By Colin Marston ’13
We can see the effects of the dreaded “sell out” through such examples as the Kings of Leon’s recent transition from Southern rock and blues to arena rock on Only By The Night.
But now there seems a solution to this disillusionment.
You can now not just pay for a finished product, but take the position of being a donor for, let’s say a movie you would like to see produced, a potential book that seems interesting or a film plot line that intrigues you.
The radical individualism preserved in this idea of supply and demand is made possible by the website Kickstarter.com.
The site allows visitors to put down money for a creative project they would like to see get funded, and if it receives its target amount, the gets project is finished and the visitor gets a copy.
Founded in April 2009 by several entrepreneurs, it has now grown to become the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world, according to Kickstarter.com
The Miami New Times declared the collaboration as “one of the smartest ideas for a website since Al Gore invented the Internet.”
The website is driven by all-or-nothing funding, where a project must be fully funded before its allotted time if it wants to survive.
This results in less risk, adds motivation to spread the concept around and makes sure it raises enough capital to go through.
I embarked on my first Kickstarter project patronage in early June.
The entire journey spanned around three months.
The process from start to end for me was exciting, tense, exhilarating and in the end, deeply enriching. The creative collaboration that caught my eye was a conceptual soundscape based around the ideas surrounding George Orwell’s 1984, such as propaganda, torture and war.
The artist used a mixture of modern media soundbites and original and sampled music resulting in an experimental electronic album with deep social commentary embedded in it.
I initially pledged $10 for the project, for which I would receive the full album and art imagery.
An added bonus was that the artist pledged all net profits would be donated to Amnesty International, a human rights group.
The most traumatic part of the experience might have been the rigidity of the time sequence and the all-or-nothing concept.
As the days spiraled down to zero and my sponsored project hadn’t reached full funding, I began to worry. Soon I was sending waves of e-mails and Facebook posts to anyone I thought would be interested.
In September the project finally went through and I received a final copy of the album I sponsored.
I think this feeling of tense anticipation only added to the thrill of contributing to the artistic process, and having a stake in a piece of work I was interested in.
That’s why I think Kickstarter is so special.
It gives you immense creative powers that you can launch via sponsorship.
In an age of monolithic record labels and astroturf cultural icons, Kickstarter is a lighthouse in a sea of dark, thrashing waves.