Amanda Palmer’s Label Says She’s Making It All Up…

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Amanda Palmer’s battle with her former label, Warner Music-owned Roadrunner Records, is legendary.  And the list of grievances endless: they refused to release her video because her belly was too big, they refused to pay for a website that was ‘off album cycle,’ they tried to ruin her career, etc., etc.

But how much of that is the truth?  Here’s what surfaced in our recent story about Palmer joining Patreon.

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20 Responses

  1. FarePlay

    There are always two sides to every story and the truth is often somewhere in the middle. Nah, I take that back.

  2. Vail, CO

    Without Roadrunner and WMG we would never have heard of Amanda Palmer, it’s that simple. In order to break through obscurity, you need capital, lots of it — who do you think put Dresden Dolls on the road, they would never have had the money!

  3. Boston represent

    Having known Amanda during the period in question, I tend to believe the truth comes from the RoadRunner rep. She was always a diva to the nth degree. I don’t think anyone will be surprised by that. I also saw blatant mistruths in her book. I’m not saying she lied purposefully, but memoir allows an author to construct a narrative that benefits herself. None of this would matter except as the rep points out that she’s being touted as a model of success for indie musicians. And her career is not replicable. Not least because she’s not even making music most of the time, but in the biggest way because she functions as a cult leader more than anything.

    • Boston represent

      Also, her myth-making in regards to her RoadRunner years is directly related to her rise as a cult figure to her fans. She created an “us v.s. them” dynamic for her fans, “us” being of course feminist & open-minded unlike her nasty, close-minded, oppressive record company. Nothing to do with music.

  4. BB

    I used to live in Boston and saw the Dresden Dolls play at a small 150 capacity club on Lansdowne. I think the bar was called Bills Bar. The place was half empty and this was when they were the talk of the town and their single coin operated boy was played on WBCN I think it was. If it wasn’t for roadrunner Amanda Palmer would not have a career. She gives false hope to indie artists. I would have loved to see her hit that kickstarter goal with out the help of her husband and her established artist musician friends donating to the rewards for that kick starter and sharing the kickstarter campaign with their fans….

    • Andy from NYC

      It doesn’t sound like you “would have loved to see her hit that kickstarter goal with out the help of her husband and her established artist musician friends” if she had, at all. It sounds like you are jealous, and would have preferred she had failed.

      I’m trying to figure out why there is all this hating in this thread. Some people must be feeling threatened. If her perspective is so wrong, why don’t they shut up and show us a better (“real”?) way to succeed, instead?

      The funny thing is that by reporting on this, replying to this, talking about this, you *all* are further enhancing her cultural footprint. Bravo!

      Hate is the new love.

      • Bad News Barnes

        Love disguised as, or co-existent with, hate can be harnessed for power, but is not so new. There’s the adage “bad press is better than no press at all”, and we had two of the most hated artists of our time on our roster (Nickelback and Slipknot) to show us how popularity can be enhanced by the haters. Those were not by design, however. The US and USSR both promoted the Cold War to define themselves against each other, and Amanda has crafted a similar stance to paint her label in negative terms as a foundation for her heroine artist image. Even the hugs and beer kickstarter backlash served her well, I’d say, not only in increased notoriety, but also through enhanced perspective. It comes with the territory she chose – this sword cuts both ways, and serves to keep us honest, which is the point of all of this. Challenging each other leads to accomplishment, and it’s good to see Amanda doing so well, but this is more about business than it is about culture. She should know that her business strategy is not a tonic for aspirant musicians, yet she still suggests that they drink the kool-aid. Her message of self-empowerment is righteous and important, but to get very far you still need a vehicle, even Amanda. She didn’t self-publish her book, did she?

  5. Wondering Reader

    Is this a credible source? Has a writer from DMN actually verified who this commenter is?

    Furthermore, has any journalist ever researched and written about this topic in the last five years, getting the label to go on record? Does this qualify as a DMN blog-like article, or does it only qualify hiring a journalist to research the story first before posting it?

