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Arts Crowdfunding: Is It Embarrassing?

When London pianist Clifford Slapper decided to run a crowdfunding campaign for his new album (hint hint: here is the link), he knew that some people might surely turn their noses up at his plans. Little did he know that within moments of sending a Facebook message to the attendees of a gig he played in Germany, he would hear from an incandescent events manager shouting abuse down the phone, calling him pathetic, desperate, un-classy, and all sorts of names besides, that we do not wish to repeat here.

If you are an artist, you may have asked yourself before: Crowdfunding, yay or nay?

Well, one events manager from Düsseldorf upon the Rhine, certainly thinks "nay". In her own words, if you run a crowdfunder, "it is embarrassing", sending Facebook messages is "spam", and: "Germans don't like crowdfunding". Bang.

That poor events manager of Düsseldorf upon the Rhine, has confused matters rather.

Germany's capital, Berlin, is a massive fortress of the independent arts. Didn't your cool and artsy friend, the one who wants to become a writer, move to Berlin two years ago? Yeah...

Let's see: Fan-funded music is how Punk became a thing. It's all coming back now:

  • Crowdfunding is a great way to get noticed. A hot campaign could be the first step to industry recognition. It shows you mean business.
  • It helps you find your true audience. No more attempting to please everyone. Real faces, real voices. Direct sales, direct feedback.
  • It allows you to bypass industry gatekeepers and middle men. No more pressure to sell insane amounts so everyone gets fed.
  • The Big Entertainment industry is increasingly grinding to a halt. Taking less and less risk, the mainstream media will soon be this trickle of samey, safe and washed-down music products. Diversity, if you ever were here, goodbye...
OK, some people love their Eurovision song contest winners and mass-produced icons of corporate rock. But many of us want more "umph". Vulnerability, more personality, and above all, artists we can see and feel, and relate to. Enter the Kickstarters, the Unbounders, the self-publishers and the home recorders. These people need a bit of money to professionalize their productions.

Everyone online talks of the need to "leverage your social media platform" for your art, but for some individuals your stuff will always be just "spam".

What would you do?