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Can Kickstarter Keep It Real?

The co-founder of Kickstarter on progress, patronage, and potato salad.

In 2009, music journalist Yancey Strickler stood in the packed audience at Brooklyn’s Monster Island venue and caught an inspiring performance by the San Francisco rock band Girls. Strickler had liked what he heard and so he approached the band about releasing their first single “Hellhole Ratrace” digitally, through his micro-imprint eMusic Selects. Before too long, Girls had become a critically adored band with a coveted Best New Music-designation on Pitchfork, sold-out nationwide tours, and received coverage in major magazines like Vogue and Rolling Stone. Even back then, Strickler believed that it’s one thing to appreciate the arts, but it’s another thing to be actively involved in them.

And now, years later, Strickler, along with his two partners Perry Chen and Charles Adler, has made a business out of patronage. With the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, just about anyone can be as actively involved in the arts as Strickler was, by, for example, supporting and investing into something as admirable as an Academy Awards nominated documentary or helping relaunch the educational Reading Rainbow program, to funding feats of pure silliness like the bronzing of a bunny sculpture in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood or backing a dude determined to make his first potato salad (the latter, incidentally, raised $55,000).

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