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Crowdfunding the Future

Media Industries, Ethics, and Digital Society

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Edited By Lucy Bennett, Bertha Chin and Bethan Jones

The concept of crowdfunding, where grassroots creative projects are funded by the masses through websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, has been steadily gaining attention over the last few years. Crowdfunding the Future undertakes a dynamic interdisciplinary approach to the examination of the new, and growing, phenomenon of crowdfunding and its encompassment of digital society and media industries. The book offers a wide range of perspectives and empirical research, providing analyses of crowdfunded projects, the interaction between producers and audiences, and the role that websites such as Kickstarter play in discussions around fan agency and exploitation, as well as the ethics of crowdfunding. With a series of chapters covering a global range of disciplines and topics, this volume offers a comprehensive overview on crowdfunding, examining and unraveling the international debates around this increasingly popular practice. The book is suitable for courses covering media studies, fandom, digital media, sociology, film production, anthropology, audience, and cultural studies.
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4. On the Sale of Community in Crowdfunding: Questions of Power, Inclusion, and Value

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4.   On the Sale of Community in Crowdfunding: Questions of Power, Inclusion, and Value

DAVID GEHRING AND D. E. WITTKOWER

Introduction

In 2007 the crowdfunding website Kickstarter was launched. In April 2014 Kickstarter (2014a) reported having received $1 billion USD in donations toward projects started through the site. Kickstarter isn’t alone. In recent years, numerous crowdfunding websites have popped up: Indiegogo, Pledge Music, GoFundMe, etc. Despite differences between each website, their general functions are similar: a person builds a campaign or project, promoting an idea that cannot be accomplished due to lack of funding with hopes of attracting willing donors. In exchange for donations, these donors are promised particular rewards or perks that are expected to be delivered if a pre-set financial goal is met.

Ideally, this model provides an opportunity for an aspiring creator to pursue a personal goal unhindered by constraints associated with third party players. It also gives the creator full autonomy and ownership of her product. For the consumer, or donor, it offers the experience of “getting in on the ground floor” – but in a strictly subjective manner. These donations are not investments, nor do they lead to partial ownership. While the donors do receive something for their money, (e.g. the product itself, public recognition of their involvement, personalised material objects, official titles associated with the process), perhaps the primary appeal in donating to these projects lies not the promise of any particular material return for...

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