How to Create A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
Are you gearing up for your next album, tour, music video, new production gear, or anything music related that requires some cash? Crowdfunding is one of the first methods musicians can turn to when looking to fund larger projects and many have been doing so successfully for years.
So how do you make crowdfunding work for you?
This article breaks down 3 types of crowdfunding for musicians, what to do before and during a launch to have the most successful campaign you can, and includes interviews with musicians on what they most want you to learn from their successes.
The Different Kinds of Crowdfunding
Depending on the type of project you are making, there are different methods to go about your crowdfunding campaign: Reward based, Subscription based, and Direct. In order to be successful, it’s important to consider all the options:
1) Reward Based Crowdfunding
Reward-based crowdfunding is the most common form that you see, think Kickstarter, Indie GoGo, and Seed & Spark. Reward based is just as it sounds, for each pledge of money given to a creator by a supporter, the supporter will receive a reward related to the project. These rewards correspond to different levels of money pledged. The benefit of using them is they are well established, have built in systems to help you get the most out of your campaign, and people are familiar with the platform and trust it.
The downside is that you don’t get to keep all the money (these platforms take a fee for using them) and some of them are all-or-nothing so you have to be successful. The upside is that you get exposure to a much wider audience.
Rob Harris, a musician out of Nashville, used Indie GoGo to fund his most recent album, totaling $8,291 earned by the end of his campaign.
2) Subscription Based Crowdfunding
Subscription based crowdfunding is a popular choice for musicians who use platforms like Patreon. Every month, your supporters will donate a specified amount in return for exclusive materials from you. As a musician, this can range from demo tracks, acoustic tracks, exclusive songs, music videos, and more.
Using a subscription means that you have an established list of supporters with revenue coming in each month. However, you must provide your supporters with goods to keep their support. As long as you have your account, you must keep this relationship. Finally, depending on the creator plan you choose Patreon charges anywhere from 5% to 12% in fees.
3) Direct Crowdfunding
Direct crowdfunding is having a button on your site that links your PayPal, Cash, or Venmo account, and allows for people to directly donate to you. This is one of the easiest methods of crowdfunding since you don’t need to sign up with another platform, just your app of choice. It offers you the ability to make the most money as part of your revenue will not be taken by the platform on which you decide to crowdfund.
The downside of direct crowdfunding is the lack of support and platform for people to scroll through and see your campaign. Direct campaigns rarely go viral. The majority of the crowdfunding audience for direct will be your social media following and any live venues you perform.
No matter which type of crowdfunding method you choose to use, the most important thing that you need is a strategy for getting you the attention you need to make your campaign a success.
First things first, you need a pre-launch strategy that tells your audience you are going to be crowdfunding. Build a buzz on your social media accounts; give people a sense that something awesome is about to happen. What you are doing is warming them up to the idea that soon you will launch this campaign.
By giving people this heads up, you are removing the “spam” aspect of crowdfunding. No one likes it when salesmen show up unannounced at your door; don’t do the same thing to your fans and family online.
Don’t forget to create promo content before launching: images for social media posts, and most importantly a video. Campaigns with a promo video usually perform much better than campaigns without them. Here’s some tips on how to create a great promo video.
Before you launch, plan what rewards you want to offer. Identify cost effective ways to create these rewards so that you don’t end up spending all the money you raised delivering rewards. More about that below…
Offering different price points for your supporters is the key to your success. While there is no set number of levels to offer, most campaigns tend to have the biggest success in the $10 to $150 donation levels, so offer a variety of levels of support between these price points.
To encourage people to give in the first week of the campaign, set up early bird rewards. These limited time offers are only open to those who give in the first few hours or days can really motivate people who want exclusive goods!
Make sure that no matter how many levels you offer, make sure not to promise rewards that you can’t deliver. Don’t promise that Batman will visit the hospital to visit a sick kid when they pledge $5,000 if you don’t personally know Batman.
If you are using a campaign through PayPal, it is still possible to offer rewards for your supporters. Top rated studio pro Audrey Callahan said this about her Direct campaign:
“I opted to not go with a platform, but rather, I set up a donation button on my website with a progress bar of the amount I wanted to reach which was $2,000. I didn’t go for a platform because I figured a PayPal button would be easier than having people sign up for something new. Everyone who donated got an instant download of an unreleased song of mine that wasn’t going to come out on my EP and wasn’t available anywhere else at the time. I promoted awareness by simple sharing on Facebook.”
Examples of rewards that musicians can give to their supporters are:
- digital downloads of singles
- digital downloads of the album
- digital downloads of concerts
- live streamed concerts
- shout outs on social media
- private concerts
- personalized songs
- producer credits
- executive producer credits
- and an afternoon with you.
The first 24 hours are vital to your overall success. Most campaigns receive the majority of their funding in this period. But what happens after the excitement of the first day is over? How can you keep encouraging your supporters?
One of the easiest things to do is create stretch goals. After certain money goals are reached (50% funded, for example) you can unlock new levels of rewards. Make sure the rewards are something easy for you as a creator to incorporate into your campaign while also making it something really exciting for your supporters.
For example, if you are crowdfunding an album, you could have additional tracks be added and available to download to those people who donate above a certain level.
Another option is to reach back out via email to those who have already supported and ask for an up-sell. Make an offer available only to them saying thank you for their original pledge, and for an additional small fee, they get exclusive access to a perk.
Finally, let’s touch base on social media. You already know to share and create content surrounding your campaign. What I want to mention are creating ads on Facebook and Instagram (or YouTube, Spotify, etc.) to target your ideal supporters.
If you are a musician who writes about geek related culture, targeting your ads to people who attend Comic-Con could be super helpful! This gets your music and your campaign in front of people who may not have otherwise known you. Bonus points if you can geo-target them during the weekend of the event itself.
This can be applied to any musician, not just the ones who are so thematically driven. Think about who your ideal audience members are and target them in advertising.
Social Media is a the easiest way to keep your following updated on your campaign. Make sure to keep everyone up-to-date on the progress of your campaign. Plan posts for the start, and strategic updates for the middle and last weeks, days, and hours of your campaign.
Crowdfunding can be a boon for musicians. It provides us with funding opportunities to create amazing work. By having a solid strategy in place with pre-launch announcements, mid-point surprises, and using advertising to get your work out there, it’s possible to be successful in your campaigns.