This guest post is written by Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq., a former vocalist and songwriter and a solo practitioner with her own firm in New York, J.A. Williams Law – The Artist Empowerment Firm.
You’ve finally decided to finish your album. Congratulations! This is a monumental step in your career. Only problem, you’ve got more creativity than money. Solution? Crowdfund your music! Sites like Kickstarter, PledgeMusic and IndieGoGo are popular amongst musicians.
So then you make a video, come up with prizes, send it out and sit anxiously at the computer waiting for donations from your fans to pour in. Problem is, they don’t. Day after day, you promote on your social media and even send a few messages to your email list (since they haven’t heard from you in a while, they are sure to support, right?), but nothing. What happened? Why didn’t your fans help you out? Why didn’t yours make it when you’ve heard people making thousands of dollars in their campaigns? Truth be told, it takes time and dedication, but more importantly, strategic planning. To get you started, here are 5 key tips to get the money flowing in your crowdfunding campaign:
1. Build a dedicated fanbase beforehand
I want you to be real with me: every time you speak to your fans via social media or your newsletter, is your dialogue consistently, “Retweet this,” “Buy this,” “Come to my show,” “Support me here,”? Me, me, me.
Think about it, are you motivated to support anyone that constantly talks this way? No one likes a selfish person.
However, if you’ve built an awesome, nurturing relationship with your fans even when you don’t have something to promote, they will be thrilled to support you when you do. The key ingredient to a successful crowdfunding campaign is having a dedicated crop of fans that will truly promote anything you’re doing — we’ve seen that happen in Amanda Palmer’s and Murder By Death’s projects. But if you think you can start building your mailing list the day before you launch your project, you’re wrong.
You need to build your list months or even YEARS before your campaign can really take off! With a dedicated fanbase, you can create a buzz about your upcoming project and have a better chance of making it go viral. It’s what you would do before releasing an album, isn’t it?
Tip: Your email sign-up should be front and center on your website, “above the fold” — meaning, at the top of the site so someone doesn’t have to scroll down to see it. Add your website and sign-up links to all social media and make sure you always have your mailing-list at every show. Reverb Tip: Place your customized fan collector widgets on your site and blog.
2. Explain with your heart
This is your life, your art, your passion, your everything! Do your fans know this? Have you explained how much this means to you and the greater mission you have for your music? Do people know what your message is behind this new material?
People are more motivated to support causes that have a greater mission. It’s important to connect with your fans because they will get behind your project when they see the REAL you.
Tip: Listen to your music and start to ask yourself why. Why do I want this? What does this music mean to me? Why do people need to hear this music? What is my message? Connect to your passion and others will do the same. Bonus Tip: Explain this point in a stellar high-quality video.
Amanda Palmer reached 1,192% of her Kickstarter campaign goal earlier this year. In her video she said that this project is proof that “major-label refugees” can go outside of the label system to fund their work.
3. Arm your tribe
Did you make it easy for your backers to share your campaign? Did you compose easy social media posts for them or provide shortened links to your campaign?
Your fans get a million bits of info thrown at them a day — as much as they love your stuff, I hate to break it to you, they love other people’s stuff too.
Tip: Make your campaign easily shareable by creating tweets, Facebook posts, links, etc. and attach them to your campaign and all your auto responders. Not only will your fan base grow, but so will your contributions.
4. Partner with a pro
Have you looked at the successful campaigns of other artists to see what THEY did? Have you reached out to anyone with successful campaigns for feedback on yours, asked them to be a part of your video or help spread the word?
Just like you offer gifts to your fans, approach a successful campaigner and exchange something valuable.
Tip: Do a collab, feature others in your video, or have them promote your campaign to their list in exchange to promote THEIR music to your audience. When you partner, everyone wins!
5. Connect with media mavens or product pushers
Let’s talk about promotion. Did you offer influential bloggers or websites the exclusive to cover your campaign? Did you try to get major sponsors to feature their products in your campaign rewards in exchange for promotion? You’re a creative person right?
Take that good right-brained resource and get to work on seeing what YOU can offer influencers for their support!
Tip: Start by taking a look at what’s unique about your campaign, how can you position it as something that would be attractive to an influencer? Who are your fans? What’s your demographic? Think what’s juicy about your goods and promote it!
Although creating a campaign can be a lot of work, if you get creative, do a little research, and have a plan, it will be worth it in the end when you have the money for your project and more to invest in your career! Anything worth having is worth working for. Dont forget this: there is a human behind every donation. Treat your audience with value and you’ll get even more in return. Ok, get out there and start planning.
Do you have extra tips on crowdfunding? We’d love to hear it! Please share them in the comments below!
Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter. For a FREE copy of her guide “Blueprint: The Insider’s Guide to Empowering Your Career as an Artist and Ditching your 9-5 for Good” Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/iOqe1.
(Legal stuff: this article is for information purposes only. It does NOT replace the advice administered by a licensed attorney in YOUR state based on your specific situation. I know you wouldn’t assume I was your lawyer cause your mama “didn’t raise no fool.” But mine didn’t either, hence the disclaimer!)