There Is No Logic To The Argument That Zach Braff Shouldn't Use Kickstarter

from the it-makes-no-sense dept

Not this again. Back in 2011, we first discussed why it was silly that some people got upset that someone rich and famous would use Kickstarter, as if the platform was only allowed for unknown artists. That was about Colin Hanks, the son of Tom Hanks, financing a documentary via the site. Since that time, the argument has popped up a few more times, including when Amanda Palmer used the site, when Bjork tried to use the site and when the Veronica Mars movie was funded via the site. Most recently, it's been aimed at quirky actor/filmmaker Zach Braff for his Kickstarter project, called Wish I Was Here. Braff set a goal of $2 million, which was raised very quickly.

And that's when some people got angry. Just as before. But it's a small group of people. There are at least 36,000 people (i.e., those who have funded the project so far) who did not get angry. Why? Because they like Braff and want to support him. I'm curious if the people who are attacking Braff for using Kickstarter ever have watched one of his TV shows or seen a movie he was in. Because, in that case, they'd be paying the same sort of thing... but most of that money would be going to a giant corporation, rather than to the actor himself. So what are they complaining about?

In a (slightly over-defensive) interview video, Braff points out that he's always been about connecting and engaging with his fans, and this is just one more way to do that.
Frankly, he's more defensive in that video than he needs to be. He's got nothing to be defensive about. He notes, accurately, that he's long been known as someone who engages deeply via social media, especially Twitter and Reddit where Braff has been active for years. He also talks about his own obsession with Kickstarter, and how great it was to get the various updates on projects he'd funded, and how he hoped his fans would enjoy getting updates about the movie making process. And, yes, he's backed a bunch of projects himself, including the Aaron Swartz documentary.

For the life of me, I can't see a single logical argument for why people are upset about this, other than (a) they don't like Braff or (b) they're jealous of him. Neither seems like a particularly compelling reason for why Braff, or any famous person, shouldn't use the platform. The two most common arguments seem to be "he's rich and should fund it himself." But that's stupid. First off, he's probably not quite as rich as you think, and second he's made it clear over and over again that the budget is much higher than the amount he's raising and he's putting in an "ass-ton" (his quote) of his own money as well. Also, if you think that, don't fund him. No sweat off your back. For his fans who like him and want to support him, so what? The second argument is that this means he gets the money instead of some struggling filmmaker. However, as he himself has pointed out, the data suggests something entirely different:
I have something every detractor doesn’t have: the analytics. Most of the backers of my film aren’t people on Kickstarter who had $10 and were deciding where to give it, and then gave it to me instead of someone else. They came to Kickstarter because of me, because of this project. They wouldn’t have been there otherwise. In fact, a lot of people who didn't know about Kickstarter came and wound up giving money to a lot of other projects too. So for people to say, 'That’s ... up; you’re stealing money from documentaries' is just not a sensible argument.
All he's doing is the same thing we've been arguing for years is the business model of the future: connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. Braff has done exactly that, and has built up a huge and loyal following who are really excited about this project. As we pointed out when Amanda Palmer raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter or when Louis CK made over $1 million by selling direct off his site, the fans who are buying in aren't disturbed by how much money is being made. For the most part, they seem thrilled to be a part of something amazing.

I think that's the key thing that the detractors simply don't understand. This is about two key things: being part of an experience and a community. It's not about "a movie," but about much more than that. And, even specifically around "the movie," people should be supporting what Braff is doing, because funding it this way means that it's going to be Braff's vision for the movie, rather than a giant Hollywood studio. A few months back, Jonathan Taplin, a filmmaker and defender of the old system, told me during a debate that no real filmmaker would ever use Kickstarter. At the 40 minute mark, he goes on a condescending rant saying sarcastically that "major filmmakers" could never possibly use Kickstarter because "the average" film only raised $10,000. But the average is meaningless for something like this. Furthermore, he goes on and on about (his friend) Martin Scorcese getting to do a movie he wants, and how that would never work via Kickstarter. But we're seeing over and over again the exact opposite. When a star with a big following uses something like Kickstarter, it gives them more ability to make the movie they want without outside interference.

Now we're seeing, quite clearly, that "major filmmakers" can use Kickstarter to do interesting things, and somehow, I get the feeling that it's the same sort of people who insisted they couldn't possibly make it in the first place who are now complaining that they are...


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  1.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    How is it different?

    I looked at this post and the one before it on YouTube.

    How is "we'll give you special content for money" different on YouTube and Kickstarter?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Re: How is it different?

    How is "we'll give you special content for money" different on YouTube and Kickstarter?


    One is about locking up created content, the other is about asking people to support the creation of new content.

    One is about setting limits on abundance, the other about paying for scarcity.

    Very different.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:27am

    The argument I've heard is that Kickstarter is for people without hollywood connections. And as a hollywood insider, Zach should use those connections. However, he has said in interviews that he has tried traditional hollywood resources to make his movie without success.

    But that's not even the real issue: Why should someone be forever tied to the hollywood system merely because he has used it in the past?! That makes no sense. Kickstarter allows anyone, even someone inside the system, to connect with fans and make the exact project they want. Without corporate/investor interference.

    That's the beauty of Kickstarter. And to deny that to certain people for arbitrary reasons is simply asinine.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: How is it different?

    One is about locking up created content, the other is about asking people to support the creation of new content.

    So if YouTube created a subscription model that worked like Kickstarter, then it would be successful?

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: How is it different?

    Precisely.

    I'm probably the loudest copyright abolitionist on Techdirt. I personally wouldn't want to pay for a premium Youtube channel. I know that eventually, the videos shown there will be available elsewhere for free.
    However, I will pay for a Kickstarter to produce a video or whatever else. Without some sort of investment, the content doesn't get made. (And I just know I've invited the trolls to attack me there. If Alex is still around though, I look forward to a debate with him/her).

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    I have to ask you to be a bit clearer there, please. A subscription/paywall is different to Kickstarter. When you subscribe to something, you're paying for access to that content, a la Netflix. The content is already there, you're paying to get into the cinema so to speak.
    Kickstarter is about paying for the production of the content, with perks to entice people to invest. Once that's done, if the producers make more than their target, they've made a profit and so it doesn't matter if the video is available for free. They've done their work and gotten paid, just like anyone else.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Re: How is it different?

    Not at all different! But the equation is only complete when someone actually gives the money.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    You mean that if not enough people pay, a new episode of Game of Thrones won't be made?

    Well, if they really need the "kickstart" YouTube money, sure, why wouldn't it work?

    They'd have to cancel the show on TV and Cable and everywhere else too, however, if they don't reach the KickstarTube funding goal.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    Just wanted to add, this may not go well, what with having contracts with the actors and the cable companies and so on.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Re: How is it different?

    My personal answer: With kickstarter, you aren't buying anything. You're contributing to the creation of something. With paywalls, you're buying something.

    Perhaps the mechanics are very similar (although I don't think they're that similar), but the intention -- that is, why you're paying the money -- is very different.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    My take on what YouTube is doing is to ultimately unseat cable TV. If parents pay a monthly fee to have unlimited access to the Sesame Street library, that's one less reason for them to use a different content delivery system.

    However, if Kickstarter is a good creative model and YouTube is looking to expand its business models, then why not pitch subscriptions the way some Kickstarter creatives pitch them? If they offer exclusive content that way for a fee, why not YouTube enabling the same thing?

