Two months ago, I had never heard of Kickstarter. Today, I am expecting a large check from them. Here’s how we raised over $7,000 to fund a kooky puppet show/animated series.
Two months ago, I had never heard of Kickstarter. Today, I am expecting a large check from them.
Not me personally. Me and some of the artists I work with over here at the Slave Pit. We are getting money from Kickstarter for a kooky puppet show/animated series we want to make. I am doing one of the voices, so I am getting money too!
What’s this? Artists receiving non-recoupable funding for experimental projects? How did this magical thing occur? Because it seems like a thing of magic, indeed, it comes from a magical realm known as the internet — a place where everything is free and anything can happen!
Kickstarter works like this: say you had a crazy idea, like a animated show set in medieval times (OK, this was our idea), about a pair of wandering barbarians (Mad Dog and Nails) and their stalwart companion (The Vicar). You are certain that the antics of this wacky combo has the potential to be the new Squidbillies, and you have convinced several of your bong-blowing brethren the same thing. You bust out a cool promo video and submit your idea to www.kickstarter.com. If approved, the project idea is submitted for public consideration, along with a set financial goal that people can pledge towards. There is a time limit, usually measured in weeks (ours was one month), and if you don’t reach your goal in time you simply skulk away, ready to eat a bullet. But wait, don’t do it! You can have another stupid idea and fail again!
But if you have a great idea (or are able to drop the word “GWAR” repeatedly) you might just reach your goal, or better yet exceed it. And guess what happens then?
You get the money, minus around 10% in commissions to Kickstarter and Amazon. All you need is a bank account that connects to the internet. You don’t owe anybody a dime, and you don’t give up any ownership or rights.
In our case we set a goal of $5,000 for the production of one pilot episode of The Blood Vomits. We actually exceeded our wildest dreams and ended up with $7,300. Production is already underway at the Slave Pit!
All we have to do in return is produce what we said we would. We retain full ownership of the project, and we can do whatever we want with it. The only thing we give Kickstarter is a final copy of the work, which is archived on their site. We can never remove or edit it. And that’s the whole story!
It’s called crowdfunding, and it gives artists a new option when seeking budgets — one that’s not a complete rip-off. And, this should be making a lot of people very nervous.
The music industry can be a very exploitive business which a service like Kickstarter could threaten to derail. The traditional recording deal works like this: a band is fronted X amount of money for an album. The album and all the songs on it (the “masters”) are owned by the label, which produces the product and sells it. A certain percentage of the money garnered (a small percentage) goes into paying off whatever was advanced to the band, and only when the amount is finally paid off does the band begin to see any over-the-top money.
Take it from a musician who hangs out with plenty of other musicians — recouping takes a long time, and most bands NEVER get there. Now granted, the label provides physical production of the product, and distribution of it…but as more and more of us download our music and shows, and as the distance between our TV and computer screens become less and less, the “traditional” model of the recording industry seems more and more like the dinosaur it is. Quickly, throw rocks at it, while it lolls in the death-grip of the depthless pits of tar that will become its tomb!
Kickstarter is shaking up the TV world as well, whatever that is! For anybody who has ever tried to do a film or video production of any consequence, money is the first and foremost consideration. Movies just don’t get made without money. Whereas before your options might have been limited to asking your Mom for the money to make your backyard zombie masterpiece, Kickstarter now provides an invaluable tool to get budgets. Going to the studios and networks for pilot money can be a maddening experience which more often than not can leave completed projects “shelved”, and therefore doomed. But now you can get your projects directly funded from your fans. And, using USTREAM, YouTube, or similar web sites you can create your own internet-based TV channels whose growth potential is only as big as the internet is gonna get…and it’s gonna get a lot bigger!
Kickstarter enables fans to support the music and art they crave directly to the musicians and artists that create it. Artists form their own production companies & labels and use the internet as the delivery system. The need for labels and networks is removed. Before too long a lot of music and television executives are going to be looking for new jobs.
There are other sites that do similar things…indiegogo.com is a site where you don’t have to reach a specified goal in order to get the money. cafepress.com is a site where you can design your own merchandise which fans order from the site at your web store. The cut is a bit steep but they make and distribute your entire product line. Neil Hamburger uses it, and I trust Neil Hamburger.