How to Set up an Amazing Crowdfunding Campaign for Your Next Release
One of the biggest strains of being an independent artist, or creative in general, is funding your career. To put together a truly competitive release, one that really moves you forward, you need a producer, session musicians, a recording studio, a mix engineer, a mastering engineer, designers, videographers, a marketing team, PR... the list goes on. It's tough, but there is a solution that's often over-sighted, and that's crowdfunding. If you're willing to put in some work, you can generate a budget for your next release from loyal fans and friends who want to invest into your progression and see you grow. Let's explore how you can do it...
How much do you need?
Before setting up a crowdfunding campaign, you need to determine how much you need to raise. Sit down, get some quotes and carefully analyse everything you need to invest in for your release. Remember, it's not just about the product itself, you'll need to think about how you're going to get it out there too. Your budget and the team you hire with it should depend on your (realistic) goals for the release and where you want it to go. Try to be level headed, you're probably not going to raise (or need) millions, but conversely, if you let imposter syndrome get to you too much, you risk selling yourself short and not making the final product that you or your fans want. You probably need more than you think, but remember to be realistic.
How can you ensure that people fund your project?
Naturally, when you're getting ready to launch your first campaign you'll be nervous and wondering if anybody's actually going to donate, but trust me, there are people out there who want to see you succeed and want to invest in you, you just need to approach it in the right way.
When your campaign is live on Kickstarter, or whatever platform you decide to go for, the first people you should approach are close friends and family and there two reasons for this:
- Firstly, they're the ones who are guaranteed to help you out. They already know you, love you and want to see you thrive. They know how much you care about your music career and have seen firsthand the effort you put in everyday. Furthermore, they'll be the first to share your link with their own network and will be your strongest backers for word of mouth.
- Secondly, one of the keys to a successful campaign is momentum and social proof. If you put your link out on your social media right away and somebody you don't know well clicks it, they could be met with a campaign that doesn't have any funding yet. This lack of social proof could be all it takes to deter them and make them decide not to back you. If you can generate some solid backing before you share the link publicly, you can generate more momentum and trust right off the bat. Also, once you know you have some backing, you will naturally be more excited about the campaign and will be able to speak to your audience with more conviction and confidence.
How can you make sure your audience want to donate?
As with any form of promotion, you can't just throw your link at strangers and hope they donate. They need to know, like and trust you, so don't be salesy with it, just be friendly and genuine. (More on that approach to audience building for your music here)
When you write your pitch and make your introduction video for the page, you need to personable. Tell your story, explain why your life has been leading to this point, show the effort you have already put in over the years and explain how this will change the trajectory of your career. Remember, most people don't realise how difficult it is to be an independent artist, so explain that and tell them your plan. Break down the process of making the record and show where their generous donations will be going.
Offer an incentive
This is a two-way exchange. Your backers aren't just handing you money, they're investing in you and you need to remember that. There should always be an incentive and you should always be giving back. Your music should feel like a community that people can buy into. If you offer the right incentives, they should feel like they're taking some ownership of the project and they've really made a difference. Depending on the size of the donation, you could give backers merch, handwritten notes, video messages, cover song requests, a hardcopy of the finished project with their name in the sleeve or even their own private gig. Think about what they'd appreciate and what would make them feel valued.
Keep your backers engaged
Once your campaign is underway, you can't just forget about it. You need to keep your backers updated and engaged, providing entertainment whilst showing them where their donations are going. Post updates on your campaign page every week and give some behind the scenes insight! Go live and chat with your audience in realtime. You could even create a private Instagram account or YouTube channel exclusively for people who've donated and want to follow your progress.
Look outside of the music industry
The music industry is notoriously bad at business. Check out some kickstarter campaigns from outside of music and see how they're setting them up and what sort of incentives they're offering - you might find some amazing outside-of-the-box ideas for your own project.
Have confidence and have fun
Lastly, I want to encourage you to have confidence and self belief when you start your crowdfunder. People want to see you do well and they want to help you out, there is absolutely no shame in asking them to do so, especially if you can give them genuine value and fulfilment through your campaign. Have fun with the process, show your passion and your fans will be eager to get involved.