Last month, filmmaker Spike Lee created a Kickstarter project for his “newest hottest joint.” He set a lofty goal – 1.25 million dollars in just one month. His fans were quick to back his new project, however, and began to pledge. Today, with just under two days to go in the campaign, nearly 6,000 backers have pledged over $1.33 million to Lee’s new project.
But this seemingly successful crowdfunding campaign isn’t devoid of controversy. Spike Lee’s use of Kickstarter has ruffled some feathers – mainly from those who claim that Kickstarter is not the place for well-established artists with seemingly deep pockets. In the minds of independent artists, Spike Lee, along with other celebrity Kickstarter users like Zach Braff and Rob Thomas, is simply hurting the little guy – taking money away from the artists who need it more.
According to Kickstarter, that’s total bullshit. And the crowdfunding company has devoted a new blog post to debunking this myth. In their words, “artists like Spike Lee don’t hurt other projects…they help them.”
Kickstarter’s main argument here is that Spike Lee’s (and other celebs’) projects don’t hurt other artists because not all projects are competing with one another. “Kickstarter is not a zero-sum game,” they say. It’s actually quite the opposite – Kickstarter claims that the added boost to its user base generated by these high-profile projects winds up helping every project on the network.
Here’s Kickstarter’s defense, by the numbers:
The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff film projects were similarly criticized for hurting other projects, but in reality were a windfall for creators. Those projects brought thousands of new people to Kickstarter who have since pledged more than $1 million to 6,000 other projects (film projects have received most of those pledges).
In the past 90 days alone, more than $21 million has been pledged to filmmakers on Kickstarter not named Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, or Spike Lee. Even without counting these projects, it’s been the biggest three months for film ever on Kickstarter!
Almost five million people have backed a project on Kickstarter, and more than a million have backed two or more projects. These repeat backers are responsible for 59% of the total money pledged to Kickstarter projects — a whopping $444 million. On average, 2,130 people a day have become new repeat backers this year. This is huge! Future creators will benefit from more and more people using Kickstarter.
Basically, Spike Lee brings them in, and they wind up pledging on a whole host of other projects.
Kickstarter also makes a point to state that no projects are charity.
“Others have accused creators of asking for a handout by using Kickstarter. This is silly. Every project offers a range of rewards to backers in exchange for their pledges,” says Kickstarter’s Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler.
What do you think? Is Kickstarter right, do big-name projects get the pledgers in the door? Or do you think that these celebrity Kickstarters take away from the little guys?