This article on crowdfunding is strictly an opinion piece and does not claim to be the end-all, be-all. Feel free to make up your own mind on this issue.
This is a common issue with crowdfunding I've been seeing more and more of in recent months, and it's gotten to the point that I feel it's necessary to discuss.
I came across a Kickstarter campaign yesterday that really baffled me for a moment, and then got me a bit fired up. In short, the campaign seems to be asking for $20,000 to be able to photograph and film 5 festivals across the country, and then turn the footage into a 'movie' of sorts. The donators would, as a thank you, be given the final product in the end. You can check out the Kickstarter here.
In my honest opinion, this specific course of action is damaging to the photo industry, filmmaking industry, and potentially even the music industry!
What this campaign fails to mention is any specific ideas of how to promote this eventual film, where it will be seen, an actual monetary breakdown of how it would EVER require $20,000 to make this project happen, or simply, who are these photographers and filmmakers making this happen? The point of Kickstarter is to bring well thought-out, finished ideas to fruition because there is an inability to secure the money needed to make it a success. The way something like this comes off is you're looking to become a tour photographer by asking for money, and then presenting the money and idea to who is in charge of the festivals, thinking you couldn't "possibly" be denied now. This could further damage the already-suffering public perception of people working in the photo and video industry, and depending on the quality of these photographers and filmmakers' work, could easily damage the the image of the musicians as well.
Instead of completely trashing this idea and reiterating how blindly put together I feel this campaign is, I'm going to turn the tables and give a few ideas of how something like this "could" be successful if done correctly:
- Secure a streaming service who is interested in helping make this happen. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube Red, all of these services are in need of more and more original content, and if the idea is really solid, you may not NEED that $20,000.
- Let's say you got one of these streaming services to back you, you can then present the idea of them helping arrange a deal with the company putting on these festivals, thus securing your access before presenting the idea publicly. You then have made multiple friends in one sitting so to speak, and some of the leg work has now been done for you. You're going to have a next to impossible task ahead of you if you think you're going to be approved for the access you're seeking. With the number of bands, their management and PR, the festival companies, and many other factors involved... this simply won't happen without some sort of outside influence above your (and maybe even the festival's) pay grade.
- If you are really wanting to do this on your own, realize that there are tour photographers and videographers who sleep on floors of vans, in cars, and scrape by with next to nothing to make their dreams happen. What are you actually doing to change the game that warrants $20,000 for this idea, when I see some people making anywhere from $300-$1000 a WEEK on tour, shooting 5-6 dates a week, editing footage and photos, and repeat. Why does "your team" essentially deserve $4,000 a festival?
- Don't isolate a major demographic that would otherwise be interested in watching this. Understand the business that you're essentially infiltrating on.
Crowdfunding has been getting abused with things like people asking for money to buy camera gear, to go travel and take photos, to replace stolen gear that should have been insured, or to apparently go festival hopping. It's ruining the true and pure nature of what sites like these are about, and it's upsetting to see. I'd like to think that if I had a $1 million idea, that I could go to Kickstarter and present the idea, and have a chance at succeeding. I'm becoming less convinced, as it seems these sites are becoming platforms for the lazy to ask for their paychecks before the work is completed.
That isn't how this works, that's not how any of this works.
Look, you crowdfunding abusers. You are not entitled to anything. You don't "deserve" people's donations, and the point isn't to come up with a half-baked idea, only to finish it once the money comes flowing in. Stop destroying a truly magnificent idea with your laziness.