"We're not completely destitute. We would've gotten a new van one way or the other," says frontmanMatthew Milia. "But we could use a new van, so we wanted to get our fans involved with it. I saw it as anopportunity to have a garage sale to make these off-kilter artifacts accessible. And if they'd like some of these things, it goes in a useful direction for us."Milia and Frontier Ruckus are part of a growing movement called crowdfunding. With crowdfunding, peopleinterested in seeing a certain endeavor completed can contribute money in tiered amounts in exchange for gratitude or goods.
, crowdfunding's household name, has driven more than 5,000 projects, likemovies, tours, books, software and albums, since its launch less than two years ago. Some bands who've usedKickstarter think it might forever change the music industryand, arguably, all art and cultureby allowinglisteners to put their funds where their fandom is. But it's not that simple, some say. Such systems takeadvantage of old fans by having them invest in a project that's not yet complete, critics say, and createillusions of demand. Those concerns haven't curbed the interest in crowdfunding, though; more than 2,500projects are currently being funded by Kickstarter alone, and for each of the last eight weeks, more than amillion dollars has passed through the network."For the past 60 years of recorded music, it's been prescribed, the way you record music and share it withpeople. There's no reason why that still has to be the case," says Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler. "Thereason it still is the case is that, if you go to a record label and they give you money to make a record, theyexpect a record out of it. They expect a predictable piece of work. But as this grows, you're not beholden tothat.""I'm a really good candidate for the old system. I'm totally willing to work as hard as I need to, but I sort of need to be told what to do," says Cary of the regimen of managers and labels and booking agents she hadwith her previous bands. That old system, she's found, generally doesn't work. Otherwise, she might not haveneeded that auto loan for Evangeline. "Eventually, I think we may want to try Kickstarter."Indeed, the crowdfunding phenomenon now extends far beyond the arts and Kickstarter. More than a dozenwebsites offer such services; authors Kevin Lawton and Dan Marom went so far as to title their 2010 book
The Crowdfunding Revolution
. The Florida-based
gathers funds for individualphilanthropy projects, while Michigan's
gives charities and volunteer organizations access to aworldwide network of would-be contributors. A California news organization,
, uses such techniquesto fund journalism; if a potential story is important enough to enough people, it gets funded, reported andwritten."Crowdfunding links funding with the social dynamics and affinity groups which naturally surround effortsthat resonate with our many motivations," reads
The Crowdfunding Revolution
. "That alone is enough tocause a monumental shift in the way business and organizations operate."For Rob Berliner, who plays mandolin and sings in the Philadelphia band Hoots & Hellmouth, crowdfundingfundamentally alters the way people can support what they value. It turns artistic commerce into a publicradio pledge drive. To wit, his band raised more than $20,000 to record an EP and an LP via Kickstarter."We live in this world where the consumer can go see a movie in a theater, or you can find an illegal way towatch it at home," says Berliner. "That's where a lot of things are going nowyou can take whatever youwant from the Internet, and you can spend exactly what you want on things, and nothing more."
ichael sold his car. It was an old BMWnothing new, nothing fancy, a box model from the '80s,"remembers Mark Holland, one of two twin brothers who founded the idiosyncratic Chapel Hill band