Artists get it started

Kickstarter is a website that gives artists the opportunity to pitch their potential projects to the people of world with the hopes of obtaining financial support. Donations are inspired by the promise of rewards and perks within the project that correlate to the dollar amount given.

While investors will not receive any monetary reimbursement, everything from hand written notes of thanks to actual casting in legitimate films can be given as thanks. Called one of the “Best Websites of 2011” by Time Magazine, anyone has the ability to open a patch and begin a project.

The problem with a program like this is how easily people can be manipulated out of their money.

Originally launched in 2009, this privately funded organization has generated over $759 million through the contributions of 4.7 million people.

However, the owners themselves play no role in the projects and give the original creators full control over their completed works.

Before donating, users get a quick overview of what the project aims to do, but it doesn’t mean the quality will be as advertised. There are no business plans or such to examine, yet people still blindly throw their money with high risk and a low reward.

Donators have to rely on updates from the creators to learn about the progress.

A project is given a specific time frame to meet a financial goal. If this number is not reached, the entire process evaporates with no funds transferred and nothing received by any party.

A large variety of genres are open for public assistance within the site, anything from cookbooks to animated films can be bolstered and moved toward production.

While anyone is able to begin this operation, Kickstarter has drawn some criticism because of celebrities leaning on their fame and fans to support personal goals.

High profile comedian Zach Braff gathered two million dollars in three days in preparation for a movie sequel.

A number of huge successes have emerged from this system. The video game Wasteland surfaced, the Veronica Mars movie debuted and the Museum of Modern Art exhibited two projects “EyeWriter” and “Hip-Hop Word Count” back in 2011.

The argument arises that large names may draw funding away from smaller scale artists and leave the little guys floundering.

Comedian Jon Lajoie parodied the idea of Kickstarter by creating a video advertising his project to make himself “super rich” through the backing of his fans. Inspired by Braff’s project, Lajoie explains how he’s willing to take his fans’ hard earned cash to accomplish his selfish dream of being super rich.

Problems have arisen with scandals like a $120,309 flop involving a failed beef jerky venture and artists like Amanda Palmer acting unethically with generated money. A frightening aspect of this site is the lack of a guarantee that the artist, having successfully accumulated the desired wealth, will actually use that money to realize the advertised product.

Kickstarter’s main competition comes in the form of similarly designed IndieGoGo. Also straddling the crowdfunding banner, a few key differences separate the two websites. IndieGoGo abandons the all-or-nothing system utilized by Kickstarter in favor of a more concrete system that locks in donations, rather than relying on completion.

Despite sounding dramatic, the all-or-nothing system encourages people to donate, subconsciously placing the failure of the project in the audience’s refusal to contribute.

The smaller IndieGoGo suffers due to its smaller membership and a lower popularity but their less rigid guidelines allows for a broader range of projects to be initiated.

For the artist looking to begin work, websites like these may be a perfect way to get the ball rolling on a project.

Utilized properly, mediums like these can enable the impoverished proletarian to strive toward goals previously beyond financial reason.

About Riley Tanner