Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Is fan-funding really the way forward for music business?

You – yes, you – are going to save the music business. You, the average music punter who is reading this while skiving off work, are going to be the one who keeps the blighted, damned and played out music …

Fri, May 4, 2012, 09:15

   

You – yes, you – are going to save the music business. You, the average music punter who is reading this while skiving off work, are going to be the one who keeps the blighted, damned and played out music business in clover. Now, how do you like them apples?

You know that fan-funded campaigns are having another moment when pronouncements like this appear in august publications (and The Ticket). While there’s nothing new about fans becoming patrons of the arts in this manner, the huge growth of fund-it-yourself sites like Kickstarter, Pledge Music, Sellaband and, in Ireland, FundIt means becoming a modern-day Medici is only a click away.

Yet for all the happy-clappy stories which have accompanied this trend, the long-term picture remains fuzzy. Can fund-it-yourself really become a viable, sustainable form of support for a cultural sector like music or will it be just a chosen few who can avail of its advantages?

While some see FIY music projects replacing the traditional unbalanced relationship between a record company and a band, you could argue that many acts availing of this route would never have landed a record contract to begin with

Then, there’s the inevitable FIY fatigue factor to content with. Will diminishing returns set in as fans tire of desperate tweets, Facebook updates, emails and Pinterest posts about fund-raising campaigns? Will those who funded the recording of an album – like, for example, Julie Feeney’s third album – be prepared to wait a year to actually hear it? Record label folks are well used to such waits and delays for a release, but what about those with no such vested interests?

FIY is definitely a welcome development for non-mainstream cultural projects, but it remains to be seen who will be the real winners when fan-funding becomes a routine rather than a novelty.

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