Everything You Need to Know About Using Kickstarter as an Independent Musician

by Liz Moy on April 2, 2014

Crowdfunding is nothing new in the music world (check out our previous post on 5 tips for crowdfunding success). Yet recently Kickstarter has become a standout as a popular fundraising platform for independent musicians.

ReverbNation artists Graham Colton, Jonny Gray, Long Gone Day and Good Graeff used Kickstarter to fund their own independent work, from albums to tours to making it to festivals. Read more about their experiences and important takeaways you can learn from as you plan your own Kickstarter campaign.

Graham Colton: Kickstarter Project – Completed his latest album, Lonely Ones

Key Takeaway: ”Be honest and transparent with your fans and supporters. It’s the best feeling to collaborate with your fans, but if you’re going to ask them for help – especially financially – they want to be involved and they want to help you.”

Singer Graham Colton gained commercial fame back in the 2000s, signed with Universal Records and opened shows for the likes of John Mayer and Dave Matthews band. After separating from his label and writing several albums as an independent artist, Graham decided he wanted to make a new album in an entirely new direction, musically. He had big plans of having full creative control over the album and collaborating with The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. Graham exceeded his goal on Kickstarter, fully funding the album and helping him embark on a promotional tour. Watch the video below to hear more about Graham’s Kickstarter journey.

Jonny Gray: Kickstarter Project – Gained support for his first full-length album

Key Takeaway: ”Give yourself 6 months to plan and be prepared to promote your project for at least 6 hours a day. Create a video that helps funders understand your dream and offer them a variety of package options.”

Jonny Gray gained rapid recognition when he made his way into the Top 12 on NBC’s “The Voice.” With a new group of fans gained from his TV debut, Jonny wanted to realize his dream and keep his new audience hooked by creating a full-length album. Jonny was able to fund his album through Kickstarter, but with the campaign came some challenges.

“I was so busy when [The Voice] ended in December that I didn’t feel like I had enough time to prepare and plan my project. Give yourself 6 months of planning and know that any succesful project that isnt the latest great invention needs your attention 24/7. This means blogging, tweeting, posting and promoting for at least 6 hours a day. Another important thing to remember, is that your Kickstarter video needs to helps potential funders understand your dream and give them your sense of passion in just 3 minutes. The most difficult part of my journey was creating a balanced package for the fans who knew me personally versus those who didn’t.  If I could do it all again I would have provided more package options offering different things for the same prices.” – Jonny Gray

Long Gone Day: Kickstarter Project – Made their way to SXSW 2014

Key Takeaway: ”Promote your campaign on social media and give your fans a deadline to give support. Provide multiple tiers of contribution with some creative incentives, like teaching a fan a song of their choice.”

New Jersey rock band Long Gone Day was given the chance of a lifetime to perform at SXSW. The only problem was, they were 1800 miles away from the festival and had no way to get themselves, or their gear, to Austin. After making travel arrangements and teaming up with another band, Long Gone Day turned to their fans through a Kickstarter campaign.

“About a month before the trip we started a Kickstarter campaign to raise some funds for travel, food and merch.  At first we had a little response but ended up creating an event on Facebook for the campaign, with a deadline of the Friday before the trip.  As soon as we promoted the campaign on Facebook, the ball really started rolling.  We set up multiple tiers of contributions with some creativity thrown in.”

  • $5 just cause you like us
  • $10 for a download of our album
  • $200 for a guest list spot for every show we play in 2014

“We also added in smaller incentives, like learning a song of your choice or staying overnight with us on a travel gig. We were hesitant about offering these, thinking no fans would be interested, but we were wrong! It worked, and we were able to offset all of our merch costs and almost all of our travel costs as a band.  It was a great experience to connect with our fan base as well as involve them in the process.” – Scott Ryder, Long Gone Day

Long-Gone-Day-(1)

Good Graeff: Kickstarter Project – Got their musical project off the ground

Key Takeaway: ”If you want your music to be your focus, you have to dedicate yourself to it 100%. Using Kickstarter not only involves your friends and family in your project, but helps you put all your focus on your music.”

When the Graeff sisters decided they wanted to create their own musical project, there were a lot of hurdles to overcome. They needed quality instruments, funds to record an EP, and a way to travel around to promote the EP. Their Kickstarter campaign helped provide all of these needed supplies, plus gas money, basic merch, and a snazzy new website for fans to find them. The sisters were able to focus on creating and performing music, without having to juggle side jobs and were also able to connect with fans in a meaningful way.

 

Want more advice? Check out this article from Music Think Tank on “Crowdfunding the Right Way” and sound off your own Kickstarter advice, tips or plans in the comments.

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