WELCOME TO CROWDFUNDING FOR MUSICIANS
WELCOME TO CROWDFUNDING FOR MUSICIANS
Steve Rennie Chats with Karen Bair & Protest The Hero
Karen Bair is "Head of Music Development at the innovative crowd funding platform" Indiegogo.
Protest The Hero requested $125,000 for a new album via Indiegogo and received pledges of $341,146.
Note: The above video is probably not viewable if Firefox is your browser of choicer. Sadly, they seem to be continuing their downward spiral.
[Originally published at Hypebot in August, 2012.]
Rock band Murder By Death recently achieved the honor of having the third highest funded Kickstarter music campaign after Amanda Palmer and Five Iron Frenzy. Exceeding their $100,000 goal, their final pledge total was $187,048. I spoke with lead singer Adam Turla over the weekend and he shared the details of the campaign.
Murder By Death, based in Bloomington, Indiana, first got together as Little Joe Gould in 2000 and have gone on to release five full length albums and numerous other shorter works on vinyl in addition to CD and digital versions. Along the way Adam Turla took over business management and so decided to run the campaign himself.
Murder By Death Kickstarter Campaign Video
For their upcoming release, "Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon," they decided to use crowdfunding to support the production of a vinyl edition and also to do some things that would deepen their connection with their fans.
Care For Your Fans & They'll Care For You
Turla explained that they've been handling the vinyl releases themselves, even when working with labels on CD and digital releases. They knew from past experience that they had a strong group of fans that would preorder whatever they put out. As you can see from their Kickstarter campaign page, the rewards include such offerings as a Postcard Club, an MBD Book Club plus personal events such as house shows. In addition to being unique, such rewards keep them in direct touch with their more supportive fans.
Murder By Death has always made a point of connecting with their fans including hanging out after shows for pictures and conversation. They strive to show their fans that they care about them and Turla believes that's evident even from the stage. He feels like the success of the campaign was almost a reward from the fans for that caring.
Budget As Best You Can, Set Prices That Feel Right
I assumed that Turla's experience with vinyl gave him a real edge over newcomers in budgeting and pricing. But he said that there are always surprises and that sometimes the quotes they received for special items such as the Zoetrope (pic on the campaign page) were less than the final product cost. More importantly, one never really knows which rewards will attract the most attention. That means that it's hard to predict costs because you don't know till the end of the campaign which items will take off.
Beyond budgeting as best as one can, Turla also revealed that pricing was not set with a particular margin in mind. There were times when aesthetic choices overran profitable ones and the pricing reflected that. Turla says the final call on pricing came when he posted the rewards on Kickstarter prior to making them public and doing a gut check to see if they felt right. Having contributed to numerous Kickstarter campaigns himself, he knew from his own experience that overpricing items wouldn't feel right and that sometimes the right price wasn't the most profitable.
Turn It Into a Game
Murder By Death's status as the third highest music campaign on Kickstarter came about almost by accident. Turla just happened to check the "Most Funded" categories on Kickstarter on the last day and discovered that they were in striking distance of being third. They immediately notified their fans and he said it became almost like a game for them.
Many chose higher rewards or simply upped their pledges as well as notifying their friends. He says if he'd checked sooner, they might have gone for second place but even so the response from their fans was overwhelming. He didn't attempt to turn it into a game but fans responded as if it was and that suggests the power of gamificaton when people care about what you're doing.
Adam Turla's Advice for Other Bands
Now that they're Kickstarter heroes, Turla says other bands are asking him for advice. He noted that bands should assume they have only one really big campaign possible, as opposed to crowdfunding multiple times, and that they should work really hard. For his part, it may have been a mistake to do it all on his own (my interpretation not his) especially since the campaign wrapped up as they were heading out on tour.
Having every hour of one's day devoted to touring, interviews and dealing with the work of a crowdfunding campaign is overwhelming. But even if you're not going out on tour, recognize that a successful campaign requires a great deal of work. It's not something that can succeed on its own.
Turla was most moved not by getting a bunch of money but by the personal response from fans. The campaign gave them a reason to reach out and express their feelings about the music of Murder By Death. He says he's written a huge number of emails in reponse but that it was incredibly gratifying to hear stories of how their music had affected their fans.
Be sure to check out the campaign video above as well as the Kickstarter page. The video, photos and text are all well done and give one a sense of a band that can take care of business without losing their personal touch.
I've been avoiding this announcement but it's become clear to me that I'm overextended and need to focus on a smaller range of projects.
I will be updating the Clyde @ Hypebot section with links to my posts about music crowdfunding written for Hypebot.
The bar for coverage is a bit higher there but if you have music crowdfunding news, as opposed to more general crowdfunding news, please contact me at:
I am going to try to remain active at my music crowdfunding Twitter account so you can also connect there.
I have some mixed feelings because the pledge/reward approach to crowdfunding is now solidly established, the critics seem increasingly clueless and this thing is only going to get bigger.
In addition, music crowdfunding is definitely my kind of thing. It puts power back into the hands of musicians who have good relations with their fanbase, however small or large, and are ready to take control of their lives. That's not the whole picture but that's what excites me about the space.
