In general, there is the boom in such practices that seems tied to the digital era; you can’t spell Internet without intern. As the argument goes, you are paid in access to a desirable milieu, or the chance to do good. Work for nada at an N.G.O.: you are being paid in justice itself. Oh, you might also get the vague promise that such valuable experience will pay off later. This promise is packaged with the threat that if you don’t take the gig, you will be closed out of the disastrous job market altogether. You had better be happy about it.
Ideally, you don’t even know you are working at all. You think you are keeping up with friends, or networking, or saving the world. Or jamming with the band. And you are. But you are also laboring for someone else’s benefit without getting paid. And this, it turns out, was exactly Amanda Palmer’s hustle.
We might also consider the matter from the other side of the labor divide, that is, from the perspective of the investor, who is concerned primarily with shareholder value. Should we not expect a better return on our three hundred dollars than some fancy vinyl, a backstage meet-and-greet, and another exploited trombonist? Musician, producer, and industry gadfly Steve Albini has offered up the knowledgeable assessment of costs for the items on offer; so has Owen Pallett, who performs as Final Fantasy. It will come as no surprise that Palmer’s backers do not seem to be getting their money’s worth.