Cashing in on Cachet
If backing crowdfunding projects for the last year or so has taught me one thing, it’s that the most effective use of the platform is to trade notoriety for cold hard dollars. Whether that bump comes from the good will of fans or the free publicity such a project generates varies from project to project, but the end result is the same: people who are well known tend to do better than someone you’ve never heard of, whether their cause deserves to or not.
This week we have a doozy.
Neil Young wants your money to make a music player. I have three problems with this:
- He’s Loaded – According to several websites, he’s worth at least $65 million dollars. He’s been a celebrity for a very long time. If he wanted to launch a venture he was really passionate about, he could do it with his own damn money.
- It’s a project looking for a niche – In an age where even the venerable iPod, the most successful mp3 player of all time, is being replaced by cellphones for portable media solutions, and high end audio devices for the home are getting ever cheaper the PonoPlayer has a foot in both worlds. Too large for many uses, too many compromises for others, this player doesn’t really have a home.
- It wants to reinvent the wheel – In addition to building a brand new hardware device, this project wants to make its own webstore where you can buy high end audio files for it to play. Why link these two goals together? Why not put high quality audio files on a known platform, and fund just the player you think the world needs?
I’m glad they have raised 500% percent of their goal, and I wish them all the best, but to me this project has all the makings of a vanity project. It will probably fulfill its pledges to its backers, but I don’t see where it goes from there.