What's The Difference Between Buying and Backing?

Posted on 3 August, 2015 by Team Wishberry

EC21 Let’s look at the financial vocabulary of the world. People only know three extreme sides of finance - Investment, Debt and Donation. There are the capitalists who will only “invest” or give “loans” for financial return or there are the philanthropists, who will only “donate”, without expecting anything monetary in return. But now, you have the new guys on the block, a new breed of patrons we like to call "Backers". And you have the rewards-based crowdfunding model for creative projects to thank for this new crop. These are the people who have stretched our world of finance, and have come to the rescue of ideas that have been ignored by this limited financial system. Ideas that don’t need charity, that neither want loans or investments nor are looking to scale. Ideas like music albums, music videos, a short film, a feature film, a documentary, a dance event, a drama, a comic book, a graphic novel, a jazz concert, an animation film, a cool game, a fashion apparel or accessory, a food truck, a swimming pool in the middle of the city, a crazy toy, heck even a simple potato salad. Basically, all ideas that fall in the creative and cultural sectors. The only cloud on the horizon? No one believes that these backers exist!
People are hardwired into believing that if someone is supporting you, it cannot be without an agenda, out of pity or some unrealistic monetary expectation.
  So, who are these “backers”? More importantly, what do they want? Let’s tackle the first question. A backer, by definition, is someone who “backs” an idea and supports it in whatever way the creator needs. Someone who believes in the idea so much that he pushes it to fruition by funding it. Yep, it’s that simple. If you have an idea, your backer could be your family, the 4 a.m friends, the teachers who loved you, the colleagues who looked up to you, the people you went to college with, and if you’re a smart person and can use social media for stuff that goes beyond entertainment (meaning, for making excellent things happen), your backers could be the fans and followers you would’ve gained by sharing your ideas on Facebook, Youtube, blog or Twitter. We're talking about a community that you have to create with the use of social media around your idea. And if you're willing to slog it out for this community, your backers are the pillars your idea can rest on. In fact, it's the leverage that'll push a simple idea into an amazing work of art! Now surely backers want something in return, or else what they are doing for you is reduced to charity. But, it’s not money that they want. So, what is it?
Backers are your early adopters and they want to get access to your idea first and feel special.
  Say for instance, if you’re making a film, your backers want to be the first ones to see it or have their names flashing as producers of the film in the credits or just hang out with you on the sets, may be even learn to direct. If you’re a musician and want to make a music album, your backers want to be the first ones to flaunt the limited edition art work with an autographed DVD of your music album! Or they want to jam with you, because some of them love your music, want to give you a shot at achieving your dream and all they want in return is a little creative exchange or a chance to collaborate with you.  
In fact, the bolder your rewards, the higher the number of your backers.
  How are they different from investors? For one, they want no skin in the game. For two, they know what you're best at, so they let you do your thing- yes, complete creative freedom! Also, people with creative ideas have more to gain with backers than with buyers. Artists in this country, for example, have a hard time selling their finished products, thank to piracy if it’s music or films, or lesser demand for products like paintings. In the limited world of finance, artists have been producing their ideas by using their meager savings and almost never make a profit. But in the backers’ world, artists can now ask for funds to produce their ideas. Its a simple reverse action and win-win for all. What is sad is that artists don’t believe backers exist or find it embarrassing to ask for ‘backing’ a.k.a ‘support. They’re either too shy or too proud. Rewards-based crowdfunding has proven over the last 5 years that people are more interested in “backing” art than buying art. Amanda Palmer, an independent musician, who raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter for her music album said “Crowdfunding is a better way of doing business. Musicians find it hard to get paid, so with crowdfunding they can get their fans to pay in advance. It’s not shameful or an act or charity. And it’s funny that some people see it that way.”
The reason is simple. Art is a personal expression that has the power to connect with people and even connect two completely random but like-minded people from across the globe.
  Art is not a daily need, like a mobile phone or a fridge. So if you’re a musician and if you say “pre-order my CD by funding it on a crowdfunding platform”, you are complicating your equation with your backer. You are asking to “buy” and with “buying” comes the implication of “need”. And you have just reduced your fan, your backer to a simple buyer.
Your relationship with your fan is not that simple, it is not commercial and you have to honestly embrace that.
If you keep it simple and honest by saying “I have this idea, I think it is kickass and I want my fans to back me to bring it to fruition”, you’re more likely to get your funds and make your idea happen. It’s the simple things in life that are the hardest to imagine. Crazy, but true.  Note: A version of this post originally appeared as a guest article by Wishberry's co-founder, Anshulika Dubey, on www.yourstory.com. Read it here

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