Pitfalls of Kickstarter

An interesting read on Slate from By Evgeny  Morozov and the site’s FutureTense blog.

Pitfalls…using a new fundraising model to fund archaic methods of distribution…for one. It would be really frustrating (dare I say, ironic?) to fund a film that would never be distributed in the town where you live, or that wouldn’t be released online so that you, the funder, could see it.

But this article also touches on a serious problem of Kickstarter, which is that the fundamental market process upon which it is based (the exchange of financial support for the reward of seeing the project completed) is not holding up:

Such phenomenal success has attracted its fair share of criticisms. Some, like NPR, have bashed Kickstarter for being rather opaque about how it deals with projects that, once funded, provide few (or questionable) updates on their progress, face significant delays, or never deliver at all. Those aren’t few: A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania looked at 47,000 Kickstarter projects and found that more than 75 percent deliver with delays. It’s hard to say how many projects never deliver, as for Kickstarter “never” is a rather flexible term: Instead of acknowledging failure, many doomed projects simply drag on indefinitely, providing no updates and constantly postponing the launch date.

I have funded projects and not gotten my reward (ahem, you probably don’t read this blog but you know who you are), but I have never yet funded a project that has ultimately failed to occur. In fact, I like that my rewards are a little late because the people are too busy actually launching a magazine or building an interactive sculpture or writing a play. But I have also never funded a stranger’s project. But if 3/4 of the projects are failing to execute, the model shouldn’t be called Kickstarter, it should be called Kick-sputter out. (Boo! that is a terrible joke!)

As an aside: In some industries, distribution is everything. In industries where the model for distribution has radically shifted (like the music industry), we see impact on every level. It is really painful for filmmakers to raise money, make a film, and then to lack the resources for a release on theater screens. In film, the barriers to market entry are really high. But online distribution is changing this, though it depends on your goal. If you goal is to get butts in seats in physical movie theaters, you have a challenge. If your goal is to get eyes on your work on a laptop or a iPhone screen, new opportunities abound. It depends what you as an artist want, and how you can find ways to get paid. See Louie CK for advice.


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