Eeeek crowdfunding! That's where annoying people post annoying things annoyingly asking for money right???!!
Welp! Unfortunately sometimes yes. Some artists do not do a very good job of sharing and promoting their crowdfunding campaigns. As a result, they come off as spammy and annoying. You are hopefully going to avoid doing that by scouring the resources available on this site. First off, you need to decide whether you actually need to run a typical crowdfunding campaign. You may have some alternative options you haven't even considered.
I'd recommend you now grab a pen and paper or open up a document on your computer and start calculating some important numbers.
1) How much is your record going to cost (if you're working with me refer to your detailed proposal)?
2) How much money do I have right now to go towards my record?
3) What are my non production costs going to be (printing CDs, merchandise, distribution, etc...)?
4) How much money do you plan to spend towards promotion and marketing?
***SPECIAL NOTE: Many indie artists don't even consider a budget for promotion. This may come as a shocker but it's pretty common to have a 50/50 budget split between production and promotion. Meaning if you spend $10,000 to make your record you should budget another $10,000 towards promotion. I understand that isn't possible for a lot of indie artists but you really really should put some money aside to promote your music.
Now whats the difference? = The money I have minus all my costs.
Every recording project you do is an opportunity to do some sort of funding campaign. You don't have to do the full blown Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Pledgemusic, etc... thang. BUT you might be leaving money on the table otherwise.
Let's talk a smoodge about the different ways you might be able to raise some funds to support your music.
DONORS / INVESTORS
One option would be to seek investors to help raise funds for your record. Imagine this record is your first product and your band is a startup seeking investment. It may be possible to raise every dollar you need just by asking people you already know. This would likely be a low volume but high value approach as in <10 people might make up 100% of your campaign raise. I’d consider this approach if you want to avoid having to host and run a campaign online on sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, etc...
Imagine you’re in trouble with the Mafia and you have to raise $5000 in a month. Who would you go to? Do you think you could get the cash or would cousin Vinny end up taking you out?
The essence of every successful crowdfunding campaign is the personal pitch. You have to believe in your project and you have to actually ask individual people to support what you’re doing otherwise it probably won’t go very well.
Whether you run a full campaign or not I highly recommend you build a donor list. This is a basic spreadsheet that lists anyone and everyone you think might be interested in supporting your crowdfunding campaign. I love spreadsheets. If you don't, I got you. Here's a template you can use for your donor list. **Click file and "make a copy..." otherwise you won't be able to edit this spreadsheet.
USING A CROWDFUNDING HOST SITE
You’re probably familiar with Kickstarter but there are a lot of other sites that help host crowdfunding campaigns. My favorite is Indiegogo. PledgeMusic and GoFundMe are also relevant. They all work a little differently when it comes to money. Here’s a breakdown:
Here’s how it all works. Basically, these sites are used to help people host limited term online stores / donation pages. They provide a nice little online landing page for people to visit and a way for people to check out and process transactions. You choose different perks to be available for your campaign and you drive traffic to your campaign page in hopes that people will purchase your packages.
Most campaigns last between four and six weeks. In that time you will market and promote your campaign via social media, email, text, phone calls, hand written letters, etc... It’s all about the personal pitch. The more personal the better. Expect to have to do a lot of leg work in order to raise the money you need. This won’t be easy, but it really can work.
Indiegogo provides a checklist of what you need to do before launching your campaign. Check that out here. You will need to choose the different perks / packages available for your campaign. Here is an example of the different perks an artist I worked with named Kate Kelly chose for her campaign: https://cl.ly/975ff16fce87
HOSTING ON YOUR OWN SITE
It’s not that hard to build an online store. If you already have an artist or band website you may be able to host your campaign on your own site. One benefit of this is that you may avoid some fees. The con would be that you have to do more work to get everything set up. I used to host campaigns on my own site and it worked just fine, but required a little more work to get everything rolling.
RAISING MONEY FROM HOUSE SHOWS
House shows can be a great way to raise funds towards a record. I’ve had artists play house shows in their hometown and invite all their friends and family. They sold it as a show to support the making of the record and accepted donations from everyone who came. I had another artist do a house show here in Nashville and invited mostly peers and she raised about $500.
You may also consider planning a house show tour to be run after the record is done. It’s not uncommon for artists to book house show tours and receive a guarantee from the host. How this works is you find people who may be interested in hosting a house show for you in different cities and you have them pay for the house show upfront. They can then charge at the door until they recoup and then you guys can all split the net raise after that. Here’s an example:
What do I do now?
My recommendation is this: Don't run a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, Kickstarter, etc... unless you really want to go down that rabbit hole. It is a lot of work to pull off. If you aren't willing to put in the work you may only raise a couple hundred bucks and annoy all of your followers. It's not worth it unless you really go for it.
You may also determine after compiling your donor list that you'd rather not make your campaign public. If you have 10+ potential high value donors you may consider reaching out to them individually and seeing if they would invest in your record. You may be able to cover all your expenses this way.
Also if you really only need $500 - $1000 why don't you consider hosting an event (i.e. house shows) or a "help us fund our record" hometown show.