Once upon a time, I was way into the Kickstarter concept.
I'm all about supporting creativity. Independent artists and philanthropists with a dream finally had a way of making their dream happen -- and we, those who believed in their art, had a way to show our support.
Perhaps it was the novelty of it all, at the time. But it seemed to be a good idea.
But the shiny veneer has begun to wear off, and the tarnish is starting to show.
Is Kickstarter at its essence nothing but panhandling? I wouldn't have said so a few years ago. But then I started to get the emails from random acquaintances pleading for funds to complete their ill-conceived projects. The most offensive late was when a local dessert shop I actually adored emailed that they had started a Kickstarter to fund them moving to a larger location. So...wait...you want me to give you money so you can ultimately make more money off me? And, what? You are offering me a cookie in exchange? Seriously? Kickstarter is infested with projects that ask for large sums of money but offer very little in return, and what started out as an oasis of creatives and innovation has become a haven of scammers and greedy business blunderers.
Friends, there's these new-fangled things called banks. They give you money for your business investment and then you pay them back with a thing called interest -- not cookies. Look into it.
The community that stands together falls apart. I remain very attracted to the community aspect of Kickstarter. I've invested a scant few times, but when I have, it's been for people and projects I truly believed in and felt close to. I believed so strongly in it, I wanted to be intimately attached to its potential success. But we're not really investors -- we really don't get a say or a stake in the final project. Even the term backers is a pretty generous one. Ultimately, we're little more than customers -- customers of a product that doesn't even yet exist.
But it's flawed model with a lot of potentials for chaos and confusion. What happens when the backers do their part, and the project creator can't -- or chooses not to -- do theirs? What if they reach their goal, but the money they ask for ultimately isn't enough to fund the project anyway? What if they take your money -- and then a year goes by and no project or rewards are delivered? Why create negative PR before even having a product to publicize? And what happens if the project ends up with far greater funding than intended? What happens to that extra money? We'd like to believe it all gets invested the project, but....
Beware false gods. Does everyone remember The Ten Commandments and what happened to those who chose to worship the golden calf?
Beware of false idols. Kickstarter was meant to be a sort of savior for all that is artistic and creative. It was to be the playground of the future's greatest innovators. But...then we realized. No one is actually innovating. And while it can be amazing for an independent artist, it can also be an absolute windfall for the charlatan who wants to scam the masses into supporting them. Or, their friends and family. Same difference in this case.
And it's gotten out of control. For every valiant cause or philanthropic effort there's the acquaintance mass emailing everyone they ever met, asking them to give them money so they can start a fledging business out of their basement. Or pay their rent while they try to break into the world of puppeteering. And much like the kids of our friends who want you to buy their girl scout cookies, suddenly you feel OBLIGATED. It's not that you necessarily believe they will be the best puppeteer ever, but at the same time, you don't want to be that asshole who kept them from getting there, either.
The peril of running a campaign. Look, I've had close friends running campaigns. I know it's not fun on that end either. Ultimately, like many other business models, crowd-funding is a potentially great tool if utilized effectively. It can lead to incredible possibilities for artists who otherwise may have not had the same opportunities. But, I'm sorry, the process is is (plainly) broken right now. There's no guarantee anyone's project or abilities will match their ambition. There's no guarantee they aren't going to misuse your money -- or dick around and run off with it. There's no guarantee you are ever going to see your promised rewards. Some work out, lots don't, and unless you have tons of money to burn, you have to decide if it's worth your time (or money).
You guys, Kickstarter once upon a time promised to change the world. No one ever necessarily said for the better.
Totally disagree with everything I said? Think I'm an asshole for not supporting the independent artist dream? Tweet me at @AlyWalansky and lets talk about it!