Fans of Veronica Mars rejoiced when star Kristen Bell and creator Rob Thomas announced a Kickstarter launch for a Veronica Mars movie. For those who are unaware, Kickstarter is a website where people can ask for money (funds) for upcoming projects in various fields. In return, the funder may receive things like a producers credit, autographs etc., depending on how much they contribute. A typical Kickstarter campaign lasts 30 days.
The show went off the air in 2007, but gained a cult-following. They were determined to see their beloved characters live on. Flash-forward a mere 10 hours after the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter was launched. The two million dollar goal was reached and broke Kickstarter records.
While Mars could have eventually found a backer, Warner Brothers and others involved were skeptical of the show's popularity. Anyone can say they like something, but would they be willing to pay to see it. The Kickstarter campaign proved the point.
Besides the money, Veronica Mars and Kickstarter further cemented that if you can't get it done, "do it yourself." The normal formula for success has changed tremendously, especially in the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry is a hard field to get into. Thousands, if not millions attempt to break into this lucrative business with the dreams of fame and fortune. Only a select group will truly make it, but it doesn't stop many from trying.
The stereotypical "I moved out to Los Angeles or New York City with nothing," still exists. Waiting tables while trying to make it big is also very apparent. Still, the formula of how to "make it" is not as cut-and-dried as it once was. Thousands still go on casting calls, sing at open-mic nights and pitch their ideas to whoever can get their foot in the door. But, unlike in the past, the person doesn't have to physically step onto the streets of New York or L.A. to make an impact.
The Internet has permanently changed the entertainment business. This is by far nothing new. Recently it has become more apparent with the #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit "The Harlem Shake" (which YouTube was instrumental in making it a hit). "Grumpy Cat," which spawned a few Twitter-handles, a popular Tumblr, website and huge line at this year's SXSW in Austin, Texas is a recognizable name in many households. Viral celebrities are transitioning in the mainstream world landing television/movie roles and of course record deals.
These viral stars do not necessarily need the traditional media platforms that so many crave. They were able to carve an audience by their online presence. The very first viral superstars were truly "doing it themselves" and had the freedom (and some still do) of doing what they want without the presence of a major distributor. However, the traditional method is still more lucrative for the majority, but a strong viral presence may lead to more opportunity. The YouTube channel The You Generation or TYG, which launched recently, is hoping to do just that. They are branding themselves "the world's global audition channel" and will hold contests for average everyday people to show off their skills. Besides prizes, unknown opportunities may arise from the viral presence that this channel may bring.
So has the formula for success in the entertainment field changed? Yes and no. On the one hand the entertainment field as a whole has changed. Network television ratings are lower than they once were. Basic cable ratings are at an all-time high in some markets. Physical music sales may still be iffy, but digital sales are making up for some of it. Can't get a book deal? Self-publish or turn it into an e-book. You never know if what you are writing becomes the next phenomenon.
On the other hand, the old formula is alive and well. It is by far not easier this way, but if a person "makes it" they have may have more stability then someone carving their own way. The goal for either side is to become "discovered" by someone who can help them get where they want to go. People choosing the more independent route may never have their work or talents be seen. At least with the older formula, the party knows they have been looked at and possible passed over.
There actually isn't a clear way to truly make it in the entertainment field, or any field for that matter. Yes, there is always the traditional way. This way works for some people. But in this cut throat world, where stacks of resumes are being discarded before they are looked at and phone calls aren't returned for weeks (or ever), standing out is key. The new "look what I did by myself" method can help with this. It does create opportunity. No matter the method, it is about pushing forward with a smile, never giving up and seeking or creating the opportunity.
Follow Andrew Benkovic on Twitter: www.twitter.com/andrewbenkovic