Thousands of creative Australians rely on donations from sites like Patreon, Indiegogo and Kickstarter in order to fund their work and earn a full-time wage.
Around 30 percent of artists (such as photographers, musicians, writers and illustrators), many of them young, are moving away from traditional income sources such as government grants and company payments to alternative sources like crowdfunding.
Reasons for this shift include difficulties in finding paid work, competitive grants and wanting to work independently rather than for a company (e.g. a music label).
Many artists are struggling to stay financially stable due to living in a nation where art is becoming less valued, despite Australia once having one of the best arts funding models in the world.
Crowdfunding enables individuals, organisations and charities to make money through donations from other people or groups. It typically works by making a pitch for a project or business and having interested people invest in their idea by paying money to them, often in the form of a recurring (e.g. monthly) donation.
By having hundreds of people donate even just $20 a month, an artist will get enough money to cover their rent, equipment and production expenses.
Risks associated with crowdfunding include project or business failure and a lack of guarantee on returns. And despite good intentions of building a community, the crowdfunding landscape can be highly competitive, with only around 50 percent of campaigns getting funded. Many artists may not benefit due to the difficulties in appealing to capricious consumer tastes.
Yet many artists find crowdfunding to be highly useful, having created successful musical albums, graphic novels, start-ups, video games and more as a result of the donations.
Experts suggest that the most successful crowdfunding campaigns are those which stand out using strong marketing – engaging with their audiences using things like social media posts, videos and blog posts.