    I'm just pondering the concept of exclusive content for a fee. What works? What doesn't?

    I personally don't care what YouTube does one way or another, but it's interesting to explore what motivates people to pay for exclusive content.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Crowdfunding websites are the intellectual radicals here. They're not even aware of it themselves.

    The arguments against Kickstarter have been laughably baseless. Remember how Amanda Palmer was attacked for a) promoting piracy of her works (which even copyright advocates have to say is within her rights to do so) and b)making too much money? I thought, "Well, there you have it. A system which can help people encourage piracy of their own works by essentially putting it in the public domain and still become filthy rich... and the copyright advocates just want to stick their fingers in their ears and yell 'I'm not listening!' Absolutely perfect."

    The logical elegance of assurance contracts cannot be overstated here. Tickets, preordered content, crowdfunding, all of it has tons of evidence to back up a way of thinking that completely discredits copyright.

     

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Interesting

    It's funny; the point is made all the time that getting someone to pay you for a good (scarce or not) instead of a competitor isn't the same thing as "stealing" that competitor's "potential profits", and yet here that exact argument is being made by the haters.

    "Zach Braff is stealing funds from indie projects!"

    No he's not, because the money coming into his project doesn't belong to those other indie projects, you entitled douchebags. Keep your whiny little paws off of it and shut your mouths.

    God, some people . . .

     

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    jameshogg (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    By the way, you must always remember that corporations can themselves place Kickstarter bids. Even the ones engaged in piracy. All the way from Google to Megaupload: they'll all start placing refundable pledges of their own (remember, nobody has anything to lose). They'll eventually see that this is in their best interests in order to make a profit from advertising. The balance of power swings over to the artists.

    Watch as more and more crowdfunding artists will put their work into the public domain after creation. Watch as more and more pirates are held accountable in ways that copyright could never begin to dream about.

    With crowdfunding, if a pirate doesn't pay up, he has nothing to pirate. But with copyright, if a pirate doesn't pay up, he can get away with it.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    It would be interesting if a company like Sesame Street said to people, "If we don't raise X dollars (on Kickstarter or YouTube), we won't be able to preserve our old shows. So we need you to pitch in or everything is lost."

    That's one way to involve people in already produced content. :-)

    And I suppose that's why some people view famous people on Kickstarter with some skepticism. They're thinking, "Is it really true that if we don't fund this project for you, it won't get done? You really have no other resources?"

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    Preserve our old shows? In the digital age, the time of the internet? Sure, if Sesame Street is asking for funding the film masters...

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    I don't plan to subscribe to anything on YouTube, but I can see why a parent might pay $2 a month for a Sesame Street channel. Convenience. Huge library. Kid-proof station.

    In this particular case it doesn't strike me as so far-fetched. But I was pondering how you might turn that into a Kickstarter model.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re:

    "With crowdfunding, if a pirate doesn't pay up, he has nothing to pirate. But with copyright, if a pirate doesn't pay up, he can get away with it."

    Can you elaborate on that please? If a movie is funded and produced through Kickstarter, there's nothing stopping me (assuming I don't participate in the funding) from seeing it for free. If the project was to release on DVD, eventually someone will rip it. Somewhere, along the line, someone will take the content and upload.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, May 10th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    For anyone, against any project. Just unconscionable rate for simple money transfers.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Interesting

    It's an argument ad capitalism, isn't it? Well... if there is such a phrase.

    I'm as much of a Leftist as most people when it comes to taxing the hell out of the 1% even if Kickstarter themselves fall into that category one day (and believe you me, they will), but the free-market is the only sane perspective we can have here. People have a right to spend their money on whatever they like.

    The whole thing is probably a secret distaste of Kickstarter in general. People generally don't like change. Or anything anti-copyright.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    YouTube is trying everything

    For whatever reason, YouTube is trying all sorts of business models. It tried funding content creators to get better shows to deliver to advertisers, but that hasn't produced much.

    Now it is cutting deals with content providers like Sesame Street.

    For whatever reason, YouTube wants to go beyond what it has been doing.

    Any content provider that depends on advertising money is always at risk of that money going elsewhere. Maybe that's what concerns YouTube. If Kickstarter works for Hollywood stars, maybe YouTube can outdo Kickstarter.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    maybe use kickstarter to make new episodes since congress does not like big bird?

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    Again...what. the. fuck. are. you. saying? I swear, it's this OOTB incarnation I hate the most. The other ones, at least you can understand their comments and respond (or not) accordingly. This one? I haven't a clue what his comment means.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    I am not really sure if Kickstarter takes 5% of the money raised, but I think that is little boy blues issue. However, going rate for capital raising is likely 7.5% or higher for raises of this size and that does not include retainers or equity participation.

    5% is cheap for a platform to help you raise $$$$$$$

     

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    Loki, May 10th, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    The arguments are that because he already has access to to big Hollywood connections and money he should use those because otherwise he's just taking potential funding away from say the next potential Kevin Smith, who really have few other outlets left because the entertainment industry has pretty much taken all of the other "alternative" sources of attention/distribution (Sundance, eMusic, MySpace) over already.

    I can certainly understand the frustration at the possibility of Hollywood finding way to monopolize and kill off yet another outlets to route around the entertainment industry's general deadlock on income and distribution. But people need to understand that people like Palmer and Braff are using Kickstarter BECAUSE they want want to break the stranglehold the big corps have, and that is a good thing.

    Because the more the big names help to break the stranglehold, the less power groups like the MPAA/RIAA have, and the more it shows smaller players that it CAN be done with the big boys.

     

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    JEDIDIAH, May 10th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Liberty is a virtue.

    I've seen hipster bloggers try to stir up people on this issue with class warfare rhetoric. That's just nonsense. When ever we try to "stick it to the man", inevitably it is the little guy that gets it. So worrying about Zack and creating countermeasures for people like him are simply not productive.

    ...that's even assuming that you buy into the class warfare rhetoric.

    Any free market is open to all. Zack and anyone else big or small can appear as an equal and make his pitch.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The punishment for that is less quality work, or even nothing at all. Remember, in order to get the great production effects, action sequences, etc of a movie it costs millions. That is on top of what the artists think they are worth. A pirate will know the consequences of his actions because he may not get the great movie he wanted for free. Artists can hold pirates to account very powerfully like this.

    If the pirate pledges, he can rest assured that he won't be ripped off himself (it will get to the point where studios will refund pledges if the movie gets cancelled halfway - studios take the fall in this way already) and he also will not be ripped off by a middleman, legitimate or not, who may profit from someone not acting on the behalf of the artist. Legal retailers, remember, do not necessarily participate in fair capitalism when they sell bulk DVDs at a profit - if you follow IP philosophy closely, this profit could be seen as a form of IP theft.

    Lets actually take this much further: I can watch a legal copy of a DVD for free while following all the copyright laws - by borrowing from a friend, reselling through Ebay or watching it at a friend's house - I can free ride without any sense of accountability whatsoever.

    Kickstarter, on the other hand, makes even THOSE kinds of unspoken free-riders accountable. Even the people who supposedly "contribute" to the artist by getting the DVDs second hand (they don't) will have to pitch in with the pledges in a much more direct way. That's the beauty of this. Copyright cannot do anything about these kinds of free-riders while crowdfunding can. So there's an additional advantage there.

