Crowdfunding is growing in popularity for independent artists as a way to get off the ground, especially for artists working on their first project.
One of the biggest benefits of crowdfunding is it eliminates the need for funding from a label, giving you the freedom to release your album independently. There are lots of advantages to producing work independently – you retain more control over your creative work, you have broader reach on your royalties, and you aren’t indebted through contracts that bind your work to specific labels.
The reality though, is that not every crowdfunding campaign is successful, and it’s especially hard for artists who aren’t well known. All the more reason to do your research, learn how to promote properly and use it to build your network so that your campaign will bring the best results.
When I decided I was ready to produce my first album, I didn’t have the money to back the project. I started setting a bit of money aside, but it was hard because I was still paying my student loans (and still am today!).
Here are a few tips I learned from my experience :
Build your network in advance.
As an artist, building your network is something you’re always doing. You need to be aware that everything you do publicly reflects on your profile as an artist. That also means that everything you do will influence your campaign.
If you don’t have a following to begin with, it can be harder. So it’s worth spending some time letting peopleknow more informally that you intend to do this project, so that when you launch it, there’s already a bug in their ear.
Develop a solid project.
Crowdfunding means asking people to fund something that doesn’t exist yet. That means they have to believe that it’s coming in order to support you. Sure, some people really like your work, or your friends and family might be wiling to have faith, but it helps to have a strong and realistic project.
Take the time to break down where the money will go, and what the project will look like. Some things you can decide or even change later, but the more specific you are, the more likely you will get funded.
Do your research.
There are many different platforms out there for crowdfunding, and there is no silver bullet when it comes to choosing the right one. Look at the types of campaigns and the terms that are presented on different platforms, as well as the fees involved.
When it comes to building the campaign itself, there will always be things you will find out after you launch your campaign that you wish you had included.
You should still take the time to look at other campaigns similar to yours. Find artists within your musical genre, and in your geographical region. Look at how they designed their campaigns and which ones were more successful. Artists with similar projects can serve as inspiration, and they may even be willing to talk to you about how they did it, so don’t be shy to ask.
Set a strategic launch date.
The timing of your campaign will have a big impact. For instance, I chose to launch my campaign near my birthday because I knew that friends and family would be more likely to give me money around that time.
You may also choose a major holiday or even happening in your community that would draw attention to your campaign, or partner up with some other artists to launch at the same time and promote one another.
Find your tribe.
Crowdfunding campaigns are more likely to get funded if they already have pledges. This is a bit of a catch-22, but you can get around it by pre-validating before launching your campaign. Ask friends and family if they would support you, and remind them when you’re about to launch.
Once you have your first few pledges, you will feel motivated, and others will see your project as more credible.
Promote, promote, promote.
There is literally no such thing as too much promotion on your campaign. There are people in my circles who still tell me today that they wish they had supported the campaign, but didn’t see it during its 40-day stretch, for any number of reasons. I sent group emails, newsletters, posted it all over my social media channels, made an online event, asked friends to share and talked about it with every person I saw during my campaign.
There are always going to be people who just didn’t see it in time. So it’s important to take every chance you get to meet your goal.
Be prepared to put a bit of your own resources up front.
Even though crowdfunding is a way that many artists have raised money, there may still be costs to prepare for. You may decide to make business cards, flyers or posters to promote your campaign, or even hire a virtual assistant to help you. You might choose to pay for some online promotion or other things to boost your campaign.
It’s important to be vigilant in what you’re investing resources into, so check reviews and make sure you’re not spending more than you stand to gain from the campaign, but it’s a good idea to have a small pool of money set aside in case you want to boost your campaign a little.
Build your profile, not just your campaign.
Building a crowdfunding campaign is a great opportunity to develop tools you may not already be using, like social media, a blog or even a website. You can still launch your campaign without these, but the more channels you have available, the more reach your campaign will have. Take the time to review all your materials and channels, write a bio, and keep all that information so that you can reuse it in other places.
Gratitude should be your attitude.
People will forget about your campaign, and you may get tired of asking and tooting your own horn all the time. Expressing gratitude is a great way to get around that. Thanking your supporters is an opportunity to draw attention to your campaign, and to your music, and will help you get more reach.
Little gestures can go a long way, too. A small unexpected thank you card, or other perks that they don’t expect can help you build your profile and show people that you appreciate their support. This is especially important if you want to count on them again in the future!
When it's done, it's not over.
Your campaign will be a lot of work to take care of and you may need a break, but don’t lose your momentum.
When the campaign is over, your supporters will be expecting you to deliver on your promise. That can be scary for an artist! It’s important that regardless of the outcome of your campaign you get back to your supporters and let them know how things went, and what you will deliver to them. Then do exactly that, or better, no matter what!!! Following through on your campaign is the first step to building your fan base and your credibility as an artist.
Are you ready to raise it?
A crowdfunding campaign can be a great way to get some seed money for a project that you can’t fund yourself up front. It can accelerate your timeline if raising money in other ways would mean starting the project later, and regardless of whether or not you reach your financial goal, will still help you build your profile as an artist.
Remember that the success of your campaign is not a personal reflection of you or of your project. There are many factors that determine whether a campaign will reach its goal. By following these tips you can put every chance on your side.
Maria-Hélèna Pacelli is a singer-songwriter who crowdfunded to produce her first independent album. Maria-Hélèna has been compared to Jewel, Tori Amos and Joan Baez. Her music is diverse and ethereal but grounded in the human experience and rooted in the earth. Her debut album, Stories the land will tell is coming on October 21, 2016. She is also a yoga teacher, writer, and feminist. website // soundcloud // facebook
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