GIMME THE LOOT–THE CROWD FUNDING ISSUE

By Richard C. Burroughs:

Embattlement with technology, technological progress and it’s creep into our everyday lives is a difficult fight in a contemporary society that increasingly relies on it. It’s a losing effort, like fighting Tyson in his prime, yet these so-called “technophobes” are waging that battle. Is this embattlement trying to turn us all into the Amish, who, by the way, have been singing Amish folk tunes by the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge (Bklyn side) for a large part of the summer? I”m not looking forward to women dressing like the logo from Blue Bonnet butter

, which is besides the point. The point is that, no I’m not a technophobe, though I have a queasy feeling that I might be a Fundophobe.

What is a Fundophobe you might ask? Well it’s different from a Technophobe, cause unlike my great-aunt who still writes screenplays on a Selectric Typewriter in Los Angeles, I use a computer. I don’t think mind-control messages are secretly sent through Cell-phones. I actually think technology has enhanced our lives, even with the possibility that my email messages are being tracked by the government. I’m not saying my emails are tracked, but it’s possible and that’s rather creepy.

I guess it’s no surprise, since bad often comes with good, like Zoe Saldana with morning breath. Yet Zoe could still take part in my morning wood movement, and in that same spirit, I embrace technology warts and all.

 

The World Wide Web has done so much good, from free porn to video conference calls for business, to the cloud, that I can’t be mad. A malicious code recently knocked my Godaddy email off-line and caused me headaches and lost revenue so I know that technology has it’s evil side……which is clearly represented by the diabolical twins Indiegogo and Kick Starter and all their little sinister minions. You can call it what you want, crowd-sourcing, micro-funding, whatever, I think it’s Rosemary’s baby dressed up in a bassinet, soliciting cash for a teething ring idea. So yes, I’m a Fundophobe who thinks that micro-funding should be avoided like stinky folks on the subway.

First of all, I get way too many invitations to help fund something. If the project isn’t directly by someone I know, then someone I know thinks the idea of an organic goat milk farm is in serious need of my money. It was a time when you had to have a really good business background, with a tight business plan before you started soliciting capital for a project. This consisted of going to and getting rejected by banks, telling sob stories to credit unions and hitting up your parents. The last measure was usually that relative who had “mystery” money or the local loan-shark whose interest rates were higher than Kevin Durant’s scoring average.

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I have friends that need money to record new albums and although I’m a music lover and these bands are awesome, is it not enough that I come out to your shows, pay admission, get a drink or two at the bar and maybe cop something from your merch table. Is it still within the lines of being a fan to, additionally, help pay for production of a band’s album? Where’s the hustle and grit come in at. Historically, bands would trade drugs for studio time, get the mastering engineer a BJ from a gaggle of groupies (mastering engineers are expensive and one groupie might not cut it) or work a day job to get their masterpiece properly recorded, but the ridiculous grit and grind necessary to “break on through to the other side”, is being replaced by a Kick Starter invitation.

Also, a donation is money and money is precious, so that band better be cutting that album in the city where they rock out. I ain’t paying so you can record in some studio shrine in Tahiti, because I know you. I know you and you’re a musician, which ratchets up the likely hood that you’re on the beach, burning weed and drinking booze from the bottle when the band should be recording.

If you’re raising money to start a website, I suggest you immediately stop the tomfoolery. In fact, just ring my bell, slap my face and take my twenty bucks forcibly, because that’s the only way you’ll get it for a website. Your platform might service some particular niche you find worthy, like natural/curly hair, pit bull rescue or pot legalization, but ummm, it’s a website and it’s at least ten other websites that cover similar ground and they haven’t asked me for Nathan. I like my websites like I like my women…..OK, I don’t have anything appropriate for that one, but c’mon, it’s so many inexpensive ways to get a website up off the ground and gain some traction, why Kick Starter it?

