I've been thinking about the controversy behind Kickstarter and other crowd-funding services, and I just don't get it. I think it's such a good idea and the arguments against it just don't make any sense. Sure, they can make money by working, touring, and selling merch, but touring isn't always a very lucrative option, and hey, the way I see it, Kickstarter is just like selling merch anyway. There are no "handouts" being given here, and even if there were, what's it to you if a fan wants to give their own money to a band they love if it goes strictly into a new album or van or whatever? With that being said, there is a small little problem with the execution that I wanted to talk about here (points to anyone who finds a few specific campaigns I called out).
Basically, the way I see it, Kickstarter could appeal to a lot more people if these bands did it right. A lot of them do, but a lot of them lean towards methods that are a little sketchy. One of these methods is the practice of offering a limited run of shirts, vinyl, what have you. This is just greedy the way I see it. You could easily be giving out the shirts you already printed that are cluttering up your online merch stores, the pressings of vinyl you already released, etc. If you make a special limited edition shirt and expect your fans to pay extra for it, you're taking more money than you have to from your fans and you and all of Kickstarter look worse because of it. So just don't do it.
Another problem is asking for too much money. Kickstarter is here to help give your fans an avenue to more effectively help you, more effectively than they were already. However, all they're doing is helping you. They're not doing everything for you. If you want to go all out, do the most elaborate packaging, marketing, recording, and mastering package possible, that's great, more power to you. But your fans should NOT have to cover all of that for you. If it really costs $150,000 or whatever, have your fans cover $75,000 and deal with the remainder (or at least the cut Kickstarter takes out) yourself (and please, show them EXACTLY where every cent of that huge number is going). We know you aren't completely broke and you can work to cover some of that yourself. Seriously, an enormous goal like that will make your fans think they have to go for the giant packages just to get anything (because they know that if you don't meet your goal, you don't get shit). And if you tell them this and use it as a way to get them to pledge more money, then you're just a terrible person.
It's even worse when these large goals match up with expensive packages. I mean, NO ONE would normally spend $1,250 to fucking eat pizza with someone, and you know damn well you wouldn't, so don't ask your fans to. I mean, I don't care if you offer the pledge, but keep in mind you're offering once in a lifetime opportunities, so fans ARE going to chip in more than they normally would to get them. To take advantage of that is despicable. It is their money to do whatever they want with, and I respect that, but just don't be a greedy asshole. You're not worth that much, I'm sorry.
There are a few other little, less common issues I've seen. Don't charge more for your signatures, don't limit the number of reward packages so your fans end up spending more than they want to get something you're offering, etc. Those don't make as much of a difference, but if you take a look back from a fan's perspective and use a little common sense, you should be able to realize what rewards you're offering that are a little unfair to your fans. Once you fix those, maybe people will stop bitching about Kickstarter and actually support your endeavors. Kickstarter has the potential to be universally accepted and a really effective way for all bands to fulfill their goals, but we all just have to work together a little bit to make it so.