Here's an incredible new essay from our resident Mr. Wonderful, Ralph Greco, Jr!
Crowd Funding: Modern Begging Via The Net
Ok, can you stop kickstarting my good nature? Might you amp-down the rallying for support, the Facebook campaigns, the tweeting and what really feels to me more and more like digital begging? I don’t want to give to a musician’s tour before he or she tours, nor do I want to contribute to a filmmaker completing his or her movie. I will avoid your ArtistShare, Fondomat and all other crowd-funding because basically I buy a product almost always after I see it and my money is too tight for me to fund you and your art before you make it. Even in the case of people who have a track record with me, to tell you the truth these days I rarely buy anything sight unseen (or unheard) and that new thing an old artist produces simply might not be worth my money or time, let alone for me to subsidize it.
What happened to the good old days where an ‘artist’ scraped and saved and did his or her thing from either the connections made, the contract they signed and the money they might have received from a company looking to almost always get their investment back (it was called ‘recuperable’ in a contract) or just from bartering and maybe working hard? Don’t tell me what you’re hoping to do, go work hard at doing it and definitely don’t come sniffin’ round me for money to get on with the getting on. I’m not interested in being an investor.
Every time I opine on these matters to my ever dwindling group of friends they poo poo me (mainly because lots of them are ‘artists’ themselves) but really, just because you can paint a picture or write a song and even if you do these things well, does not make you special. If you happen to have an appitude for playing the flute or an eye for cinematography, well bully for you, go forth and enjoy, but please don’t think for a second your talent separates you from anyone else. You’re a slug just like us all, maybe what you do can be seen and appreciated on a large scale and maybe you even will be lucky enough to revel in some accolades and money for what you do but please don’t think I owe you a living or even one red shekel prior to you producing whatever it is that might-and I stress ‘might’- move me.
I don’t know of any other group of people-musicians, actors, animators, the various sundry forms of what is considered ‘artful’ pursuits-who believe they should be paid or even acknowledged before they do the thing they do, and even then, after we do our work, so many of us are not getting paid for it (as is the case with many folks pursuing art) or getting paid woefully below what we feel we are worth. In fact, and this concept might come as a surprise to many, very often people are never paid for what they consider their art and have to scrape by in a menial job that demoralizes them day in and day out, leaving them embittered and exhausted and none too inspired to even make their art.
And you think you’re entitled to my financial support just because you send me an email or have a couple hundred ‘Facebook likes’?
From the ‘conceit-of-the-ones-who-make-art, a conceit I have witnessed to a sickening epidemic proportion this past decade especially, comes not only this idea that it is perfectly ok to beg for money prior to producing anything but also the idea that since one is touched by the divine, is led by a muse, produces something other people may think interesting or beautiful bad behavior should be allowed or at the very least explained away simple because one is ‘creative’. Begging for kickstarter money or not performing to the best of your ability, or what’s worse, thinking that all you ever have to do is show up and sing and dance without any stagecraft injected into your performance since your very presence being artful is enough, is contemptuous to your audience. Sorry, I am not contributing a dime to your crowd funding, regardless of who you are and your track record producing stuff I like. Surely I’d love a one-of-a-kind T-shirt and maybe that promised night out with someone I admire might be fun, but I’m not so sure I’m about to take the risk of you not showing or making a crappy shirt I’d never want to wear, and being on the hook for it since I would have already paid prior to it. It doesn’t sound like good consumerism to me. I hate to say this, really don’t take it the wrong way, but your well written p.r. doesn’t mean anything to me when it comes to what I might like and you being able to send an email to me simply because once a long while ago I might have signed up to your site or actually came to see you perform doesn’t mean I’m opening my