Just a few years ago, rock band The Smashing Pumpkins offered their fans a proposition that the news media seized upon as proof of musicians in decline – they gave people the chance to fund their album. At about the same time, film-maker Kevin Smith proposed essentially the same idea for his film Red State.
Both failed miserably, were pilloried by the media and eventually found cash from other, more traditional avenues.
But, just a few years later, when the financial capitals of the world are recovering from economic crises, creative-types are clutching to the world of crowdfunding, allowing left-of-centre projects to be brought to fruition.
The exciting new alternative funding
While other forms of alternative finance have sprung up to aid traditional businesses – invoice discounting, construction finance and equity crowdfunding – those in the realms of film, music, writing and game design have found sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Nesta to be one of their most effective ports of call.
You can see this upward trend from the change in media perception – no longer is crowdfunding viewed as an act of desperation, but as a way of taking back power from busybody investors and putting it back in the hands of creatives.
The A-list successes of Crowdfunding
The success stories speak for themselves –actor and director Zach Braff’s latest film, Wish I Was Here, was funded entirely through the Kickstarter site, making more than $3million from 46,000 contributions.
Musician Neil Young has funded his own, less commercially focused, form of MP3 player, the Pono Player, using crowdfunding. The musical legend raised more than $5million.
What you might notice from these examples is the A-list names attached to them, and you wouldn’t be the only one worried that celebs are taking over what was once seen as the home of the indies.
Ignoring the stars making big bucks, crowdfunding presents an impressive meritocracy for how products are created. The good ideas float to the top of the pile, raking in the cash, while the bad are left meandering in the back-pages of a site, before disappearing completely without a cent to their name.
Indeed, a number of intriguing projects have hit the ground running due to crowdfunding. The virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, for example, raised over $2million and has now sold to Facebook, in what is being viewed by many as an exciting step into the Tron-like world of the future.
All in all, the platforms that would have been seen as outright begging a few years ago are now where A-listers rub shoulder with your average Joes to vie for your cash. Who knows? Maybe even you could get a project off the ground!