Crowdsourcing and the Evolving Relationship between Artist and Audience
by Daniel Linver
A Master’s Capstone Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Master’s Degree in Arts Management Arts and Administration Program School of Architecture and Allied Arts University of Oregon June 2011
There are many individuals I would like to thank for supporting me through the process of completing this capstone project. First and foremost I would like to acknowledge my research advisor and friend Dr. Doug Blandy who encouraged and challenged me to explore this topic. I also would like to thank Professor Kim Sheehan in the Journalism school for helping me to examine some of the key concepts in this research paper during an independent reading course. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my AAd classmates and all of the AAd faculty for their support and encouragement which helped me see this research project through to its completion. Last, but definitely not least, I need to thank my family and especially my parents, Michael and Mina Jo Linver, who always stressed the importance of a good education and instilled in me a deep sense of wonder. Thank you all!
472 W 27th Pl Eugene, OR 97405 (206) 919-2659 email@example.com
EDUCATION 2009-Present 1997-2002
UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, Eugene, OR Arts Management Master’s Candidate UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO, Albuquerque, NM Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE 2010-Present MUSEUM OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY, Eugene, OR Campus Outreach Coordinator
• Recruited and supervised a museum advisory council of University of Oregon students. • Facilitated monthly meetings with advisory council to plan events for University of Oregon students and to strategize with the council on other ways to engage the campus community. • Collaborated with campus and community organizations to create exciting events.
CULTURAL FORUM, Eugene, OR Contemporary Cultural Coordinator
• Coordinated 4 multifaceted events that were attended by over 1000 people. • Built partnerships with community and campus organizations including: HIV Alliance, the Latin America Solidarity Committee, the Students for Global Health and other organizations.
HILLEL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, Seattle, WA Associate Director
• Organized and staffed 90 large scale events attended by 6200 people at venues throughout Seattle. • Supervised full-time program associate and a cohort of 30 regular volunteer leaders. • Oversaw all aspects of arts and cultural programming; producing and marketing concerts by both national and international performers. • Founded and managed annual month-long community arts festival which featured local young adult artists from the Seattle area who presented performance, visual and media arts.
Jconnect Seattle Interim-Director
• Maintained annual budget and co-coordinated annual fundraising e-campaigns raising a total $45,000 over two years. • Led quarterly town hall leadership meetings that empowered volunteer leaders to take on event planning responsibilities.
Jconnect Seattle Associate Director
• Directed all aspects of marketing to a community of 2,000 young adults in their 20's and 30's. • Maintained participant database and event tracking system.
HILLEL AT BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY, Waltham, MA Outreach Fellow
• Coordinated outreach programming for new participants not previously engaged in the organization’s activities. • Established partnerships with Brandeis University departments to expand program reach.
AWARDS AND HONORS
• Presented at the inaugural Graduate Research Forum at the University of Oregon, 2010 • Panelist / Speaker: North American Jewish Community’s General Assembly Conference, 2007 • Recipient; “smART Ventures” Grant, Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, City of Seattle, 2006
• Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, Donor Perfect, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Dreamweaver, Wordpress, Facebook & Twitter • DJ- vinyl only, all types of music including funk, jazz, soul, hip-hop and downtempo. Performed at venues in Albuquerque, Boston, Seattle and Eugene.
