One of the most interesting things about emerging technologies is not watching how they become the only solution (they rarely if ever do) but how they integrate with other solutions. Such is the case with Kickstarter and Seth Godin’s recent usage thereof.
Godin isn’t self-publishing his latest book. He’s working with a traditional publisher. What he is doing is creating proof-of-audience by crowdfunding $40,000 on Kickstarter. Said publisher has agreed, if that goal is reached, to promote the book nationally. Not exactly the matching funds we discussed earlier, but not far off. And the fact that this model has attracted Godin, who’s been self-publishing for two years now, back to a (semi)-traditional publishing model is significant. It’s not just the buy-in of the establishment that’s necessary for hybrid models to survive. The innovators must see the value in collaboration with the establishment, and increasingly that’s going to be the harder sell.
Godin, by the way, made his $40,000 in three and a half hours. The pot is now up to nearly $300,000.
But the amount is almost not the point. As Godin notes in this article, ”Kickstarter isn’t a profit center, it’s an organizer and an instigator.”
Except when it’s more, and the amount is totally the point. As in this other slice of that fateful discussion prognosticating the shape of artist funding to come. Penny Arcade is not a single artist, per se, but it’s also not a time-limited project, so it seems like the model they’re going after really is a form of crowdsourced patronage. Whether this will evolve into a subscription model is anyone’s guess, but that brings up another question. If it does, is this whole story really that big a deal? Or is it just Penny Arcade going from an ad-based revenue model to a subscription-based revenue model that happens to be administrated by a crowdfunding platform? If, on the other hand, Jerry Holkins went off on his own to get funded via subscription for whatever he produces in the future—not a predetermined product—then I think we’ll be seeing something a little more revolutionary—not to diminish what they’re doing, I think it’s fantastic—or at least a reframing of a pre-industrial form of paying an artist to create for a living.