Help fund my book, help fund my boobs, help fund my bar, help fund my band, help fund my show, help fund my clothing company, help fund my restaurant, help fund my play, help fund my organic goat milk farm, help fund my food truck, help fund my movie, help fund my beverage company, help fund…

Then, since it’s social networking and you’re friends with the fund-raisers, you inevitably run into them out and about in the real world, maybe at an art opening or while having dinner. That’s when it gets awkward. It’s not immediate, you’re usually in the room with the person, let’s call him Pete, for ten minutes or so, said hello at his table on your way to the bathroom and then whilst taking a wiz, you realize you didn’t give to his Indiegogo campaign. You figure that he knows you didn’t donate. He knows, that you know, that he knows you didn’t donate, so what now.

There’s only one way back into the dining room from the bathroom, so you would have to pass his table again. Perhaps stay in the bathroom til he left, but that might take a while and people might think you’re George Michael or a U.S. Congressman.

Ah, its’ always the distracted with a phone call move, but it being downstairs, everybody knows the restaurant gets no reception, not even Verizon, so that couldn’t work. You decide to get out in front of the thing, walk to Pete’s table and ever so coolly mention that you still need to check out his Kick Starter campaign, because it sounds like a good idea (even though it’s indiegogo) and then BAM, he whips out a Pay Anywhere or Square and offers to swipe your card for a donation on the spot. Luckily it’s no reception in the restaurant, but that kind of pressure is just not cool.

If Pete’s campaign expires and he doesn’t get funded, then everyone can feel like assballs. He feels totally let down, like he got romantically dumped, via email, by a thousand hairy men, posing as pretty women and then had all the sappy emails pinned on some sick Pinterest board. The people who received invitations to fund the campaign, but didn’t, totally feel like bad friends. Like they made out with Pete’s girlfriend in the bathroom during his annual Christmas dinner and she had an orgasm and cried because it had been that long since the last one.

When you don’t donate it’s problems, but it’s also problems when you do donate. Many of the campaigns offer perks for donating, a micro return on a micro investment, if you will. Although perks are commensurate to donations, which means that it will probably be a small perk, it’s still been promised. The delivery date of the perk soon comes and no mention about it from your friend. Many campaigns aren’t funding business people doing business, so that the aftermath of the funding can be very un-business like.

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I guess the Audacity Of Hope is a little annoying as well. Not the best selling book, but the audacity of people, hoping other people give a shit about their artisanal beehive on a Williamsburg rooftop and want to donate to make it happen. It’s like the guy read some Portlandia blog about local-voring honey and thought how awesome that would be in Brooklyn, then dedicated the next……Ninety minutes working on the micro-funding campaign.

It’s the crappy campaigns to raise money that ruin it for me and keeps me away from the good campaigns. I think a campaign is good if it is well thought out, has a solid business plan, the people behind it have already put money into the project with tangible assets (purchased equipment, leased a building, hired a team and developed an idea, etc) and use micro-funding in the latter stages of bringing a business to fruition.

Impossible Instant Lab is an awesome idea and an example of a really good Kick Starter campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving them any scrilla either because they have almost doubled their target dollar amount. They don’t need my money now, I’ll just save it for the IPO and get a real return on my investment.

I’ve cleared my throat about my fundophobia and why i think that micro-funding sites should be feared and steered clear from, yet this being America, land of all things hypocritical, do not be surprised if you receive a notice to give to my micro-funding campaign. It might be Indiegogo, it might be Kick Starter, it might be a campaign to start a competing micro-funding service. A guy started a Kick Starter campaign to raise the money to buy Kick Starter, so perhaps my campaign will raise money to lobby for legislation to illegalize micro-funding! If I do start a Kick Starter campaign, I’ll probably stay true to form and solicit people to fund my Three-month writing retreat, so I can finish writing and editing my Second novel…..I mean, I really think it’s a great idea and I’m sure my friends totally don’t give a shit about it, which makes it the perfect micro-funding project!

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