Stefano Virgilli –
As the war for content becomes increasingly intensive, with more and more content producers by the day in every country of the world, the start-up scene — usually faster than the corporate word — empowers content producer with interesting tools to expand the audience base and retain customers worldwide.
Recently I begun to appreciate a very inspiring online service that revives the concept of patroning artists. This has been a popular concept in history. Many of the European works of art in the past were produced through this system.
It was a way for rich members of society, government or church, to pride themselves for being both tasteful and generous. At the same time granted artists the opportunity to complete their marvellous works.
Nowadays art is no longer as spectacular and magnificent as in the past. Hence, as in many other equations, lowering the quality increased the quantity. So if anyone today can be an artist, how can everyone produce the artwork of their dreams to impress their audience?
One of the earliest tools available on the market was oDesk, which then became known as UpWork a few year ago.
The concept behind this platform is to offer a gathering point for talents where investors can then pick and choose at a reasonable price a number of services delivered through a remote performance.
I have personally being taking advantage of these services for nearly a decade and invested on it tens of thousands of dollars.
When the priority of my business was to remain steadily on page 1 in Google, I had engaged multiple specialists to help and support organic traffic. When I started a business that produced children music, I have hired musicians, graphic designers and animators.
When I worked on international deals, I have hired translators. UpWork, formerly known as oDesk, has been a very useful resource for me, and it still is.
Another brilliant service is provided by the famous crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Both provide ingenious entrepreneurs and inventors with the opportunity to sell their proof of concept to an audience ready to invest in exchange for some extra perks.
“Perks” in facts are crucial extras that an entrepreneur can promise to backers (so are called investor who “back” the project’s cost of implementation) in exchange for some extra cash.
For example, an entrepreneur who is planning to launch a new product onto the market, can build a working prototype and then sharing the story on Kickstarter hoping that the viewers would “buy into the vision” and decide to back the project. In some cases this approach has created some extraordinary successes, but in other case it worked as a double edged sword.
For instance, the Pebble Time watch, one of the earliest smartwatches launched onto the market, which allowed limitless customisation and self development, collected a stunning 4,000 per cent more than what it pledge to collect.
The total amount that backers invested in Pebble exceeded 20 million US dollars. On the other hand, the Fidgety Cube ended up getting the idea stolen and produced on a mass scale even before the first original Fidgety Cube was launched.
This is in fact one of the most risky aspect of crowdfunding in general: Your idea gets exposed to competitors even before you can implement it.
But when the idea pitched is not a product, it makes it more difficult to copy. For example, one of my acquaintances, a movie director, pitched his own movie idea on Indiegogo and managed to exceed his pledged amount. I have also backed his project with a small contribution.
He produced a stunning movie and won several short film awards.
Recently I came across an innovative service called Patreon, which replicates the original concept of patroning an artist. In this case, the production is an ongoing service rather that one definite product.
It is a common platform used for example by YouTubers that want to embrace a full time career as a content producer, but they know how time consuming is to produce animation and tasks such as video and audio editing. So they want to hire professionals to help them, but the amount of money generated by their YouTube channel does not produce enough cash to fuel the business operations.
So they open a Patreon account and ask subscribers to support their regular video production.
They do so by engaging professional specialists and remunerating them through the Patreon account that is topped up by generous patrons interested in getting perks out of their contribution or simply to pride themselves about being the backers who made the magic possible.