She described a fan’s family, undocumented immigrants from Honduras, sleeping in their front room so she and her band could crash on their beds, and she described herself wondering: “Is this fair?” In the morning, she was told in broken English how much her music meant to the daughter who invited her, and thanked for coming, and she decided: Yes, this is fair.
I have sympathy for this argument, because the exchange she’s talking about really does get lost when we talk about the economics of art; we focus on material questions of who should pay for what, and often act as though the attention and approval artists get from us is a bigger gift than the world full of art we get from them. However: Palmer’s logic here is itself generally identical to cold, hard free-market capitalism. Yes, the exchange she’s describing is “fair” — everyone involved is willing and happy to engage in it. It’s also “fair” to pay someone minimum wage for work that makes you millions, and fair for a male musician to spend every night having sex with starstruck, consenting young fans, but fairness is not the same thing as nobility, and neither of those arrangements is something you’d present as a revolutionary new relationship.