It’s Fair. Get Over It.
I got into a LONNNNNG discussion on Marc Andreyko‘s Facebook about Kickstarter and project funding. I’ve had the discussion once a week for the past few months usually with indie comic book writers or artists in the mix. I’ve decided to commit my thoughts on this to this site so I can just post a link to this every week. I think this is going to be a great time saver for me!
If you don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a crowd funding platform where “backers” (people with extra money) can “back” a project online. Backers are then rewarded with different perks (depending on the level they gave) for pledging. These range from autographed comics, to original art, to access to private blogs about the creation of the project…really anything. Those who back a project are not investors they are simply giving money to a creative type in exchange for whatever perk is assigned to the dollar amount they have given.
Since Kickstarter’s inception, many different types of projects have been funded. Comic books, trading card sets, albums, books, underwear, really anything you can imagine. To reiterate, Kickstarter is not profit sharing (you do not own a part of the project), it is not for non-profits, it is simply a method of raising money for the creation of something by giving people something else.
It’s such a simple inclusive idea…why then are people upset? It all started when TV/Movie writer/director Rob Thomas used Kickstarter to fund a Veronica Mars movie. Rob Thomas has been in the entertainment industry for years and has reached a level of success. In short, not the typical Kickstarter creator. What makes this even more unusual is that, while Thomas is the creator of the Veronica Mars TV show, the property is owned by Warner Brothers. Since Thomas had been unsuccessful raising the money needed to produce this movie through traditional means, he took it to the fans directly. Would the fans of the show put their money where their mouth is by backing this movie? Turns out yes. They made Kickstarter history.
The Veronica Mars Kickstarter broke these records:
- Fastest project to reach $1 million.
- Fastest project to reach $2 million.
- All-time highest-funded project in FILM category.
- Third highest-funded project in Kickstarter history.
- Most project backers of any project in Kickstarter history
The Veronica Mars Kickstarter needed 2 million to fund the movie for production. It raised 5.7 million. The game had now been changed. The next Kickstarter that got people riled up was actor/director Zach Braff opened up a project on the site in order to fund a small movie of his called “Wish I Was Here”. He received even more criticism because he was a bigger celebrity and probably more well off than Rob Thomas. His Kickstarter goal of 2 million was funded with 3.1 million worth of backer pledges but the Internet was outraged at this member of the Hollywood elite.
I really think Zach does an amazing job explaining why he used Kickstarter and his answers to critics in this video:
From this point on, the genie is out of the bottle. Hollywood is on to Kickstarter and it’s part of the funding paradigm. Spike Lee has entered the fray and is in the midst (as this is being written) of his own Kickstarter. The fact that people are upset about this verses just not being swayed to give money to specific people is something I do not get. I can understand saying you get more satisfaction giving money to creators who don’t have a lot of money or resources. I don’t see this as a moral problem for those who back more financially secure creators though. Here’s why…
Kickstarter is not begging.
You give a project money and then you get something. Backers are buying things. When you buy a Coke, you are giving money to millionaires who use the money to continue making Coke, profits and funding all kinds of things like political parties, social engineering, etc. You probably already give money to millionaires and billionaires several times a day.
Kickstarter is no profit or risk sharing.
When you back a project you are not a shareholder. You simply bought something knowing where the profits will go. If the project goal is not met, you get your money back. It’s really simple.
No one is making anyone back a project.
To the people who say that these people already have enough money to fund a project (because they must have insight on a private person’s financial specifics), I say…so what? Just because a person can fund a project themselves doesn’t mean they should not be afforded the right to get funding. The people funding a project are doing it for a few different reasons. Why should they not be allowed to spend their money how they want? If you think they shouldn’t then you have a problem with fundamental capitalism and Kickstarter should be the least of your worries.
What about the little guy?
Some have lobbed the criticism that the little guy is being hurt in a place that use to be a safe haven. To that I say: do you think someone with $10 is either giving it to a smaller project they connect with or Spike Lee? Spike Lee has the advantage of a large fan base but the smaller projects have the advantage of emotional backers who buy into their “Rocky” like story and needing their specific help. Is it equal? No way! But where in commerce is it equal for anyone? If I had my own cola that I wanted to sell at a store, Coke wouldn’t have to get out of that store to make way for me. Kickstarter projects are like podcasts. Anyone can do them but the creators with existing fanbases are going to bring their audiences with them. BUT, unlike radio television stations, ANYONE can afford to podcast. It’s a fair platform but anything you do outside the platform affects the balance. Meaning, it’s not Kickstarter’s fault. Also, I think the little guy benefits from Veronica Mars, Zach Braff, and Spike Lee. Here’s how…
Millionaires on Kickstarter helps the little guy.
Did you know that no project has brought more people to Kickstarter than Veronica Mars and Zach Braff’s projects. Think about what that means. Because of those two projects, thousands of people joined Kickstarter for the first time to see what this is all about. What will that mean to other projects? More potential backers.
This rich guy doesn’t really believe in his project because he won’t spend his own money on it.
That, like most of the problems people have with this, is just jealousy. Why should a person take on an undue burden if they have things people want that they can leverage for income to back a project? That’s just working smart.
Kickstarter is more secure.
Thinking about using Kickstarter some day to back your project? You better hope it’s still there waiting for you. Good news! They are making more money than ever from these large project which will ensure the lights are on for everyone without putting an increased pressure on the little guy. Rarely do things work this well in other economic conditions.
It’s just capitalism being capitalism in a place that was small and now is getting bigger. It’s how it works in this economic system. Cheer up! More people are talking about Kickstarter than ever! Now when you tell people about your project, they will know what you’re talking about. Embrace the inevitable and don’t complain about what others are doing. Create your own projects, learn from how others market theirs and get back to the business of your project.
That ALL said, this Spike Lee perk is bananas!