This is a really great piece and thank you for it. What it’s missing is stewardship. I’ve worked on great crowdfunding projects and have seen again and again the feeling of renewed desperation at every successive fundraising venture by a range of producers and writers in different arenas (documentary, feature film, books) who have not capitalised on creating synergy with their funding fans and reached what Kevin Kelley calls 1,000 True Fans (10KTF), a large-enough fandom to fund starting up a project every year with $10,000 or more in capital.
10KTF is a great idea but only works in practice when fans accept the changing life of the Creative individual. Think of an artist who raises lots of money for a tour, does it, then can’t find similar success for the follow-up. It’s even harder for studio musicians, to say nothing of orchestras.
The problem with stewardship for the Creative as one is typically stereotyped, is the tension between crowdfunded creativity as an exclusive outlet of inspiration and turning a “successful” creative project into a business. That’s why a large majority of all crowdfunding projects are through either a self-employed status or under a formal fiscal sponsorship through a non-profit. Both have tax-saving opportunities, but they also show the looseness of these projects as a force for change. The stress shows that the majority of crowdfunding is actually not in the classic sense, an entrepreneurial exploration as it rarely creates permanent employment.
Because of this informality, crowdfunding is a form of what I call distasteful entrepreneurship: an idealistic employment decision based on the active acceptance of mass media rejection of the concept. Or, do or die capitalism. Someone looking for venture capital or a specific type of film producer is able to shop the idea through a range of parties with minimal public scrutiny affecting value — even though the pitch may be the same in some cases.
Luckily, stewardship can be just having an active twitter account or sending an email every month. Few do this. The crowdfunding teams break up as soon as the campaign is over if they are not involved in the long-term project. Those that remain get too consumed in the work to remember funders until there is actual progress to be reported. The problem is when you start hearing complaints. When funders start thinking they’ve given you a loan, it’s a real problem. Best to force oneself to write something once a month, even if spent enjoying the time and money you have to pay yourself to do the work you love.