The artist and audience relationship is evolving as a result of technological advancement. The internet is the most recent technological manifestation of this as artists and audiences are using crowdsourcing, a method of harnessing the power of many in order to perform a task, in the creative process. This research project interrogates the current and future relationship between the artist and audience. This is accomplished through my exploration of the relationship between the artist and audience, the historical technological arc of that relationship and by providing examples of creative endeavors that utilize crowdsourcing. The artist and audience have a reciprocal relationship that can be explored by using different methods. One is the theoretical approach, which sees the audience as a critical part of the artistic process because without it the artist’s creation is never fully realized and remains a part of the artist’s internal creative process. Another is through practice, like in Boal’s (1985) “Theatre of the Oppressed,” where the actors interacted with the audience by coaxing them into becoming part of the production. Technological advances are a key aspect in the evolution of the relationship between the artist and the audience. New tools create new environments for both the artist and audience and redefine the ways in which the two relate. The phonograph and the radio both are examples of technology that have affected this relationship. The phonograph introduced a new way for the audience to access a performance and provided an opportunity to expose audiences to a broader scope of music than what was offered before. The radio also provided the audience the convenience of listening to a performance in a location of their choice, but the radio provided a different way to be part of an audience community. The most recent technological advance is the internet, and especially Web 2.0. This development allows people to connect with one another in extensive and profound ways. It has carried over to the artist and audience relationship where the audience is assuming a new role. In this new role they have the same advantages that the phonograph and radio allowed but they can go beyond some of the previous boundaries and interactively create content and become part of the art. Crowdsourcing, as mentioned previously, is a method of harnessing the power of the crowd in order to perform a task, and is one method that both artists and audiences are engaging in to produce art. Crowdsourcing was fostered in the new environment of disintermediation/decentralization that Web 2.0 facilitates. This environment is where the gatekeepers of the old infrastructure have lost their power due to the internet, and new technologies and networks have presented the public with seemingly unlimited choice and flexibility. There are also those that see a danger in crowdsourcing. This danger is that crowdsourcing can adversely alter the creative process by redefining the role of the artist and the audience and also that expert knowledge will be devalued while the views of the “crowd” will be revered. Some creative endeavors engage audiences as active and willing participants in artistic works. Others tap the knowledge of the “crowd” to create their art without cueing the audience into their participation in the artwork. Creative endeavors such as Ridley Scott’s new project, ‘Life in a Day’ (Sweney, 2010) and Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir (Whitacre, 2011) are two examples of a fully engaged audience. “Bicycle Built for 2,000” (Koblin & Massey, 2009) and “Narcissus Regret” (Eyelevel BQE, 2010) are 5
examples of art that didn’t cue the audience into the process. While the latter works are crowdsourced, they differ from the previous projects which invited aware participants into the creation process. The relationship between artist and audience is affected by crowdsourcing not only in regards to the creation and facilitation of arts experiences but also in regards to funding those experiences. This approach of using crowdsourcing to fund artists is called crowdfunding. Crowdfunding occurs without any intermediary: artistic entrepreneurs “tap the crowd” raising money directly from individuals. Crowdfunding helps fund creative projects by utilizing Web 2.0, and facilitates a financial relationship, between audience and artist. The audience’s ability to have a louder voice and greater impact, along with their use of Web 2.0 tools have brought crowdsourcing and crowdfunding forward as a legitimate and now common place method for artistic creation. Artists and audiences who can successfully negotiate this tension are most likely to create work with lasting value.
Crowdsourcing, Artist and Audience Relationship, Internet, Web 2.0
Crowdsourcing and the Evolving Relationship between Artist and Audience As “DJ Leftovers” I play records for engaged audiences and I find it exhilarating. Not only do I get to share my love of music with others, but in turn they share their experience with me. It may be a smile, a head bouncing to the beat or even dancing in a way that embodies the very music I am playing for them. When I play records alone it feels completely different, even though I am still enjoying the music I am playing. As an artist I am missing a key element, an audience, through which to share my creative energy. The audience does not just take the music in, they become part of the performance as I feed off of their energy and they mine. The artist and audience depend on one another to fulfill their roles, artist as creator and audience as recipient. Sometimes they act as co-creators. While the first part of these observations remain true, the roles of artist and audience are evolving as technology is affecting the relationship between artist and audience. Historically, as different technological tools are incorporated into the mainstream the audience is provided with more options and possibilities with the added opportunity to become more involved in the process of art creation. Generally this brings the artist and audience closer together, no longer positioning the audience as just the recipient. This research project interrogates the current and future relationship between the artist and audience. Fully exploring the relationship between artist and audience is important in order to understand the ways in which the relationship has evolved, from artist and audience theories to the ways in which those theories have been put into practice. Understanding specifically how different technological advances have affected the relationship between artist and audience are also key to getting an idea of how the