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    ....and yet a great rate for a relatively robust marketing and customer communications platform, access to a large community of active backers, and exposure through on-site and third-party discovery tools.

     

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    vintermann (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    Most of the backers of my film aren’t people on Kickstarter who had $10 and were deciding where to give it, and then gave it to me instead of someone else. They came to Kickstarter because of me, because of this project. They wouldn’t have been there otherwise.


    I asked another one who definitively has analytics, namely the kicktraq guy (Adam Clark): Do megaprojects hurt smaller projects? Do you see a fight for attention in your data? "On the contrary. Larger projects tend to prop up others during their run-up periods because they draw in attention" he said. So it's not just Braff saying this, independent observers also do.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    I think one concern is that if the superstars raise the most money, Kickstarter will abandon supporting/promoting the smaller projects. Why put in the effort when a few superstars can generate more money than 100s of little projects?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    To everyone saying that kickstarter should only go to new faces I have this to say:

    Just because someone has money doesn't mean they don't have the right to aquire capitol to launch something.

    Hell, I WISH crowdfunding was popular around the time of Firefly and The Cape. Then we could have seen continuations of the epic stories that the gatekeepers decided weren't quite popular ENOUGH.

    "Oh we're cancelled? Well.. I guess we'll just fish for interest on the internet. You know, where millions upon millions of people will throw money at us to correct the injustices you have committed here today."

    I don't care if you are rich, poor, famous, unknown or alien from deep space. If you are working to build something I'm intersted in, I'll throw a few bucks your way.

    Honestly... I think most of the people complaining, as you said, are either people who don't think Kickstarter is anything but a tool to make your beginnings and is 'beneath' large scale productions, or people pissy that a guy with money is being given money to make something people want.

    Frankly, I prefer the crowdfunded method. The biggest upside is that you can cover sunk costs up front with FAR less risk to yourself, and then rely on the nill marginal cost to spread the thing around at next to nothing. This builds up brand familiarity, which leads to further success on future kickstarter projects, which leads to more free to nearly free stuff hitting the markets!

    I love the idea of a content producer making all their money up front and then being able to say 'Hokay! Here's the thing I promised, finished. And free, since it doesn't cost anything to distribute or reproduce it. Oh, and if you happen to like it, I've got another project starting up that could use your funding!". Would you look at that... a sustainable business model based on popularity. Go figure.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Re:

    Remember how Amanda Palmer was attacked for a) promoting piracy of her works (which even copyright advocates have to say is within her rights to do so) and b)making too much money?

    She was showing people how to avoid the labels, gain fans and make money. If that approach takes off, the labels are out of business.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh okay. I was just confused when you used the term pirate: I would say you were incorrect to use it in that manner. Typically, it means someone who views content that is sold without paying. Here, with kickstarters, it doesn't matter if he pays or not: he's viewing the content for free, but that can only happen after the project has secured its funding and produced the content. If he pledges, he's not a pirate. If he doesn't, other people have already paid, the content has been produced and those people have gotten their perks.

     

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    Colin, May 10th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    And I suppose that's why some people view famous people on Kickstarter with some skepticism. They're thinking, "Is it really true that if we don't fund this project for you, it won't get done? You really have no other resources?"

    That's a dumb question if anyone is asking it. In Braff's pitch video he says himself that there are avenues - ones that have too high a cost, even though they may not be financial (losing creative control, for example).

    In any case, I don't really see the point of that question. Yes, he has other resources. He also has this resource. Why shouldn't he use it? Then you just circle back around to Mike's article, where you'll find that there isn't a good answer to why he shouldn't be on Kickstarter.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is probably better to say this: "piracy" does not really exist in an economic system where creativity is treated as services, not products. That sounds tautological, but considering how it is a much better way of stopping people from free-riding it is worth talking about.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    Anyone who makes money in any fashion that Blue cannot understand is a grifter.

    At least that is my takeaway from his inane ramblings.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    That's a dumb question if anyone is asking it.

    People do ask it. It can be like donating to a charity. What's the best use of your money? To donate to a charity that has no other sources of revenue or to donate to a big charity that has many donors?

    I suppose we'll see how this all plays out in a few years if this becomes the primary way projects are done. How much splintering will there be in the crowdfunding scene? Once it becomes common, will the big stars even need Kickstarter anymore? They can just do direct-to-fan pitches on their own websites.

     

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    Jay (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Can't put my finger on it...

    For the life of me, I can't see a single logical argument for why people are upset about this, other than (a) they don't like Braff or (b) they're jealous of him.

    That's the beauty of Kickstarter. And to deny that to certain people for arbitrary reasons is simply asinine.


    I think you're both answering a similar question here so I'll post my response:

    First, I doubt highly that there is a single logical reason to get angry at Braff. Everything here is emotional. The morality point here is that "Braff got his, let someone else have a chance!"

    And that's a bad viewpoint to take. When you are highly connected, you have more options than the smaller kickstarters who might not make it with the same idea. But like you say, this isn't a logical reason to attack Braff for trying something different. The opinion that we should let the smaller actors have a say in a digitally diverse field seems rather... Off. But I can't put my finger on why.

    We celebrated with Palmer. Tim Schafer of Double Fine had a LOT of support. What it seems like is that the industries of movies or music are getting a lot of backlash if you're already developed without recognizing the issues that may hamper directors and producers that were tied to the old systems of making money.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Can't put my finger on it...

    This article describes what some fear: that Kickstarter will abandon the unknown artists once the celebrities pile on.

    Don't Hate on Zach Braff - Rage Against Kickstarter's Perry Chen

     

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  40.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    I thought that his definition of "grifter" is anyone who makes money without creating something directly to do it. So, all service providers of any sort are grifters, for instance.

    Although it is far from clear what he means, so I could be off.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Hm. To me, what annoyed me were the rewards (I haven't looked to see if this has changed recently) - not really providing a way to view the finished product also makes me curious about final sources of funding and how much of the film he'll actually own.


    Still, those backing just want to support him, so more power to them!

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 10th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Can't put my finger on it...

    This article describes what some fear: that Kickstarter will abandon the unknown artists once the celebrities pile on.

    Don't Hate on Zach Braff - Rage Against Kickstarter's Perry Chen


    That may be a level even dumber than those hating on Braff.

    Seriously, wtf is wrong with people. They bitch that there's no way for creative people to make money, then one comes along and they bitch about who uses it or how it's used.

    Complaining about Chen? For what? For building a great platform? The fact that famous people use it doesn't harm anyone. It helps draw more attention to the platform and get more people to use it.

    That's ridiculous.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    I would much rather hand a fiver over to the artist than to the 100 clowns in suits that would stand it their way.

     

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    The Real Michael, May 11th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Can't put my finger on it...

    Maybe if people encourgae more filmmakers and such to bypass Hollywood, a viable, competitive alternative will forge its own place in the market. This would force Hollywood to either innovate to stay afloat or crumble to pieces. Sounds like a plan. After all, here people have a choice between harping on endlessly over the way things are or lending a helping hand to affect change.

     

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  45. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    horse with no name, May 11th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    Qrong question

    It's not a question of if he can or cannot use the service, it's rather a question of bad taste. It's on par with a Wall Street banker begging for cash on a street corner so he doesn't have to pay for his lunch. It is classless.

