Alex Roth, who launches a Sponsume fundraising campaign today – his birthday – for a UK tour, writes about crowdfunding:
The meteoric rise of online crowdfunding has provoked heated debate – not least on a recent post by Gwyneth Herbert on LondonJazz News. Some welcome the freedom it offers entrepreneurs while others question its integrity. Whichever stance you take, the reality is that platforms like Sponsume and Kickstarter are here to stay, with predictions that 2013 will see over $13billion raised globally through such sites.
Personally, I regard online crowdfunding as both a logical and a necessary step forward for many industries, but particularly creative ones. With government funding cuts impacting heavily on the amount of state support available for artists and entrepreneurs, it is reassuring to see that people are prepared directly to support the projects they would like to see happen.
Where the music industry is concerned, we have already seen a proliferation of artists adopt a “DIY” approach to both recording and marketing; doesn’t it make sense that DIY fundraising should follow? And where else would this originate but in the realms of cyber space, where ideas can reach millions in minutes?
But it is important to note (as others have pointed out) that such systems of patronage actually date back at last as far as Bach’s time, when patrons would directly support the activity of their favourite artists and receive exclusive benefits in return. Would the Goldberg Variations, the Trout Quintet or the Razumovsky Quartets have come into existence without this kind of patronage? Unlikely. I really like the idea that artists can now once again reach out directly to the people who will actually benefit from their work without pandering to state-run intermediaries who doubtless have their own agendas to promote, and increasingly shallow pockets to dig in to.
The question now is: what happens when every band, video game designer, inventor and film-maker wants your money to fund their latest project? I’ll save answering that for another time – right now I’ve got a crowdfunding campaign of my own to launch…