On Patrons, Authors

To get this post, make sure you check out the podcast or read up on Quarkboy’s (Sam Pinansky) new project, from the ANN Cast link below.

[Quarkboy’s announcement is potentially huge news, but since it’s not really official yet, despite that he has confirmed it to the degree of his internet presence. So I guess I’ll spin that post for later, when it’s a real deal, hopefully this Autumn.]

ANN Cast, March 9th, 2012:

[Quarkboy:] …patronage… [You can start at 31:20]

ANN Forums (post transcribed to an easier-to-read format):

Surrender Artist wrote: Would fans who fund a project have any influence over the production, such as delegates on the production committee? Would they be treated as people who had just placed really, really advance preorders or more like shareholders entitled to some portion of the revenue?


Zac [Bertschy] wrote: It’s full circle, though.

“Okay, we’ve removed your ability as an artist to make money through traditional means by breaking laws that nobody enforces.

Now, if you want to make a living as an artist, you have to do it this way.

By the way, if you want to make money this way, I get to dictate to you what your art has to be.”

There are probably millions of people who see nothing wrong with this model whatsoever.

[Quarkboy wrote:] But the micro-patronage model avoids this problem by essentially making any individual opinion too small to matter.

Doesn’t having a million donors giving $1 allow an artist more freedom than 1 company providing $1 million in a budget?
I don’t really see how
“By the way, if you want to make money this way, I get to dictate to you what your art has to be.”
doesn’t pretty much apply to the way things are today with large corporate funding. Think about how many anime directors have probably been told “Hey, we want you to use this song for your opening and ending.” because the music production company is a big part of the committee…

ANN Forums (the next dialog in the same discussion chain):

[Zac wrote:] I guess then it boils down to this: “Hey artist, who would you rather be a slave to? A huge soulless corporation or your demanding fans and their terrible ideas?”

I don’t think creative input should be part of *any* micro-patronage thing, or even any “angel investment” scenario. If the idea here is to empower the fan to more directly support the artist, we should also have total creative freedom for the artist baked in to any agreement. After all, everyone’s buying in because they believe in that artist’s vision.

Penny-Arcade, 3/16/2012 (about Bioware’s response to Mass Effect 3 ending issue):

Ownership is a very complicated business when it comes to cultural product, though.  They succeed by virtue of the fact that we, as players, incorporate these stories into our lives.  I’ve always wondered what the conflux of digital goods, interactive storytelling, algorithmic content creation, and democratized funding mean for an idea like authorship.  I think we’re beginning to find out.

Do you need me to spell it out for you? It’s terribly exciting.

3 Responses to “On Patrons, Authors”

  • fencedude

    Shorter Zac: If you let the fanbase decide what anime gets made, they’ll have more of the anime they like, and I don’t like the taste of modern Japanese Otaku.

  • Stef

    Yes, exciting is the word. Though I don’t quite think it’ll ever reach the utopian ideal of total artistic freedom. Fans are fans.

    Going off on a tangent here: Isn’t there some sort of national founding for artistic projects that can be applied to anime? Has the idea been considered?

  • omo

    I’m not sure what, if any, utopian ideal is at play here. I tried to put down what are some shared ideals between the different perspectives, and there really isn’t anything that I think everyone can agree on. Or rather, overall, we are already pretty close to that utopian ideal. The further we go, the more we will begin to see the edge cases and the gaps that different perspective have on the same issue. It’s important to remember that looking from the big picture people (as in, producers, creators, and fans) generally want the same things, and are getting them today.

    National funding for artistic projects, yeah, there are things like this. But handouts are typically not self-sufficient. I think whatever the system people end up relying on, it has to be self-sustaining.

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