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Crowdfunding for Musicians: Supercharge Your Campaign for Success

by | Blog, Music Business, Tips

Are you ready to take the next step in your journey as a musician? But realize if you want to put out the project that you have envisioned, it will take years to save up the money to do the project justice. You are not alone. There are hundreds of musicians just like you that are taking advantage of crowdfunding to help their project come to life. 

What is Crowdfunding (For Musicians)

Crowdfunding for music projects is something that has really exploded into the mainstream this past decade. Creatives are using this to create projects that would have never existed without the help of fans, supporters, and backers. 

TIP: We usually simply just have to ask.

If you research, plan, and execute your campaign properly, you’d be very surprised at how much a crowdfunding campaign and help you bring your project to life.

But don’t get me wrong. Running a successful crowdfunding campaign for musicians is not easy. 

The core of each crowdfunding campaign or project is always the same…it’s the why. And if you can get your audience to get on board with your “Why” then you will have a high chance of having a successful campaign and project.

Let’s start with Why

The reason you are doing this project should be the most important thing to you. If you can really show your network of friends, fan, and family the reason behind the project and the drive, then you have overcome the first hurdle. 

People don’t care about the rewards or even the project itself, that much. The main reason people are going to support you is because they like you and they want generally want to see you succeed. Why else are they even looking at your crowdfunding page?

But to help give them that drive you are going to have to convey your “why”. Everything about your campaign will be build around this purpose. So as you read through each section, I want you to look through it through the lens of “why” am I doing this.

I would recommend watching this video by the guy that wrote the book “Start with Why”. Basically people will be more inclined to follow and listen to people and organizations that convey their purpose or why they do something more so than people who talk about “what”.

If you have the time, I also recommend reading the book. =)

 

Planning the Campaign

The planning and research for your campaign is going to take the most time and will be the most difficult part. If you get this part down, the next 30 days of your campaign is will go that much smoother. 

I recommend that you have every person that you are going to contact throughout the span of your campaign in a spreadsheet, or even better, a CRM – I’ll talk more about that. You should have a template for the email blasts and personal emails. You should have your social media updates pre-written and pictures of things related to the campaign and project on hand before the first day of your campaign.

Let’s go through how to do all of this.

Your Network

,Crowdfunding for musicians is a little different than crowdfunding for other things like technology. Music is about building a connection and many of the standard crowdfunding tactics that work in areas like technology are not going to work.

For example, Technology relies on exposure and promoting the benefits you will get for backing the project. So someone that might not have ever heard of this technology might easily decide to back a project if it will provide a lot of benefit to them.

But this isn’t the same with music project. Honestly, this number is completely from my head, but I would imagine that less than 2% of people that back a music project are a total stranger to that band/artist before contributing.

Exposure and going viral doesn’t matter for music project. You are going to rely on the community of people you know.

 So,

The first thing we are going to try and nail down is identifying your network.

This is how you are going to do it. You are going to group people up into buckets of how they are associated with you.

For example, you can break them up into Family, Friends, and Fan. Then you can sub divide it even further. This is the way I would recommend. You want to try and think of everyone that you have had a decent conversation with. You should probably have at least 100 people but more is definitely better. 200-300 people would be ideal.

Let’s follow these steps.

1. On a sheet of paper or in a program make a mind map. Make 3 main groups for you to divide your network into. I did friends, family, fans.

2. Start adding people to these groups and sub-divide even further if you have too. For example, college friends, high school friends, work friends, etc. Thinking of people in groups like this will help you create a better list of the people you know. 

3. If you need to, scan through your Facebook friends list to find more contacts.

4. Now put all of these names in a spreadsheet with some contact information or how you will contact them them. 

5. Put a rank next to each contact on how close of a relationship you have with them.

1 – very close

2 – close, but would we strange to call.

3 – acquaintances and friends of friends.

Now you have the core list of people that will be majority of your backers.

The more organized you are with this list the more helpful it will be as you continue through the campaign.

If you want to be totally on top of these and organized I would recommend using a CRM to track your communication with them. Something like Hubspot would be great if you are mainly going to rely on email to contact people.

Budget

You need to have a plan on how much investment from your supporters you will need to realize this project. What this will look like really depends on the type of music and the scope of the music project.

But I am sure, there is a minimum budget that will allow you to make this project viable. This is the budget that will cover most of your expenses, but doesn’t let you get all the extra you might need such as hiring a PR firm, or Merchandise.

 

Here are a list of many of the basic expenses you will encounter with releasing music (some of these may not apply to your project):

 

  • Hiring Session musicians
  • Producer
  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • CD Duplication (Yeah, some people are still making CDs)
  • Merchandise
  • Crowdfunding Fees (EX: Kickstarter takes 10%)
  • Promotion / PR
  • Music Video
  • Cost of Rewards / Shipping

 

Resources

You need to start collecting every you can possibly use on social media or updates on your crowdfunding campaign page to tell your story in a fun or interesting way. These can be photos, videos, or anything else that you have that helps you tell your story. 

Remember this just has to help enhance your campaign. It doesn’t have to be picture perfect photos or videos. Some ideas for resource material that you can use on your social media would be:

  • Photos of practice sessions
  • Show videos/pictures
  • Unreleased demos
  • Lyric/chart notes
  • Behind the scenes videos/pictures
  • Merch/artwork design ideas

There are so many more ideas our there. Try to create something fun and engaging.

 

Building The Campaign

Now, it is time to actually start building out the campaign project description, video, and rewards. This is will be the front-end of your campaign and this will be the place where people will have to come to the critical decision of whether or not to back your project. 

Everything on the front-end is going to start with why you are doing this project, not the rewards and not even the end result itself…yet. Like I said before, people are here to support you, not your project so give them a reason to support you first. Then direct them to your project through your passion.

