Kickstarter offers micro-patronage of the arts

Some people don’t pursue their dreams for very practical reasons — they have to pay the rent and they worry that being a musician, artist, filmmaker or writer won’t make any money.

A story in the New York Times this week introduced me to Kickstarter, based in our back yard here in Brooklyn.

Earl Scioneaux III is not a famous music producer like Quincy Jones. He is a simple audio engineer in New Orleans who mixes live albums of local jazz musicians by day and creates electronic music by night. He had long wanted to pursue his dream of making his own album that married jazz and electronica, but he had no easy way to raise the $4,000 he needed for production.

Then he heard about Kickstarter, a start-up based in Brooklyn that uses the Web to match aspiring da Vincis and Spielbergs with mini-Medicis who are willing to chip in a few dollars toward their projects. Unlike similar sites that simply solicit donations, patrons on Kickstarter get an insider’s access to the projects they finance, and in most cases, some tangible memento of their contribution. The artists and inventors, meanwhile, are able to gauge in real time the commercial appeal of their ideas before they invest a lot of effort — and cash.

“It’s not an investment, lending or a charity,” said Perry Chen, a co-founder of Kickstarter and a friend of Mr. Scioneaux. “It’s something else in the middle: a sustainable marketplace where people exchange goods for services or some other benefit and receive some value.”

It seems to me a brilliant way to connect people with an interest in the arts and the means to support them with the creatives who need their support. And since donors decide how much they want to give, you can contribute to a project that inspires you even if you feel you can only spare 10 bucks. It’s crowdsourcing of arts patronage.

I liked the article even more when I learned that Earl Scioneaux III is Madd Wikkid, keyboardist for of one of my favorite bands, the New Orleans Bingo Show, and audio engineer for Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

So of course this gets me thinking about how to generate financial support for my very favorite artist, John Tebeau

Would you pursue a passion if you could get financial support to do it? Would you reach into your wallet to help finance someone else’s dream?

From Kickstarter’s Web site:

Is Kickstarter an investment mechanism?

No. People who use Kickstarter to fund their projects (“project creators”) keep 100% ownership and control.

What’s in it for the people who pledge?

Project creators can offer products, services or other benefits (“rewards”) to inspire people to support their project: A hot-air balloon ride to the first person to pledge $300, an invitation to the BBQ for anyone who pledges more than $5, exclusive daily video updates for anyone who pledges more than $1. It’s up to each project creator to sculpt their own offers and there’s lots of cool ways to do it. (Want to see a great example? Google “Josh Freese”)

People who pledge also receive access to all project updates (posts, video, pics, etc.). “Project Updates” is our fancy name for the project blog. Some project creators may post 10 updates a day, others may rarely post. Some may make all their posts publicly viewable, others may set all their posts as exclusive to their backers.


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2 replies


  1. Kickstarter offers micro-patronage of the arts | Google Web Business
  2. Preservation Hall’s Ben Jaffe balances tradition and innovation « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally

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