On Feb 11th, 2014, there was an article by Elizabeth Weiss on the New Yorker titled “Can crowdfunding replace artists’ day jobs” that sought to find out whether crowdfunding can be the solution to the artist’s problem of financial challenges. In the article, Weiss gives a vivid account on how crowdfunding has evolved over the years to support the modern artists.
There are many albums, music videos and films that have been funded through such platforms like the Kickstarter and Indiegogo; most of them have been successful while others haven’t. But the question that still remains unanswered is whether such funding campaigns are sufficient to shield the artists from financial pressures and enable them to concentrate on their talents.
In his Essay, “1,000 True Fans,” Kevin Kelly imagined a group of artists shielding themselves from financial challenges by building a community of passionate (fanatical) supporters who will guarantee to purchase everything the artists will produce. This way, the artists will make an honest living and only concentrate on their work.
Since then, crowdfunding has played a central role in making some projects a reality. Kelly himself launched a kickstarter in 2012 to fund his “The Silver Cord”. Crowdfunding has helped many projects. According to a report released in 2012, crowdfunding platforms raised over $2.7 billion across all categories of arts.
However, there is a general feeling that very few artists have succeeded in crowdfunding. For instance, out of the 56,000 projects funded on Kickstarter, only a quarter have raised more than 10,000 dollars. This has effectively made it hard for the artists to quit their low paying jobs to concentrate on their talents.
If the current statistics are anything to go by, there are still many artists who still don’t believe they can make an honest living solely on the arts. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, twelve percent of artists maintain a different primary job. Others get support from non-governmental organizations, philanthropic support and support from friends and family. This means that crowdfunding still has a long way to go.