I remember when Kickstarter first launched. It wasn’t the first time I saw someone asking for money online to fund their thing, but it became a popular platform for all types of people and businesses to raise support.
Among musicians, crowdfunding is a controversial topic, and you will get a range of opinions depending on who you talk to. Some love it because they can fund a project they would otherwise not be able to make, and that is really the intent behind the creation of crowdfunding websites. Others think if a band wants to make an album, they should hit the road to make money playing gigs and building their fan base organically.
After Kickstarter became popular and other sites started leveraging the same or a similar concept, people started using those sites for other kinds of things, including personal wants/needs (most people know what they are and can do, so I won’t get into the details here).
Overall, I think crowdfunding can be a useful tool when used the right way, but I am starting to see more and more people abuse. Recently, something that set me off was a person in a Facebook group (not someone I know personally) asking people to visit their page they setup to launch their new freelancing business. It came as surprise to me because it was a digitally-based business that they were running out of their home! Not only that, but they weren’t offering anything in exchange for donations, which sites like Kickstarter require.
I understand the need, or at least the desire, to use crowdfunding to test an idea that would take a significant amount of time, money, and resources to create before ever being able to sell a product. One such product I actually contributed to recently is the Fidget Cube, which recently raised over $6,000,000.
I also understand musicians, artists, and other creative people who want to make something that is beyond their means. If they can get enough people to support them and provide value in exchange for that support, I don’t see anything wrong with it. In fact, a few years ago I used Indiegogo to raise money for the mastering and CD duplication of my solo album. If I had been unable to raise the funds needed though, I would have done it myself. It may not have been as good, but I would have found a way to make it happen.
Even with smaller projects, there is a fine line between asking for what you need and being greedy. That is the main reason I will probably never do another campaign, even though it was successful. While I didn’t feel uncomfortable asking for help and support, after it was over I had a lot of anxiety about following through with everything. Ultimately I did, and I think everyone was happy, but it can put a lot of unexpected pressure on you.
Back to my point, crowdfunding can be a great way to kickstart an idea, or even an entire business. But I think it should be used conservatively and cautiously, and I see too many people using it to throw ideas against the proverbial wall and wait to see what sticks.
Having done my own campaign and contributed to several, I have to consent to their usefulness in some cases. But overall I worry about the future of raising money online and how it will be used.