Kickstarter: Crowdsourced Funding for Ideas that Matter

I finally made my first Kickstarter pledge today – toward an Invisible Children film project including Yeasayer and Polyphonic Spree.

Kickstarter is a new website and funding platform for “artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers….” Started by entrepreneurial blogger and developer Andy Baio, Kickstarter invites anyone to submit a project for funding and/or to fund a project with little risk. [CORRECTION: Baio is the CTO. Kickstarter was started by CEO Perry Chen, along with cofounders Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler.] You invest in the final product which reaps rewards. Should the project not reach its funding goal, your money is returned, so as not to be wasted on something that runs out of fuel halfway through. Baio also created one of the infamously useful-before-Yahoo-bought-it online apps – Upcoming.org.

Kickstarter is a brilliant concept because it feeds on the positivity and karma of giving, sharing, and creating on the web. But it’s not just the ethos — it’s the stories. And the stories behind the stories. Take the story of Greg Bayne an aspiring filmmaker who — with the help of a final push — got the funding to succeed (+ an extra 2 grand) in his goal of raising funds for a documentary on legendary MMA fighter Jens Pulver. It’s addicting enough to follow these projects and see if they get funded or not — there is only 48 hours left to raise another $10k for the Invisible Children project.

UPDATE 3/10: The project was fully funded with ten hours to spare.

But that’s only the beginning — it’s a gift that keeps giving and giving back, through blog updates from those who are funded and in many cases, a final product such as a film, or a DIY mixed-use space, or a book of war comics.

Have a look for yourself and see how many intriguing projects you come across. Or if you start your own, let me know. I want in!

Broken Bells @ Bootleg Theater, LA 2.19.10

We were lucky to be among a few hundred people to catch Broken Bells’ first-ever live performance Friday night at the Bootleg Theater in Echo Park. Broken Bells — if you haven’t heard yet — is a collaboration between James Mercer (of The Shins) and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse).

Try to imagine what that might sound like and your expectations would be met and likely exceeded by the first single — “The High Road” — alone (video after the jump). Stack that on top of Burton’s track record as a multi-instrumentalist and producer over the past decade (The Grey Album, Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, MF Doom, Beck) plus the mystery of it being Broken Bells first live performance and the Bootleg was buzzing with anticipation.

The crowd was a good mix of industry, critics, serious music freaks, and fans (we scored tickets out of the lot that went up for sale after 10am Friday for $15 each – and were gone by 10:30am, according to the Fold’s website).

After a spirited set by the house DJ’s, Broken Bells took the stage as a 6-piece band (two guitars, two keyboards, bass, drums). The band seemed well-rehearsed and the onstage demeanor was rather serious for a “surprise” show — the only announced Broken Bells concerts to date are London and Paris and as part of a SXSW showcase next month. A couple people mentioned that it was Burton’s first time playing drums onstage (he played keys on one or two tracks with prerecorded supporting beats). On the record — much like with the Gnarls Barkley collabs with Cee-Lo — Burton handled all the instrumentation as well as production, James Mercer wrote the songs and played guitar.

Mercer’s voice was strong and rose above Burton’s shuffling timekeeping. Several songs had a lilting bass groove reminiscent of the Manchester sound of 20 years ago — Stone Roses, Happy Mondays. It was also apparent that these musicians were influenced by the likes of Damon Albarn and Beck — not necessarily a bad thing. Add four- and five-part harmonies and some ace songwriting by Mercer and the live experience had a wall of sound, Floydian feel, melodies grinding through spiral video projected on the stage.

After each song everybody seemed to turn and look at each other with eyebrows raised as if to say, “wow, that actually sounded really good.” After ten songs the band left the stage briefly and then returned with the two greatest surprises of the night. First, the duo of Mercer and Burton rattled off a beautiful version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” and then the rest of the band returned for a spot-on cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover.” Mercer led into it saying gingerly (to the crowd, the band or both?) “I don’t know if you’re ready for this but here it goes.”

Lights up. The house DJ cued The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and the crowd filed out, smiles all around.

Broken Bells drops March 9 on Sony / Columbia.

Originally posted at LAist.

Radiohead Raises $572,000 for Haiti with Oxfam America at the Henry Fonda Music Box

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicLate Thursday Radiohead announced that it would perform a charity show benefiting the survivors of the devastating January 12th earthquake in Haiti. The tickets were made available via a Ticketmaster auction which ended with a final minimum bid of $475 (meaning many secured their tickets for $450). Some went above and beyond as the proceeds were going 100% to Haiti via Oxfam America and the high bid was $2,000 per ticket (for either 2 or 4 tickets), according to the band.

All in all more than $572,000 was raised and it was an unforgettable, intimate gig for all at the 1,300-capacity theater. Here’s the setlist:

Video from the show…

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2009 LAWeekly L.A. Web Award Winners include LAist, lalawag, CarolineonCrack + other faves

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?From Google Wave to mommy blogs to TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington “stealing our tweets,” 2009 was a booming year for the Web and social media scene. To celebrate, LAWeekly.com is hosting the LA Web Awards 2009 and asked you to nominate the best in 36 categories. Who gives the best tweet? What’s the best site for gamers? From over a thousand nominations, a team of expert judges from LA and SF’s online communities — including Kevin Pereira, Andrew Nystrom, Gabe Rivera, Travis Keller, Sean Percival, Aubrey Sabala, Mike Prasad, Shira Lazar, John Resig, Maya Baratz, Andrew Sorcini, and VVM new media staff — combed through the sites and selected winners. And to keep it fair, none of the judges voted in a category they’re affiliated with. Check out the winners below and stay tuned for information on how you can win a spot on the guest list for our private party at Bardot on January 21st to celebrate 2009’s best online.

LA’s Best Twitterer
@XeniJardin

LA’s Best Flickr Pool
LA Addict

LA’s Best Flamer (i.e. best shit talker)
Buddyhead

LA’s Best Food Blog
Eater LA

LA’s Best Music Blog
Aquarium Drunkard

LA’s Best Police Blog
Witness LA

LA’s Best Tech Blog
Lalawag

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Keeping Track of What we Read in Class

I was looking all over for the syllabus from a course I was fortunate to take in the fall of 2006 at USC, Set-Top Box: Hollywood’s Secret War on Your Living Room. As if it wasn’t enough to meet weekly with Cory Doctorow, the guests he brought in and the material we read were priceless and it has all stuck with me in many ways. Having tracked down the syllabus in an old socialtext wiki I thought I’d reprint it here so I no longer have to dig and dig and dig to refer back to some of the readings. The class blog and my class project are still online.

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