Artists for the last few years have a new venue to not only communicate with their fans but to actually involve the fans in the production of their work. In the past, for example, a band would have to play concerts or work side jobs if they wanted to raise the money they needed to pay for studio time or for mastering and pressing of their music onto vinyl or compact disc. This has all been fundamentally changed with Kickstarter, and other sites like it, which allow people to directly fund artists so that they can make their artistic projects a reality.
Fans do not contribute the money with an expectation of nothing in return. Rather, every Kickstarter pledge level has some kind of incentive to it. Let us look at an example project I recently found — Kelli Schaefer Releases a Full Length Vinyl Record. One important thing to note is that no money will be taken unless the full amount of money specified is raised. There is no good in raising half of the money that a project needs — either the artist raises enough confidence in people to get them to support the project, or the project does not get funded by Kickstarter.
This project has eight different pledge levels, each of which has its own rewards. The rewards build with greater contribution amounts, in this case — so giving $100 gets you everything you got for $40 and then some more. Even giving just one dollar will net something for you — in this case, you get to keep in touch with the rest of the backers. In some projects, giving a dollar will get you a high five from the artist if you see them in person. I personally like the $15 contribution level as it will get me a white vinyl copy of the record. Reading the description gives me a feeling of connection with the artist and the record label.
For just over one year, Amigo/Amiga has released two songs at a time for (or, rather, with) Kelli Schaefer with the end goal of compiling those songs with previously unreleased songs on a full-length 12″ vinyl record. Nearly all of the money made from this released music so far has gone directly to making and releasing more music, so we have started this Kickstarter page to pay for some of the many up front costs associated with releasing albums.
I like the idea that they are reinvesting the money like that. An organization that has this foundation is the kind that I like to support. It only takes a quick search to find the musician’s web sites and realize that this is a project I really like. I feel glad that I discovered it through Kickstarter and another relationship is forged that would have been much more difficult to make a few years ago.
Just to clarify, music is not the only sort of art supported on Kickstarter — there are musicians but there are also writers, film makers, sculptors, and just about any other sort of artist you can imagine. Get on Kickstarter now and give it a try — you may be surprised with what art you will discover!