Quick question, darlings: I want you to take a look at these pictures, and tell me which one is begging.
Is it this guy? Playing music, giving it to you for free, with a “Pay What You Want” policy — even if what you want is $0 — you still get to listen.
Or this crew, who don’t work for some company collecting a salary, but instead, go out on the streets, giving away their show, and rely on the good faith of their audience to fulfill their part of the social contract — so that they can continue to bring their performance to the people.
Or maybe this guy, performing his weird art and amusing a crowd of people, who didn’t ask him to be there, but are enjoying it anyway — and if they believe in what he’s doing, maybe they’ll decide to pay for their experience. I’m sure not one of them asked “And what’s this money for, exactly? Are you going to ONLY spend it on make up and red clown noses, or do you perhaps need to eat, drink and be merry at some point?”
Is this guy begging – offering you his hand made CDs — quite clearly not on a major record label – GASP!
So what about this woman?
She says “I’m going to produce something, and it’s going to cost a bunch of money, but I’d really like you to have it — do you want it? Do you want to buy what I have to offer?” And her fanbase replies “FUCK YES, AMANDA!” and pre-orders an album that isn’t even recorded yet — because they have faith in the social contract she is entering into. They know that their faith will be rewarded.
But for some reason, people hear Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Pubslush or just CROWDFUNDING in general, and they think this:
For the record, crowd funding is not begging, darlings.
It is a business model designed to allow artists creative freedom and connect fans directly to the artist. It is a way for artists and fans to show each other good faith — the fans saying “I believe in what you do and want you to keep doing it” and the artist saying “I want to give you the very best of what I’ve got, thank you for helping me make that possible.”
That being said, it’s also a social contract of sorts — the artist promises to produce something in exchange for payment. NO different than if a musician were selling demo CDs after a show. It’s supporting something and someone you believe in. Sometimes it’s based on a “Pay What You Like” model, especially when what is being offered is digital, or cannot have a true price tag put on it. Other times, there are set amounts that the artist has calculated based on the cost of the physical goods being provided. But it is a business, not a charity – at the end of the day, that’s the money you made for making your art, and people need to understand that. People who attack people like Stacy Jay, or Amanda Palmer, or anyone else who uses the crowd funding model – specifically how the money gets spent — should think about this: does your employer ask you how you spend your paycheque? If you give a musician $5 for a CD after a gig, and then they take that $5 and buy a beer with it — does that bother you? Part of “doing our jobs/making our art” = LIVING. Paying for promotion, paying for editors, paying for artwork — or… paying for gas, paying cell phone bills, etc.. Many of the costs of making art include the costs of living.
I am not ashamed of my chosen business model. I have worked very very hard and have been handing out the fruits of my labour for free week in and week out for nearly two years now. The amount of time and energy and completely non-billable labour that goes into to not only the writing, but the production (good god, I spent four hours last night just trying to fix a layout issue) promotion and marketing is completely invisible. You, the readers, thank goodness, only see the art.
Please help me keep making art.
Go join Pubslush and become a fan, and I promise not to disappoint you. Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two – coming Spring 2015