    The worst part I think is that this sort of thing can lead to donor fatigue. People start to get tired of bailing out everyone else, and decide it's just no longer worth it.

     

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    PaulT (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    ootb, not only demonstrating that he's clueless about what Kickstarter actually do, but he's also opposed to companies making a profit on the services they provide. A true pirate!

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 10:27am

    Re: Qrong question

    It's on par with a Wall Street banker begging for cash on a street corner so he doesn't have to pay for his lunch. It is classless.

    A similar way to conceptualize it would be a college fund. Would you rather donate to help a poor kid go to college or a rich kid go to college?

    The worst part I think is that this sort of thing can lead to donor fatigue. People start to get tired of bailing out everyone else, and decide it's just no longer worth it.

    I know lots of musicians and have helped out some in a variety of ways. What I won't do is fund any Kickstarter projects. It's better for me to tell my friends that I don't do Kickstarter at all than to have to explain why I'll chip in for some, but not others. I'd rather focus on a few people than to donate a little amount to lots of people.

    So this crowdfunding stuff is something I have been involved in and thought about for years. My criteria has been in the past: (1) talent, (2) likely success of the project, and (3) it won't get done without my help.

    However, I don't plan to take on any new creative projects because my interests have shifted to bigger economic issues than the arts. I'm focusing on very big picture economic and sustainability issues these days. Arts funding will fall into place if economic/sustainability issues are addressed. If we find a way for everyone to get by on very little income, or if we find a way to raise everyone's income to a decent level, artists will be part of that system. On the other hand, if the 99% watch their incomes continue to drop, they won't have the money to support themselves, let alone artists.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Wrong question

    The other big issue with Kickstarter has been:

    1. Do you want to help someone?
    or
    2. Do you want to buy something?

    Kickstarter has discouraged the second part. The founders have said that this has never been how they wanted to pitch the concept. And also some of the Kickstarter projects turn out to be unreliable or unpredictable in delivering the premiums. So if you are expecting something for your donation, you might be disappointed if (1) the project fails, (2) you don't get it in a timely manner, or (3) the quality isn't what you expect.

    So it has been more about patronage than reason to buy. Do celebrities need patrons? That's what the discussion has been about.

     

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    Claiborne (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    "It would be interesting if a company like Sesame Street said to people, "If we don't raise X dollars (on Kickstarter or YouTube), we won't be able to preserve our old shows. So we need you to pitch in or everything is lost.""


    I'm sorry, but you obviously do not watch public television, or listen to public radio, because you just exactly described their semi-annual pledge drives.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    I'm sorry, but you obviously do not watch public television, or listen to public radio, because you just exactly described their semi-annual pledge drives.

    Then that's exactly how it could be sold on YouTube, too. "Subscribe to keep those Sesame Street shows coming."

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Qrong question

    "It's on par with a Wall Street banker begging for cash on a street corner so he doesn't have to pay for his lunch. It is classless."

    Absolute bollocks, the two things are very different and if you cannot see that then I'm not gonna bother explaining it.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wrong question

    Also, we may find that it's best to separate arts crowdfunding in ways it has always been:

    1. Angels
    2. Patrons

    Broadway has often used angels to put in money for projects. If the project is profitable, they share in that.

    Art patrons have tended to gravitate more to projects where there is no share of profits (usually because the assumption is there won't be any profits and if there is positive income, it will go back to the artist to keep the artist afloat). Patrons are helping to support otherwise "starving" artists.

    As it becomes easier to do online crowdfunded investments, we may see the celebrities using the investment route and the unknowns using the patron route, with websites focused on one or the other rather than trying to do both within the same format. That's where Kickstarter is being challenged now: Who is your target audience? What is your mission?

     

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    nasch (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    It can be like donating to a charity.

    I think that's why people ask/criticize. You donate to a Kickstarter project and donate to a charity, so they think of it the same way. Like Zach Braff is asking for charity money. Maybe if there were a different word for what you do on Kickstarter, like fund or invest or something, it would be less of a problem. Does Kickstarter themselves call it donating, or something else?

     

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    nasch (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That sounds tautological, but considering how it is a much better way of stopping people from free-riding it is worth talking about.

    It doesn't stop people from free riding, it just makes free riding irrelevant.

     

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    btrussell (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    "Although it is far from clear what he means, so I could be off."

    You aren't off, he is.

     

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    nasch (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    I think one concern is that if the superstars raise the most money, Kickstarter will abandon supporting/promoting the smaller projects.

    That doesn't make sense. How does it hurt Kickstarter to allow small projects, or help them to kill them off? Remember, it's not as though they have to put a lot of manpower into each project. It's just an automated service.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    Maybe if there were a different word for what you do on Kickstarter, like fund or invest or something, it would be less of a problem. Does Kickstarter themselves call it donating, or something else?

    Well, Kickstarter just said this: "Kickstarter is a new way for creators to bring their projects to life. Not through commerce, charity, or investment — through a new model powered by a willing audience."

    So the company wants to define itself as something other than a sales site, a donation site, or an investment site.

    Now, what I like about Kickstarter is that it is project-driven. People develop projects which may last only long enough to create whatever is being proposed, rather than being a jumping off point for a longer term company or licensing opportunity.

    But that also means getting away from the idea of branding. Don't brand the project, don't brand whatever company develops, and don't use celebrity brands to sell it.

    So I'd like to think that each project is evaluated on the quality of its concept alone, without regard to whose name is attached to it. In other words, downplay the names involved and play up the project itself.

    Let's have these Kickstarter projects be entities unto themselves.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    The other thing that Kickstarter might focus on in more depth is if the goal is to foster creative projects, maybe there can be other ways to involve crowd participation than encouraging people to give money.

    Giving money to a project creator as part of the creative process doesn't strike me as nearly as expansive as making the crowd itself the creative process.

    Kickstarter, of course, can't take 5% of a project where no money has changed hands, but if creativity is the ultimate goal, let's find more ways to do that in moneyless exchanges and involvements.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    That doesn't make sense. How does it hurt Kickstarter to allow small projects, or help them to kill them off? Remember, it's not as though they have to put a lot of manpower into each project. It's just an automated service.

    Actually Kickstarter does feature projects. So it promotes some more than others. Therefore, if Kickstarter becomes most concerned with the bottom line, it might choose to feature the "big" projects more than the little ones.

    That's what some people are asking. Will Kickstarter "sell out"?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 11th, 2013 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    I'll give you an example of what creatives sometimes run into. I've had a literary agent and have talked to a number of others. What most of them will usually tell you is this: "It takes as much effort to sell a $100,000 project as it does to sell a $1 million project, so I am going to focus on the ones with the bigger potential payouts."

    My agent told me she wouldn't pitch magazine articles, but she would handle books, preferable blockbuster books.

    So these creatives who have had to scramble to raise whatever funds they can are worried that once the stars come into the picture, they'll get pushed aside. If Kickstarter starts to court the stars, the unknown creatives may find less help and attention for themselves. Not necessarily from potential donors, but from companies which might assign people to pay attention to the big stars and ignore the little ones.

    Twitter did it when it was launching. It was providing special attention to celebrities in ways that it wasn't doing for the average Twitter user.

    Most of you have probably seen this, too, in other industries, where big accounts get perks that don't go to the small accounts.

