What Does Crowdsourcing Mean for Creative Professionals?

Everybody seems to know a part-time Web designer or a graphic design hobbyist. And these days, companies’ crowdsourcing contests for promotional designs and advertisements become more and more prevalent. They’re cheap for the company, who in turn receives a lot of public ideas to choose from, and the contest itself can create marketing buzz.

As can be imagined, this approach to corporate promotions is tough on design and advertising professionals (as well as intellectual property lawyers). The idea of countless hobbyists creating free graphics for the chance to win a contest flies in the face of creative industry business and professionalism. Of course today’s Web 2.0 didn’t invent creative contests – it just made them easier with wider reach to myriad competitors – hence the term “crowdsourcing.”

Springwise.com has recently published several pieces on the subject (http://www.springwise.com/marketing_advertising/freshlybranded/ and http://www.springwise.com/marketing_advertising/afr/). But long before graphic designers were feeling the pinch from hobbyists in crowdsourcing contests, recorded musicians were crying foul over online music sharing. Because of their longer, more controversial and newsworthy history, online music sharing issues have achieved greater public awareness than creative promotional croudsourcing issues.

And yet, there may be new hope for creatives on the horizon. The very online auction-style and sharing site capabilities which have plagued professional designers and musicians, could now start giving them new funding. According to another Springwise.com post, “Music crowdfunding pops up in France,” there are now multiple European Web sites enabling music fans to follow bands and invest in them for sharing future potential profits (http://www.springwise.com/entertainment/kisskissbankbank/).

From crowdsourcing to crowdfunding – maybe there are business opportunities to profitably unite creative pros and public audiences after all?

– Jake Aull