Amanda Palmer wants professional musicians to “volunteer” to play with her on stage.

Amanda Palmer has recently issued a call to arms of sorts on her website, where she is asking for “professional-ish” horn and string backup for each city on her “Grand Theft Orchestra” tour. In return, Amanda Palmer says the musicians shall receive exposure. The only prerequisite is that you show up for a quick rehearsal before the show. There are contact details on the site if you’re interested.

Me? Well, I’m actually, really, really conflicted about this. On the one hand, I do write up an article every (aha!) week on unsigned amateur musicians, so any exposure for unknown talent is really great. It also means that each show is guaranteed to be different, and really could encourage a sense of community and fun on the tour.

… On the other hand though, Amanda Palmer recently made $1,000,000 on Kickstarter (for an album that was more or less finished before the Kickstarter was launched). There’s no reason she couldn’t afford to pay those who are going to be playing with her. Let’s keep in mind, she is asking for professionals, not just same kid with a horn who wants to have a fun time playing with an artist they love. Granting these musicians exposure and paying them are not mutually exclusive things – and besides, how much exposure can someone on strings really get? How many members of an Amanda Palmer audience are going to go home, google who the person on the violin was and purchase an album? And the site saying they’ll get all the high-fives and hugs they want isn’t really helping, either. Tuba player can’t eat a high-five, lady.

Look, no one loves this idea in theory more than me. It’s just that, in practise, it just feels exploitative. Grand Theft Orchstra, indeed.

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