With the rise of Patreon and the long-time staples Indiegogo, PledgeMusic, and Kickstarter, crowdsourcing is becoming one of the ways many artists count on money coming in to create new music, tour, even pay for band photos and equipment. Now, more than ever, musicians are forced to think like entrepreneurs.
While a percentage of artists are successfully building recurring support through crowdfunding, there are still some musicians who struggle to get their campaigns off the ground. Before even embarking on a crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to consider all the costs, learn how to plan out a successful launch, and choose the right site.
In many cases, the key to an awesome crowdfunding campaign lies in having the proper perspective around the purpose of a campaign. If you operate from a, “I need money” mindset, you'll focus on what would make you happy as opposed to what's necessary.
On the other hand, if you start from a place of, "This is for my fans," you’ll focus on what would make them happy and, therefore, provide what they would want in exchange for their money.
If you’re struggling with your crowdfunding efforts, try these three ways to shift from the mindset of desperation to the mindset of service, allowing you to attract the right fans and their desire to contribute to your music career.
1. Find out what your potential backers want
Much like in any business, it's necessary to do the proper market research to understand who your customers are, and, perhaps more importantly, who they are not, in order to know where to place your focus and resources.
For instance, when you build your following online, rather than focusing on sheer numbers, focus on attracting fans who will actually engage with you. This way, you'll get to know what they're like, what they do, and what they love about your music. Then, when it comes time to create your crowdfunding campaign, you'll have a good idea of what perks and rewards your most engaged fans (i.e., potential backers) will love.
For more base-level info, like where the majority of your fans live or their other interests, tap into social media analytics like Facebook Insights. And, speaking of social media, there's no shame in simply asking your fans what they'd love to see offered as a crowdfunding reward. Offer it, and they shall come!
2. Choose rewards that serve a purpose to backers
As the right mindset is crucial for succeeding at any goal on your end, it’s important to also have a clear idea on what purpose your crowdfunding campaign will serve for your fans and backers. Generally, what's going to attract backers is a unique experience or exclusive access or merch that they won't find anywhere else.
This doesn't have to involve a whole revamp of your tour schedule or merch line. If you've just released a new album, sometimes a signed version is a great reward. Likewise, tickets to shows or even backstage passes to local gigs is enough to attract backers. In fact, you may already be offering rewards like these in your current campaigns.
If you are, however, and they're not working (which is a fair bet since you're reading this article!), refer back to our first point, evaluate whether or not they align with your fans' interests, and revamp.
Remember: No matter how cool you think the reward is, if it serves no purpose to your fans and backers, it won't move the needle when it comes to crowdfunding.
3. Create content with a goal
When you're running a crowdfunding campaign, it's tempting to only focus on the money and not the people who are actually donating. Shift that mindset by trusting the money will come if you lead with value. And that value comes, most often, in the form of content: updates to your backers via video, newsletters, even social media posts promoting your campaign.
Map out the content you're planning to create using a rough schedule that's flexible enough to accommodate if and when you reach certain goals. Also, planning a monthly update to all backers is a great idea to keep your campaign top of mind for fans who've donated.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course, and you can get as creative as yo want with your content. Start by brainstorming the type of content you can create and then jot down next to each piece the "why?" behind it. What value will it bring your fans and backers? Will it nudge fans who haven't donated yet to do so? Will it make them want to share it with their friends and maybe inspire those folks to donate?
Then, determine when and how you will create this content. In order to stay consistent you’ll want to have a plan in place for creating the deliverable, exclusive content, not just the promotions to attract your backers. Batching content together always helps, but either way, assign a tentative date and time you'll both produce and post each piece of content.
Always remember: There are people behind those dollar signs. The more value you provide, the more investment in your music career you’ll attract. Lead with your fans in mind, and they’ll be sure to return the favor.
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.