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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kickstarter: New Site for Crowd-Funding Projects

We've been following various sites for a while that aim to help film and video folks raise money for their projects. One of the newest entrants is Kickstarter, which seems to be open to any sort of film/video/music/art project.

They're featured in the New York Times today. From the piece:

    Earl Scioneaux III is not a famous music producer like Quincy Jones. He is a simple audio engineer in New Orleans who mixes live albums of local jazz musicians by day and creates electronic music by night. He had long wanted to pursue his dream of making his own album that married jazz and electronica, but he had no easy way to raise the $4,000 he needed for production.

    Then he heard about Kickstarter, a start-up based in Brooklyn that uses the Web to match aspiring da Vincis and Spielbergs with mini-Medicis who are willing to chip in a few dollars toward their projects. Unlike similar sites that simply solicit donations, patrons on Kickstarter get an insider’s access to the projects they finance, and in most cases, some tangible memento of their contribution. The artists and inventors, meanwhile, are able to gauge in real time the commercial appeal of their ideas before they invest a lot of effort — and cash.

    ...Mr. Scioneaux, who ultimately raised $4,100, offered a range of rewards to his supporters: for a $15 payment, patrons received an advance copy of the album; for $30, they got a personal music lesson as well. A payment of $50 or more got both of those, and a seat at Mr. Scioneaux’s dinner table for a bowl of his homemade gumbo and a chance to listen to some of his studio recordings. “I didn’t expect people to be all over that one,” he said, “but it sold out almost immediately.”

There's also more in a blog post on the Times' Web site.

Unfortunately, right now you have to be based in the US to use Kickstarter, and you have to get an invitation from some unknown source. Clearly, they don't want the site flooded with more projects that their donors can support... which seems smart. (They also aren't taking a percentage out of the money that gets donated just yet.)

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  • Any idea how to get an invitation from this "unknown source"? Send them a picture of hopeful but starving artists?

    It's definitely a hope boost though to hear that in the current economy people are still looking for ways to help people get a shot.

    Very cool.

    By Blogger The Grover Complex, at 1:47 AM  

  • There are numerous "fan-funding" platforms, each with their own "flavor". Some like Kickstarter, allow the artists to retain their creative rights, others are run like labels on the web. The Platform I've been recommending to people who are interested is "Feed The Muse" (

    The biggest differentiator between them and others... is that ANYONE can sign-up. An artist does not need an invitation. The artist still retains 100% of their creative rights, and while there is a nominal fee taken for back end support... the artist pays nothing up front. Also the artist gets whatever is donated to them- they don't have to reach the goal, before receiving their money. It actually seems like cruel and unusual punishment to get within $50 of goal and have all the money returned. The other thing I like about Feed The Muse is they have lots of marketing support for their artists.

    For sure there is a lot out there to explore in the area of fan-funding. It's really good to look around and see which platform is best for you.

    Dena Marchiony
    Executive Director,
    Philadelphia Songwriters Project

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:54 PM  

  • As I'm more and more getting interested in this subject, I wrote a summary of my current knowledge concerning crowdfunding at - your comments are welcome!

    By Blogger Antti Hannula, at 8:08 AM  

  • Scott,

    I'm curious as to your comment at the end about Kickstarter not taking a fee. Do you think this is a good practice? I would think that any platform that assists in developing a project should be allowed to take a fee, especially if the producer maintains creative control and all rights. Advertising will not pay for that site and I can tell you its a lot of work to develop and build a platform.

    our site that is almost live at is a crowdfunding site and we have 6 full time staff and 4 part time people along with legal and accounting people that helped us with professional services.

    The money has to come from somewhere, people need to be paid for their time, and part of the problem with a lot of these participatory and transmedia social experiments is that they don't provide a revenue model that is realistic to make it an ongoing concern or solution for people to use.

    By the way...I love Kickstarter, and wish them all the best. My guess is that they make money by way of their relationship with Amazon payments whereas they probably get a piece of the transaction. I could be wrong but why would they wait to start charging people? By then all the users are going to expect that the site be free forever. I also like the way they allow for over pledging, and that they do require that the artist meet their goals within a timely period or lose their opportunity. This speaks in droves to the potential of the project by showing audience confidence levels.


    By Blogger David Geertz, at 7:02 PM  

  • David -

    I've got no problem with them not taking a fee (which seems like a temporary thing). If they don't start at some point, or figure out some other sustainable business model, I suspect they won't be around for long...

    By Blogger Scott Kirsner, at 3:26 PM  

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