Crowdfunding is an excellent way to promote new music and to help fund it at the same time. Platforms designed to reach friends, family and fans make it easy for artists to reach out to their community and ask for their help in turning a musical vision into a reality. But while crowdfunding has no doubt now helped countless musicians create and release music, it’s a bad idea to rely on it every time you decide to put out new music. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Using crowdfunding to fund and promote music over and over again limits creativity
In 2018’s unpredictable music industry, creativity not only in songwriting but also in the way musicians present themselves and promote their music is paramount. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using crowdfunding to promote an album or two, but after a couple times, it might make some artists lazy when it comes to thinking of ways to creatively and effectively promote new music. Rather than turning to the crowdfunding model of promotion time after time, artists should do the hard work of finding more creative and innovative ways of getting the world to notice their music.
Relying on the same group of people to fund your music over a long period isn’t sustainable
An unspoken narrative surrounding most creative crowdfunding campaigns is that of a community rallying around a creative effort in the hopes that it will one day be successful not only artistically but also financially. The problem with going back to the same group of people to repeatedly fund your music is that everyone from your grandma to the fans of your music only have a limited amount of money and interest to give. If you truly want to make music that the world knows and cares about, you’ll have to do everything you can to engage new listeners. And while crowdfunding is a proven way to fund albums, it’s not very good at connecting artists with new audiences.
Friend and family fatigue
There’s also the major issue of friend and family fatigue to consider. Most people are thrilled to chip in a few bucks to help the musician in their life put out some music, but if it’s a yearly occurrence, there will come a day when your immediate circle won’t be down with contributing to your music. This is often the case even if you’re surrounded by wonderful people who really believe in your music.
The difficult truth is that eventually your music needs to find some sort of an audience in order to become sustainable. This, of course, does not mean that your band has to get signed to a massive label and sell tons of music in order to survive, but it does mean that you’ll need to engage a community of listeners comprised of people who aren’t your friends and family to support what you do if you plan on making music over the long-term.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.