relationship has changed and what factors have contributed to the ways in which artists and audiences currently relate. The new methods and approaches that have followed these technological advances are shaping both the manner in which art is being created as well as the way in which art is being funded. Theory and Practice The artist and audience have a reciprocal relationship that can be approached in many different ways. There is the question of what role the audience plays with the artist’s work and with the artists themselves, how a relationship is formed between the two and the ways in which that relationship is examined. These theories and practices are some of the ways which arts professionals have approached the relationship between artist and audience, and help illustrate the complex connection between the two. Perricone’s (1990) addresses the idea that an audience is an essential part of any artistic project. He writes: It is only after the artist has presented his work to an audience and the audience has responded that one can say the work of art has been fully realized. The work never presented before the eyes of others, the work destroyed, or lost at sea is no work of art at all; a work created but unappreciated is art stillborn. In this sense, it is the relationship between artist and audience that is both necessary and sufficient to bring the work of art into being (p. 199). The audience does more than view the artist’s work in Perricone’s view, the audience gives the artist’s work a value beyond the actual piece itself. The moment that an artist makes their art public there is an opportunity for an audience to react, thus creating a relationship between artist and audience. Without this relationship the art has no audience and the art is simply an object, sounds, written words, movement, etc… In essence the audience becomes a critical part of the artistic process because without it, the
artist’s creation is never fully realized and remains a part of the artist’s internal creative process. The artist’s ability to share their art with an audience is the last step in the process of art creation. Understanding how the artist and audience interact and the relationship that is created between the two is the key concept of Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics.” Bourriaud (1998) sees art as, “the ‘encounter’ between beholder and picture, and the collective elaboration of meaning… art has always been relational in varying degrees” (p. 15). Here Borrriaud explains how the audience relates to the art itself, and while that is not proof of a direct artist-audience relationship, it suggests the beginning of one. Bourriaud directly points to the artist creating a relationship with the audience through his or her art, “The artist’s practice, and his behavior as producer, determines the relationship that will be struck up with his work. In other words, what he produces, first and foremost, is relations between people and the world, by way of aesthetic objects” (p. 42). Bourriaud suggests that the artist creates a relationship with the audience through the work that she produces, and has a similar view to Perricone’s (1990) that this relationship is an essential piece of the artist’s creation. Another way to approach the artist and audience relationship is by examining the roles of artist and audience through practice. Boal (1985) believed actors interacted with the audience by coaxing them into becoming part of the production. I agree with the assessment of Cohen-Cruz & Schutzman (2006) that Boal modeled the “Theatre of the Oppressed” on Freire’s (1970) concepts which, “foreground the movement of seemingly powerless people from being acted upon, and thus objects, to initiating action, and thus becoming subjects of their own lives” (p. 2). Boal was able to use this concept to
redefine the role of the audience member, thus creating a different dynamic between the audience and the artists (actors in this case). According to Cohen-Cruz and Schutzman the audience member becomes what Boal describes as a spect-actor, “who replaces the spectator sitting passively in the dark watching the finished production. As Freire broke the hierarchical divide between teacher and student, Boal did so between performer and audience member” (p. 3). Boal sought to redefine what it meant to be part of an audience, and in doing so altered the relationship between the artist and the audience. Technology Technological advances have been a key aspect in the evolution of the relationship between the artist and the audience. New tools create new environments for both the artist and audience and help redefine the ways in which the two relate. As new technological tools develop the artist and audience relationship changes with those tools, sometimes pushing the artist and audience further away from one another and in other cases bringing them closer together. The phonograph is one such example of how technology changed the relationship between the artist and audience. Pre-phonograph audiences related to artists in a direct manner as they were physically present at performances and due to that were also limited to the time and location of that performance. The phonograph helped to create an entirely new environment for the audience as it allowed them to have more control over how they took in the performance. Rasmussen (2008) noted that that this new technology gave the audience more freedoms, “Recording technology had made it possible for music to be separated from a specific time and place and for an individual to enjoy music alone” (p.
