Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Courting Support for Independent Media, Part 2

Posted by nathanpowers22 on April 17, 2017

While Chapter 6 of Spreadable Media had a lot of positive things to say about things like tapping into pre-existing communities for both circulatory and financial support, and rightly so, I think it’s also important to remain cautious by considering some cases where these ideas proved initially lucrative for independent companies, yet evoked outrage and disappointment from fans when expectations failed to be met. The most notorious examples come from the popular crowdfunding websites Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These platforms have become the subject of much criticism in recent years for hosting highly successful projects that receive funding in the range of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars raised via “microinvestments” from project backers only to not deliver on the products they promise. However, not all cases prove to be examples of what one might expect—some shameful individual or company aiming to mislead or outright scam people out of their money (though this seems to have been the case for Kobe Red, Triton Gills, and the Skarp Laser Razor [1]). Rather, many of these projects are simply cases of woeful fund mismanagement and/or cost underestimation (see CST-01 watches, ZANO Autonomous Drones, the Coolest Cooler [2], and Mighty No. 9 [3] for examples). I suppose what I am advocating for, really, is greater oversight on behalf of the crowdfunding sites and reservation on behalf of backers. While this system of grassroots project funding can be, and often is, successful (see Sean’s post for analysis of one specific example in Kung Fury), its major tradeoff appears to be a greater investment risk. In a way, one benefit of traditionally produced commodities and media is the higher probability of a return on investment missing from crowdfunding, yet the obvious drawbacks are limited creative direction and consumer input as a way for producers to hedge their bets.

[1] – http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/biggest-kickstarter-and-indiegogo-scams/#/5

[2] – http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/coolest-cooler-asks-backers-more-money/

[3] – https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2016/06/23/mighty-no-9-and-the-tragedy-of-kickstarter/#111a65d8ecf2


One Response to “Courting Support for Independent Media, Part 2”

  1. Sean Hull said

    Investment risk certainly is an important when thinking about contributing to a Kickstarter, but (please pardon the conjecture) it doesn’t seem like enough people understand that that risk exists. While I certainly don’t blame crowdfunders for being outraged when they are cheated and lied to, I simultaneously wonder what sort of expectations they had when they initially contributed. How much did they really weigh the possibility of disappointment?

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