The term "crowdfunding" implies a certain democratic quality to sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, as if they are to be used by anonymous members of "the people," not established companies and well-known celebrities. If this had been the trend when crowdfunding started, it is no longer: the celebrities have come to claim crowdfunding, and they're not leaving any time soon.
Luckily, this takeover hasn't gone unnoticed. Many news outlets have interviewed artists who remember the golden days of Kickstarter, and advocates are reminding everyone that Kickstarter beggars like Zach Braff are worth up to ten times the amount they're taking out of your Google Wallet. Even The Economist has joined the fray, arguing the pros and cons of celebrity involvement, and finding that celebrities help to "work as rainmakers for the concept of crowdfunding in general, which benefits other projects." But still, many of us internet-ranters are concerned.
Thus far, the projects promoted by celebrities have been related to their art. Kristen Bell and the crew begged for money for the Veronica Mars movie, while Spike Lee asked for millions for another joint. Zach Braff wanted to make Garden State, Part II, and Lake Bell lowballed her demands to make a feminist short film. But now, Neil Young has decided to shift the focus of Celebrity Kickstarter to a more noble cause: already-established nonprofits. Young has put his face on the campaign for Rainforest Connection, a sound-based monitoring system that promises to stop illegal deforestation. Their Kickstarter has already exceeded its $100,000 goal by more than $48,000, but nonetheless it's nice to see a famous person crowdfund for something beyond a "passion project." So step aside, overpriced music video projects, because Neil Young has come to reclaim celebrity status on Kickstarter.
Image: Rainforest Connection