     

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    horse with no name, May 11th, 2013 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Qrong question

    I would love to hear your explanation. I wonder why a guy who has made millions has to have his hat in his hand on the virtual street corner to do something. It's as if he doesn't want to risk his own money on something, which would be a very poor vote of confidence.

    So I would love to hear your explanation, rather than just a hand waving dismissal.

     

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    PaulT (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 1:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    I can see some of what you're trying to say in your comments here, but I think your reasoning is fairly flawed.

    With your arguments above, i can see two problems. With your comment regarding literary agents, the agents are actively trying to sell something on your behalf. If they're correct about the effort involved, of course they're going to do that. But, Kickstarter largely just offer a platform, the same platform regardless of whether you're a podcast asking for $500 to cover running costs or a known actor asking for $2 million for a movie. It's true that they do some other work behind the scenes, but ultimately the platform is the same for all parties, and Kickstarter don't have to do any more work to host the lower value projects (whereas your agent might have to do more work to sell your magazine article than the book).

    I'm also not sure what you mean here:

    "Not necessarily from potential donors, but from companies which might assign people to pay attention to the big stars and ignore the little ones."

    What are you talking about? Are you saying that you think Kickstarter handles these companies, or are you talking about things that happen external to that site? If the former, I'd like to know what you're referring to, if the latter how is this Kickstarter's fault or problem? Their job is connecting the donors to the projects.

    As for your Twitter example - so? The fact that they've given some extra attention to celebrities (as much for avoiding the legal challenges posed by fake accounts as the profit aspect) doesn't mean that the Twitter account for my blog is less useful. It's just that I don't get any marketing from Twitter. It still works well enough for the purposes I have. If Kickstarter allows Spielberg to crowdfund his next movie, that doesn't mean that unknown filmmaker X doesn't get to crowdfund his microbudget epic.

    Finally, there's a couple of wider points to consider. The first is that Kickstarter is introducing the idea of crowdfunding to a great many people who have never considered such a thing before. On virtually every popular project I've looked at, there's comments surrounding it along the lines of "I'd never heard of Kickstarter before, but this sounds amazing and I'll be glad to donate to other projects". In other words, someone donating to a Veronica Mars or a Zach Braff may well stick around to donate to that other interesting project they'd never have seen if it weren't for the bigger boys. It's not a zero sum game - just because I donate an amount of money to a larger project, that doesn't remove my ability to also donate elsewhere - I'm looking to invest in projects that interest me, not to just offload $50 I happen to have spare to the first to ask for it.

    The other thing to consider is that Kickstarter isn't the only game in town, nor is it unique. If true independents feel edged out of Kickstarter, there's nothing to stop them going to IndieGoGo or someone from setting up a more focussed new site based on the same concepts. Kickstarter happen to be the most talked about brand name in the field, not the only choice.

     

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  63.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    "Not necessarily from potential donors, but from companies which might assign people to pay attention to the big stars and ignore the little ones."

    I meant Kickstarter. Some creatives are concerned that Kickstarter will begin to ignore them and not put in any effort to help them out.

    The other thing to consider is that Kickstarter isn't the only game in town, nor is it unique. If true independents feel edged out of Kickstarter, there's nothing to stop them going to IndieGoGo or someone from setting up a more focussed new site based on the same concepts. Kickstarter happen to be the most talked about brand name in the field, not the only choice.

    That's what I think will happen. If Kickstarter becomes associated with big stars and loses its "soul" then less known artists may go elsewhere.

    There's no particular reason to use Kickstarter if Kickstarter doesn't enhance your ability to raise more money. And if you find yourself being drowned out by bigger projects, you may find no value in it. Or, more likely, as crowdfunding becomes more popular, the big stars will just crowdfund directly from their own sites and not bother to pay a 5% fee to Kickstarter.

    As I pointed out before, there are lots of different reasons people are motivated contribute to Kickstarter projects. Crowdfunding efforts can become more specialized as the concept expands. The people who want to buy new products may go one place. The people who want to help unknown artists may go to another place. The people who want to associate with famous creatives will go elsewhere.

    Ultimately the issue won't be with crowdfunding, but whether Kickstarter can continue to define itself in comparison to other crowdfunding sites. eBay and Amazon benefit from bigness because people go to those sites specifically to buy something and comparison shop. The more stuff there is, the more they can find. But relatively few people go to Kickstarter simply to crowdfund, because relatively few people are thinking, "I've got money. What deserving project can I support?" That's how arts charities sometimes are run (i.e., getting people to donate), but there's a lot of marketing to potential donors to have that happen. And then you get into the competition factor of which artists are the arts foundations going to support.

    Since Kickstarter says it isn't a marketplace in the usual sense, size may not help it. If anything, Kickstarter has benefited as a place where potential projects have been curated. Not everyone is allowed to use the platform. So, who does Kickstarter include and who doesn't it include? That's what is being sorted out now.

    Although some of you think Kickstarter has no say in who gets to use it for fundraising, that isn't the case. Projects are rejected. And if everyone tried to use it, even if they had no chance to raise money, Kickstarter's failure rate would go up and reflect negatively on Kickstarter. Unlike some sites which don't monitor whether people make money using the platform, Kickstarter does do that. Its image and publicity is tied up in how much people raise and how much the projects exceed their goals. It's not an indifferent platform, as some of you seem to think. It's never been open to everyone, unlike, say Twitter. It is curated.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Kickstarter has always chosen who can participate

    I've given a longer explanation elsewhere, but I'll put this in its own post so more see it.

    Some of you seem to be assuming that anyone who wants to crowdfund can use Kickstarter as long as they pay the necessary fees.

    That's never been the case. You apply to Kickstarter. Some projects aren't accepted. Kickstarter wants projects to succeed and keeps track of what percentage of projects make their goals and how much those projects raise. And then it publicizes those success stories.

    So that's one reason why people have been discussing whether they will be shut out as big stars start using the platform more.

    Of course, Kickstarter isn't the only game in town, and as crowdfunding expands there will be lots of different ways it is being handled. I'm big on participatory creativity and my personal preference is that the projects become crowdsourced, rather than crowdfunded.

     

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    nasch (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    Some creatives are concerned that Kickstarter will begin to ignore them and not put in any effort to help them out.

    If they're expecting Kickstarter to put in effort to help them out, then they're in the wrong place. That's not what the site is about.

    Although some of you think Kickstarter has no say in who gets to use it for fundraising, that isn't the case. Projects are rejected. And if everyone tried to use it, even if they had no chance to raise money, Kickstarter's failure rate would go up and reflect negatively on Kickstarter.

    That makes them biased toward safe projects, not large ones. In fact they are well served by having lots of projects in many different areas more than they would by having a few large ones, because that reduces the risk of large scale failure.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    That makes them biased toward safe projects, not large ones. In fact they are well served by having lots of projects in many different areas more than they would by having a few large ones, because that reduces the risk of large scale failure.

    There are ways to play the game. Amanda Palmer set her goal way lower than she knew she could hit. And she combined three different projects (an album, a tour, and a book) into one project to cover a lot of bases and raise a bigger amount.

    Look, I like Kickstarter. And I like the idea of crowdfunding. I like even better the idea of crowdsourcing and eliminating the need for fundraising altogether.

    I'm just explaining that financial support of creativity that has nuances that are worthy to be explored.

