Kickstarter: Crowdsourced Culture-Funding
Legal love from strangers, or what The Kinks have to do with Denver’s homeless.
By Maria Popova
Here’s a reality check: Creativity is the business of ideas. Which means it’s just that — a business. Anything, from putting up an art show to recording an album to running a more serious blog, requires some level of funding. Which can be tough, if you’re doing it out of your living room — as many artists are.
Luckily, there’s Kickstarter — a new platform for funding ideas and creative endeavors.
The concept is brilliantly simple: Creators — artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, bloggers, explorers — post a project that needs funding and set a donation period. Then people begin pledging money. The “pledge” is actually a commitment that you’ll donate the promised amount, but is collected only if a project reaches or exceeds its funding goal before time expires — even if a project is just $1 short when the time expires, no money is collected.
In return, project creators can offer products and services — from a hot air balloon ride to free CD’s — to their backers, as well as exclusive project updates.
Currently, Kickstarter features an incredible diversity of creative endeavors — from a photography project about the homeless, to one man’s quest to reunite The Kinks, to the world’s first crowdsourced book. Some are quirky, some are just fun, but some ring with a sense of incredible urgency, revealing just how cornered by circumstances the project creator is and how Kickstarter is the only straw of salvation.
Case in point: Polyvinyl’s plea to save 10,000 records from destruction. A little background: Polyvinyl is one of our favorite labels, featuring indie icons like Architecture In Helsinki, Of Montreal, Mates of State, and Asobi Seksu, among others. Their distributor’s warehouse recently got severely downsized and threatened to destroy 10,000 records due to high storage costs. Beyond the absurd wastefulness, Polyvinyl simply wouldn’t part with this incredible heritage. So they asked people to chip in to have the records shipped to their office and clear out some space to store them. In return, backers would get various tiers of CD & DVD goodies from the label’s roster, depending on the donation amount.
Polyvinyl loyalists met the $1,000 goal mere hours after the project was posted. With 42 days still to go, the effort is already 233% funded. The story here is not just one of financial support, but also of incredible, moving brand love and encouragement. As a result, Polyvinyl decided to dream big and shoot for full financial freedom by completely emptying their overstock — a $18,000 endeavor.
Kickstarter is currently invite-only, but if you’re a creator looking to get a project funded, you can apply to join. Meanwhile, you can follow @kickstarter on Twitter for updates, and stalk your way to public alpha.
Published June 2, 2009