17). Audiences now did not need to be physically present at a performance, creating a new dynamic with how the audience related to the artist. The phonograph introduced a new way for the audience to access a performance and also provided an opportunity to expose audiences to a broader scope of music than what was offered before the phonograph. “The phonograph exerted a powerful cultural influence and awakened listeners to music that they otherwise could not have heard in their own communities” (Kenny, 1999, p. 22). This exposure affected the artist-audience relationship by allowing audiences to experience a diversity of artists which was previously limited to the audience’s proximity to a performance. McLuhan (1965) explores the phonograph’s affect on the public. McLuhan sees the phonograph as a powerful tool that allowed performances to be unlimited by location. His phrase, “The phonograph: music hall without walls” (p. 283) illustrates the opportunity that was presented through the phonograph where the audience was not restricted by a physical location to hear music. The audience was given an entirely new way to engage with the art and artist through the phonograph. Not all people agree that this technological advance was in fact a positive thing for artists and audiences. The phonograph/gramophone was a technology that was gaining immense popularity at the time Collingwood (1938) was writing on the principles of art. Collingwood saw the phonograph not as a tool that allowed more flexibility to artists and audiences, instead he viewed it as hindrance on the connection between artists and audiences: The reason why gramophone music is so unsatisfactory to any one accustomed to real music is not because the mechanical reproduction of the sounds is bad- that could be easily compensated by the hearer’s imagination-but
because the performers and audience are out of touch. The audience is not collaborating, it is only overhearing (p. 323). Collingwood saw the physical separation between the artist and the audience that was created by the phonograph as diluting the connection that an artist and audience have with one another during a live performance. Their connection through that collaborative experience was lost. Radio was another technological advancement that gave the audience a great deal of power similar to the phonograph, allowing the audience to be part of a performance without actually having to be physically present at it. The difference between the phonograph and the radio was the way in which the audience was connected to both each other and to the artists. As Rasmussen (2008) explains: During the Christmas season of 1924 Americans chose the radio in overwhelming numbers over the phonograph. This suggests that listeners desired not merely access to “free” music, but the experience of participation it seemed to offer. Radio successfully mimicked the trappings of performance, providing audiences the feel of the social event they associated with music that the phonograph could not. (p. 17). Radio provided the audience the convenience of listening to a performance in a location of their choice but because it was time based and radio shows were on at specific times it resembled certain aspects of a live performance. While the audience was not present at the actual performance, the radio provided a more intimate way to be part of an audience community. McLuhan (1965) also commented on radio. In his view, “Radio affects most people intimately, person-to-person, offering a world of unspoken communication between writer-speaker and listener” (p. 299). McLuhan captures the nuanced way that radio is able to provide audience members the sense of connectedness, as if they are
being spoken to directly through the broadcast. The audience member, while removed physically from an actual performance, still is engaged in a personal way. The radio filled the gap that the phonograph left in the artist-audience relationship. While there are other examples of how technology has affected the relationship between artist and audience, the internet and the technology it supports, is my final example and is the focus of this research paper. The internet, and especially Web 2.0, a second iteration of the World Wide Web that features interactivity and openness for content creation, editing and sharing (Macnamara, 2010, p. 54), has allowed people to connect with one another in extensive and profound ways. This connection has carried over to the ways in which artists and audiences connect, blurring the traditional role of the audience as, “passive recipients of information and culture” (Macnamara, 2010, p. 121). The audience seeks to assume a new role in the relationship between artist and audience where they can use their interactivity and drive to create content to become part of the art. While co-creation between artist and audience is not a new concept, like Boal’s (1985) spec-actors mentioned previously, Web 2.0 is allowing it to manifest in new ways. Beyl and Baruwens (2010) explore the concept of audience as collaborator and creator. They point out that the audience is eager to engage within the collaborative construction of art and want to experience art in an interactive way. They see the ‘spectator’ (the active audience) as focused on what he or she wants to see and engaging with the art in a more active way (p. 4). They point out that the artist is using the internet to change the way in which the artist and audience communicate, “artists make use – at present and in the past – of technology to attain the avant-garde goal of communicating with a wider
audience and, thus, look for a new consciousness in art “(p. 4). Using the internet as a tool for artists and audiences to communicate and create in different ways has drastically changed the relationship between artist and audience. Many methods to facilitate this connection have developed over time, but one method in particular, crowdsourcing, has gained immense popularity. Crowdsourcing Crowdsourcing, a method of harnessing the power of the crowd in order to perform a task or solve a problem, is one method that both artists and audiences are engaging in to produce art. For example, Howe (2008) points out that humans are a deeply social species and crowdsourcing capitalizes on that inclination. According to Howe: Crowdsourcing uses technology to foster unprecedented levels of collaboration and meaningful exchanges between people from every imaginable background in every imaginable geographical location. Online communities are at the heart of crowdsourcing, providing a context and a structure where the ‘work’ takes place. (p. 14) Crowdsourcing did not just rise up overnight; it was fostered in the new environment of disintermediation/decentralization that Web 2.0 facilitates. This environment is where the gatekeepers of the old infrastructure have lost their power due to the internet, and new technologies and networks have presented the public with seemingly unlimited choice and flexibility. Cook, Huttler, & De Michiel (2010) explore this disintermediation and the affect it is having on the arts world: Choice, flexibility, and direct access to audiences through new platforms such as the Web also mean that many artists and arts organizations have increasingly shifted how they think about what we do. No longer are we merely touring artists, producers of live performance, or filmmakers — our community is now composed of “content providers,” reaching audiences across multiple platforms
