By now, we’ve all heard much about Amanda Palmer’s remarkable crowdfunding success. Her $1.2 million Kickstarter campaign showed everyone that the masses do, in fact, still support music-and pay for it.
As much as I love crowdfunding, the amount of press Ms. Palmer received got me wondering when and if there may come a time when the system may be corrupted. As it stands now, artists sign up with whichever crowndfunding site they feel best suits their needs, fans donate money in various amounts and get ‘thank you’ rewards depending on the amount donated. The die hard music fan in me LOVES this. I love the sense of community it brings. I love artists and fans working together to bring new music into the world. I love fans feeling appreciated by the artists whom they adore and feeling as though they’ve played a role even more significant than buying a t-shirt or concert ticket.
There is a tiny part of me that wonders, however, if at some point, some multi-jillion dollar marketing firm will use its budget to make a bunch of ‘donations’ to create a buzz about an artist they’re trying to promote. Maybe a label will have all of its interns make donations and use money they planned to spend promoting ‘insert name of next big thing here‘.
In the months since her Kickstarter campaign, Amanda Palmer has become a virtual household name, and for all the right reasons. She is a talented artist who used innovation and social media for the betterment of her career. What she’s accomplished could not have been attained by any traditional means; that is to say, had she simply released an album the old fashioned way, my mother still wouldn’t know Amanda Palmer’s name, and, talented though she may be, Ms. Palmer would not have gotten $1.2 million.
All of that is moot, however. She will now be the standard to which all wildly successful crowdfunding campaigns are compared. Naïve as it may be, I find there to be a certain purity about crowdfunding. I truly hope that it remains that way and doesn’t become a sort of Payola for the digital era. There are so many artists who deserve attention, not to mention money. Hopefully the greed that tends to overtake the ‘business’ part of the music industry will keep away from crowdfunding and allow it to bridge in the artist-fan relationship.