But is this what Kickstarter was really designed for? The question is whether established artists should be taking huge profits from places like Kickstarter, or if the money should simply be used for the project (and the project only).
Enter Amanda Palmer, who’s now publicly advising Morrissey to not only run a Kickstarter campaign, but to also expect a massive profit windfall in the process. “Given your record sales and history, let’s make a very conservative guess that 500,000 people back you (i.e., pre-order a digital album) at $5 each,” Palmer open-lettered to Morrissey in Salon. “That’s a total of $2.5 million.”
Which also means, according to Palmer, a nice $1.5 million chunk of pure profit. “Assumptions galore, but at a guess: Subtract the 20 percent you will need to pay out to commissions (to your management and digital team) and processing (to the crowdfunding platform) and you’ll be left with about $2 million.”
“If your album costs half a million to record, you’ll earn about $1.5 million.”
And, this is a calculation based on a simple, digital-only offering, with little time outside an expensive recording process. So, no CDs, no vinyl, no customized books, origami, lithographs, or anything else that’s complicated and bothersome. “You wouldn’t have to tour and risk your health,” Palmer advised. “You wouldn’t have to do any promotional work for it if you didn’t want to.”
“You wouldn’t have to do anything, really, other than simply go into a studio, record 10 songs, and deal with the small headache of getting the digital information to a bunch of people.”
At its worst, profit-skimming could be considered crowdfunding abuse, simply because fans are supporting a specific project – not a living or personal profit. In the case of Amanda Palmer, a record-setting, $1.2 million Kickstarter purse ultimately got diverted to things like debt payments (by the singer’s own admission) and questionable budget line items (as published by Palmer, as well).
Then again, these were private donations from core fans, none of whom seemed to mind (from what we can tell). Indeed, Palmer even blamed outsiders for misunderstanding her solicitation of unpaid, ‘professional-ish‘ band members. “I got a lot of criticism online after my Kickstarter went big, for continuing my crazy crowdsourcing practices,” Palmer recently told an audience at TED.