This article analyzes the role that crowdfunding plays for artists who create small-scale projects. We find that artists struggle to reach new audiences and, thus, mainly use this funding tool to transform monetary gifts into reputation for their careers. Crowdfunding platforms are believed to lower transaction costs while allowing for more direct engagement between founders and funders. Instead, our study demonstrates that artists use the platform to build distance from their thick relationships and intimate networks where most of their funding originates. They hope that a successful project will help them cross the symbolic boundaries between amateur and professional realms. Despite a high success rate, most of them report not wanting to create crowdfunding campaigns again since they rarely reach other social networks. We develop these arguments to contribute to a socio-economic perspective of online funding platforms as important intermediaries in the career path of users operating at the boundary of amateur and professional production. This article contributes to developing a critical understanding of platforms, especially when users are not typical entrepreneurs or business-oriented agents but artists and do-it-yourself creators searching for funding opportunities.
Bibliographical noteJEL classification: D12, Z1, Z11, Z13
The authors would like to thank the useful comments made by the anonymous reviewers and the contribution of all artists that accepted to be part of this study.
V© The Author(s) 2021.