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Where’s the Crowd in Crowdfunding?

Although Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter “Double Fine Adventure” game project is making headlines, the big number of over 57.000 supporters (on Kickstarter called backers) shouldn’t mislead from the fact that this project is an absolute exception and can’t be compared to music crowdfunding projects.

Even if we take in consideration the positively running project of the Libertins on Pledgemusic, with at the time around 1.800 supporters (on Pledgemusic called pledgers), it still is a barely repeatable success, which only few musicians will achieve. I don’t possess any statistical values about the number of supporters and their financial contribution to music crowdfunding projects. I do assume that most (quite successful) projects are supported by hundreds if not even only tens of supporters.

These are more than good numbers for many artists who are so far unknown. “Newcomers” mostly face many problems at the same time. Firstly, they still aren’t as experienced in the music business, in dealing with fans (and sometimes the media), in presenting on the web (most of them don’t have Website, Twitter, Facebook or MySpace accounts) and generally in promoting. This is where a fan can be of tremendous support, whether it’s a new or an old one. The crowd shouldn’t only have a financial role. They can also help through giving advices, actively helping on building an online presence or simply through buzz marketing. From experience, usually there are a number of supporters who willingly take over those assignments, because they identify themselves outstandingly with the musician or his/her music. A decisive problem in this case is the consistency of this approach. Many fans tend to overstate the supporting or have a different idea of what support really means, and I know this from experience. This is what crowdfunding platforms are missing- suitable collaboration tools.

Besides, not even established crowdfunding providers managed to achieve a big, sustainable crowd, the so-called regular crowd. Most of the supporters are narrowed down to a single project and they attract other supporters through the interest of the media in the project. I believe the reason is that so far it hasn’t been possible to establish a crowdfunding brand, which can sustain enough supporters for a long period of time, regardless of some stars. Simply focusing on the funding act has surely played a big part in this case. In the beginning, crowdfunding platforms like SellaBand or Slicethepie (which no longer is identified as a crowdfunding platform) have worked a lot towards a vivid community-life. In the meantime, such activities barely ever take place. Reducing it all to a simple money business is letting a big potential go to waste. One can only hope, that the providers will remember what eventually makes crowdfunding a success – the crowd.

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