The Kickstarter Blog

A Q&A with Simon Klose, Director of "The Pirate Bay — Away From Keyboard"

  1. Blockbusters

    Today’s homepage features four projects that have already raised more than $120,000 combined. Three of these have clear geek appeal, the fourth is a music project, and all of them have struck a deep chord with their audiences and the larger Kickstarter community. Why? Let’s take a look.

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    TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay — Away From Keyboard by Simon Klose | $23,816 raised/$25,000 goal | 28 days to go

    Launched late Friday night, Simon Klose’s documentary on The Pirate Bay — a widely used filesharing site that’s in a long battle with authorities — has jumped off to an impressive start, easily surpassing its goal in just 72 hours. Sure, a documentary on The Pirate Bay is an internet readymade, but don’t overlook the strength of Klose’s actual project: an engrossing video and a well-conceived slate of rewards. There’s no telling how high this one may climb.

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    Punk Mathematics by Tom Henderson | $25,748 raised/$2,400 goal | 1 day to go

    If someone told you that a former Portland State University professor could raise more than $25,000 — ten times his goal! — to write a book combining math and punk rock, how would you react? Us too, but that’s exactly what Tom Henderson has done. This project is all about two things: a fun, memorable video and a heartfelt embrace of geekdom. The rewards are spectacular and the energy and fire are right there. From the moment we read Tom’s initial project proposal, this one has held us rapt.

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    Lockpicks by Open Locksport by Schuyler Towne | $29,456 raised/$6,000 goal | 25 days to go

    Lockpicks? Yes, lockpicks. Schuyler is a competitive lockpicker (there is such a thing) who decided to open his trade up to a broader audience. The response has been amazing — he’s nearly $25,000 over his goal, and last week in an update he said he may now be able to devote his life to his craft. Why so much interest? The project has a clear goal, the rewards are unique, and it doesn’t hurt that Schuyler himself is awesome, as his videohis updates, and our recent Q&A with him made abundantly clear.

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    The best BLEU CD release (of all time?) by Bleu | $35,538 pledged/$8,000 goal | 6 days to go

    Bleu is a singer/songwriter from LA who has released eight records and written songs for a host of pop stars (the Jonas Brothers, for one). His Kickstarter project is a direct-to-fan release of a new album, with exclusives and early access granted to backers. The project took off like a shot (almost $20k on day one), and it’s never slowed down. The video is excellent, and he’s kept the momentum by setting new goals and milestones with project updates. An exceptional project.


    Is there anything to learn here about how to build a wildly successful project? There are clear commonalities: personal videos (every one of these featured the creator speaking directly to the camera), strong communities, and reward slates that understand what people will want and what they’re willing to pay. Congratulations to all of these creators — future creators, take note!

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  2. Creator Adam Levy Gets His Friends On Board — Through Video!

    Adam Levy plays guitar, sings, writes songs, and produces music. You can hear him on albums by Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee, and Norah Jones. Now he’s using Kickstarter to make his new acoustic album, and what’s interesting has been his use of videos. His pitch video shares snippets from friends and fans talking about his work, and he has several video updates featuring people showing their support — some even playing songs for him! You can watch his pitch below, check out a mashup of the video updates here, and support the project here. Below, are some thoughts from Adam about the process of bringing his project to Kickstarter.

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    The project

    My next recording, “The Heart Collector,” will be an all-acoustic solo recording — something I’ve never done before. I’ll be singing and playing guitar, I may overdub a few other acoustic instruments, and three of the songs will have string-trio arrangements as well. I want my songs to shine on their own, without much window-dressing. I want to know that I’m digging deep for the songs, and that I can give them the delivery they deserve. “The Heart Collector” will be my proving ground.

    Bringing it to Kickstarter, going it alone

    I first heard about Kickstarter last year, when my friend Alex Berger was raising funds for his debut CD “Snow Globe.” His pledges totaled 173% of his funding goal! That got my attention. Then I poked around the Kickstarter site and found some other intriguing projects — not just musical ones. I saw all these creative people working in so many different mediums, with big and small dreams. Scanning other people’s projects got me inspired, and also got me thinking on the specifics of my next project. I knew I was ready to make a new record, but hadn’t yet decided what would set it apart from my past releases. Then it came, in a flash of inspiration: Go it alone! The solo approach will be a perfect showcase for my new songs — many of which are more personal than anything I’ve recorded before.

    Coming up with rewards

    Coming up with rewards for Backers was one of the most enjoyable aspects of working with the Kickstarter platform. Some of my rewards include: private guitar lessons, house concerts, custom guitar picks, books of photos documenting the recording session (I’m a shutterbug, with my old Canon 35mm), and videos of me covering any song at all. I’ve had backers at every level — from $10 to $1,000. No takers yet for the $2,500 ‘Executive Producer’ credit, but there are still a few days to go! Safe to say, without Kickstarter, I’d still be scratching my head, wondering what to do for my next trick. Now I know, and it’s happening, and I’m having a whole lot of fun in the process.

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