Social Media Trends: Crowdfunding Making Dreams Come Through

Crowdfunding is a social media trend that has nothing to do with file-sharing; instead it is how online communities are providing alternative sources of cash for start-ups and innovation; allowing dreams to come true. For example, Franny Armstrong's highly regarded climate change film ‘The Age of Stupid’ completed its five-year production process in 2009 after the £450,000 budget had been raised from 223 individuals and groups. Today, designers, journalists and artists are getting on-line to access these websites, such as the popular Kickstarter which launched in April 2009.

Kickstarter's fame has been aided by a number of high-profile projects, which have all been attracted to Kickstarter’s principles of its low commission rate of just 5 per cent and its promise to keep out of the creative process. Some of its success stories have been Diaspora, the social media trend and open-source alternative to Facebook currently being built by a group of American students, received $200,000; while MNML, a design company looking for funding for its kits to transform the iPod nano into a multitouch watch, has now collected almost $1m.

Behind these attention grabbing ventures, are a host of smaller projects that are seeing fruition thanks to this social media trend of crowdfunding; a kind of karmic way to do business. French experimental film-maker Vincent Moon, known for his work with REM and Tom Jones, says, "For years, my work has been based on that same kind of spirit, the kindness of strangers. Kickstarter's ethos fits very well with that and also with the way people create things nowadays. That DIY, one-to-one approach."

Kickstarter is a simple process and like many of its online counterparts, works on an all or nothing system. You set a funding target: if you reach it, the money is released; if you fail, it's returned. You encourage donors via a sliding scale of incentives, depending on their generosity; it could be a signed version of the finished product, a private concert, a trip with the artist in a hot-air balloon; the only limit is imagination. Kickstarter is completely transparent and is why it has been a success. However, the other story is the human angle and the goodwill shown to artists at a time when we're constantly told by the music and film industries that we don't value music and film highly enough.

Kickstarter makes for a fascinating and heart-warming tale. Though raising that money and completing those projects is far from guaranteed, and is fraught with problems that we rarely get to hear about; though failing on Kickstart is not a bad thing, as Kickstarter's all or nothing approach allows creators to fail early, fail often, and keep on trying for that project that strikes a chord with the public. Love it!!

Photo Credit: Snapshots