Alphafunding and The Modern Day Lord Chamberlain Men

london-16th-centuryImagine for a moment that you were to magically transport to the end of the 16th century to lovely London. Aside from your immediate worrying about how you ended up traveling through time and space, you would be met with several things, poverty, the rise of industry, a heavy split between the classes and more. But explore the streets and you would happen across the Lord Chamberlain Men at the Globe Theatre, an acting company where William Shakespeare would find himself writing some of his most famous works for the public view.500px-Shakespeare

As much as their content (more accurately, Shakespeare’s content) has become infamously known as some of the staple of English literature, it is the financial aspects of the acting company which would shift how the public’s relationship with the arts would be perceived. Before the companies method of money making, the typical way an artist would make his way in the world would be through patronage via a patron, a wealthy benefactor who would finace and help an artist to complete a project (Davies Sigthorsson, 25). If he was skilled, had good enough connections and hopefully could keep both in check, then maybe he could find a wealthy patron to finance his works. This was the methodology that was carried out from the start of European Renaissance up until a couple British men formed the Lord Chamberlain Men and would carry out a different approach.

Instead of hoping for the rich to decide what was worthy of finance, the company let the common folk decide, having them each pay a small fee to see the newest work that the company had prepared. This meant that the groups income was more reliant upon pleasing a much larger group of customers and gearing their content towards what may be more accepted by the public (Davies Sigthorsson, 30).  This was generally looked down upon since the majority of those attending the productions were commoners but the system worked regardless.

This same method can be seen today as the main money maker, with the common man paying for tickets, subscriptions or fee’s for a product they had yet to see or know if they’d enjoy.


Some examples of major crowdfunding websites

In the age of information, where you can hold in the palm of your hand a connection to millions of other individuals, each with an opinion and unique taste, there stands a new method of raising funds for your product, crowdfunding.imgresimgres

Crowdfunding can be described as a mixture of the patronage system but designed to be utilized by the average person. Like the patronage system, funds are gathered while the creative work is still in it’s developmental stage. It may only be an idea or the product could be done, only lacking funding for mass production. However the system separate’s in the sheer scale of it’s market. With the use of the internet, this new found patronage system asks that everyone contribute something. Much like the Lord Chamberlain Men, this means that armies of the common man can contribute pennies and as long as there are enough people interested in the product, then it will be made.

This new system circumvents the established ideas of how to gather funding for your creative works. Instead of appealing to investors who would need to assured that the product could be sold, the crowdfunding system ensures that yes, the product is not just desirable but that you have people already paying money to see it get made.

A newer model of this crowdfunding system is something called Eary Access or Alphafunding. This new model of gathering funds from a large swarth of people is concentrated within software but most notably, video games. If you were to go onto Steam, the iTunes equivalent of video games, then you would see hundreds of games which are for sale, but label themselves as ‘Early Access’. Essentially, this means that the game is in Alpha. It works, you can play it, but it is not done and the developers don’t know when it will be finished.


Day Z in game screen shot

In reality the game you buy may never be finished as there will always be updates. What the developer is promising is that if you pay for the game now at a slightly cheaper price, then eventually you will get a full fledged polished product. Until then though, you are using a game which has the potential to have a very large number of issues which range from certain actions being left out of the game all the way to you crashing the game.

There are even times where the game is considered so broken that a developer warns customers that they are buying a broken product.

Despite these warnings, this system has seen incredible success. One case was the zombie survival game Day Z. Originally a mod of Arma II, it found massive success that a game was made and released in Alpha where it sold 400,000 copies in the first week. Another example of this is Kerbal Space Program, a space ship construction and flying simulation which was released officially done on April 27 of 2015 but had already had millions of sales since it’s early access release back in March 20th of 2013.

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program Philosophy

What the internet has done is given way to a new form of funding where it gives developers a new outlet to show the world their product and that it is in fact profitable. The ability to see if people will buy a product before it’s even done has helped bring forth a massive amount of new independent works that help to diversify the market.

Davies, Rosamund, and Gauti Sigthorsson. Introducing the Creative Industries: From Theory to Practice. London: SAGE, 2013. Print.

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