    It is reasonable for people to ask why someone who has already been well-paid by the system needs to crowdfund. Why do the "rich" need people to give them money? That's part of the bigger question of world economics.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    Why does a project even need all of the money that Braff and others need? Why do expenses have to be high? Why can't he self fund? Where is the money going to?

    This are all reasonable questions. Maybe the problem is that the system is so screwed up that it is too expensive for Braff to self fund.

    Or maybe he shouldn't be doing projects so big that he can't self fund.

    If little people can fund movies out of their own pockets and get friends to work for free, why not Braff?

    Why does creativity need to cost anyone any money?

    Those are the bigger issues.

     

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    nasch (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Qrong question

    What's to explain? If everyone agreed with you he wouldn't get any money donated. Clearly that's not the case since the project is working fine. If the facts don't fit your narrative, maybe you should reexamine your conclusion. On the other hand, I suspect you'll reexamine the facts instead. Probably all those people donating are just dumber than you and don't realize what they're doing, right?

     

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    nasch (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    It is reasonable for people to ask why someone who has already been well-paid by the system needs to crowdfund.

    Sure, as long as you're open to answers, such as in this case "he's raising part of the money through crowdfunding and part from his own money because he doesn't want to be tied to Hollywood". I have no problem with the questions, it's the conclusion that "he shouldn't be doing this because he already has money" without asking the question that doesn't make sense.

    Why do the "rich" need people to give them money?

    This is not a question unique to crowdfunding. Why should I pay for a movie ticket when Tom Cruise is already rich? Why doesn't he just fund the movie and pay for my ticket? I'm sure he can afford it. This is really the same question just applied to a different business model, and how much money the person has is equally irrelevant. If you want to see the movie, you buy a ticket. If you want to ensure that the project is completed, you help fund it. If not, you don't.

     

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    nasch (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    Why do expenses have to be high?

    I have do idea what his expenses are like but yeah Hollywood movies are seriously out of control.


    Or maybe he shouldn't be doing projects so big that he can't self fund.


    I don't agree with that. If he has a good idea that he needs, or just wants, extra funding for, he should be free to seek it.


    Why does creativity need to cost anyone any money?


    If you can find high quality all volunteer work and donated equipment and have the spare time to devote to it, great. Not everyone does, and it's a good thing that there are ways to raise money for creative endeavors.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    This is not a question unique to crowdfunding. Why should I pay for a movie ticket when Tom Cruise is already rich?

    And the Rolling Stones are discovering that people don't want to pay a lot of money to see them.

    As more people discover they can be entertained and entertain themselves without spending a lot of money, I think we will see more of this. And I think a lot of people are too broke to fund rich celebrities anyway.

    We'll have to see what happens when lots of celebrities use Kickstarter and if the odds of success decrease as more use the platform.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    Right now there is something of a novelty factor with celebrities and Kickstarter, and each time one of them uses it, it's a new story. Particularly when each project raises more money than the previous project. Each new record becomes a story.

    When they all use Kickstarter, then we'll see if it continues to work for them all or if celebrity crowdfunding fatigue sets in. I have no idea, although I think the overall trend will be to continue to drive down the costs of creative creations so there isn't reason to need to raise much money in the first place.

    Perhaps at some point it will all be so commonplace, the media will look else where for stories.

     

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  73.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    A site pitching to celebrities

    Celebrity Crowdfunding Tips | White Label Platforms | Launcht: "Celebrities should use Launcht for their crowdfunding campaigns. Total fees on the raise would be more like 3.5% and the traffic would go to the celebrity’s website, thus building engagement with the celebrity and not with KS. Celebrities spend a lot of money to build engagement with their social media channels and to grow their web presence, why shunt all the attention away from these things? Celebrities don’t need Kickstarter. Celebrities have the networks, the reach, the appeal, and the infrastructure to pull off a campaign themselves. All that a celebrity crowdfunding campaign needs is the simple crowdfunding platform software to host their own campaign!"

     

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  74.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    And one from Trump

    Donald Trump Launches Kickstarter Clone FundAnything - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD: "Crowdfunding now has a celebrity mogul endorsement. A new site called FundAnything from Learning Annex founder Bill Zanker launches today with help from loudmouth businessman Donald Trump."

     

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  75.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Here's how one person explains it

    According to this person, it's more of a personality thing. And I suppose that will go with the territory. If a famous person proposes a project, it may or may not get funded depending on the number of fans.

    But it will invite the usual celebrity sniping, and people will be snarky if they don't like you. So perhaps crowdfunding will be a bit too exposed for some to bother with.

    Why Hate Zach Braff's Kickstarter Campaign but Not Veronica Mars's? - Meghan Lewit - The Atlantic

     

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  76.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Here's how one person explains it

    And here, also explains what happens when you crowdfund. People start asking questions about your project. They are going to ask where the money goes, whether you really needed to use the money that way, etc. We've already gone over this with Amanda Palmer, which this article mentions.

    Some of you will say that people who don't like the project don't have to support it. And that's true, but they also feel free to criticize you for doing it. Crowdfunding may require a thicker skin than just doing your project and tapping into the usual investment sources.

    The Kickstarter Principle: Crowdfunding doesn’t work without transparency and trust — Tech News and Analysis: "The lesson from both of these incidents is the same, I think. If you are going to appeal to the crowd for support, then you are essentially striking a bargain with them: they provide money, but you have to do more than just provide whatever the end product is. You have to be as open and transparent as possible and do whatever you can to maintain the trust of those supporters, and that changes the dynamics of the situation completely. And once that trust is lost, the game is effectively over."

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Pseudonym, May 12th, 2013 @ 4:58pm

    Re:

    The only naysayer who crossed my path was veteran screenwriter Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier and not forgetting the classic Mannequin 2).

    His argument wasn't that Zach Braff shouldn't use Kickstarter because he has Hollywood connections. His argument is that Zach Braff wasn't getting any of his money because he has Hollywood connections.

    I totally get that. For the record, that's a feature, not a bug. The whole point of crowdsourcing is that you fund what you think is important, not what some non-creative industry executive scum thinks will improve their own career.

    Among Hollywood creative people, there is a strong "pay it forward" mentality. You should be supporting the next generation, not the current generation. If you're an established Hollywood creative type, you're unlikely to find a Zach Braff pet project important enough for you to pony up your own hard-earned.

    If that's your priority, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do that. But the argument that he shouldn't even use it is asinine.

    Having said that, I do recognise that there is a trend of established players taking over outlets previous reserved for up-and-coming artists. Sundance used to be a place where non-established players got to show their movies to the industry. Some of that still goes on, but today it's Cannes plus snow.

    There is a balance to be struck here. A few John Ks or Michael Dorns or Zach Braffs will help legitimise crowdfunding, and that's good. Nobody will be ever able to claim that it's for "unprofessional" creative works only. But we have to keep up a steady stream of independent projects too.

     

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  78.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re:

    His argument is that Zach Braff wasn't getting any of his money because he has Hollywood connections.

    That was my attitude about musicians I helped. I wasn't going to contribute to someone already successful, and especially to someone who had more money that I had.

    I wanted to make a difference in the life of someone who really needed a break and whose long-term career success was going to depend on whether or not he/she got help early on. I also figured that a starving artist would probably appreciate the help far more than someone who had already gotten lots of money over the years.

     

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  79.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 11:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wrong question

    So it has been more about patronage than reason to buy. Do celebrities need patrons? That's what the discussion has been about.

