Kickstarter ends Drip: the artist more than ever at the heart of its loyalty strategies

Following the recent creation of NFTS Platform! dedicated to young filmmakers, Kickstarter announced a major partnership with the XOXO independent art festival. This partnership is aimed at breathing new life into the subscription-based model which has been timidly embodied up to the present day by its Drip site. Both of these initiatives are intended primarily to build loyalty among the artistic clientele to which the platform promises a variety of funding options as well as a community. Explanations follow…

Last October 24, Kickstarter sounded the death knell of Drip, a platform launched a little more than a year ago and proposing basically the same funding model as Patreon, i.e., a creation-based subscription rather than a project-based episodic contribution. However, Kickstarter gives it a second life through a collaborative effort with XOXO, Portland’s independent art and technology festival. Andy Baio, one the festival’s founders, once worked on developing the American crowdfunding giant as its technical director.

Neither the name of the new destination nor its official launch date are known at present. However, what we do know is that creators who are currently subscribed to Drip (which operates on an invitation only basis) need not worry seeing as they will be able to pursue their activities for yet another year, after which they will migrate to the new platform or another Kickstarter service of their choice.

Developing lasting relationships by better targeting clienteles

These strategic decisions recently made by Kickstarter demonstrate a more affirmed commitment toward the platform’s very first users, i.e., artists, and everything indicates that the earlier this occurs in their career, the better.

If the American platform targets certain profiles within the artistic community, i.e., students and indie artists, it’s because there lies a true potential for long-term loyalty. Indeed, the earlier creators incorporate crowdfunding mechanisms into their production process, the better tooled they will be to diversify—or even optimize—their sources of funding going forward.

With NFTS Platform!, Kickstarter awaits students the minute they exit the classroom by planting the idea among them to use its platform to fund their future short-length productions. Better yet, young producers who accept to rise to the challenge are given access to ‘Kickstartian’ mentoring sessions during which they learn the act of raising funds while developing their community development and facilitation skills.

The National Film and Television School, which happens to be one of the most prestigious film and television schools in the world, supports the approach by contributing financially to its students’ campaigns. For the time being, there are only three projects registered on the platform, but all three are high-quality creations.

The next version of Drip also seems to follow the path of developing lasting relationships between the artists and actors of XOXO and Kickstarter. Its mission, as specified by founder Perry Chen, will be to “help independent artists and creators get discovered, find a community to support their work, and build a long-term, sustainable career.”

Also, without a doubt, the presumption is that crowdfunding is more naturally suited to this type of clientele, which evolves in an open system that focuses on collaboration and the use of à la carte cultural intermediaries. Moreover, crowdfunding may contribute to strengthening a sense of artistic freedom.

Although subscription-based crowdfunding has proven its worth for podcast and video content creators, Kickstarter admits that it still has work to do when it comes to artists who produce episodically. However, the platform ensures that XOXO founders, i.e., Andy Baio and Ady McMillan, are best placed to develop new subscription-based approaches, approaches that will focus more on communal work than on production constraints (which is the case when creators are required to deliver something each month).

The question now is whether Drip’s successor will succeed in providing a certain level of financial stability to its clientele knowing that there exists with Patreon significant differences between the top creators, i.e., the best paid creators, and the vast majority who earn less than $1,000 per month.

The natural filiation between Kickstarter and the arts

Beyond these strategic announcements, it is important to keep in mind that the development and support of independent artistic creation are part of Kickstarter’s fundamental values.

Yancey Strickler, Kickstarter’s cofounder, once worked as a music critic in New York City. He eventually wanted to develop a showcase allowing fans to communicate freely with their favourite groups and support their work. He then met along his way Perry Chen, an electronic music composer at the time who had been reflecting on the idea of such a platform since 2001. He had even found a name for his platform: Critical Mass. That is how he along with web designer Charles Adler created “one of the 50 best inventions of 2010” according to Time, i.e., one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world.

The Creative Independent section, which is accessed through Kickstarter’s main page, presents a wealth of inspiring resources aimed at ‘feeding’ the creative mind. Since its founding in 2009, 153,289 projects (as at November 7, 2018) have been wholly funded through it and the categories displaying the best results are music as well as film and video, with 28,478 and 25,637 successful projects respectively.

When it comes to crowdfunding, the key to success is being able to mobilize one’s relationships to achieve one’s objective and thereby transform one’s social capital into financial capital. Now, the path taken by Kickstarter is the path of the ‘sustainable development’ of its clientele’s social capital while hoping it remains as long as possible subscribed to its services instead of only resorting to them on a sporadic basis.

It will be interesting to see how this vision evolves as a result of these new strategic alliances.

Claudia Beaumont
Digital content coordinator, music programmer, radio producer, research assistant, community manager, columnist: Claudia Beaumont played many roles in the field of music broadcasting at Société Radio-Canada over a 10-year period. She then went on to work in the audiovisual industry, as a product manager for TV5 and Unis TV’s digital platforms. Over the past several years, she also developed an interest in the impact of digital technologies on artistic creation and its marketability. Her master’s thesis focused on crowdfunding and its role in cultural intermediation in Quebec.
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