Online DIY fund-raising phenom Kickstarter can claim many success stories, sure: Take Frankie Rose’s van or Weingarten’s whole Tweetbox thing. But Kickstarter fatigue/backlash is a real danger, and, you know, the economy is in tatters, so success is never assured, which five-year-old L.E.S. institution the Cake Shop just found out the hard way.
Recently the spot announced a $10,000 Kickstarter project to fund an ambitious, two-phase web-video empire designed to “build Cake-Shop.com into a full fledged online community and resource center for bands and music lovers to interact, learn and create.” Their deadline expired Saturday night. As you can see, they raised a little less than $2,000. Oof.
Chatting over IM, Cake Shop co-owner Andy Bodor certainly can’t blame anyone: “Definitely people are broke,” he says, adding that “I think we set it a little too high to reach the goal, and we were a little vague on what we exactly wanted to do.” (Hire full-time employees, for one thing, which accounts for much of the 10K tag.) He adds that the Cake Shop rarely advertises, doesn’t have an email list, and thus depended largely on word of mouth, including an increasingly resigned Twitter page and Bodor’s personal Facebook, wherein “most of my friends are either starting to have children or are victims of the recession and need to save for their own uncertain futures.”
Perhaps the Kickstarter route is out, but Bodor is still optimistic the online project — stream video of Cake Shop shows, interview the bands, beef up the website, and generally further tout both the venue and the rockers who play it — will still happen, perhaps self-funded at the onset, so people get a slightly less vague sense of what exactly is going on here. “I see it as a stapled cut-and-paste 35-cent zine that will blossom into a perfect-bound compendium with a nice matte cover eventually,” he says, citing Eternal Summers, Big Troubles, Sweet Bulbs, and Pregnant among the bands he’s hoping to work with. “Thinking of Cometbus on that reference there.”
As for the Cake Shop itself — co-owned by Bodor, his brother Nick, and Greg Curley, who also run the younger Brooklyn spot Bruar Falls — Bodor says it’s doing fine, thanks to their upstairs liquor license and a prevailing L.E.S. mystique: “I’m always surprised that people from the other boroughs travel to us. I’m not sure what the deal is there, maybe they see it as a fun field trip.” Long-term they’re hoping to open another spot, actually, requiring significantly more of a field trip: “I’m thinking Europe, Scotland or Denmark, but really want it to be a place that’s needed,” he says. “We’re at the very very early stages. New Zealand would be a lifelong dream, but there’s no need for it right now. Nova Scotia, same deal.” The mind reels as to how elaborate a Kickstarter campaign that would require.