There's something so inspiring about a strong crowdfunding campaign. Yes, it's great to raise the money for the things you need but it goes so much deeper than that. A good crowdfunding campaign inspires people. It builds on a movement, a belief, a desire within the community. It’s powerful.
When you can bring that kind of community and network together, it speaks volumes about you, as well as your fanbase. And yeah, like I said, it doesn't hurt that it gives you the money you need for your next project!
But today, I wanted to pull back the curtain a little bit on how you can creatively crowdfund your next project. Because while yes, there are the ways everyone knows like Kickstarter, there are also a ton of other ways for you to get your fans involved and build success towards your next project. Let’s dive in.
The usuals—Kickstarter, IndieGoGo
Let’s start with the basics—these are the tried and true go tos that many artists and creatives use to fund their projects. And why not? There’s nothing wrong with these platforms. First of all, people know them, which means they trust them and are more likely to enter their information, because they understand how they work and they’ve seen their names over and over which means there’s a trust factor there that can’t be replicated. And while yes, they take a fee of what you earn, most of the platforms will and the truth is, the set up they include and how easy they make it for you to get up and running is part of the convenience you pay for. If you just want to get something up and running as quickly as possible and don’t mind the limited time to raise funds (this can actually work in your favor, as urgency tends to lead people to contribute more than open ended dates) than one of the following would likely be a great fit for you:
Next up are two more familiar names, Patreon and Bandzoogle, both of which offer membership style subscriptions for your fans. The deal here is that your fans can contribute every month at different price points and as such, get different rewards. So, while with Kickstarter they might contribute one time for $25 and get access to the record you’re making, on Patreon, they might commit to $2, $5, $10, etc every month, and get access to exclusive updates or a new song each month.
Kickstarter is more often used for one very specific project that you need help raising funds for, whereas a membership site will help you continuously bring in money to fund your ongoing projects and costs. The benefit of this platform, besides the fact that recurring passive income is AMAZING, is that it helps build a true bonding experience with fans, unlike a one-and-done service. With a membership, you’re showing up in their inboxes, their feeds, their lives at least once a month if not more, and by becoming that constant presence, it gives you the opportunity to really get to know them and show up for them.
You don’t see a ton of musicians using GoFundMe, but it’s a viable option, especially for solo artists or one off instances. While GoFundMe is usually used for personal use there's no reason you as a creative business can't use it as well—especially if it's going towards something charitable or service based. Now, you might not want to use this to fund your album but, say your van got broken into and all your equipment was stolen, or you're trying to raise money for a charity that you're supporting and throwing a show for then this—could be a good option.
DIY set up
Of course, there’s always the good ol’ option of DIY-ing it. While the above options offer a quick set up and trust factor, if you already have a deep connection with your fans and simply want to get things set up and running yourself, there’s no reason you can’t pull this off.
My suggestion for the quickest way to get set up? Create a page on your website where fans can subscribe monthly and add a Paypal subscription button (this is an option for business accounts, which are free) to get free goodies, including new songs before they’re released, access to a private Facebook group where you go live once a week or month, special merch goodies, and more. For something like this, I’d make it a flat fee for everyone (like $10/month) rather than do the tiered options like Patreon does. This can be such a great way to strengthen an existing bond with your fanbase, while giving them more of what they want.
Another great option for raising funds is to give your fans a full on experience they can buy into. Kind of like you see charities or political organizations doing when they need to raise money. For this, you could throw a VIP show (in person or digital, or hey, maybe both) where fans get the VIP treatment and in turn, you charge a bit of a premium as a way to raise funds.
So for instance, you’d tell your fans you’re doing this to raise money for an album you’re working on. You announce that you’re doing this show to raise funds for it, that everyone who comes out in person, ticket prices will be $50 but as part of that they’ll get:
-the new album once it’s out
-an exclusive merch bundle
-Dinner with the band before the show
-a ticket (maybe with a +1 to the show)
And so on. You get the idea. And then, you really roll out the red carpet for them at the show (maybe literally!). Even before the show, you should be making this feel like a true experience for them. I’m talking personalized invitations (mail in or video/audio ones), and really showing them what they can expect if they join you.
This one takes a bit more organization and work but it can be a really great way to raise money, drum up some publicity, and build those fan relationships while you’re at it.
Which way will you try?
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder of Thrive Mentorship Community and Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more. Having spoken at SXSW, CD Baby DIY Musician Conference, CMW, Indie Week, and more, she still loves nothing more than Cookie Monster ice cream, cuddles with her pup Sawyer, and a good show to binge-watch. Join her for her free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’.