Recent music related philanthropy – Kickstarter

As many people may have heard, recently the crowd-sourcing/crowd-funding website Kickstarter has come across to the UK, from the US, prompting a new interest on our shores.

It’s a service that I’ve been aware of for many months previously, however, I had cause to use it today as there came up two projects based in the US which I very much wanted to make philanthropic gestures towards:

Of course, you could argue that it’s perhaps not as truly philanthropic as it initially appears, as both Kickstarter requests that I have helped fund today will promise you something back in return, dependant on donation size (though you can elect to donate but not receive a reward).

Perhaps this makes the person a little bit entrepreneurial instead, as, like any investor would, you generally expect a return on your investment / something to be created from nothing. Investors would normally get cash returns, Kickstarter folk who invest in music artists tend to get albums, merchandise, or, if you’re completely self-less, the pleasure of seeing a  project completed/potential achieved. If you look at the TV Show Dragons’ Den, you can see this most clearly in that nobody really gets something for nothing in return for a boost, no matter how fantastic everyone agrees that the project is, and so I wouldn’t judge the ‘rewards’ system too harshly!

Both of the above options offer you at a pretty low ‘investment’ level, a digital pre-sale copy of their finished album. If the risk to the project failing is low, and you only were to back projects which had already met their funding targets (requests can earn more than they ask for, and they usually use the surplus to make the output even better), then essentially, you’re doing nothing more than buying an album on pre-sale, albeit a few months before rather than a few weeks, as you know that the album is now going to be made. The site is great for entry-level backers too, as if the funding requirement to pull off the project is not met, then your card doesn’t get charged at all, and so there’s not really much risk involved for you, the end user. It is not completely without risk, it must be noted, as you have to place trust that the money will be well utilised by the recipient, used as stated, and that the final project is ultimately deliverable – though Kickstarter does everything that it can do to try to hold recipients to their promises.

Kickstarter in this capacity also has the potential to kill of MySpace once and for all, despite it not really being in the same genre, such is the fantastic space on the web that Kickstarter fills. Kickstarter covers a whole raft of different projects, and music makes up only a tiny slice of projects requiring investment.

Of course, from a music perspective, this sort of thing is not ‘new’ – back in 2008, Patrick Wolf used the website Bandstocks to help him fund and create The Bachelor (my favourite of his albums), though, many years later, I feel that Kickstarter really marks a much more accessible and ‘public’ way for entry-level investors in music to get involved, especially so with bands who aren’t so well established, but have a hard-core internet fan base. What YouTube did for the music industry, in finding new talent with pre-established fan bases, Kickstarter could potentially do for the recorded music industry. Suddenly, we’re all record producers! 😀

On a wider note, in these troubled economic times, a site such as Kickstarter marks a fantastic way to gauge whether a project is likely to receive support once it is completed, and could help to start a slow down in the number of new businesses and propositions failing, as the people requesting the funding have a chance to test the waters properly first, before diving on in.

Generally, people requesting funds via Kickstarter will not have access to swathes of market research and it gives people a real chance to put their money where their mouth is in terms of the support and encouragement that they offer, especially if a request can stand out against all the other requests on the site. Inviting people to ‘invest’ in your finished item also encourages brand loyalty, and also gives the end-user a really great entry-level insight in to just how much work goes in to a product before market etc, which many will really appreciate and find interesting, perhaps leading on to more gestures on their part.

Here are a few snippets from artists that I’ve invested in today, full details of their projects are on their respective links above, and hopefully the site will become a lot more popular in the UK now that they’ve started taking UK projects on board:

About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

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