Let’s talk about crowdfunding – you know, those websites where people can solicit the entire internet for money for whatever they want. But before we begin, allow me to preemptively do some damage control – there are good and appropriate uses for crowdfunding. I have a childhood friend that currently has cancer and is using a crowdfunding site to help cover some of her living expenses while she is unable to work. I’m not talking about her, or anyone like her. I’ve seen guitar effects companies who need some capital for r&d to fund a new pedal, and essentially run their crowd funding campaigns like a long-term pre-order that is (usually) accompanied by a significant discount. I’m not talking about them either.
What I’m talking about is just about everything else on these sites.
There is a pervasive cultural mentality that what we have to offer is important to the world. So important, in fact, that people from all over the would should give us money to potentially realize whatever (probably half-formed) idea we have. We are no longer interested in working hard and grinding it out in order to take a chance and potentially fail. Saving money, sacrifice, and committing to something we believe in is potentially hazardous to our self-esteem, so we attempt to reduce our own risk by constructing a safety net out of stranger’s money.
Because of this, crowdfunding has become a multi-billion dollar industry. There are thousands of campaigns on crowdfunding sites at any given time. Thousands upon thousands of people who want to publish books, record albums, go on tour, make games, produce films, and probably anything else you can think of. It’s not that I dislike people having ideas and attempting to bring them to fruition, but going about it in this way just seems lazy. You will excuse my terminology, but success takes hustle. I don’t buy the idea that crowdfunding is the only way to get an idea off the ground.
Have a band but can’t afford studio time to record your masterpiece of an album? Learn a little bit about recording and do it your fucking self. I’ve heard some amazing tracks that were recorded for free in practice spaces and spare bedrooms. Dead Hand and The Glorious Rebellion are astoundingly good examples of this. In both instances, the band took it upon themselves to learn about recording software, mic placement, mixing, etc, and the effort is evident in the end product.
Want to publish a book? It’s basically free to self-publish. Find a reasonably priced editor and learn how to format a manuscript yourself. Nobody needs start up money to publish a book. Writing and music can be done without needing tons of money, but it requires research, learning, and commitment to do so. We don’t have the time for that, though, which is somehow a good enough reason for strangers on the internet to give us money.
Have a great idea for a film? Well, I admit that a film is much harder to just do yourself, but it’s not unheard of. Kevin Smith sold his comic collection and maxed out a few credit cards in order to film Clerks. A more recent example of this is Paranormal Activity, which cost something like twelve dollars to make.
Things generally start small and gain momentum in a pretty direct correlation to the amount of work you put in. Whores. has spent the past couple of years building a sizable word of mouth following based entirely on their dedication to their music. Once the rest of the world catches on, and they are being mentioned in the same breath as The Melvins, or Helmet, or [insert your favorite band here], it will be because of their commitment and talent, not because a bunch of shitheads on the internet gave them money to record an album. Hometown purveyors of the riff, ASG, have been killing it for over a decade, and recently got picked up by Relapse Records. I could spend hours sitting at my computer typing away, doing nothing more than providing dozens of examples of bands, authors, and directors that succeeded because they chose to commit themselves, take a risk and work for it.
We aren’t special and better than everyone by default, which means that neither are most of our ideas. The idea that people should just give us money to finance our dreams is insane. If you can’t be bothered to work toward the thing that you are most passionate about, I have some very serious doubts about the quality of your album/book/movie/game/whatever. Stop holding your hands out, expecting for people to do it for you. If you aren’t willing to work for it, maybe you don’t deserve it.
Go Fund Me? Go Fuck Yourself.