Monetizing (small time) Celebrity
I was watching the TED talk from Amanda Palmer: The art of asking. After a few minutes I wanted to title this speech Monetizing (small time) Celebrity. I don't think there is anything wrong with the idea of what she is doing. She has a business model that depends on people caring about who she is and the art she is making. They need to identify with her. It is about the total performance, 24/7 and not just the music.
I really think there is nothing wrong with crowd funding, asking for people to provide food or lodging, or for her to ask musicians to take part in her show. The same way there is nothing wrote with people saying no to her. Either from her audience or other performers. If you think your art or effort is worth more than playing for free, don't play for free.
I am not sure that you should tell other people they cannot give their labor away for free. You cannot tell people not to ask for free labor. No one can control the labor of another person. If you have a union you can pressure some venues to not allow people to give away their labor. I am not sure musicians unions have this kind of relationships with other venue unions to keep these things happening.
I think there is something real about the artist who feels like passing the hat is begging. It is not just the "Get A Job" voice. It is the idea that what I am doing has value and it should not be at the whim of someone else if I get paid. One of the problems is so many people want to be musicians, they will undercut that price all the time. This is the basic market problem of being an artist.
One important theme that is not covered in this TED Talk is that Amanda Palmer can only do this because she is famous. If an unknown artist asks for couches to sleep on or people to cater her shows, my guess is she would not get anything. She is cashing in on work that was already done. I think there is no problem with this.
I do wonder if Amanda Palmer will crowd source her next project or not. In one way it is a good way to fund projects, in another way it is a failure if it is the only way anyone can ever fund projects. You would think that she would be able to use the her current project to fund future projects. This is what we would want to see from artists.
Crowd funding does raise the question about how will we fund new artists? In this system of arts funding create great works of art? Will music be like TV where there is some great work, but many scripted programs have been replaced with reality shows? Will this stunt the growth of artist who do not prosper because they are not good at getting funding.
In the end I do not see anything wrong with the way Amanda Palmer is doing business. Some times in the tech media people see something be successful and declare it "The Future of..." whatever it is. I think we will not be happy with the future if everything is done via crowd sourcing. It will be just as weak as a future with no crowd sourcing.