Amid a backlash from musicians, unions, and disgruntled onlookers, Amanda Palmer announced today via her website that she will pay the auxiliary horn and string players that have volunteered to guest on her Theatre Is Evil tour in cash, in addition to the previously promised hugs, beer, and, of course, love.
Palmer, whose record-setting Kickstarter campaign netted her more than $1.2 million in a month back in May, took to her site in late August ahead of her tour to ask any fans with a musical background if they'd like to sit in with her band, asking for horn and string players to assist on a handful of tracks in exchange for beers, high-fives, merchandise, and a whole lot of "thank you"s. In an interview with the New York Times, Palmer defended her decision to ask for volunteers, saying the fans were more than happy to partake, and that she couldn't afford to pay extra musicians.
This brought the ire of fans, musician unions (notably Seattle-based Local 76-493, which called her out repeatedly on Twitter), and musicians themselves, such as Steve Albini, who called her an "idiot" for the move.
In the wake of the controversy, Palmer and her band have begun paying the guest musicians, even sending retroactive payment to those who participated on dates that have already passed, saying that she had moved money around in her budgets to allow the musicians to receive compensation for their efforts.
"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," she said on her website. "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."
Palmer's album, also titled "Theatre is Evil," debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart this week with 24,000 sold, according to Neilsen SoundScan, much of which can be attributed to her Kickstarter campaign.