    Entertainers have ALWAYS had patrons. There's no discussion here. Why is it wrong for them to seek patrons?

    Would you think it's wrong for them to advertise that you should go see a movie they're in? How is this different?

    Answer: it's not.

     

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  80.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 11:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    And the Rolling Stones are discovering that people don't want to pay a lot of money to see them.


    Sometimes I wonder what you're smoking, because you seem to be almost incapable of understanding things.

    The Rolling Stones made more money touring than anyone else over the last decade. Last year they made $25 million from just FIVE shows.

    Yeah. People don't want to pay? Are you out of your mind?

    But, really that gets back to the idiotic point that started this discussion. How is it different if people give Braff money via Kickstarter or via a movie ticket? I'd argue that giving via Kickstarter is much better, because it goes directly to Braff and gives him a lot more control.

    How come you're not out their arguing that people going to Hollywood movies are somehow "damaging" indie movies? Because that's the same thing you're arguing.

     

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  81.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 11:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    When they all use Kickstarter, then we'll see if it continues to work for them all or if celebrity crowdfunding fatigue sets in.

    That's like saying once people get used to seeing movies they'll stop going. It makes no sense.

     

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  82.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 12th, 2013 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: Here's how one person explains it

    And here, also explains what happens when you crowdfund. People start asking questions about your project.

    Once again, you got it backwards. That story is saying that if you are open and honest you can build a real connection with your audience so they want to fund you... and you turn that into something bad about how people "start asking questions."

    You've got it backwards.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    horse with no name, May 13th, 2013 @ 3:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Here's how one person explains it

    You've got it backwards.

    Are you saying that there is only one way for Kickstarter to work? Only one result? One one thing fans can do?

    Sometimes it seems your world view is very narrow.

     

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  84.  
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    Darren B (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 4:04am

    Not that easy even for celebs.

    It's probably easier to get a sequel to a cult film,or a movie version of a popular TV show funded,than to get a totally new show up and running like Rae Dawn Chong is trying to do with her project that appears like it won't get the funding in time,and that's only 25 Gs.

    The Celebrant - a television pilot about a woman who serves her community in the Seacoast as a "Celebrant" a spiritual witness to life and everything in between.

    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-celebrant

     

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  85.  
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    Darren B (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 4:05am

    Not that easy even for celebs.

    It's probably easier to get a sequel to a cult film,or a movie version of a popular TV show funded,than to get a totally new show up and running like Rae Dawn Chong is trying to do with her project that appears like it won't get the funding in time,and that's only 25 Gs.

    The Celebrant - a television pilot about a woman who serves her community in the Seacoast as a "Celebrant" a spiritual witness to life and everything in between.

    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-celebrant

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2013 @ 4:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Here's how one person explains it

    And what, yours is wide? No wonder you think Prenda has a chance in courts not helmed by Beryl Howell.

     

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  87.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    You've missed the latest about the Stones, I take it. It's been the talk of the live music scene. They haven't been able to sell out on their recent tour and have been having to heavily discount ticket sales.

    It's been written up in a number of publications and Lefsetz has been covering it.

     

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  88.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Wrong question

    Entertainers have ALWAYS had patrons. There's no discussion here. Why is it wrong for them to seek patrons?

    I'm talking about a patron in the older sense, when artists weren't selling tickets. They were being supported by a rich benefactor. Most established celebrities are not being supported this way. They might have had that kind of support when they started, but when they have lawyers, agents, business managers, etc., they aren't being supported by a patron like an artist who is being kept afloat with donations.

     

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  89.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 9:35am

    Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    And I think that's what we are talking about. We haven't yet seen lots of celebrities get into this. Once they do, will they upstage all the unknowns?

    Or as the percentage of celebrity projects increases, will their failure rate go up? Using Kickstarter as a publicity stunt won't have as much appeal if the fans can't be rallied to support the project. Or, the stars can do what Palmer did and set the goal low enough that it is sure to be met.

    Of course, then there is the project fulfillment. You have to budget for all the goodies that you've promised and some people may decide it is a distraction from just getting the project done.

    As I said, I think what will happen is that the crowdfunding market will start becoming more niche-based. Kickstarter is the big game right now, but in time there may be sites that cater to celebrities. Others that cater to foodies. Others that cater to unknown artists. Others that focus on local projects. Others than are event based.

    We saw what happened with the daily deal sites. We'll likely see it with the crowdfunding sites, too.

     

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  90.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    Another issue that may hit Kickstarter is if some sites charge a sliding percentage based on scale. Some sites are likely to start charging a smaller percentage for the million dollar deals than for the little deals. Kickstarter can't really do that because then it would look like it is favoring the celebs over everyone else.

    Another way to favor the celebs over the little guys is what some music sites do. They charge a flat fee for their services. It's great for high volume projects, but not a good deal for small projects.

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    Pseudonym, May 13th, 2013 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Exactly. Having said that, if some of Zach Braff's fanbase comes to Kickstarter for him, but stays because there's other cool stuff there, then the world will be a better place.

     

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  92.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 8:06am

    Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    Here's the latest one to fail. I suppose this is the negative side of celebrity association for Kickstarter. The projects bring more attention to Kickstarter when they succeed and also when they fail. Unknowns who fail tend to slip under the radar, but celebs who fail make more interesting stories for the blogs. So financially Kickstarter makes great money on the successful celeb million dollar projects, but imagewise it loses a bit on the celeb project failures. Yes, failure is built into the Kickstarter project system, but I don't think the company wants to go out of its way to generate stories about the projects that can't make goal.

    If celebrity Kickstarter projects end up for most of them as the equivalent of reality TV and Playboy covers (what you do when your career is flagging), then it may put a damper on the concept.

    Years ago eBay tried doing celebrity charity auctions. I could see problems with that from the beginning and it didn't continue for very long. Lack of bidding interest was too visible, so what was meant to be a goodwill thing ended up being negative PR for a number of celebrities and they backed off.

    We'll have to see how it plays out. Will Kickstarter transform celebrity projects or will the failed ones be seen as vanity projects that never should have been conceived in the first place?

    The Daily Dot - Why Melissa Joan Hart's Kickstarter project failed: "It's finally happened. Kickstarter users have said 'No thanks!' to a celebrity's film project."

     

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  93.  
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    nasch (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    If celebrity Kickstarter projects end up for most of them as the equivalent of reality TV and Playboy covers (what you do when your career is flagging), then it may put a damper on the concept.

    I don't know, as far as I know Playboy and reality TV are both still going strong.

     

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  94.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    I don't know, as far as I know Playboy and reality TV are both still going strong.

    Oh, Playboy and reality TV are going strong, but the celebs who appear on them are often perceived as lacking any other opportunities. It's the sort of thing you do to keep yourself in the public eye when better offers aren't coming. (Kind of the celeb version of jumping the shark.)

    But, like I said, it's probably still too soon to tell whether lots of celebs will successfully crowdfund, whether many of them will try but not hit their goals, or whether most celebs will decide to fund in less visible ways.

    And it may turn out that Kickstarter works better for sequels to successful projects than to fund original material.

     

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  95.  
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    nasch (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    Oh, Playboy and reality TV are going strong, but the celebs who appear on them are often perceived as lacking any other opportunities.

