Why Kickstarter Is A Good Story


Amanda Palmer (The Occasional Musician)

We’ve seen it all before: 

Fan club releases.

Album pre-sales.

Street teams.

Deluxe editions.


But Amanda Palmer just grossed a million dollars from Kickstarter and it genuinely feels like a new day. Why is this? It’s a good story and Palmer says as much in her victory speech. She pitches it to us as a good idea:

this is just the beginning.

we’re all investing, dollar by dollar, pledge by pledge.

investing not just in the future of my little record and band, but in an idea whose time has come.

But it’s an even better story. It has the potential to be a big, long-lasting story. If there’s one 2001: A Space Odessey styled monolith the music media always gathers around, it’s the story of a big pile of money. It’s 1992 and Nirvana are getting hectored half to death about their deal with Geffen. It’s 2007 and In Rainbows drags out the same theme: ‘Cool. But how much money did they make?’ Money talks to us. It’s not all bad. Look at the history: it’s often the signpost of change. Alternative rock’s momentary corporate take-over. Zero dollars as a viable price point.

Two big events.

Two big stories.

Kickstarter works mainly because it has further extended the music product line (all those bonuses) and because it has done this while diminishing consumer risk. It is safe to invest in your musicians now. It does all this and reads like a revolutionary platform. It was the sort of story that was just waiting for the right protagonist, something it found in Amanda Palmer and her vast, mobile and dedicated fan base.

It’s not really a revolution though. What we haven’t seen is an artist go from scratch to a million dollars with any of these platforms yet.

It’ll probably happen soon.

It might happen soon.

It won’t happen soon.

Who cares.

Kickstarter doesn’t invest or develop or curate.

The only thing I know for sure about music is that when independent-minded musicians first get their hands on the tools of ‘big industry’, interesting things can happen. And alongside all those interesting products is a story that drags us in. This is a story that has it’s own proverb: ‘Tread on a worm and it will turn.’ It’s a story that’s built into us. We’re pre-programmed to root for what we perceive as the lowly, the disempowered, the underdog. We want all our successes to have this backstory. It’s a way of joining up the fantastic successes of others with the (usually) mundane and ordinary facts of our everyday lives. And as such, it’s a story that we don’t seem to get sick of hearing and industry will, of course, long to tell us.


2 thoughts on “Why Kickstarter Is A Good Story

    • Ben, thanks for the link. Mr Teacup’s stuff is pretty interesting. I’m not sure I agree with him on Kickstarter, not exactly. That 6+ million dollars is the value of their branding. People seem to trust Kickstarter.

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