The Fans Have Spoken! Now What Does This Tell Us?

Still kind of gobsmacked over the news yesterday. Okay, I'm not talking about the new Pope Francis I or that Google Reader is going the way of the dodo, because while that is certainly big news for their respective demographics (and, arguably, the larger world), my attention was snagged by what might very well be the tipping point for the creative arts industry: the record-breaking Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Project.

If you somehow missed it on Twitter or on Facebook or the news, let me tell you that waking up yesterday to find news of a proposed film starring the much-beloved and oft-lamented noir teen detective, Veronica Mars, was something of a shock. Of course ever since the show had been summarily yanked from the airwaves (full episodes available here) there was fan-grumbling and heavy-hearted best wishes from cast and crew, not the least of which from producer, Rob Thomas. But to hear that he began a Kickstarter nearly 10 years later aiming for a cool $2 million that would not only get the actors and the writers but mega-conglomerate Warner Brothers (who own the rights) on board, well, that was really something new!

The next few hours was akin to watching the Lottery or possibly a lunar landing. But more surreal.

I and many in the publishing business--including, obviously, tons of fans from around the world--began to contribute little by little, auto-links to social media instantly let you brag about it and provided an easy link to your entire platform of "Friends," and we gathered around our monitors as even bigger prizes offered for crazy things like celebrity voice-overs, naming film characters and even a speaking part in the movie that went for $10,000 get snapped up in a blink. By 10am, it was well on its way to hitting half-a-million. Then it eked up into the $900,000s and shot past into $1.2 million before we knew it later that afternoon, passing it's $2 million marker within the first day of the project. You could hear the collective cheering of those who had loved this show in 2004 who now had jobs and spending cash and were willing to throw some on a wish-fulfillment fantasy-come-true. The fans had spoken. Heck, they'd SCREAMED! It was awesome (in the original sense of the word and then some)!

My thought: such is the power of the fanbase and if this isn't clear proof of Amanda Palmer's assertion of what you can get from asking those with whom you've made a personal connection, I don't know what is. (And if you haven't seen her insightful TED talk, take the time and watch it here:)

The truth is that I don't know what I witnessed happen yesterday, but I can tell that it's big. There are repercussions rippling out into the realm of possibility, both positive and negative, for what this can mean for social media expectations, celebrity buy-in, corporate inclusion/exclusion, and reminded me more than a little bit of what Joss Whedon did on his own after the last FOX fiasco by creating Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog online and then going straight to profit on DVD. It's out-of-the-box thinking and Paying It Forward together at their finest. Asking and receiving and connecting and calling it "work" as well as "art" with an almost direct line from brainpan to Paypal with a click of the button. Sure, the fangirl in me is giggling with glee, already imagining the possibilities I once thought extinct, but while the fan in me is watching, the artist in me is watching, and the business-person inside me is watching--all riveted to find out what else we have in store. But I do know this: I got the following email from Rob Thomas' Kickstarter Project Update this morning as one of the contributing horde:

By the way, yesterday we set a few records.

We were the fastest Kickstarter project to hit $1M. We were the fastest Kickstarter project to hit $2M. We set the record for highest goal ever achieved. (Other KS projects have done better than us -- so far -- but none set a goal as high as our $2M goal.) We're also the largest film project in Kickstarter history.

Cannot thank everyone enough.


Did you see it? Did you contribute? Why? What would YOU like to see get funded by fans and what do you think this might mean for the industry as a whole? I'm curious to see if anyone else was struck by this and what patterns you might have seen in its future. As for me, I'm waiting (not-so-)patiently for the next great geekasm to show up as a convenient $10 pledge.


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