You might know this, or you might not, but crowd-funding was invented by the band Marillion. Who, as you might also know, because I don't shut up about it... are my favourite band.
Don't believe me that Marillion were responsible? Go and take a look at the Wikipedia page for crowd-funding. Kickstarter, Patreon, Indiegogo, Gofundme, Pledge Music - all of them exist because Marillion did it first, in 1997, when a bunch of American fans raised $60,000 to pay for the band to tour the US.
Off the back of that, Marillion then hit upon the notion of asking fans to buy their 2001 album, Anoraknophobia, before they had recorded or written a single note. In return, the fans would be guaranteed an album that would've otherwise been rushed - plus a nice special edition, with their name in the booklet.
That changed everything for Marillion, for the music industry, and - indeed - everyone who ever had an idea for a thing. Such as, y'know, an idea for an hilarious online series called Mr Biffo's Found Footage, which you can now back on Kickstarter. Woof! Woof!
Since Anoraknophobia, I've bought every Marillion album on faith alone; usually more than once, because I want to give as much support as I can to a band that otherwise wouldn't get any.
It hasn't always panned out - 2007's Somewhere Else was a bit ropey, despite a couple of high points - but overall, crowd-funding gave Marillion a fresh lease of life. It probably saved them; it certainly saved them for me.
Prior to 2001, Marillion had put out a trio of albums which were - by their own admission - rushed. They were outside of a record contract, and had to churn out product to keep the wolf from the door.
Not everything on This Strange Engine, Radiation, and .Com was bad - but they were a long way from classics. They lacked the spark of a Brave, or an Afraid of Sunlight - because they were working under the threat of having to chuck it all in and get proper jobs.
Crowd-funding - and the band's hugely successful Marillion Weekends, which they hold every other year - gives them breathing space to write and record the way they want to. Anoraknophobia isn't my favourite Marilion album, but there was something more assured and confident about it. More than that, it felt like mine - because I'd helped usher it into the world.
Things really changed completely with Marillion's next album, Marbles. The band had a top 10 single for the first time in years, and released arguably the best record of their career; a sprawling double, which was a showcase of everything they do best, from cinematic epics, to aching ballads, to quirky pop and rock. Crowd-funding had given us the Marillion album most fans had been waiting ten years or more for.
At last we could turn around and say "See?! I told you they were good!"
Barring Somewhere Else, things have remained on an upward trajectory.
Marillion's latest album - Fuck Everyone and Run, released a couple of weeks back - may have taken four years to finish, but it got them their best reviews in decades (5-stars in The Guardian!), and went Top 5.
It's their most uncompromising work since 1994's Brave. It is by turns bleak and angry, cinematic and plaintive - showcasing the shades of Floyd, Buckley, Kate Bush, Talk Talk and The Blue Nile that Marillion have been quietly working within for years, while everyone beyond the fanbase either ignored them, or dismissed them as bloated goblin essayists.
Thing is though, for me - and, I suspect, a lot of Marillion fans - it isn't just about the music anymore. The crowd-funding has become part of the experience. You feel like you belong to something. A family, a movement - call it what you will. We're all in it together.
GOING, GOING... GONE
It does seem as if it's indicative of the way the world is going. There's a suspicion of the establishment, that the money men have held the power for too long. Whether it's the music industry, which is driven by profits, or TV, which is driven by ratings. Crowd-funding gives us all a voice, and gives us control over things we think deserve to exist.
When it comes to crowd-funding, there's no middle-man. There's no record company, no disinterested suits or A&R man demanding a hit, or producers forcing their creative vision on the artists, playing it safe to tick boxes. Instead of others choosing what we watch, play or listen to, we now get to choose it for ourselves. The noisy ego and insecurity which frequently drives success is taken out of the equation.
It's important, and it's vital, in a world where creative people have to compromise because there are bills to pay. The squeaky wheel typically gets the grease, but doesn't always deserve it.
Marillion fans get the band that they love creating the music they want to make, and it inspires the band to do their best. Because they're effectively looking directly into the eyes of their audience, they don't want to let them down. It just... works.
Beyond Marillion, the projects I've supported in recent years - from people like Richard Herring, or the sublimely funny YouTuber Adrian Bliss, or the point-and-click adventure Return to Woolley Mountain - would otherwise never see the light of day. Digitiser2000 wouldn't exist if you hadn't backed me on Patreon or PayPal. It keeps me striving to reward the faithful, and gives me a little more space to do what I probably do best. I'm a firm believer that we all do our finest work when we're given the freedom to do what we want to do.
And it isn't just financial. It's an act of support that is difficult to put in words. Starting a project, knowing others believe in you - at least for me - translates into self-belief. The little niggling voice of doubt is dulled. I still have to pay bills, still have to work a proper job, but I know there are people for whom my voice is valued.
Which is another long-winded way of saying: if you like what I do, and want me to continue doing it, please support me on Kickstarter, if you haven't already. We're only on day two of the campaign, but already we've gone more than £4k over the (admittedly absurdly low - there's that doubt, undervaluing myself) funding goal.
None of the money will be going into my pocket: I will literally spend every penny of it on the show, partly so that I don't have to pay tax on it, but mainly because I want it to be as good as it possibly can be - and make something that you would never get on telly these days.
Indeed, if you want an idea of my ambition for Found Footage, yesterday I was researching how much it might be to hire a) A film studio, b) A 1980s photocopier, and c) A horse.
Also, how's this for a stretch goal: if we manage to raise over £10k to pay for the show, I promise I will never, ever mention Marillion again on these pages...?