    My point is that Kickstarter is Playboy and reality TV in your analogy, so while it may turn out that it attracts has-beens, your example doesn't say anything about how successful it will be, only about the sort of celebrity it may attract. I'm sure Kickstarter would be thrilled to be as well-known, financially successful, and long-lived as Playboy (though without other aspects of their reputation of course).

     

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  96.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    My point is that Kickstarter is Playboy and reality TV in your analogy, so while it may turn out that it attracts has-beens, your example doesn't say anything about how successful it will be, only about the sort of celebrity it may attract. I'm sure Kickstarter would be thrilled to be as well-known, financially successful, and long-lived as Playboy (though without other aspects of their reputation of course).

    I'd be more inclined to compare Kickstarter to a daily deal site. As the concept of crowdfunding expands, more sites will develop to serve certain niches. What is happening right now is that Kickstarter may find it doesn't work to be all things to all people.

    Kickstarter has already refined what it is by greatly tightening up the design projects. It doesn't want to be a store.

    We'll have to see how the celebrity market develops. It might become huge and everyone will do it, or if enough projects fail to hit their goals, celebrities may back off from crowdfunding if they have other ways to raise money.

    If it becomes huge, sites catering to celebrities might develop and take business away from Kickstarter. Or Kickstarter might hang on to the celebrities and the unknowns might go elsewhere. Or Kickstarter might have a mix of knowns and unknowns, but other sites will develop platforms to serve particular target audiences.

    I guess for Kickstarter the challenge will be for it to maintain its "cool" factor. So how people use it will be a branding issue for the company. Sooner or later all tech and social media companies get replaced by the new generation of companies and that will likely to happen to Kickstarter, too. No, I don't think it will disappear, but some new crowdfunding or crowdsouring or creativity site will catch everyone's fancy and off we'll go to the next big thing.

     

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  97.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    You know, I suppose one thing I am saying is, "Will becoming trendy be Kickstarter's undoing?" Seems like that happens to a lot of online companies.

    I believe in the P2P concept, so I am not suggesting networking and community support will go away. In fact, I think it will only grow stronger. But as a part of that, I see the concept of "celebrity" becoming less important, too. I believe in the democratization of creativity and am not really impressed with Kickstarter projects that can cite millions of dollars raised. By cheering these on, we seem to be using the same standards of success as always: big money gets more attention.

     

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  98.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    Here's the latest one to fail. I suppose this is the negative side of celebrity association for Kickstarter. The projects bring more attention to Kickstarter when they succeed and also when they fail.

    You're making a number of logical errors here. First off, as we discussed below, this is NOT a failure:

    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/startups/articles/20130228/00041522145/kickstarter-projects -that-dont-meet-their-goal-are-not-failures-they-help-people-avoid-failures.shtml

    All it did was show that *THAT* project was no what consumers wanted, and no one had to spend money on it. That's a success. Spending money on a project no one wants is a failure. Doing market testing and moving on to something else is not a failure.

    Second, you assume that it's "celebrities" that succeed or fail. It's not. It's the whole combination of things: the project, the connection, etc.

    Trying to pigeon hole "celebrity" campaigns is meaningless. Those campaigns are nothing alike.

     

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  99.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 15th, 2013 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not that easy even for celebs.

    I'm talking about the PR aspects. Now, we can say that not meeting one's goal is not a failure, but the question is whether celebrities want to be associated with projects that don't meet their goals.

    I'm guessing that if a lot of celebrities don't meet their goals, others will be scared off. We can come up with all sorts of reasons why some projects don't meet their goals, but if we understood the process better, then presumably none would be underfunded: every project would be better designed in the first place and they would all succeed.

    Like I have been saying, we don't really know yet how all of this will play out. As the number of celebrities go for crowdfunding, the number who don't reach their goals will rise. And there will probably be coverage of those underfunded projects because they make for good stories. How that will affect perceptions remains to be seen.

    Again, if million dollar projects are celebrated, that tends to reinforce the idea that big money is better than small money or inadequate money. We may be talking different funding models than in the past, but we're using the same value systems as always.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    Tiernoc, May 16th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    And how exactly is this inherently bad? The Rolling Stones have discovered that they've exhausted much of what the market will bear, and now they have to price competitively.

    Why exactly should this be ANY different from any other industry in our economy? When demand goes down and supply stays the same the price MUST go down to accommodate the lowered demand or you're simply making a bad business decision.

     

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  101.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 16th, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Growing the pie vs. taking a slice

    And how exactly is this inherently bad? The Rolling Stones have discovered that they've exhausted much of what the market will bear, and now they have to price competitively.

    No, it is very good. Most people in this country don't have unlimited funds to spend on anything but the necessities. Hopefully the prices for everything will go down. And entertainment is something that people can find very cheaply. I hope they turn away from the famous people and participate in local entertainment.

     

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  102.  
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    dennis deems (profile), May 20th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How is it different?

    If I had a kid the LAST thing I would do is set him loose on YouTube.

     

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  103.  
    identicon
    Doug, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 7:31am

    Re: The FIVE PERCENT that Kickstarter skims is reason!

    This guy's problem is that he clearly thinks anything digital is just bippity-boop-zeroes-and-ones and has no value. You shouldn't make money from a website! My grandson can make that website in an hour!

    Classic old man who doesn't understand technology.

     

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  104.  
    identicon
    Jay Are, Sep 25th, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    Shorting the Little Guy

    I have a lot of respect for the thought processes going on int his discussion, and I do agree that just because someone has "made it" in Hollywood before doesn't mean they should be blacklisted from kickstarting a new project- especially if they already tried to get it done through the "proper" channels (i.e. appealing directly to Hollywood higher-ups). But, unless I'm making an error of logic I'm unaware of, I foresee a potential technically-legal-but-exploitative use of the 'starter in which an entity whose job is SPECIFICALLY to research, create and fund the highest quality product for something will "ransom" the potential of a high-quality product against the public to get THEM to pay for something that should be provided. Example: okay, Braff wants to make a movie but no one bites so he kickstarts it. Good for him, hopefully viewers all win. But what happens when, say, Paramount Pictures makes a movie, it goes wild, then they say "Hey, you know we decided to disappoint everyone and not make a sequel, it's just not in the budget, sorry!... unless some fans want to kickstart it..." (when the whole point of your budget IS to fund such projects) then lo-and-behold instead of a giant company with billions on tap to make a great film... the fans just paid for it and Paramount reaps the advertising anyway. Or they reap $5 million when they say "our target to make this is $100 million" but because of their vast resources it only ends up costing $95 mil. I realize I may be ignorant of Kickstarter's rules that prevent this, but as I understand it, there's not a lot of control guidelines and if Paramount or some huge company asked one of their stars to set up a fund (never mentioning the studio was behind it), it would be totally legal- if reprehensible.

     

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  105.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 25th, 2013 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Shorting the Little Guy

    But what happens when, say, Paramount Pictures makes a movie, it goes wild, then they say "Hey, you know we decided to disappoint everyone and not make a sequel, it's just not in the budget, sorry!... unless some fans want to kickstart it..."

    I don't see the problem. If fans want to support the project, they will, and that's fine. If they don't, they won't.

    if Paramount or some huge company asked one of their stars to set up a fund (never mentioning the studio was behind it), it would be totally legal- if reprehensible.

    Now that would be a problem. Hopefully the information would get out about who's behind the project, but I don't know.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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