Crowdfunding: The Modern Day Musician's Guide to Fundraising
If you’re not familiar with the term “crowdfunding,” you’ve probably at least heard of Kickstarter, the most well-known crowdfunding platform. And you might think of it as a place to fund the manufacture of crazy inventions or to raise money for hospital bills. But crowdfunding is, in fact, one of the most effective ways to raise money for artistic projects as well. If you need proof, watch Amanda Palmer’s Ted Talk, The Art of Asking. If you’re too lazy, I’ll give you a little overview. Amanda Palmer and her band The Dresden Dolls were deemed a disappointment when they sold only 25,000 copies of their album. In the major label world, this was nothing. But years later, after the band was able to extricate itself from their recording contract, Amanda Palmer was able to raise over a million dollars on Kickstarter to fund her upcoming album, a record for crowd-funded music projects. And the number of investors who came up with this money? Her ever-loyal fanbase of only 25,000.
The point is that traditionally in fundraising, you ask a small number of wealthy people to give you a lot of money. In crowdsourcing, you ask a large number of normal people, your fans, to each give you a little bit of money, and that amounts to A LOT. Plus it cuts out the middle man and creates a direct relationship between you and your fans. The world is changing, and independent artistry is more actionable and lucrative than ever.
So how can you make use of this new crowd-funding culture?
Step 1: Build your fan base.
You can try to get money from strangers but where the real crowdfunding power lies is in asking the people who already know and love your work to contribute to it. Promote, promote, promote using social media.
Once you have a solid fan base and a project in mind, you have to have a solid crowd-funding etiquette to build trust with your fans and make your crowdfunding efforts a success.
Tell a good story.
Communicate your identity and your project through the story of you, why you’re here, and where you’re trying to go.
Know exactly how much money you need and how you’re going to use every penny. You want to be reliable and make sure the project gets done. Don’t wing it. Be specific with yourself. Have a plan.
Just like promoting your music, promote your campaign. There actually are people who search for great projects to give to. Don’t limit yourself to your existing fans. Make yourself and your campaign known to the world
Under promise and over deliver.
This is a big one. Don’t get too lofty. Be creative, but plan to give less back than you think you can. Offer enough to make it worth it, and when you have the extra time, money, energy, then give more. Surprise your fans and contributors rather than disappointing them. And make sure that at the very least you follow through on your promises.
Keep things updated.
Make sure you’re always posting about the progress of your crowdfunding and the development of your project. Updating keeps attention coming to your cause but also keeps the peace in the minds of your funders that you’re on top of things and will be responsible with their money.
Finally, keep communicating after the campaign ends.
Update your contributors on how the project is going. Promote the success of your project to inspire more people to become fans and contribute to your next project. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Lastly, you have traditional project based crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter, and you also have a new-ish type of platform for artists that allows for ongoing patronage. This new platform is being pioneered by Patreon, and it’s worth checking it out if you have a fan-base.
And then of course there’s the old-fashioned way: fundraising concerts.
Whatever platform you choose, follow these guidelines and you’ll get the most out of your crowdfunding projects.
Credit: Allie Mazon