Crowdfunding: When is it Appropriate?

Crowdfunding is the term that is attributed to what happens on sites like KickStarter and Indiegogo, where people contribute money to a cause, often entertainment related. Many sites are set up where projects have a goal of dollars. A popular feature of crowdfunding sites is to offer different tiers of fixed donations, and each tier comes with a better incentive. There are other forms of crowdfunding, but the most popular one, and the main focus of this post is incentive-based. Still confused about what it actually is? Watch this video for a quick, yet detailed debriefing:

The question I have to pose is, should somewhat successful musicians use crowdfunding sites to generate money for an album/tour/etc.?

The angry, finger-pointer side of me wants to say definitely not. If someone has toured the country playing music and has a substantive discography you would think they don’t really need 15 grand to do it all again from scratch. Maybe they are just greedy businessmen disguised as musicians, taking advantage of loyal fans.

OR

Maybe the musician is experiencing the difficulties that come after exhausting all of their resources travelling from state to state and making quality music for their fans. After all, just because a musician or band has music on iTunes or has toured several times doesn’t mean they have “made it”.

If Lady Gaga or Coldplay had a project on KickStarter then I would definitely be skeptical. So what is the consensus? When is it okay to crowdfund?

If you’re an unsigned artist with somewhat of a following.

I think this is where KickStarter works the best and why it exists. If you’ve played some shows and people like you, but you simply can’t attain the resources needed to get started, KickStarter is great. Beware, if you’ve never sang a song in front of people, but want $500 to record demos, you may not find too much success. People want to support projects that actually have potential.

A record label screwed you over, or some other financial mishap befell you.

Don’t let the sincere ballads and poppy love songs fool you, the music business is still a business. That means there are people whose main purpose is to make money, even at others’ expense. Metalcore band Ice Nine Kills started a KickStarter campaign after a rough split from record contracts left them in debt. From their KickStarter project:

“After a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money, we have finally freed ourselves from contractual restraints. This departure is a great and exciting fresh start- but the situation has left us in a tremendous amount of debt.”

Similarly, The Aury Moore Band raised over $20,000 on Kickstarter after setbacks such as the frontwoman being hit by a car and losing her job.

Of course, there are more than just two valid reasons to use Kickstarter, and I am by no means an expert on the ethics of crowdfunding. Those are just two reasons that really strike me as legitimate uses for asking others for help.

There are some that can’t view crowdfunding in a positive light, however. There’s something about not approaching music with a DIY attitude, instead asking for an exorbitant amount of funds to do something that requires far less that can leave an uneasy feeling about crowdfunding.

So what is your opinion?

Thanks for reading.

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4 thoughts on “Crowdfunding: When is it Appropriate?

  1. Nice work here. I can see you taking what you’ve done in earlier posts and learning from it. The poll is useful, even though you’ve only got three hits as of now (it’ll come), but you might consider more clearly distinct choices: Easy way out and Helpful aid might now be mutually exclusive (it could be both). Also, getting rid of the “It depends” option might provide a clearer picture of the debate because it’d force people to choose. Could you have included a link or two in your defining terms section at the start to support your crowdfunding definition?

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