(both real world and digital) and with varying levels of customization with respect to the audience experience. (para. 4) As more and more power is shifted to the general public, in terms of both access and voice, a natural shift has occurred in how content is provided and created. Cook, Huttler and De Michiel provide a clear description of the result and the ways it is challenging the old structures that have preceded it. While crowdsourcing clearly is one of the ways that artists and audiences communicate and relate via the internet, there are those that see a potential danger by blurring the line between the artist and audience. Browne (2008) is one such critic of the use of crowdsourcing to create art, “The notion of ‘the crowd’ is a useful one, mainly as it seems to highlight some of the problematic aspects of artists choosing to work with groups of people, whether such constituencies are pre-existing, temporary or self selecting” (p. 38). Browne raises many questions concerning how crowdsourcing can alter the creation process by redefining the role of the artist and the audience and at the same time looks at what is truly being created in a crowdsourced piece of art (the art or the crowd?). Another critic of crowdsourcing generally is Andrew Keen (2007). Keen warns of the potential dangers of fully embracing crowdsourcing and other Web 2.0 technology. He explores the concept of the noble amateur, which is the idea that common knowledge is revered and seems to carry more weight than that of expert knowledge (p. 39-40). He also sees this rise of the amateur as dangerous because it blurs the line between the defined roles pre-Web 2.0. Keen observes that the, “cult of the amateur has made it increasingly difficult to determine the difference between reader and writer, between artist and spin doctor, between art and advertisement, between amateur and expert” (p.
27). Keen’s concerns are important because they point to one of the unintended outcomes of Web 2.0 and crowdsourcing, that expert knowledge will be devalued while the views of the noble amateur or “crowd” will be revered. There are quite a few examples of crowdsourced art projects that have been created on the internet using the Web 2.0 format. Some projects engage with an audience that is aware and active as willing participants in artistic works. Others tap the knowledge of the “crowd” to create their art without cueing the audience into their participation in the artwork. I think this is an important distinction to make as those that are willing and even highly motivated to be participants in a crowdsourced artwork are seeking to engage in the relationship between artist and audience. Alternatively artists who use a “crowd” who are not participating in the creation of the artwork consciously are not fostering a relationship between themselves and the audience but instead are using Web 2.0 as platform purely to produce their art. One example of an artist engaging with an aware audience was the project, Life in a Day. During the summer of 2010 Scott’s crowdsourced project, Life in a Day had individuals upload videos of a moment in their lives on July 24, 2010 to the website YouTube (Scott cited in Sweney, 2010). This example of crowdsourcing, asked anyone (or at least those with the means and technical ability) to upload footage of life around the world on a single day which were then compiled into a documentary-like film. Another crowdsourced project that engaged with an aware and motivated audience was Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir (Whitacre, 2011) which also used the website YouTube to connect with it’s audience. Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir asked it’s audience/participants to upload videos to YouTube as part of the project and created a
musical piece from those uploads. There were extensive instructional videos to guide the participants through the process of taking part in the project so they would create a finished product that would mesh well with the other videos submitted. Although the audience/participants were technically not the ones who organized this project and therefore were not ‘the artist’ they all had to have some musical ability to take part in this project thus giving them the dual status of both artist and audience. Even mainstream musical acts are using crowdsourcing to help create their music and engage their fans by bringing them into the creative process. The band Maroon 5 put on an event that featured them live in a studio in London where fans interacted with them online during their studio time and helped them compose a song (Maroon 5 cited in Ferrer, 2011). The fans made comments, suggested ideas for lyrics, riffs and rhythms and eventually helped to create Maroon 5’s newest single. As mentioned previously not all artists using crowdsourcing are engaging with an active and aware audience, they instead are using the “crowd” as creators without being cued into their new role. Some artists have created art pieces by incorporating crowdsourcing web services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing web service that gets workers to complete a task for a small monetary reward. Bicycle Built For 2,000 was one such project that was developed by Koblin and Massey (2009) which used 2,088 voice recordings collected via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service. For Bicycle Built for 2,000 the Turk workers were prompted to listen to a short sound clip, then record themselves imitating what they heard without knowing what the final product would be. The individual tracks were then assembled into a crowdsourced rendition of the song “Daisy Bell”.
