Advice Clinic

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN

7th October 2017

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It’s enough to make you scream into a pillow. You’ve got the songs that will change the face of popular culture and shove The Beatles off their pedestal. But you can’t scrape together the bus fare to the studio, let alone cough up for the album sessions that will turn your bedsit demos into a chart-straddling masterpiece. Sounds like you should consider a crowdfunding campaign, pitching direct to the great unwashed for financial backing. But read this first, or you’ll get fewer bids than a soiled jockstrap on eBay.

#1. Work out your costs

Granted, it’s not exactly rock ‘n’ roll, but the most successful crowdfunding campaigns start with an Excel spreadsheet. Calculate how much money you’ll need to record your album – gear, engineers, dancing girls, the lot – and set your target to match. It’s vital to get this right. If your figure is too low, you’ll run out of cash before the album is complete. If it’s too high, your campaign will fail and anyone who pledged will get their money back. Remember, too, that the crowdfunding website will take a cut, typically between 5% and 15%.

#2. Preparation is key

The secret to an effective crowdfunding push is going hard and fast. Thirty-day campaigns do best, so decide on a month when you’re able to devote yourself to the cause, then do the groundwork. Choose a crowdfunding platform that gets respect on musician forums – Kickstarter and PledgeMusic are good for first-timers – then get your promo materials sorted. You’ll need an attention-grabbing pitch, backed up with killer photos and a funny, passionate and/or emotive video that spreads across social media like lice on a tourbus.

#3. Plug it like crazy

The crowdfunding scene is full of chancers with their hands out, and it’ll take some egomaniacal self-promotion to stand out from the pack. Write down everyone you know with even a tenuous link to the music industry and start calling in favours. Promote your campaign on every social media platform going. See if you can hook local press and regional radio with a newsworthy angle – even if that means promising to streak through the town centre and do nude star-jumps in the fountain if you reach your target.

#4. Treat your pledgers right

Crowdfunding campaigns achieve liftoff when pledgers feel a personal connection. Keep them updated with honest blogs, candid studio photos and shareable videos charting your progress. Feed out samples of the music and ask their opinion – or even invite them to pitch ideas for the album title. Plus, don’t forget to flog a few limited-edition perks on your pledge page. Signed merch is crashingly obvious, so think bigger: you could play a festival on a fan’s front lawn, give a guitar lesson, even let a pledger play triangle on the album. The madder your offerings, the better, as they’ll get your campaign noticed and generate extra cash.

#5. Don’t stop!

You only asked for a grand, but a week later, you’ve hit your target and wondering whether to pull the plug. Are you clinically insane? While there’s still a buzz around the campaign and new pledgers are coming forward, keep the wheels turning and don’t stop until the cash slows to a trickle and you sense that people are getting bored. Trust us, however well you crunched the numbers in Step #1, albums sessions always go over budget…

 

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Author

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written for music magazines including Classic Rock, Total Guitar, Guitarist, NME and Metal Hammer, and brands including V Festival, Download, Epiphone, Yamaha, Roland and Universal. His proudest career moment was meeting Jimmy Page - and his toughest assignment was interviewing Pharrell Williams."