albini has apologised to Amanda Palmer after he seemingly branded her an idiot for asking fans to play in her live band for free.
Palmer, who is also the singer in the Dresden Dolls, hit the headlines earlier this year when she managed to raise over $1.2 million to release her new album via online fundraiser site Kickstarter. She is now touring in support of the album, which is titled ‘Theatre Is Evil’, and has asked for “professional-ish horns and strings” musicians to join her onstage in each stop of the tour.
By way of payment, the singer said that she would offer: “We will feed you beer, hug/high-five you up and down (pick your poison), give you merch, and thank you mightily for adding to the big noise we are planning to make.”
Albini seemed rankled by Palmer’s plea and posted a lengthy rant on forum Electric Audio, stating that he believed that if “you are forced by your ignorance into pleading for donations and charity work, you are then publicly admitting you are an idiot.”
However, he has now published another post on the same forum to clarify his stance. “Well, since the new journalism is just re-posting what other people have lifted from message boards and twitter, there are probably going to be a hundred or so stories on the web with headlines like ‘Steve Albini calls Amanda Palmer an idiot,’ so I’d better make my position on that clear,” he wrote. “I don’t think Amanda Palmer is an idiot, and it was rude and sloppy of me to make that impression. 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.”
In the lengthy post, he went on to add: “I have no problem with bands using participant financing schemes like Kickstarter and such. 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.
“It should be obvious also that having gotten over a million dollars from such an effort that it is just plain rude to ask for further indulgences from your audience, like playing in your backing band for free.”
He then concluded: “Fuck’s sake a million dollars is a shitload of money. How can you possibly not have a bunch laying around after people just gave you a million dollars? 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.”
Meanwhile, Palmer has also responded to crticicism of her request by posting an open letter in response to musician Amy Vaillancourt-Sals, who initially hit out at the former Dresden Doll for asking musicians to play for free. Talking about accusations that she was devaluing other musicians and their work, she said: “I get the impression that they see me as a force of evil who is miseducating the public to think that ‘music should be free’. Here’s what i think about all that, and it also applies to this paid/non-paid musician kerfuffle: YOU HAVE TO LET ARTISTS MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT HOW THEY SHARE THEIR TALENT AND TIME.”
Amanda Palmer will undertake a UK tour later this year, playing three UK shows on the trek as part of a full European tour.
The run of shows kicks off at London’s Koko on October 23 before the singer travels to Manchester to play the city’s Cathedral on October 24. She ends her short UK run with a gig at Glasgow’s Oran Mor on October 25.