Koblin also used Amazon’s Mecanical Turk to create a crowdsourced visual digital artwork. Koblin, along with Kawashima created Ten Thousand Cents, which is a digital artwork that created a representation of a $100 bill (Koblin & Kawashima, 2008). Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill and the reproductions available for purchase (to charity) were both $100. The work is presented digitally as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. Borissov’s art is another clear example of crowdsourcing that used an unaware audience in his piece, Narcissus Regret, Redemption and Remorse, one of the works in his Crowd Source show that appeared in the Brooklyn art-gallery Elelevel BQE in 2010 (Eyelevel BQE, 2010). For Narcissus Regret, Redemption and Remorse he created a hack of Chatroulette (a website where participants randomly get matched up with strangers to video chat) and collected hundreds of hours of rogue footage of users being shown their own image upside-down. This project explored, among other things, the participant’s response to the unexpected encounter of his or her own gaze. Borissov ponders the quality and quantity of the new relationships that are created via Web 2.0, and the audience’s role as active or passive participant. While crowdsourcing via the internet is affecting the relationship between artist and audience, there are also crowdsourced projects that take place in real life, like Flock. Flock was a crowdsourced project where the audience was tracked as they moved around a space, and then using that data music notation was generated that was played by a
saxophone quartet. Freeman and Godfrey (2010) describe Flock’s goals and clearly demonstrate the transformational power of crowdsourcing on an audience: Flock aims to make its audiences feel like participants who shape the performance, not spectators who merely watch it. We want audiences to feel connected to the musicians, the music and to each other, to discover new ways to be creative, and to realize that each performance is unique, in part because of their contribution to it. (p. 86). This performance piece, like other creative endeavors that utilize crowdsourcing, redefine the audience’s role and have helped change the relationship of the artist and audience. Crowdfunding The relationship between artist and audience is affected by crowdsourcing not only in regards to the creation and facilitation of arts experiences but also in regards to funding those experiences. This approach of using crowdsourcing to fund artists is called crowdfunding. Schwienbacher and Larralde (2010) define crowdfunding as, “the financing of a project by a group of individuals instead of professional parties… Crowdfunding occurs without any intermediary: entrepreneurs “tap the crowd” by raising the money directly from individuals. The typical mode of communication is through the Internet” (p. 4). Crowdfunding is in large part distinct because it facilitates a direct connection between a project and the public. Howe (2008) also explores crowdfunding in his book on crowdsourcing. He agrees that the internet is a key factor in the development of crowdfunding and sees a great opportunity for the creative sector to utilize crowdfunding models. “The internet so accelerates and simplifies the process of finding large pools of potential funders that crowdfunding has spread into the most unexpected nooks and crannies of our culturesuch as music and movies” (p. 253). Howe goes on to explain why artists see
crowdfunding as an excellent way to connect with their audience, “artists are able to appeal directly to the very constituency that will ultimately consume their wares. Who better to decide what should be created than the same people who will consume the product” (p. 254). The crowdfunding model has been used in the business and non-profit worlds to raise funds, such as the website Kiva.org, a microfinance organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to institutions in developing countries around the world and the US. As Howe stated earlier, crowdfunding has seen considerable success in the creative sector as well. Kappel (2009) points to one reason behind crowdfunding’s popularity in the creative sector: “Crowdfunding is increasingly used in the entertainment industry by independent filmmakers, artists, writers, and performers to bypass traditional keepers of the purse” (p. 376). An opportunity to pursue a non-traditional funding model that gives more financial control to the artist is optimal, and this is why crowdfunding has become a popular option. Kappel (2009) captures the competitive nature of the creative sector due to limited resources and a saturation of artists looking for support. This leads to desperation at points where, “Artists will claw, scratch, bite, and kick their way into the industry any way they can, using all means available. Crowdfunding ensures that they are making music with value along the way” (p. 385). Kappel hints that with crowdfunding there is value in getting the audience involved, beyond just financial involvement. While the motive for an artist to utilize a crowdfunding model is important, the audience’s motive to be involved in crowdfunding is also a key element in understanding why this funding model has become part of the creative sector.