  6. exrr

    I worked with the DDs during this period and never understood where Amanda’s public attitude came from. First, Roadrunner was far from a traditional “major label” but Amanda LOVED to use that term to perpetuate that “Us v Them” storyline. The staff was passionate and dedicated and we worked our asses off for this band (and all our bands). And in the office Amanda was all hugs and kisses. Sure, maybe there were some disagreements at the higher levels but, to the points made above, the band was given so many opportunities they would have never had otherwise that it’s disappointing to see this entitled, disrespectful and generally thankless attitude.

    • Curious

      Curious does she come from money? Not that all people from money are spoiled and act entitled but wondering if she came from a family that was well off and spoiled her. Piano lessons aren’t cheap…. Art school isn’t cheap and typically most bands that make it have parents to fall back on and can go out and be street performers or can find the money needed back then to record a demo and pay for gas to tour. Because they know if they are ever in trouble and need support they can call their parents. Is this perhaps why she’s the way she is?

      • Boston represent

        Yes. She comes from a Lexington, MA where in 2012 the median HHI was $191,350 and the public high school is considered a feeder school for Harvard. In her 20s, she drove a Volvo, and her parents paid for her health insurance. I’d guess they also “invested” directly in her career as well. But I’d guess this isn’t the entire explanation since her narcissism is off the charts. Even the most spoiled rich kids don’t turn out quite like her.

  7. Anonymous

    She’s been with the writer Neil Gaiman for 6 or 7 years, and he’s worth about $20 million.

    Her music is pretty mediocre too.

  8. Bad News Barnes

    No one from DMN looked to corroborate my account as far as I know. I guess they don’t do that, which is what prompted me to comment in the first place. The guy who wrote the original article buys into her message that recording artists don’t need labels to succeed, and I think that’s a harmful myth. You’ve got to admire Amanda though – she’s the PT Barnum of the internet era. My exRR colleague had it right – we loved that first Dolls album and worked really hard for her (and Brian Viglione, the very talented drummer who doesn’t get enough credit). There was such a buzz leading up to the 2nd album, but it didn’t do very well. I thought that album should have been titled “My Shit Don’t Stink” – it just didn’t have the songs, but we still worked it for a long while. When she decided to go solo after that, we funded videos for every song on that album. She tells a story in the book about telling her A&R guy that she was pregnant so that we would drop her (Miss Honesty!), and she may have said that, but the first time I heard that was in her book. She was dropped because she wasn’t selling enough records, and we weren’t hearing songs that would turn that around. Amanda is a great performer, and has sincerely inspired many of her fans in a very positive way. She changed us in a positive way too – but in the end, it’s the music that counts.

    • Boston represents

      Interesting … I loved the first DD album, hated the 2nd, and can’t stomach anything Amanda has done as part of her “solo” career.

      P.S.: Brian Viglione on the other hand is the shit! Great drummer & great human being.

      • Mackin

        Having known Amanda and Brian from Dresden Dolls individually before the joined up, I will say that Brian seems universally loved and always has been, while Amanda has always been, shall we say, controversial.

  9. Anonymous

    “What she’s doing hurts the prospects of those that would like to make a living from their music” This is the important point, are you listening Ari?

    Amanda Palmer is spoiled a rich kid, who, because of her background, connections and circumstances was able to conduct her career in the way she did. Nothing wrong that. The issue is, she has bamboozled a whole lot of aspiring creators, musicians, authors etc., without her background, wealth and connections, played into the hands of big technology, and positioned herself as a spokesperson on the forefront of the “new music business”. Personally I don’t think much of what she creates, but that doesn’t matter, she is free to do that, and for those who like it to enjoy. But for once I wish she would just get on with that and shut the fuck up about how others should conduct their careers. Her book the much touted by the tech-sphere “The Art of Asking” is a selective telling of her story where inconvenient truths to her narrative are glossed over and ignored. She really is Amanda “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“Let them eat cake”) Palmer.

  10. Disheartened Fan

    You can’t even message her via email anymore – so much for “tightening the net.”

  11. Art of AhdaH

    In the early 1990s while I was busking as the Bride Statue gifting flowers in the Boston area, a younger aspiring artist approached me while on break from busking. She asked to speak with me about my experiences busking, and my life. She told me that she was studying theater and was frustrated by the prospects of her future, so I shared my knowledge, my Bride statue story. I also shared with her the story of my dual life as a performance artist and poet.