The popularization of crowdfunding to what we know today occurred during the 90s. Currently, there are many platforms that allow financing projects with this method of financing. But what started everything? ArtistShare, considered the first crowdfunding platform in history.

ArtistShare, first crowdfunding platform ever

In a past blog post, we had talked about how the musicians promoted crowdfunding. And we mentioned Extremoduro and Marillion as two bands that started that trend. Both cases, especially that of Marillion, helped crowdfunding begin to become known. This’s when the American entrepreneur Brian Camelio arrives, who notices this.

In 1998, Camelio decided to found a fundraising website for non-profit organizations. However, this business wasn’t successful and had to be closed soon after. Despite this, the experience helped him get involved in other projects on technology and financing. Already in 2000, Camelio has the idea of ​​creating a fundraising site for artists.

This is how ArtistShare was born in 2001, at a time when the word “crowdfunding” wasn’t yet used. The idea behind his entrepeneurship was simple. According to a Livemint article, he thought that artists’ fans could help them fund their music albums. Particularly those that would be launched only on the Internet. For the time, this proved to be an attractive business. Because it offered better terms and conditions for the musicians.

One of the reasons that inspired Camelio to create ArtistShare, were the injustices of the existing record companies. Which only gave a small part of the profits to musicians after the sale of their records. And in addition, they kept the rights to the master tapes of an artist. In the coming years, this crowdfunding platform would start to gain a lot of notoriety.

ArtistShare Grammy Nominations
It was through artists with successful campaigns and Grammy winners/nominated that ArtistShare has the reputation it has today. Source: ArtistShare

Popularization and growth of ArtistShare

As of 2003, ArtistShare would experience considerable success. Some of the projects that emerged on this platform, were able to finance themselves. But not only that, they also began to become Grammy nominations. 30 of them, according to the website, were nominated for a Grammy. And another 10 won the Grammy award. This did nothing but contribute to give ArtistShare a good reputation.

But in that same year, this platform reached a milestone. The famous American music and composer Maria Schneider would make a campaign on ArtistShare. It was meant to finance her fourth jazz studio album Concert in the Garden. According to Livemint, she decided to use the platform because she felt she didn’t receive enough income within her record company.

Maria Schneider ArtistShare Campaign
Maria Schneider’s crowdfunding campaign received contributions between $9 and even $18,000. Due to the variety of its reward system. Source:

This is because ArtistShare grants 85% of the profits to the artist. The platform also works as a record label for Internet albums. And in turn, it bestows the rights to the master tapes to the musicians who recorded the album. Schneider used rewards-based crowdfunding to give benefits to contributors to her campaign. And that way, she managed to reach her goal and raise $90,000.

The album was a commercial success and received good reviews from its audience. So much so that later it would receive four Grammy nominations. And one of them won for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album”. Being the first album released only on the Internet to receive a Grammy. From this successful campaign, ArtistShare achieved great status as a crowdfunding platform.

Currently, this platform remains active and went on to become a non-profit organization. Brian Camelio is considered one of the “fathers” of crowdfunding. From ArtistShare, other crowdfunding platforms began to emerge in the following years, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Many consider that this platform promoted not only crowdfunding, but the business model of music as such.

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What do you think of ArtistShare…?