Paradigm Shift – Dumping the Middleman

Once upon a time, you had to not only have a good idea, but you had to pitch your idea to a major label whether you were tying to get a book, game, CD, movie etc published, and leave your fate in their hands. If you’ve been keeping an eye on crowd fund operations like Kickstarter.com, then you no undoubtedly see the inevitable happening as well. More and more programmers, songwriters, authors and developers are taking their talent, and ideas directly to the market. Their hard work, talent and vision are appreciated by like minded individuals, that find then fund projects that are of interest to them. It’s a sink or swim scenario, in which when the public sees your project and likes it, you are almost guaranteed funding (granted you aren’t asking for the moon to begin with). If they don’t like it, you can keep trying, maybe work on your pitch and polish things up a bit. The comment section will usually provide you with the info needed to steer you in the right direction on the next-go-round.

The beauty of this means of funding is that the money comes directly from people that would buy your product. If you are an avid gamer, and love games featuring space shooters, you may stumble across a project like that of the one man team Joseph Perry’s RUBICON featuring an enhanced Asteroids style game, or you may even come across something like the VIM Cheat Sheet designed by Max Cantor. Although these aren’t necessarily mega million dollar projects (although some have reached that level), they serve a purpose, meet a need, AND have a ready made user-base that would not only appreciate the item/service, but would also purchase it. These are projects that large studios and shops can’t be bothered to even look at, because they won’t generate enough $$$’s to pad the bottom line. So along come Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler who decided to build a website to provide anyone with a vision, and some talent to follow their dreams.

Crowd funding might actually have a bright future, and the only one that should be worried is the middle man. Yeah I’m talking to you Generic Record Label and Production Studio. With the move to digital media and content delivery, and ever increasing storage capacity and file transfer rates, it’s only a matter of time before artists can create and deliver their goods directly to the consumer. (We wont even get into the possibilities that these 3D printers will offer very soon!!!) Marketing and promotion are virtually viral when it comes to crowd funding, eliminating a huge wedge of the “expenses pie-chart”. Having a funded project also means that a strong interest exists for the product, and if that weren’t enough, the products are essentially pre-sold eliminating a good chunk of the start-up costs as well.

The most important factor IMO is that the vision is seen through from start to finish by the artist. Nothing is changed to meet market demands based on popularity or trending, because what this market demands, is in essence the artists vision. Chapters won’t be changed beyond recognition, and music CD’s wont have the obligatory filler junk songs. We already see the strain on newspaper companies, and them desparately clining to the last few scraps of life. Combine that with the recent overtaking of digital books sales surpassing physical sales, the success of the iTunes and Amazon App stores selling millions of Apps, and services like Spotify and Audiogalaxy streaming music. I would like to cite Netflix Movie Streaming, but they need much improvement after having lost the Starz deal. Hulu and Amazon Video are pretty good examples. Cable TV, you’re up next, we will probably see IPTV served a’ la mode, but not through the cable companies – we might just see a kickstarter project addressing that need.

Overall, this is a win-win-lose situation that the artist/developer and consumer both will be happy about, the middleman less so. The tides are turning, and I like where things appear to be heading, but things can still go wrong. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the large corporations managed to get legislation to pass making it illegal for individuals to crowd fund projects, possibly citing some perverted tax law, or some copyright/patent violation. But that’s what crowd backed lobbyist group DemandProgress is for 😉

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