Belleflammey, Lambertz and Schwienbacher (2010) explain the motivation of the audience as crowdfunder: “Crowd-funders make voluntary financial contributions with or without the expectation of receiving compensation. This can include cash, stocks, profit sharing and pre-ordering of products. At times, this is accompanied by voting rights or other active involvement in the initiative” (p. 5). While the approach to include financial gain for crowdfunders is commonly used in the business model it also is used in the creative sector. As audience members become more involved through crowdfunding they become collaborators of sorts. Spellman (2008) describes this process in regards to audience members who fund musicians. “Today's consumers are no longer passive recipients of brand messages. They've become active participants in co-creating the brands (and bands) they love… Crowdfunding is a worthwhile investment toward building customers, er, believers, who will be there for life” (para. 35). Spellman’s reference to believers is a term that is used on the crowdfunding website Sellaband to refer to its crowdfunders. This quote is more evidence of the active role that crowdfunders have taken in the creative economy, not only a financial role, but the role of co-creator. One of the most prominent crowdfunding websites is Kickstarter, which has raised about $40 million dollars for almost 8,000 different projects in two years of existence (Strickler, 2011). The site funds different projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields. On a personal level Kickstarter was the first crowdfunding website I had ever encountered and felt instantly drawn to the way it involved me as an audience member. I have supported a handful of Kickstarter projects and as a crowdfunder and I feel like I am directly involved
in the creation of an artistic project, instead of my previous role of contributing to an organization, which then in turn helped to create these types of projects. Crowdfunding helps fund creative projects by utilizing the connectivity that Web 2.0 allows and encourages. This connectivity facilitates a relationship, beyond strictly financial, between audience and artist. By harnessing the power of the individual instead of allowing traditional gatekeepers to control who gets access to certain information or certain funds, crowdfunding has changed the relationship between artist and audience. Conclusion & Recommendations The internet changed and continues to change our world in terms of communications. I have provided examples to support my conclusion that technology continues to affect the relationship between artist and audience. Web 2.0, in particular, integrates the audience even more into the artistic experience. While the phonograph and radio created new platforms and opportunities for audiences to take in an artistic experience, they did not, as I have shown, incorporate the audience into the experience to the degree made possible by the internet. The audience’s ability to influence artistic projects through their use of Web 2.0 tools have brought crowdsourcing forward as a legitimate and now common place method for artistic creation. Artists are seeing the advantages and possibilities of bringing the audience into the artistic experience. While there are those like Keen (2007) and Browne (2008) who warn of the potential dangers associated with the rise of placing the knowledge of the “crowd” in such high regard, the internet provides new roles and responsibilities to the artist as well as the audience.
Artists are finding in crowdfunding that they are better able to capitalize their projects. Shedding the constraints of the institutional model of support, they are able take control over the use of their funds raised and over the art itself. The audience, now more than ever, can directly put their money where their preferences lie, instead of relying on an institution to make decisions for them. This disintermediation in the creative sector allows crowdfunding to give the power to audiences and artists in ways very different than before. In my opinion, the creative sector should continue to embrace the use of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding in artistic creation. The intimate relationship between artist and audience as facilitated by Web 2.0 should be allowed to thrive. There is reason to believe that as audiences recognize the increasing value of participation in artistic works, their investment (both financial and emotional) into the artistic process and product will also increase. While encouraging the audience’s participation to grow, the artist must simultaneously be conscious of the presence of their own voice. As the instigators of the artistic work, the artist needs to drive the vision of the work and balance that with the audience’s participation. Artists and audiences who can successfully realize this balance are most likely to create work with lasting value.
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