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Steve Albini Calls Amanda Palmer ‘An Idiot,’ Blasts Singer for Not Paying Musicians

Amanda Palmer
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

One of the year’s most inspiring musical success stories has turned into a cautionary tale, as Amanda Palmer has gone from reaping praise for the $1.2 million her new album raised on Kickstarter to coming under fire for her surprising refusal to pay musicians on her current tour.

Adding his voice to the chorus of condemnation is Steve Albini, the prolific recording artist, producer and engineer who has worked on albums for bands such as Nirvana, Pixies, the Stooges, and Cheap Trick — and whose outspoken nature has made him one of the most eminently quotable talents in rock. In a screed recently published on his studio’s website, Albini likened Palmer’s actions to a public admission of idiocy.

After pointing out that he has “no fundamental problem” with the Kickstarter model, Albini promised he’d never “stoop to” that level himself. “The reason I don’t appeal to other people in this manner is that all those things can easily pay for themselves, and I value self-sufficiency and independence, even (or especially) from an audience,” he argued.

According to Albini, Palmer’s continuing search for handouts from fans and musicians is a sign of something more troubling. “If your position is that you aren’t able to figure out how to do that, that you are forced by your ignorance into pleading for donations and charity work, you are then publicly admitting you are an idiot,” he wrote, insisting that it makes for unfavorable comparisons between Palmer and such noted outsider artists as Jandek, Moondog and GG Allin, not to mention “every band ever to go on tour without a slush fund or the kids who play on buckets downtown.”

“Pretty much everybody on earth has a threshold for how much to indulge an idiot who doesn’t know how to conduct herself, and I think Ms. Palmer has found her audience’s threshold,” Albini concluded.

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