Kickstarter is the Anti-Napster

Dec 10 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: My Alienating Opinions

A game I very much enjoy playing is browsing Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo or whatever) and making fun of the unreasonably-optimistic or badly-priced projects in the music category.

For every musician who needs $5k to record a full-length album, there's one who needs $10k to record a demo or EP. Sure you can spend that much money on your project, but if you're an independent musician, you don't need to and probably shouldn't. There's even the occasional optimist who expects to get 50 thousand from their friends and family because, hey, Five Iron Frenzy did it, right?

There's another trend that I find mind-boggling too. People price their songs really badly when crowd-funding. For some reason people seem to think that even though they'll only be selling the CD for $10, it's a good idea to to charge people $20 or more to get it through Kickstarter.

The crowd-funding model has always seemed like a pre-order to me. Usually, when you support an artist enough to order their next project before it's even finished, they reward you by cutting you a deal on the price.

Digital downloads get even more ridiculous! Even though iTunes doesn't charge much more than 99 cents for an mp3, I rarely see digital downloads for less than that. I've seen projects where the download price gets as high as $5 per song! No MP3 is worth $5! That's the point of them! They're cheap and easy to distribute.

That's when it hit me: Kickstarter is the anti-Pirate Bay. Back when online piracy first became a popular trend, consumers massively undervalued digital music by downloading it all for free. Crowdfunding has swung the pendulum back the other way. People are massively over-valuing digital music because some small subset of people are willing to pay for it.

Hopefully, things settle out in a reasonable middle ground. 50 cents always seems pretty reasonable for a .flac. Maybe I'll give you $1 if it's extra special. Try to make up the difference in volume. It's not as if downloads cost you much of anything.

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