• DATE December 4, 2013
  • URL oneinstitute.com/tile/deep-patronage/

Deep Patronage

Lukas Naugle on welcoming Kickstarter to the clubhouse

Platforms like Kickstarter proudly draw upon the language of patronage, hearkening back to the golden days of yore. On its website, Kickstarter asserts that “Mozart, Beethoven, Whitman, Twain, and other artists funded works in similar ways—not just with help from large patrons, but by soliciting money from smaller patrons, often called subscribers.” These patrons would often receive perks, they go on to explain, just like Kickstarter supporters do today. Kickstarter extends the invitation to participate in the “extension” of traditional patronage, “turbocharged by the web.”

Though Kickstarter was not the first crowdfunding platform of its kind—Indiegogo, for its part, preceded it by two years—it has certainly become the most successful. Kickstarter recently announced that, to date, five million backers used the platform to fund over 50,000 projects, delivering over $700 million into the hands of creators. But can Kickstarter truly bear the weight of patronage? Can Kickstarter supporters be considered, in any real sense, patrons? Put another way, if we were to take a busload of Kickstarter “patrons” to Augusta, how might they behave?

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