Remember when all the bands were selling albums at Wal-Mart?
That was five years ago. And nobody does it anymore. The paradigm’s toast. Just like name your own price, the Radiohead “In Rainbows” promotion.
The reason the Wal-Mart scheme worked is because it was the EAGLES! Who hadn’t released an album in decades. Furthermore, unlike the traditional record business, the double album was a value, priced at single-album rates. If it had been Joe Blow…
Zach Braff may not be the Eagles, but he’s not getting as much money. But if you think crowdfunding is the future of entertainment financing, I’ve got to ask you how that Groupon stock is doing…are you still talking about it on MySpace?
Kickstarter, et al, have proven one thing:
1. If you’ve got fans, they’ll give you money.
It’s as simple as that. And that’s very important.
1. Do you know who those fans are?
Unless you’re uber-famous, you’ve got to have an e-mail list and a Twitter following…you’ve got to be able to reach all those potential crowdfunding donors. If you’re a middling act who’s been playing to gatekeepers your whole career, you’re gonna be in trouble.
So, right now, everybody in the creative sphere, develop and maintain an ongoing relationship with your fan base, it’s going to keep you alive when the big boys run out of money or are no longer interested in funding you.
But the gooey secret of crowdfunding is how few people donate. The focus is on the money raised.
Right now, 16,789 people have donated to Zach Braff’s movie campaign. If that many went to see his flick the first week out he’d be laughed out of “Variety.” Now I’m not saying he won’t get more people, but he’s one of the biggest film stars ever to go to the public via Kickstarter. In other words, if you’re a wannabe, GOOD LUCK!
And once you’ve got your money, you’ve got to…
Which brings us to the #1 problem in the crowdfunding sphere:
1. Too many people do not. And those who do not tarnish those who do. So if you lay out your cash and no film or album is forthcoming, there’s trouble. Furthermore, Braff’s a pro. The Pebble creators? It was laughable how little they knew about producing their product after they got their money. Read their posts explaining their delay. These high-fliers were more interested in the money than the logistics, and they’re the big winner!
You only survive in tech if you continue to grow and innovate. Which is why Amazon is such a high-flier. Today’s rumor is they’re going to deliver a set-top TV box. What is Kickstarter’s next move?
Not that these guys are bad or rip-off artists, but what we’ve seen in the history of the Net is one fad after another. From AOL to MySpace to…Facebook?
Come on, remember when AOL bought Time Warner?
How come everybody’s so stupid?
So Zach Braff raises his money. He shoots the film. Then where does he distribute it? Who pays for all the marketing? I’m not saying he can’t do without, but what he’s gonna end up with is a very small footprint, unless his film is incredibly good. But if you don’t know that nothing is guaranteed in movies, that you can have the best intentions yet end up with a mediocre flick, you’ve never made a movie.
So let’s not get caught up in the hysteria.
But we can get caught up in the cynicism…
Many high-fliers are looking for bucks on Kickstarter despite already having the money, they see it as a marketing tool. You think the public isn’t gonna suss this out?
And when the big boys come to play, it squeezes out the wannabes. Kickstarter’s no longer a left field club, but the playground of the people who won’t hang with you, who are always behind locked gates and velvet ropes.
So where does this leave us?
Great art triumphs. It’s easier to make it from left field than ever before.
But with all the competition, you’ve got to be better than ever.
And what we’re waiting for in film is what’s just now happening in music…acts that have developed completely outside the mainstream and stay that way. That’s the revolution, not the already famous slumming.