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Contribution: "When the mass becomes patrons" by Emma Granier

What do the Fatals Picards, the YouTuber Usul and the Musée d’Orsay have in common? They have all launched a crowdfunding campaign in the last months. To call on one’s networks to fund creative projects and compensate for the decrease of traditional subsidies, public or private, is a growing trend.

If some artists find it difficult to make this step towards their public, others do not hesitate to create a link with their fans and to speak directly with them. “We have the ambition to release an eighth album next September, wrote the Fatals Picards on Ulule. An album that simply cannot be done without you. So, today, we invite you to join our team!” A tempting invitation for the fans who have the opportunity to get involved in a project that matters to them. In return, the band offers access to exclusive songs, autograph sessions, concerts tickets, etc. A sort of prospective marketing campaign for a work still unrealized.

If this works for the Fatals Picards or for the Musée d’Orsay, it is because they already benefit from a committed fan community able to actively relay their message. Thus, having a network is a necessary yet not sufficient condition of a successful crowdfunding campaign which aims the mass public, the crowd, as the name implies. Then, how do you get crowds to fund your project when you do not benefit from the same network as the French rockers’ or of the Parisian museums?

The crowdfunding platform works as a receptacle and a reflector as Mathieu Maire du Poset, deputy CEO of Ulule, explains. Then, it is up to the artists, the makers, to relay their fundraising campaign so it reaches three distinct diffusion levels: the relatives, the relatives’ networks and the general public. Social media are key instrumental in the transitions between the different levels as they can easily give visibility to the project. Pinnacle of the process, the access to the mass ensures the success of a campaign. Thanks to this snowball effect some projects are overfunded and can receive more than 500% of the initially claimed budget.

Ideally, crowdfunding would give a financial leeway to the artists who would be less dependent of the traditional bank loans and advertisers. Nowadays, it still represents an additional financial contribution and few are the artists who manage to live from crowdfunding as their unique source of income.

The YouTuber Usul is one of these rare and lucky birds. By opting for the crowdfunding platform Tipeee, Usul chose a slightly different model to that of Ulule or KissKissBankBank. Tipeee’s business model is based on the principle of direct compensation or tip. Tipeee’s business model works on the basis of direct compensation or tip. The network does not fund a future project but rather a work already created and released (fully or in part). If users like this work, the platform gives them the opportunity to directly compensate the artist with a tip. This way, Usul’s audience funds the videos of Nos Chers Contemporains with one-time or recurring tips.

Tipeee generated 700 000€ of tips since its creation in December 2013 and 67% of these tips are recurrent. By making possible a monthly compensation for the creators of online free content, Tipeee makes a difference in the crowdfunding landscape. The proportion of recurring tips demonstrates a desire from the audience to get involved in the use of cultural products.

Far from the traditional schemes of remuneration where revenues repartition between the different right-holders is often unclear, collaborative economy creates a direct and transparent link between the artist and its public. Even better, the involvement in those projects is not only financial, it is also emotional. One experiences a certain feeling of pride while passing by the Atelier du Peintre by Courbet at the Musée d’Orsay if he or she has helped financing its restauration. Now the mass can also play an active part in the fate of creations.

About Emma Granier

A graduate in Cultural mediation from the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Emma is currently pursuing a master’s degree at ESSEC and a member of the Digital & Media Chair. She worked on the links between music and audivisual contents: cinema and video games. After collaborating with the Radio France Festival in Montpellier, the Cité de la Musique and the Alliance Française, she is now interested in the new models of financing cultural businesses.