Crowdfunding campaign fail? 5 key tips to get the money flowing fast

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 jo-na@jawilliamslaw.com 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!)

SamCrowdfunding campaign fail? 5 key tips to get the money flowing fast
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Video: How to get fans to open and respond to emails

This is the first-ever guest vblog by Chris Rockett at Music Marketing Classroom.

Chris is a very animated speaker from the U.K. whose mission is to uncover the dark secrets of music marketing and share them with everyone who is interested. Warning: he talks faster than you could probably keep up with, but don’t worry about taking notes as he’s included them below. Enjoy!

Notes from the video

Email Marketing in a Nutshell

  • Get fans on the email list, entertain them on a regular basis, and then link to something they can buy. (0:15)
    • Start off with low priced products (downloadable songs, for example) and move people up the ladder to higher priced items. (0:26)

When to Send Your Emails?

  • Use your email service provider to schedule your emails to go out at 4:30am, so that you’re there when people first check their messages in the morning. (0:47)
  • If you want to send two emails per week Tuesday and Thursday are good because Monday is a busy email day and people are a little bit distracted on Friday. (1:14)

Ideas for Your Subject Line

  • Use odd looking numbers – “Why did this video get 53,345 views?” (2:38)
  • Ask a question – “Did You See This?” (3:03)
  • Stack the value with brackets – “My Guitar Got Set On Fire! [Video Inside]” (3:30)
  • If you send two messages in a week send the second with the same subject line as a reply – “RE: Why did this video get 53,345 views?” (4:28)
  • Use the words YOU and YOUR in the subject line – “Your F’REE Tickets…” (5:20)
  • Old favorites: Try out “Thank You” and “I’m in love…” (6:04)

Increasing the Clickthrough Rate in Your Emails

  • Keep your emails short and sweet – people may get bored and hit delete if you send something massive. (7:05)
  • Have three links per email. One after the first line, one in the middle and the last one after the PS. (7:30)
  • Including an image in your email that looks like a video increases the chance of a click. (7:43)
  • Make sure that you include a PS because people sometimes skip the rest of the message and just read that. (8:26)
  • Make each email about one topic to keep your fans focused on the message. (8:38)
  • If you want to send people to a blog post then consider pasting the text into the email itself because it skips the step of fans having to click through. (8:50)

Creating Customer Happiness

  • Instantly send fans an email after they pay with detailed instructions on how to get their thing. Make it “Homer Simpson” simple and give them your email address to contact you if they have any problems. (Also consider making a ScreenR video to show them how to access the product) (9:44)
  • Surprise and delight your fans with bonuses and freebies they did not expect. (Remember my favourite FRENCH CHEF who delights his customer with unexpected treats!) (10:23)
  • Set up Survey Monkey to get an idea of how your fans found their experience with you and continue to improve your customer happiness based on the feedback you get. (11:18)

16 bonus tips

 

Let’s look at a few more things you can do to improve the effectiveness of the email messages you send to your fans.

By the way, if you have not already set up a mailing list signup form on your website, then I’m going to use the power of my mind to chain you to your computer until you do it. It’s that important.

Good ol’ ReverbNation actually runs a killer service called Fan Reach Pro which is one of the most powerful services seen for serious musicians to collect fan data. You can get started with your first 500 subscribers for FREE. (Ain’t no better deal than that :))

Do it today, people, not tomorrow, or the next day… your website is a leaky bucket if you don’t have a way to follow up with your fans directly.

So anyway, let’s dig into this… I have personally tested this stuff and have only included the things that have shown a positive result.

  1. You should collect subscribers on every page of your site. (Reverb Tip: Our new HTML5 Fan Collector widget can help you while making you look cool. Well, it will at least try.)
  2. Make sure that your fans don’t have to scroll down to see your signup form. There will be people who won’t scroll down when they hit your web page which means they will never see your free music offer.
  3. Create an irresistible offer for your fans to join your list and make it very clear. Try something like “Signup to Download 7 FREE TRACKS and our latest music video”. (An offer like that will set you apart from everyone else because you’re stacking the value)
  4. Test different versions of your free offer to see what your fans respond to the best.
  5. It’s a good idea to sign up for your own mailing list so that you can get an idea of how your messages are looking from the fans point of view. If you start to annoy yourself then it’s time to rethink your communications.
  6. Whatever you offer your fans in exchange for their email address, make sure you give it to them on the “thank you page,” or in the confirmation email. This will build trust right away. If they don’t get what they signed up for within a few minutes you’re dead to them.
  7. Good email marketing is like a bank – the more you put in, the more “interest” you will receive. Every morning ask yourself, “What can I do to be cool to my fans today?”.
  8. Whenever somebody emails you through the contact form on your website, make sure that you offer them the chance to join your fan list as well.
  9. Go around personally after every show and offer to send enthusiastic people some free music. Then collect their email address so you can keep your promise. (Reverb Tip: You can easily do this with your smartphone or iPad. Just download the free Control Room app and use the Fan Collector feature. BOOM.)
  10. Whenever you connect with a new contact in the music industry ask if you can add them to your list. This is like networking on autopilot and having influential music people in your gang can be very powerful as they watch your progress and become fans.
  11. In every email you send you need to let people know what you want them to do next. This is known as a “call-to-action” and it does not have to be about buying your music, it could be “liking” your Facebook page or listening to your newly recorded tune on YouTube. Every connection with your fans should have a call-to-action.
  12. Split test the subject lines of your emails to see what your fans respond to the most. (Reverb Tip: FanReach can help. It proves open rates for each email you send and make it easy for you to resend a previous email, possibly changing the subject line, or tweaking the styling of the content.)
  13. To come up with catchy subject lines, go through your own email inbox and look for the emails you always open first. Ask yourself why that is and then use what you learn to make your own headlines POP!
  14. Set up a series of auto-responders to introduce new fans to your musical world. You want to get them engaged in your story and ultimately lead them towards financially supporting your work. My favorite way to do this is something called the “7 day sales funnel.” In a nutshell, you’ll deliver a song a day for 7 days and a video to go along with it that gives the fans part of your story (think of it as your own little rockumentary). It’s a good way to make a connection fast and at the end of it, you might offer a special deal for one of your products to break the ice. Even if you just make simple videos the results from this approach work so much better than the common way which can often be just “BUY MY STUFF” in every email.

