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Kickstarter.com Funds the Future

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Artists dreaming of pressing up a debut album and filmmakers hoping to finance documentaries typically have limited sources for funding — friends , family and maybe a penny-pinching record label. Enter crowdsourced funding site Kickstarter.com , which essentially lets artists petition those friends and family — plus random strangers — for money to get creative projects off the ground. Performers simply post videos, text and photos outlining their proposed project, and specify a required funding amount. Everyday Internet users, plied with novel rewards ($5 might get you a copy of the CD, $50 a t-shirt and VIP concert ticket, and $500 a personal thank you call from the guitarist), make financial pledges towards this amount. If goals are met, money is exchanged, and you're free to chase the dream of becoming the next Merle Haggard or Hype Williams. If not, you've already begun building publicity and connecting with prospective groupies and backers. Either way, you still own 100% of the rights, as investors get no legal stake in the project.

Whether it's an album to music videos, off-Broadway musicals or films on Athens, GA's rich rock history, the site's already giving everyday folks the power to green-light tomorrow's hits. That million-dollar idea of yours to create a multi-touch iPod Nano watch has already been claimed. The inventors managed to raise a $551,833 of their hoped-for $15,000, with over 7,700 random viewers donating $71 on average, with two weeks of campaigning still to go.

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