YMI Consulting

The idea of crowdfunding


The idea of crowdfunding isn’t a new concept; it existed long before the dawn of the internet.

Crowdfunding occurs whenever a network of individuals pool funds together for a cause. Think back to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts of 2005, years before the inception of Kickstarter.  My high school’s Leadership class walked to every classroom with large plastic jars asking students to donate what they could for the hurricane relief effort. I threw the three quarters I found in my pocket into the jar during my Social Studies class. Over the course of about three months, my high school raised a couple thousand dollars. High schools across the country simultaneously launched similar campaigns. That’s crowdfunding. And I was part of it.

Today, we’re able to fuel our crowdfunding campaigns with the power of the Internet, bandwidth, and massive networks. The Internet bears no shortage of people clamoring for sponsorship. The indie music industry has launched thousands of Kickstarter campaigns since its origin in 2009. Portland alone has one Kickstarter project for every thousand people. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have made it too easy to solicit donations.

Kickstarter campaigns have proven to be successful for musicians, but it appears that some musicians don’t think things through before they launch a crowdfunding campaign.  Whether or not you realize it, you are asking your friends and family to give you money for your next album or West Coast tour. Your Kickstarter will reveal a lot about your band image, so consider a few things.

Don’t be lazy

Bands today shouldn’t be funded for things that bands in the past have accomplished on their own. If Kickstarter didn’t exist, you’d have to work harder to pay for your next project. Your band would have to bootstrap to produce albums and sell them for a profit. In place of crowdsourcing, you’d need to go door to door in order to convince your neighborhood to help you go on tour. Would you do that?

Your goal should be to exhaust all other resources before you hit up the Internet for donations. Don’t use crowdfunding as the easy way out. Using Kickstarter could backfire and expose your band’s laziness. Also, don’t set your goal for more than you’re worth.

You’d better be a good band

If music is your hobby, then forget it. You’re asking people to invest in your future. If you are not planning on making music your career, your fans are better off spending twenty dollars on food, beer, and skee ball at EastBurn for instant satisfaction. Don’t expect your friends to buy your gas for a road trip or pay for studio time so that you can feel better about yourself.

It isn’t required that your band sounds like the next national sensation.  But what you do need is true talent and potential to grow as musicians. Your band should have a bright future, and it’s up to you to prove that it does. Would you invest in a company that plans to dissolve three months from today? I didn’t think so.

Have reasonable rewards

Twenty dollars deserves an album. Don’t send a sticker.

A great way to show good faith is to reward your pledges. Your reward sends a message of sincerity to your backers. If your fans show enough interest in your band to open their wallets, you need to reciprocate that interest. You are utilizing your network to pay for your project, so don’t leave them disappointed.

It’s important to communicate with your backers. For example, if pledges are expecting to receive an item, let them know where it is. Inform your fans about the progress you’ve made in the recording process if they endorsed your album– I bet they’re excited to receive one of the first copies. Occasionally remind your fans that they are the reason your project ever came to light.

Don’t be annoying

You have a Kickstarter. We get it.

Your friends don’t need to be notified every hour, on the hour, that you are trying to hit your crowdfunding goal. Be more tactful. The last thing your Facebook friends want is to be badgered by nonstop reminders to them and 1,000 of your friends that you want their cash. You’re blatantly spamming your friends to ask for money. Remember, Facebook has made it very easy to hide all posts from particular individuals. Although you may not know it, your Kickstarter campaign has probably made you one of those people.

The idea is to tell your fans why they should invest in your band, not that you need donations. This point brings me back to my discussions around branding and marketing. Fans already know that you have a Kickstarter, so give them reasons why they should help finance your project. Be creative.

Having a media company back your Kickstarter won’t help. Yes, you may reach a few more people, but those are people who are already bombarded with Kickstarters day-in and day-out. For that reason, you’ll notice that media companies are reluctant to push Kickstarters unless the campaign can be easily incorporated into content already being produced. Unless you have something else to bring to the table, don’t bother hitting up every media outlet you know to push your Kickstarter.

To all Kickstarter pledges

Help your favorite band reach their goal. If you contribute to a campaign, let your friends know –share your pledge. Kickstarter makes it easy. You may be the reason why someone else becomes a pledge.

Disagree with me?

Crowdfunding is a great way to pay for your project, I agree, but my points are very simple. If you disagree, please let me know your thoughts. You may be the inspiration for my next blog post. Email me at yuriy@portlandpick.com.

About the Author

I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!
I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!