Here's a little something that's been bothering me these days: Kickstarter (or GoFundMe or IndieGoGo). "But why?" you might ask. How can I possibly have a problem with these amazing crowd-funding sites where projects that might not have the ability to flourish are given the chance for fresh air, food and attention. Well, I have my reasons, which are vast and not very complex.
For those who don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a place where people seek funding for projects they have. Think of it like the Dragon’s Den. People show up with their ideas, create an amount of money they will need to make their dream come true, and other friendly individuals get so amped up over the project they decide to give money. In theory, it’s amazing – after all it did give us the Veronica Mars movie – except, theory doesn't keep us warm at night.
Everyone And Their Uncle Carl
These days everyone and their Uncle Carl seems to have a Kickstarter account - this means everyone and their Uncle Carl have their hands out. Every day, we are inundated with requests to ‘fund’ other people's projects, as if we ourselves don’t have projects that need funding – or, you know, bills in need of being paid. I can’t possibly keep up with the amount of people I know who have their very own Kickstarter going right this minute and they all want me to contribute, to support them, to give them money. And, let me tell you, money is the last thing I have to offer. Quantity reigns supreme and quality is taking a direct hit. There are so many people with projects in need of funding and I suspect a lot of the good ones are being over-shadowed by the abundance of crappy ones. Things that might actually be amazing are falling into the doomed pit of failed Kickstarter projects.
The Idea Machine
Now, think about all those projects, all those people, all those hands out. Then consider the likelihood of every single one of those people and projects being worthy of funding. Statistics and common sense tell us there will be a plethora of terrible ideas in the Kickstarter machine. Just because you have an ingenious thought at four in the morning after smoking a doobie and eating a bag of Doritos doesn't mean it needs to be made into reality. In fact, if marijuana cigarettes and chips are instrumental parts in the decision to open your Kickstarter account and take the plunge – stop. Do not proceed to go. You are not to collect two hundred dollars. In fact, go to jail.
The world we live in these days is all about the hippie ideology that everyone is special and everyone deserves a trophy. This is wrong. Some people aren't cut out for building a company, piloting a project, or even coming up with unique ideas worthy of funding, support, or a second glance.
Just A Thought
A lot of the people creating their projects don’t actually think them through. They guess. They scribble down a couple numbers and think they *might* be able to make it work, but they have no real idea. Sure, some sit down and take it seriously. They do their research. They crunch the numbers. Create graphs. Flow charts. A business plan. But they are few and far between. Most average human beings don’t have a clue how much time, energy and money go into making (good) movies, publishing (good) books, creating (good) prototypes for new helmets or starting a (good) pirate radio station. Notice how I added ‘good’ in there? Well, that’s the ticket, isn’t it?
The idea, project, book, movie, song doesn't have to be good. Look at self publishing. There are so many people out there self pubbing subpar books, not taking the time to hire an editor to catch all their atrocious typos and grammar mistakes, getting their friends to slap together unprofessional overs, not formatting properly. What happens if those people decide to turn around and make a movie based off their novel they sold thirty-two copies of? Well, they will create a Kickstarter and ask you for funds. Think of all the low quality work littering Amazon making it harder for the good and even great books to break the surface. Realistically, a movie isn't a good idea. Neither are t-shirts or bubble gum.
Starting a new endeavour is harder than most people assume. Sure, Pump Up The Volume made starting a radio station look easy, but that equipment is expensive, and we all don’t have the tantalizing voice Christian Slater does! All jokes aside, I might want to make an independent film about being a chubby vegan, but that doesn't mean I understand the first thing about doing it and, let’s say on the off chance I’m going to go ahead with this idea I seriously just made up, I’d have to learn a lot. I mean, a lot! And figure out a way to do it in a way that hasn't actually been done a million times before.
It’s almost as though people think that if they raise the money then magicians and professionals will come out of the woodwork to help. This is not the case. And the very real truth is, even if you do manage to raise the funds, you will most likely run out of money before you are finished.
Yes, there are instances when it works out, like the aforementioned Veronica Mars movie and Amanda Palmer raising a million dollars to record a new album. But the people involved in those projects are, in fact, gurus in the industries . This isn't NEW to them. They KNOW what they are doing. In the end, you are asking people to give you their money so you can try something new. Don’t you think it’s your responsibility to understand the ups and downs of the industry you are trying to dive into so you can provide at least a half assed guarantee?
But This Is My Hard Earned Money
Here's the thing ... the money in my bank account is mine. I earned it. I worked hard for it. And I don’t want to give it to you. In fact, I don’t actually have this money at all. Sure, I earned it. It’s in my bank account, but I have bills to pay, rent cheques that can’t bounce, hydro and internet to keep up with. I have a car to drive. Food to buy. Pets to feed. Who the hell are you to ask me to give you money? Look, I don’t mind helping you out by buying your book, renting your movie, downloading (legally) your music, or purchasing your newfangled idea when it hits the shelves, but I have no intention of giving you money in order for you to write your books, make your movies, record your songs, or develop your prototype for a calorie burning gum. Sorry, but I’m not sorry.
Laziness Begets Laziness
We are a lazy generation. Back in the olden days, if you wanted money for a business, or project, you went to the bank, networked with financial backers, or contacted business you thought would benefit from what you’re trying to do. Also, you would use your own money. *GASP* What a novel idea, huh? To financially back yourself. But I guess this was way too hard. It required you to actually take a risk. Now people go online and create a Kickstarter, GoFundMe or IndieGoGo and send the link to five hundred of their closest friends and family members. From there, they harass people. On top of asking for money, they want you to share, like, blog and retweet their little old project to let your friends and family know they are accepting donations.
There is no risk these days. No one to hold these people accountable. You might be waiting for your perk for the rest of your life. Even if a project raises enough money, or even surpasses the amount needed, there is no real way to police the other side. And what happens when the creator shrugs their shoulders and says, “Sorry, it didn't work out.” No, you won’t get your money back.
In The End
What these sites really provide is an escape from responsibility and hard work. If the project/company/business/idea you created in Kickstarter fails, you kick the rocks at your feet and move on to your next marijuana nacho chip mind fart. Battling with your blood, bones and working three jobs to succeed isn't going to factor into your game plan when you didn't foot the bill anyhow. In many ways, these resources are suffering from the same issues Amazon does. Too many people. Not enough care and consideration. And a lot of people not producing a quality product. Asking people for money is asking people for money. Calling it an investment is a bit ridiculous. Furthermore, the last time I checked no one ACTUALLY has any money, therefore, asking them for funding is kind of rude. Don’t you think?
Hey, I am all about everyone’s dreams coming true, but in this overpopulated world, it just isn't feasible for every single one to be brought to fruition. Let’s be honest, some dreams need to be stomped on, burned, and fed to rabid raccoons. Not to burst bubbles.
Don’t be mistaken. I don’t HATE these ‘fund me’ resources. I think they are great, especially for starving artists or people who have seriously been down and out on their luck. But, like always, moderation is the key to success. Frankly put, most people aren't capable of seeing their ideas through. There are countless projects started that should have come out as farts instead of ideas.