Haves Vs.Have Nots: Should The Rich & Famous Crowdfund Their Projects?

Posted on 2 August, 2015 by Team Wishberry

EC5 Creativity has never been limited only to the hipster-glasses wearing, Starbucks coffee guzzling, messy haired “creatives”. It’s for everyone. In the same vein then, crowdfunding for creativity (or creative projects) has never been limited only to one specific set of people. Or has it? It all seems to be rainbows and unicorns and happy-community-feeling inducing, until a celebrity has opted to crowdfund for a project. Then, suddenly, the rules have changed. The pearly and pretty much permanently open for all gates of crowdfunding have been locked. The next thing you know, the online trolls have found a new purpose for their existence. Time and over we’ve seen that the moment a celebrity becomes involved with crowdfunding, things reach a whole new (and twisted) level. While there have been successful celebrity crowdfunding campaigns, the list of failed ones all across the globe is tough to ignore. The common cause for failure is pretty much summed up in one question:
Why does a celebrity who’s pretty much swimming in money need crowdfunding?
We’re used to associating crowdfunding with a means to fulfilling the desperate need for money for whatever reason- be it arts or charity. Plus, as a backer, it’s so much easier to put your cash on a project that actually needs it and feel good about being a patron of the arts, than put it on something that could very well do without your contribution. Another thought that runs through almost every person’s mind is, “If I don’t fund this project, someone else will. Or, the celebrity will figure something else out.”
And then there’s that other notion: let crowdfunding be reserved only for the struggling artists who are yet to make their mark or catch their big break.
Crowdfunding for arts, culture and creativity has been seen has an indie watering hole, and the rich and the famous need not pollute the scene with their needless attempt at turning everything mainstream. A couple of years ago when usually beloved names like Zach Braff and Spike Lee opted for crowdfunding, there was some major backlash. Hell, Amanda Palmer- considered as a crowdfunding rockstar all over the world- still has a fair share of blogs and theses dedicated to throwing endless flak her way in spite of her crazy record-setting success. In the not too distant past, even the most renowned name in the Indian indie scene Monica Dogra’s INR 50 lakh crowdfunding campaign for a music video became a raging talking point for the people of the internet. All this vitriol stems from the argument that celebrities don’t need crowdfunding, simply because they already have the funds they need. Plus, it all seems rather pretentious, right?
It’s hard to take a rich person’s call for money seriously.
But in the creative sector, while the basis of crowdfunding is the money, is it really all about that? Isn’t it about taking the artist-fan relationship to another level? Isn’t it about opening new avenues for creative collaborations? Above all, isn’t it about gaining complete creative control and breaking out of your comfort zone in a space that’s saturated with conventional content?
Is it fair that only smaller artists should be granted exclusive access to the revolutionary road?
To their credit, big names are perfectly capable of bringing much-needed attention to crowdfunding. It’s so much easier for them to make the masses feel comfortable about a concept like this, especially in India where crowdfunding still has a long way to go. In so many ways, this makes it easier for the lesser known artists to seek crowd-patronage. Obviously this comes with the tremendous responsibility that these individuals need to understand- the crowd cannot be taken for granted. Plus, there are a few ground rules that need to be followed- no matter how big your brand is-
  • The crowd knows what’s up. The more obscure and muddled you get in your communication, the more they are going to call you out- irrespective of who you are! Do not try to blindside your own backers.
  • If you’re expecting people to put their money on you, you have to prove it to them that a. it is worth it, b. you’re going to use it well, c. the returns they get are justified.
  • Transparency is extremely and absolutely paramount- in everything- right from the core concept of your project to the budgeting.
  • Never let people forget why someone like you is crowdfunding.
  • Make sure you’ve made it clear you know exactly what you’re doing and what you’re talking about from the get go.
  • Understand that crowdfunding is a responsibility. It goes beyond your own project. You are setting the road for other artists. You are influencing the people in some way about this concept. You cannot leave a bitter aftertaste in the community’s mouths.
As for those harping about how big-ticket failures and controversies lead to a rockier path for smaller artists, here’s what you should remember:
  • Great work coupled with honesty and a good sense of strategy is destined to succeed- no matter who has spoilt the scene before you. This has been proven to us with amazing consistency.
  • Focus on building your own community. Forge real relationships with your fans. Gain trust from where you need it. That’s all you need to rock this crowdfunding thing.
  • Just because someone else has the advantage of their name, doesn’t mean you are at a complete disadvantage or have nothing on you.
To put it in the simplest way- crowdfunding is all about taking power from the hands of an elite few and giving it to the many that actually care. It’s a democracy of creativity, for creativity. Therefore, to say that one set of people shouldn’t make the best of this at all is not only unfair but also very self-defeating for the concept.

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