The Kickstarter Blog

Kickstarter in the New York Times

  1. Creator Q&A: Mr. Dream

    Mr. Dream are a band from Brooklyn who are raising money for a new EP. The band’s good rewards and strong effort have not only made their $3,000 goal reachable (they’ve raised $2,600 with a week to go), but it’s made their project more interesting as well. Take a look at these:

    Not the normal rewards you see for a music project: an essay by a New Yorker cartoonist, a reward from the Colbert Report writer, and a lifetime show pass that’s way cheaper than a Rocket From the Crypt tattoo. These media rewards are helped by Nick Sylvester, a well-known Colbert Report writer and music journalist who is also the band’s drummer. (The project’s excellent pitch video hints at Colbert’s “The Word” segment.)

    Of course not every project has the connections for rewards like these. But what these offers illustrate — and I should include Earl’s gumbo, Emily’s postcard, and LaPorte’s song here too — is that rewards can have only a cursory relationship to the actual project, especially if they highlight another part of the story.

    Because project creators get to sculpt their own offer from top to bottom, there’s the option to commodify whatever you choose: you can be a painter and offer cookies, you can be an explorer and hand-knit scarves, anything that someone might want. And in many cases, there’s a real benefit to moving outside of the natural wheelhouse: it broadens the appeal and can add to the story element, too.

    We sent Mr. Dream a few questions about their project and their rewards, and here is their response. You can visit their Kickstarter project here.

    Tell us about your project and your background.

    Our project is fairly straightforward: We are a punk-rock band, and we have it in our punk-rock-band heads that the first release should be a four-song seven-inch vinyl EP. The corollary to that is we don’t have the kind of money to put that one out ourselves. The catch-22 is we won’t find a label to back us without a legitimate recording. Outside of extreme maneuvering on next year’s tax returns, or outright theft, Kickstarter is the only way we’ll be able to put this record together.

    How’s it going so far?

    We’re thrilled. Shocked, really. Our friends have been generous in a way we never expected. A large part of this — not to sell ourselves short but still — part of this is that people want to see something like a Kickstarter campaign *work*. The campaign runs on optimism, and optimism runs on positive feedback. It’s been heartwarming to see the number and level of contribution increase as our campaign faces down its last few days.

    What’s been your most popular reward?

    The $100 incentive has been popular. You get the seven-inch record, the MP3s, the digital bonus track, the exclusive liner notes written by New Yorker cartoonist Zach Kanin, and an 8x10 photo print by cover artist Rob Dubbin, who daylights as a writer for the Colbert Report. Additionally — and I admit this is probably only interesting if you have a lot of time and/or our band gets massively popular and inspires cult-like devotion — you also get every single one-mic demo recording of the five final songs. So you can hear the evolution of the songs — some of them over the course of a year — which parts were added, how the melodies and rhythms changed, and so on.

    What’s your strategy for getting your project funded?

    There were a few emails to friends, some twittering (mrdreamnyc), some posts on my blog Riffmarket. Matt, Adam, and I aren’t the greatest self-promoters, so we came up with roundabout ways to point people to the  campaign: a vanity URL that we left as our gchat away messages (http://mrdream.goestojail.com), a set of mini-moo business cards that we handed out at concerts. In what strikes me only now as a move reminiscent of the burglars in Home Alone, I left the cards at restaurants and in bathrooms on my way out too. Our most important and successful strategy though was playing really good live shows, and getting people to actually see us and like our music. “The only way you’ll be able to hear these songs is if you help us record them,” is the implication.

    What will you do with the money?

    The money pays for a 300-copy vinyl run of Mr. Dream Goes To Jail. A short version of what that entails is: In early August, we recorded the songs ourselves in our practice space in Brooklyn. Those songs, once mixed, we took to Joe Lambert for mastering. We’re thrilled we got to work with Joe. This year alone, he’s mastered Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Black Dice’s Repo, Obits’ I Blame You, Deerhunter’s Microcastle, Yacht’s See Mystery Lights… Joe cuts the master lacquers of our record too, which, from what I understand, means he turns our sounds into a spiral of grooves that
    turntables read to re-produce our songs. The master lacquers are brittle though, which is why a company called Mastercraft plates them, and then these plates are sent down to A&R Records in Texas, who use them to press the vinyl copies of the record. This is to say nothing of packaging and artwork costs and, if there’s any money left over, a music video for “No Pressure.”

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  2. The Reddit/JetBlue/Kickstarter Challenge

    Three days ago a Reddit user named hiS_oWn started a thread suggesting that members of Reddit join together to buy one of those JetBlue promotional passes that gets you unlimited flights for a month for $600, and that they use it to run continental errands and for general adventure.

    At some point someone decided giving Kickstarter a try, and so within a couple of hours there was a Kickstarter project seeking $600 in two days (the promotion was ending this week) to send one unemployed Redditor on a month-long trip. Within a couple of hours the money was raised, and before the clock ended the project pulled in $1,943, enough money to send three people, if that’s what the community decided to do.

    The key to this entire project has been the communal self-determination that lead to its creation and that’s currently deciding the particulars of how this will be executed. Redditors are being asked to make their pitch for why they should be allowed to be the community’s representative, and a group screening process has begun. The Reddit folks are also creating what is essentially a project constitution: what sorts of missions should be allowed on this trip? Does someone who contributed $100 get to request a similarly scoped mission as someone who contributed $15? Everything is up to the members.

    While building Kickstarter, we talked a lot about groups and communities using Kickstarter as a tool to solve their own needs — we always thought it served that purpose perfectly. This Reddit project is an incredible example of that, and it’s a perfect illustration of how Kickstarter can make Herculean efforts simpler, cleaner, and so much less of a headache.

    We can’t wait to see how these trips develop and where it will take them. And fortunately we will get to follow along — apparently one of the chosen Redditors is a filmmaker, and will be documenting the experience. Sounds like a second Kickstarter project to us!

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