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Learning from Success: 7 Key Crowdfunding Tips for Musicians

Posted in Crowdfunding by Drew

Crowdfunding campaigns are a great way for musicians to raise money for studio and mastering time or touring funds, but they are also large undertakings that involve a lot of planning and preparation. Many crowdfunding campaigns fail due to poor planning or unrealistic goals. But with some insight from bands that have pulled it off successfully in the past, your band can be all the wiser.

If you’re a music artist considering crowdfunding to raise money for a project, and you’re afraid you’re not taking into consideration all the details you should be, here are some crowdfunding tips for musicians to help get you on the right track.

Be yourself.

Brandon Hagstrom, of the band Bigtree Bonsai (which raised nearly $7k in three months using IgnitionDeck Crowdfunding, nearly doubling their campaign goal), says:

“There are several ways to approach the launch video, but it has to be interesting, enticing, and it has to be you,”

This applies to every aspect of your campaign. Whether you call it “Keeping it 100,” being honest, or staying true to yourself, your campaign needs to have your fingerprints – your personality, humor, beliefs, goals, etc. – all over it.

For an example of content that shows off a band’s personality, check out the creative video that folk rock group A House For Lions made for their campaign. I think you’ll laugh like we did.

Communicate to fans how much planning you did.

For fans to take a musician’s crowdfunding campaign seriously, the musician must first prove that he or she took the planning and budgeting of the fundraiser seriously. No one wants to give his or her money to people that don’t have their ducks in a row.

If the information on your crowdfunding website is unorganized, lacks crucial material like a timeline, or fails to explain why people should trust the band to follow through, fans will not contribute. How do musicians overcome this challenge and establish trust? They break it down, explaining where exactly the money will be going, how they came up with the goal amount, why they budgeted a certain amount of time for each step in the process, etc. The key here is transparency.

Show your gratitude with enticing incentives to donate.

Bands typically create between five and seven reward tiers, with each tier receiving the gifts in the tiers below plus another gift.

Bigtree Bonsai

During Bigtree Bonsai’s campaign to create their first full-length album, they learned that their most popular rewards were also the simplest. These included the album, a screen-printed poster, and inclusion of the supporter’s names in the album credits.

Unrealistic crowdfunding rewards can get bands into trouble if, for instance, they fail to take into account the true expense (monetary and otherwise) of delivering. When coming up with your rewards, make sure you know in advance, down to the penny, how much each reward will cost, and factor that into your goal amount. Don’t forget to take into account the time someone has to spend packaging the items, the cost of packaging materials and shipping, and the production cost of each item.

If you do decide to offer experiences as crowdfunding rewards (like dinner with the lead singer or a private performance at the contributor’s home), consider how much time and effort will go into coordinating the activity and doing it. Just because there may be a low monetary cost doesn’t mean the reward isn’t expensive to the band in other ways.

Ask friends and family to donate right after the launch.

No one wants to donate to a cause that no one else supports. In order for your crowdfunding campaign to radiate success from the get-go, ask 10-20 of your closest friends and family members to donate right at the launch and encourage them to announce their contribution via social media. The excitement and momentum from this first wave may take you further than you expect.

Leverage your network.

You can’t just set up a crowdfunding campaign for your next album and expect the money to roll in without any marketing. Spread the word through social media, email newsletters, and other communication methods used by people in your network.

If a company has donated a reward to the cause, ask them to promote your campaign through their usual communication channels. The business may even be willing to help you set up a separate event, like a live auction, where all the proceeds will support your campaign.

And don’t limit messaging to only during the launch phase of the campaign. Prepare your fans for the fundraiser to build awareness and anticipation, celebrate milestones as you progress, send deadline reminders as the campaign nears its close, and then, share follow-up messages when you start spending your fans’ contributions.

Be ready to change on the fly.

As many successful crowdfunders have had to figure out along the way, you need to be flexible and prepared to tweak any aspect of your campaign after the launch. Christa Couture, an independent singer/songwriter from Vancouver, BC says:

“The biggest thing we learned after that first day was to offer a LOT of payment amount options … We didn’t initially make a lot of cheaper donation amounts. I think our lowest was $40, and that was a mistake.”

Christa Couture

What works for one band/musician may not work for you. It’s crucial that you research and plan ahead, but you need to understand that best practices are guidelines, not unbreakable rules. For instance, your crowd could be much smaller than another musician’s, making a goal of $3,000 more realistic than one of $15,000. Or, you may suddenly realize you need to extend your campaign’s deadline, or add some additional contribution levels/rewards. And if you’re using IgnitionDeck Crowdfunding as your platform, these adjustments are easy to make at any time 🙂

After the campaign, stay connected with your fans.

You’ll build an important foundation with your fan base through the crowdfunding process when you invite people to be part of your journey. So once the campaign has ended, continue to strengthen that relationship.

If you want these fans to continue to support you, then you must keep them up to date with your advancements. Share how you’re using the money they entrusted you with. For example, you may think pictures of your band recording the album are boring, but people that aren’t involved in making music love these “behind the scenes” glimpses.

You can take fan involvement even further after the fundraising ends by using polls to ask fans which album artwork they like best, or by creating a video or slideshow of contributors wearing the t-shirts they earned by helping out. Be creative. Be you.

For more information and inspiration, check out our case studies and the posts we have up for
Bigtree Bonsai, and A House For Lions, two bands that used IgnitionDeck to surpass their fundraising goals. And check out our four-part series: How to Crowdfund Like a Marketer (For Creatives).

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