The big music industry controversy of the week is that million-fan-dollar-funded, Amanda Palmer, is not paying some guest musicians on her upcoming tour. In short, a lot of musicians feel disrespected by her not sharing the money and getting musicians to play with her for free. A lot has been said about this issue. Everyone from fans, to Lefsetz, to Albini has weighed in, including Ms. Palmer, but I think there is a more interesting to question to ask.
Do fans and the world you ask to fund you have the right to dictate how you spend your fan-funding money? I think it is totally awesome that the world will fund musicians endeavors instead of a bunch of out of touch morons at a record label but does fan-funding your project then mean that all of your business choices are going to be up for public debate? For example, I have seen a bunch of musicians with children crowdfund their records. When they get $30k and obviously spent no more than $10k on the recording (if that), should they have to tell their fans how much of that money went to diapers and healthcare for their family? Do fans really want to start dictating how much money you should be allowed to allocate for you to want to keep up your music career and giving them something they enjoy?
Do we really want to nitpick every move and budgeting expense a musician we funded makes? I sure don’t. There is a simple answer to all of this. To me, Fan-funding brings us back to when we used to buy CDs and we hadn’t heard them yet. We would often buy them because the last record by the musician was great and we trusted them to make another record we enjoy. If they broke your trust by making a crappy record, you would think twice about buying their next record. We also pay in advance for a record a musician makes after being fan-funded. We don’t get to hear this record before plunking down cash and if we don’t like what they make we aren’t entitled to a refund, instead we do not fund the next one.
Another analogy would be an election, if you elect someone you are stuck with this person’s decisions until it is time for re-election. If the fans don’t think Amanda Palmer spent their money properly, don’t fund her next project aka when she is up for re-election. It’s that simple, if you don’t like the way they spend your money, don’t fund the next project. I understand being mad if a musicians says they are going to do something with the fund or break a promise (like a politician) but I do not think every financial decision a fan-funded musician makes for budgeting is worthy of a blog post uproar.