Kickstarter Is Not A Charity

Blimey! Two posts in a day, this is unprecedented, I know. I’ve just read a rather good post by Bemuso on his blog. It struck me that the whole minor furor surrounding Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign may have been avoided if she’d have observed a few simple ‘rules’. Now, I am definitely no expert. I am not really au fait with Palmer’s music, or the working practices of many DIY crowd-funding musicians. In fact, there are probably many artists using crowd-funding who have done what I am advocating, I dunno.

Incidentally, I have contributed to a few crowd-funded projects; but not a lot. I did so out of respect, trust and faith in DIY artists. That trust has not been misplaced and I am definitely not singling-out any artist I have partly funded. However, Bemuso’s post got me thinking about the larger-scale Kickstarter projects (and the media interest they incurred).

I work in public-funded education/arts and I have to occasionally apply for funding from both private individuals/organisations and corporations. When I apply for funding, I have to itemise each and every expense I am going to incur. Including incidentals and any funding needed for unforeseen circumstances. It takes planning and a certain amount of sang froid about your project.

Now, in ‘popular’ music (I use this term loosely to include the many genres of rock, pop, electronic and jazz), the belief is often that the ‘rules’ don’t apply. That it is a creative entity and that the systems of ‘business’ and professionalism don’t apply. But, I think if the DIY artist is to compete with the corporate, one has to apply the rules and systems, but on one’s own terms. Also, it seems like good practice and good manners to state up-front what you are planning to do with your investors’ money.

So, would Amanda Palmer have avoided any questioning of her motives for raising the funds for her release if she had stated exactly where and when the money was going beforehand? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. I personally think; yes. It’s the equivalent of ‘keeping your receipts’; after all, as an artist you are accountable. Why should music be any different, funding-wise, to visual art or film?

Now this may be a naive view….I’m sure you’ll let me know if it is.



One response to “Kickstarter Is Not A Charity

  1. I think one simple reason the average Kickstarter contributor doesn’t expect the level of planning and itemization is that they’re contributing a relatively small amount. If I were to contribute at “executive producer” level to a project (I haven’t), I would definitely scrutinize the business plan and ability of the artist and production team.

    One situation that definitely should be more like a grant application is the artist-funded project (something I have done).

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