A good friend of mine once told me he wished there was a system in which he could invest in actors before they became well-known celebrities because he could’ve retired by now from investing in Jessica Alba.
According to him, he’d seen her as a kid in a minor role in some random tv show and knew instinctively that she had that special something that would rocket her to eventual stardom. If only he could have bought some Alba stock! I used to work in casting back in the day so I’m more than familiar with the idea of talent excavation and how potentially rewarding it could be. A lot of people and their oftentimes unrewarded efforts go into the making of a star. Everything depends on how many people believe in you, and how committed they are to promoting you.
This is why crowdsourcing investment feels a lot like just a natural extension of how the world already operates. SellaBand has been rocking this for a number of years now, combining the benefits of a MySpace-like fan-network with an investment model that allows musicians to raise money by offering shares of future revenues to their most dedicated followers. It translates the heat generated by a passionate fanboy into dollars and cents to form a mutually beneficial relationship. And then out of last week’s TED conference came Trust Art, a site that similarly asks people to invest in public art projects in exchange for a piece of the pie. From their Manifesto:
Investors will take a share in one or many Trust Art projects, while also spreading word of Trust Art in their social circle. At the end of the year, each art piece is auctioned, and investors split the proceeds with the artist. Inevitably, art will be created that otherwise wouldn’t exist, you will feel good, and culture will have been renewed.
We already go about sharing links and yapping away about the people and projects we admire, so how great is it to now have an added incentive to perform all that publicity? And while it may not be the same as buying a share in the future career of a hot young thing (my friend can go invest in an up-and-coming model at BeautyHolding.com if he must!), think of all the people you can impress at your next cocktail party by saying you’re invested in a documentary starring everyone in the world. It would be great if existing crowdsourcing sites like authonomy.com, which turns to crowds to weed out their next best-sellers, began incentivizing people with profit-sharing models as well. There’s nothing like a committed and invested fan to push you into the big leagues. “I’d like to thank all my fans,” as they say.