If you’re still licking stamps on artists’ grant applications, there’s a new web site that may be worth your time. Kickstarter, a new site based in Brooklyn, is a “funding platform” for artists, inventors, journalists, musicians and other creatives who can post a video to attract $5-and-up pledges. Current cup-shakers include singer April Smith (left), whose slickly produced video has attracted more than $6,000 to seed her next album. There’s also Floating Doctors (a medical crew that visits remote areas via an eco-friendly boat), the creator of a puppet-cast TV pilot, and an artist who charges $1 for every square inch of her work. And so on.
On the site, creators film videos explaining their projects and where the funding will go. To gain supporters they offer incentives for every pledge made. One Emily Richmond is currently raising funds to document her 24-month sail around the world in a 35-foot-long fiberglass boat. She offers an origami sailboat to every $5 pledge, and if you dish out $5,000 you get to name the dinghy she sets out to sea. Singer Smith offers free tickets for a year, dinner with the band and even an original song.
All projects have a time-frame, that’s why donations are known as “pledges.” If the funds don’t add up by the end of the time-frame, all the money is returned. Some might frown at that practice, but we raise our virtual glasses, if your music video needs $2,000 to be brilliant, why create a shoddy cut with only $730? Currently Kickstarter, which is processing payments via Amazon, is accepting projects by invitation only, though come August its doors will open to all. At the moment, creators get 100 percent of the pledges.
The site’s creator is Brooklynite Perry Chen—a former waiter, an audio engineer, musician, a writer, an art gallery co-founder, and a daytrader—who has YouTube-scale ambitions for the site. He told Inc. Magazine last year that he was inspired to create it by his difficulties helping two Austrian DJs raise money to come to the States. Fundraising doesn’t seem to be a problem for Chen these days—he launched Kickstarter with a six-figure sum from backers including Arrested Development actor David Cross.