And nobody can stop them

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Mark Sample:

Whether it’s Radiohead, Louis CK, or Tim Schafer, already successful people will always find new ways to fund and distribute their products.

This kind of crowdfunding poopooing grinds my gears.

In the video for the Schafer-led Kickstarter project that Sample is referencing, Schafer talks repeatedly about how he would have loved to create more adventure games, but couldn’t, and can’t, get a traditional publisher to work with him. This is not news: he’s expressed a similar sentiment in interviews for years — adventure games are exactly as dead as publishers say they are.

The scenario described above (so far) has played itself out across industries for decades, but particularly in the world of popular music — for so long a hit-based business with sales driven by radio airplay. Popular, successful artists on the train of a waning fad had two choices: try to hop aboard the next train and take a risk (see: innumerable ’70s bands in the ’80s) or refuse and be forced out of the music business entirely. (see: ibid.)

Here’s what’s changed:

  1. Popular artists can now connect directly with their fans
  2. Who can help them fund projects agreeable to both artist and fan alike
  3. And nobody can stop them

This is a new development and is part of an important shift away from the mass-market, multicast mediae that dominated culture most of the 20th century.

That upending is worthy of celebration, come whatever else may.


  1. Brad Larson replied on February 9th, 2012:

    Mark’s assertion is easily dismissed by visiting the listing of Kickstarter’s most successful projects:

    There are maybe one or two people that I recognize in that group, with the rest as relative newcomers. They may have a track record in one field or another, but they’re hardly celebrities. Still, they were able to convince large crowds of people to make something that hadn’t existed before.

    I can tell you that as a manufacturer of physical goods, we are watching Kickstarter very closely. Beyond entertainment, this direct connection with potential consumers is incredibly valuable for manufacturers. It gives us an idea of the potential market for a product, and allows us to take advantage of economies of scale without being a large company or putting ourselves at risk. We’ll almost certainly use it, or something like it, for our next consumer-oriented device.

    We are indeed witnessing a significant change in the way that products are made and sold.