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Crowdfunding Cuts Out (Most Of) The Middlemen

Crowdfunding Cuts Out (Most Of) The Middlemen

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Published by Crowdsourcing.org

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Mar 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Whitney Blair Wyckoff Isaiah Singer "You know, anyone can get free music online, anyone can get free YouTube videos online," Anthony Cekaysays. "So the way to really capitalize on that is [to] allow the access."For musician Anthony Cekay, a venture into the world of crowdfunding started with a poem.A friend challenged Cekay, who double-majored in English and music in college, to write a poem thathumanized the devil. From Cekay's poem grew a series of poems; the poems evolved into a melody; and thatmelody developed into an eight-hour piece of music, "The Spectacular War Museum."Cekay was invited to present the piece in vignettes at a New York venue, but he wanted to offer anexperience that went beyond a traditional performance: He wanted to stream his shows and have a jazzblogger offer a running commentary throughout. The problem was that the venue, while supportive of theproject, didn't have the capital he needed to back the whole thing.So, Cekay turned to the crowdfunding siteRocketHuband raised $2,500 to pay for equipment, 20 musiciansand tech support."We brought in well over 600 people both live and watching the performances recorded," Cekay says. "Andthat just wouldn't have been possible to do online without the crowdfunding element." RocketHub is one of several crowdfunding sites burgeoning on the Internet that allow musicians  andother creative-types like filmmakers, writers and painters  to enact a kind of grassroots campaign online toearn money to fund their ideas. It may help musicians to get a career boost or pursue a nontraditional project,but it also allows fans to interact with musicians in a unique way.
For one thing, fans who contribute get a tangible reward from the artists. Cekay says his "fuelers" had a levelof involvement that went beyond seeing one of his shows. Depending on how much money someonecontributed, that person would receive a highlights DVD, mp3s or a books of poetry that inspired the music.Isaiah Singer Anthony Cekay's cousin Christopher Allen, who fueled Cekay's project, with Anthony Cekay and BrainMeece. Allen won a t-shirt in a raffle Cekay held each week to fuel the project.Yancey Strickler, a co-founder of a crowdfunding site called Kickstarter , says crowdfunding is a business model that lies somewhere between commerce and patronage. Musicians get funding, but fans get somethingtoo: They get access."People like knowing where something is coming from and what the process has been to get there, and itgives you [as a consumer] an opportunity to be involved in a way that you never would otherwise," Strickler says.The idea of selling seats to the creative process is nothing new. In fact, Brian Meece, a co-creator of RocketHub, says crowdfunding is a throwback  a throw
back."We sometimes say Beethoven-plus-social-media equals crowdfunding," he says. "Because back inBeethoven's day, he had patrons basically give him financial contributions so he could continue his work.And that's how he got paid."The difference is that instead a handful of patrons funding an artist, crowdfunding has allowed more peopleto play that role. But despite the success that some artists have seen using crowdfunding, music researcherssay it's not a replacement for the traditional record companies."I think the crowdfunding aspect is interesting, but shouldn't be overestimated," says Mark Mulligan, vicepresident and research director of Forrester Research.

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