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    Most Americans think that local news is doing well financially, and not many pay for it
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    Nov. 15, 2017, 10 a.m.
    Business Models

    Kickstarter’s new product, Drip, lets people charge subscriptions for ongoing projects

    The platform focuses on ongoing support rather than one-time projects.

    is no stranger to successful crowdfunding campaigns. The Canadian investigative news outlet launched its first Kickstarter in 2014, (USD $41,615) from 741 backers to produce 140 stories on the . That was followed by a that raised CA $80,939 from 574 backers to report on climate change solutions (surpassing a goal of CA $50,000) and a that raised CA $70,863 from 784 backers.

    The 2015 project was said CEO and editor-in-chief . “It was a major marketing tool. As well as raising funds, we were also getting our brand out and reaching a lot of new people.”

    Kickstarter campaigns are built around specific, isolated projects and aren’t meant to sustain creators on an ongoing basis — until now. On Wednesday, Kickstarter launched a new product, , “a tool for people to fund and build community around their ongoing creative practice…through the recurring support of fans, friends, and new audiences.”

    Drip is Kickstarter’s answer to , which launched in 2013 and focuses on ongoing support for people rather than projects, and more than 50,000 active creators and 1 million active “patrons.” But “competition or market share is a backward way of thinking about this,” said , Kickstarter founder and chairman. “I think the more tools for creators, the better. We wanted to make something expansive — introduce a tool that is a step forward and also maybe speaks to a larger group of creators that, to date, haven’t felt that existing tools resonate with them.” (A product called Drip originally launched in 2011 as a way for fans to support musicians with subscriptions; in 2016, Drip , until Kickstarter .)

    National Observer is one of 61 creators (and the only news outlet) participating in Drip at launch (or, as Kickstarter puts it, “launching a Drip”). It’s offering a $5 founding membership that gives certain benefits (events, early article access) to users who join in the first 30 days. (“Founding memberships” are a feature and differentiator of every Drip: “We know from Kickstarter that this time-based call to action is really helpful for creators,” Chen said.) Drip isn’t just a payment platform but also a publication platform: “There are going to be articles, video, and content on Drip that won’t go onto the National Observer website,” Wood said. National Observer’s website also has a metered paywall, offering subscriptions at CA $12.99 per month or $139 for a year — but its pricing through Drip is more modest: “We’re trying to reach more people by making the bar to entry lower,” Wood said.

    The other journalistic creators launching on Drip today: , the founder of , who is launching a related podcast; , host of the podcast; , creator of ; , “the first print magazine about the future of food” (); and journalist , creator of the podcast . They join creators in other mediums, like choreographer and artist . Drip categories are the same as those found on Kickstarter, except with the addition of two new categories: Podcasts & Radio, and Illustrations.

    Drip is invite-only for now, and will open up more broadly next year. It charges a 5 percent fee on subscription payments, plus an additional credit card processing charge. Chen sees Drip and Kickstarter as “separate but complementary products,” and believes there will be crossover between them: Creators may use the products at different times in their careers, for instance. And existing Kickstarter users can support Drip creators from their accounts.

    National Observer’s Wood regards her sites’ participation in Drip as an experiment, but says Kickstarter has already proven her hypothesis that people will pay for journalism. She estimates that around a third of National Observer’s current paying subscribers were originally introduced to the brand via Kickstarter. “We’ve been building for years through them,” she said.

    POSTED     Nov. 15, 2017, 10 a.m.
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