Great example of a well positioned email signup box Iras World’s homepage. See tip #2.

What should you write in your emails?

 

Rather than getting bogged down in a load of weird sales tactics, I want to share a simple formula for updating your people with regular content and always giving yourself the chance of picking up a new paid customer as well.

All you have to do is send people a golden nugget of free content and then link off to something they can buy.

This boils down music marketing into its simplest form.

With that in mind you can use the ideas below to make sure that you never run out of things to talk about:

  1. Let them listen to your new music. (Don’t worry, it gets better!)
  2. Videos of gigs, backstage, practice sessions, tour diaries and recording sessions.
  3. Get fans involved with designing your merch.
  4. Ask people to send in their artwork or photos for your blog, Facebook page and even your album covers.
  5. Interviews – with key players in your music scene, band members, fans, your producer, manager, agent and anyone else who works on the business side of things.
  6. Updates about live shows NEAR THEM! (To do this segment your list by location)
  7. Schedule an hour to connect with your fans personally and send bulletin alerts for Facebook and Twitter chats.
  8. Keep a songwriting diary and send updates via email.
  9. Deconstruct one of your songs, the lyrics and meaning.
  10. Ask fans to send in their own lyric ideas and write a song with them.
  11. Have people send in questions then do a Q+A video.
  12. Run a special limited time discount on one of your music products. This can get people off the fence and buying something, but you’ve also set them up with a sweet deal which builds the bond.
  13. Let them know about any press or radio play you get. This is interesting content and great social proof that other people are excited about your music too.
  14. Send links to new blog posts and ask for feedback and comments, then respond personally to each one.
  15. Giveaway re-mixed and acoustic versions of your songs.

Phew! My fingers are tired so I’m going to stop there ;-)

But just remember each time you send an email to your fans, ask yourself if you would send that same message to your best friend?…that will keep you on the straight and narrow.

Hope this post kind of sparks off a few ideas for you. As ever, I’d love to hear any suggestions for things that have been working with your own fanbase.

P.S. If you enjoyed this and want to learn more check out my free Music Marketing Cheat Sheets.

If you have any thoughts or questions about this video, Chris will be available to chat with you in the comments area below. Follow him on Twitter.

SamVideo: How to get fans to open and respond to emails
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New HTML5 Widgets: Show Schedule, Press and Video Player

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know HTML5 is where everything is going. Today, all smartphone-optimized mobile web applications are supported by HTML5. And soon enough, mobile users will surpass desktop users. With that in mind and to ensure that you get only the best through ReverbNation, we’ve developed HTML5 versions of your favorite widgets: Music Player, Fan Collector, and today we present you… the HMTL5 widgets for show schedule, press and videos!

Go ahead and get started using any or all HTML5 widgets by going to your Reverb page → Get Widgets (under Quick Actions)

Why HTML5 widgets?

  • Work on mobile 
  • Easy to create, manage and use
  • Re-sizeable 
  • Configurable 

HTML5 Show Schedule Widget

What’s new with the new HTML5 Show widget: you can easily set it up to show a tour map map (or not show it, if that’s what you’re into) and decide the size of the widget . Your fans can see show details and share your show with friends from any device.

HTML5 Press Widget

Got a great review on that last gig you played? Show it off on your site or blog for everyone to see! Add press clippings, reviews, blog blurbs, or anything people are saying about your band to any other website. Easy to set up for you and cool to see and share for your fans.

HMTL5 Video Player

The new HTML5 Video Player widget is so freakin cool. You can customize it, place it on a website and then stream both Vimeo and YouTube video to your fans. They’re gonna love it. The widget is designed to work with all devices (that means iPhone, Android, desktops, laptops, and *your mama’s TV from the 50s*). *No, not really.

Go ahead and get started using any or all HTML5 widgets by going to your Reverb page → Get Widgets (under Quick Actions)

After you grab and post the widgets on your website or blog, post a link in the comments below for us to take a peek!

SamNew HTML5 Widgets: Show Schedule, Press and Video Player
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Collect Fans Everywhere with Our New HTML5 Widget

Following our update to the new music player widget, we are now introducing the Fan Collector widget in all its HTML5 glory.  What does this mean?  It means that it works everywhere.  iPhone, iPad, Android, laptops and web enabled coffee makers* will all work beautifully with the FanCollector.

We have also simplified the Fan Collector’s look and feel, and as always it is fully skinnable.  Go ahead and get started using the HTML5 Fan Collector by going to your Control Room → Widgets & Apps → Widgets.

*we have never seen a web enabled coffee maker, but we bet it will work on one.
  
ShellyCollect Fans Everywhere with Our New HTML5 Widget
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HTML5 Music Player Widget is Here

We know you’ve been waiting for this, and now it’s here. The HTML5 widget works on you iPhone, iPod, iPad, iWhatever. Like all our widgets it’s completely customizeable so you can match the color scheme and size of your website.  Setup is super simple and lets you pick from few different layout options. All artists can grab the HTML5 widget from their widgets and apps section of the control room.

Check out the examples below — then put one of these new widgets on your website or blog and post links to your site in the comments section.

ShellyHTML5 Music Player Widget is Here
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