So I'll continue learning and sharing those lessons along the way though, for the moment, not on this site.
Thanks to everyone who welcomed me or found me and expressed their appreciation. That means more than you know!
Indiegogo recently shared their picks for the Top 12 Music Campaigns of 2012. It's a nice mix starting out with one from George Clinton:
"The renowned king of funk, George Clinton, ran a very successful campaign (over 600 contributors) to upgrade his music studio and secure the rights to some of his classic music."
"As the Banks House grew in popularity, its founders knew they would need to find a new space to share their music. The community helped them make it happen."
"Four Brazilian guys randomly met in Barcelona, started performing Beatles songs together, and then decided to record an album in Italy with the help of Indiegogo."
"You might recognize Dave Elkins from the band Mae. He ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to shakeup the music industry at the grassroots level."
"This 17-year-old DJ started a project to raise money for breast cancer research through electronic concerts."
"After the popular game Glitch closed down, fans wanted a way to remember the game. One of the game’s creators is helping people do just that by funding the soundtrack on Indiegogo."
"Watch it [the pitch video], and you’ll understand why 361 contributors helped them reach their goal!"
"Unable to ignore the tragedy that recently occurred in Connecticut, OneRepublic started a campaign to bring relief to the affected families and community."
"With another great concept for a pitch video, the fledgling English band Yossarian got their contributors involved in such a way that created a viral loop."
"By offering exclusive perks they knew their fans would love, Spock’s Beard rolled well past their funding goal and toward its 11th album."
"Crowdfunding experts — the two Randy’s of Cherry Suede — engaged their fans with a funny and informational pitch video and then made it even easier for contributors to help their project by offering incredible perks — like a chance to go on tour with the band!"
"These headbangers turned to crowdfunding to help finance their tour. They hit their goal...times 3."
I realize the need to be artistically congruent with your identity and what your fans have come to expect from you, but people who like to laugh still like to know what the f&*k is going on. The Moral of the Story: Distraction free communication and laser focus is your friend when you’re trying to make a sale.
The Sammus Theory shows us that we need to have a relationship with our fans. This can set up your project for a HUGE start and can set you up for long run success.
Michael launched his first Kickstarter on a wing and a prayer. He thought “yeah man, $2500 would be great”, but he failed to start by making a list of his Circle of Influence.
Kickstarter/crowdfunding is a fantastic tool in the career of an artist! Of course, it alone can’t make your career but it really, truly is a tool that, when used well, can help advance your career in a significant manner.
In the early stages of your artistic career, people won’t buy the product you make, they’ll buy why you make it. Stacy couldn’t be a better example of this philosophy.
Musicians like you and I get inspired and easily excited by our visions, but you have to put in the day to day work to see the vision through.
By Levi James of Launch & Release.
Crowd Surfer at Men Without Hats Concert (Courtesy Photos by Mavis)
2012 was a huge year for music crowdfunding. I wrote about some of last year's developments for Hypebot, titling it The Year Music Crowdfunding Broke. 2013 will be about what happens now that music crowdfunding has established its legitimacy as an emerging form of financing.
Tour/Concert Crowdfunding Leaves Niche Status
Though many one-off events can be satisfied with other platforms, crowdfunding tours or concert series require the equivalent of multiple crowdfunding campaigns organized for a single group or event producer. So concert crowdfunding offers a strong emergent niche platform.
What concert crowdfunding needs is a major success to educate by example through media coverage.
Larger Companies Enter the Game
Though Songkick Detour is taking its time and learning via short concert runs for a handful of musicians, their launch was a reminder that larger web companies focused on music, especially services for musicians, are likely to be considering the place of crowdfunding in their offerings. While some may want to start allied ventures like Songkick Detour, others may want to take advantage of the emergence of crowdfunding as a feature.
Music Crowdfunding as a Feature
Online ticketing service Picatic introduced event crowdfunding as a feature rather than launching a separate platform. Though not music-specific, Picatic illustrates how artist services companies can become involved with crowdfunding by adding it as a feature.
Growth of Music Crowdfunding Consultants
We're starting to see crowdfunding expert consultants emerge, such as Scott Steinberg, who includes music crowdfunding examples among the campaigns in The Crowdfunding Bible, and Levi James and Ian Anderson, who are open sourcing their development of expertise at Launch and Release. But 2013 should bring a bumper crops of experts available for consultation, some with experience and others just playing it by ear.
Waiting in the Wings: Equity Crowdfunding
So far the focus here at Crowdfunding For Musicians has been on the Kickstarter/PledgeMusic model of presales and rewards (to oversimplify their differing models). With the passage of the JOBS Act, the possibility of crowdfunding investment cash for music companies, which could include bands incorporated as businesses, became an option.
However delays on the S.E.C.'s part in issuing regulations means that equity crowdfunding may not become possible until 2014. At whatever point things come together, equity crowdfunding will certainly have an impact on music crowdfunding but the nature of investments means it will have a different and possibly unanticipated look.
Got any predictions about music crowdfunding in 2013? Please share in the comments!
Clyde Smith on Crowdfunding Music
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