So lets get started with your goal.

Your Goal

We are going to talk about the numbers of your campaign.

You have a budget estimate for all of the things you want to include in your campaign. Now it is time break it down. We want to create a realistic goal that you will be able to reach. 

This is going to be the bare-bones version of your project that you will be satisfied. This will really depend on your vision on the final project. 

For example, lets say your bare-boned project includes mixing, mastering, session musicians, and recording.  The cost of these adds up too $2000. You then need to include the crowdfunding fees and shipping costs of rewards – 25% is a safe estimate. Also, include any amount of money that you are willing to put down out of pocket. Let’s say $1,000. So this is what your goal should equal out to be in this case

$2,500 * 25% – $1,000 = $2,125

Now, this is just the official goal. If you handle it right the amount can be much higher if you include a thing called stretch-goals. You can check out the article by Kickstarter on the premise of Stretch-goals here.

Create Rewards

Are you ready to start cooking up some kickass rewards for your backers? Before we get into that we to have a strategy on how to price our rewards and manage our costs and time.

We are going to break down your rewards into 3 main categories:

 

  • Low-Level: This is probably going to be below $50 and will consist of your main product offering whether it be a CD, personalized usb drive with your music, or vinyl, or etc…you get the idea.
  • Mid-Level: These levels will consist of your main product along with extra items to add value. This is often swag, merch and easy to do personalized things. This level’s prices range up to $200 usually. 
  • High-Level: These rewards are anyway from a few $100 dollars to several $1,000. These are very personalized and limited rewards.

Each of these core levels will have sub-levels with rewards at different price points. 

 

Messaging

This is people one of the most important parts. Before you actually start creating the project description and content that people will be seeing, you need to remember to be consistent in your messaging. 

What messaging you ask? “I’m just going to talk about my music project and how awesome it is going to be!!!”

Everyone in the world thinks that their creative project, no matter what field it is in, will be the next awesome thing. That isn’t going to be people behind your project, because everything is awesome if you think about it that way. You need to tell your potential backers why it is awesome to you and why you were put on this planet to do this.

You might not even know why you need to do this, yet. Here is a little experiment you can do to dig deep into your brain and find the why.

Ask yourself,

“Why am I doing this project?”

“I want to make music”

“Why do you want to make music?”

“Because it makes me feel good when I share it and people respond?

“Why does that make you feel good”

“Because I feel like I made a connection with someone”

“Why do you want to make a connection?

“Because It makes me feel like I belong”

 

You can do this until you get deep down to a core value you hold. It might even help if a friend helps you with this. Once you get your your why extracted you can base your messaging around this.

The Video

 The backend of your project is complete and now the part that most people think is the most daunting aspect….THE VIDEO.

But don’t worry. You don’t need to make something spectacular with professional videography because that isn’t the important part. As long as the quality of the video and audio do not distract from the core message of the video, it will be fine.

What is the core message of the video? It’s the story…

What do all good stories have? They have 3 parts – A beginning, middle, and end.

We are going to make a short storyboard and a script you can go by when making your video.

Never made a video before? Here are some tips. (Skip this if you know video editting.)

1. Do each scene/shot multiple times without stopping record. It’s easier to edit down all the bad takes

2. Use jump cuts between takes. Don’t use any silly fades or transitions, unless you really think it calls for it.

THE VIDEO STORY ARC 

 

Part 1: The Origin

This is where you establish who you are and where you have been.

For example,

“Hi, I’m George Panini.”

“And for the past decade I have been training to be the world’s smallest violin player.”

and then you can talk about how you are on the precipice of where this has led you.

“Now I am ready to take the next step of….”

Part 2: The Journey

 

This is the most important part because this is where you will build a connection with your backers. There are a few important things you need to convey in this section.

You are going to want to talk about where you see yourself going and how this project will help you achieve that. 

Then you definitely need to mention why this is so important to you. You need to convey your passion in this project and outcome authentically.

Finally, mention the details of the project so that you can make it feel more real to your audience. Give a few reasons why they project will be unique, but don’t get to caught up in talking the features.

 

You can add in some b-roll of you and other appropriate content that will help make the story come to life.  

 

Part 3: The Fellowship (The Action)

 

Crowdfunding reminds me of when Gandalf comes to Bilbo Baggins’s house with his unexpected guests and persuades Bilbo to join a cause that is bigger than any one of them alone. 

I think I just showed how big of a nerd I am….

But the third part of your video should be asking them to join you on your project or journey!

You told them the story and built a connection. Now you just need to tell them what they need to do so that they start the journey with you. 

The Campaign Description

This is where you can go into more detail about your project that you could not include in your video. 

Here are a few sections you should be sure to include:

  1. Talk about your why again.
  2. This is where you can go into more detail about your exact plans for the project. 
  3. Your budget plan
  4. Your rewards
  5. The Final Call to action.

 

I am going to link you to a person that had an amazing campaign description. He had all the right words and graphics to keep interest and make his project come to life. 

Campaign Description Research: Aaron Scott Fowler

 

TIP: I highly advise you to do your own research on how successful campaigns wrote their campaign description and video. 

Campaign Calendar

When you are ready to actually launch your crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter, indiegogo, or one of the other many crowdfunding sites for musicians. You are going to need a day-to-day checklist for all the stuff you need to do to manage your campaign.

That is why I made a 30-day campaign calendar for you!

Conclusion

You now have a good understanding of many of the basic components to get you started on your own crowdfunding journey. 

No matter what platform you choose, whether it be Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or one of the many other. Many of this information will be applicable.

 

In the next installment, we will talk more about running and managing your campaign.