Music Crowdfunding: It’s About More Than Money

It’s not surprising that we all tend to focus on the money when we talk about crowdfunding music. But all the work that goes into crowdfunding campaigns can result in other benefits especially when you keep those in mind. Such benefits can include getting your business act together, spreading awareness of your music and deepening your relationship with your fans.

I had a friend who conducted an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to renovate an arts space. When we finally discussed it he told me that he had chosen an amount that he knew would be extremely difficult to reach because he wanted people to understand how much such things really cost. While I think he should have chosen a platform that would have given him however much he raised, it also got me thinking about all the positive benefits that can come from crowdfunding beyond getting that money.Though educating people about how much things cost may not be the most useful outcome, here are three benefits that any successful campaign can produce without adding any additional work. Getting Your Business Act TogetherMusicians learn a lot when crowdfunding and it’s quite possible that small acts learn the most. When you’re first getting started in music you tend to handle business off-the-cuff. You’re usually paying for things out of pocket, possibly not reporting tips and generally operating at such a small level that it doesn’t even feel like business.

A small act doing its first crowdfunding campaign often learns needed business lessons the hard way. From paying taxes to covering the costs of fulfillment, crowdfunding campaigns often become the first real classroom for emerging artists.

But whether you’re an emerging act or a well-established one, crowdfunding campaigns require you to fire on all cylinders. They involve advance planning and budgeting, marketing, record keeping, manufacturing and fulfillment and filling out tax forms [whether one ends up having to pay or not.]

It’s a lot of hard work but if you go into it with the understanding that you can up your business game then you’ll end up benefitting even from a failed campaign.

Spreading Awareness of Your Music

A big part of crowdfunding campaigns is spreading the word. Even with a well-developed approach to marketing, your resources will be stretched and you’ll find yourself exploring new approaches to get the job done.

When Ed Pettersen crowdfunded The Giuseppi Logan Project, he says they:

“Spent four hours a day for three weeks after our campaign launched writing to every jazz journalist, every blog, every website and every record collector we could find. We sent out hundreds of individual e-mails and letters.”

Though he didn’t try to contact the NY Times, all that attention got him coverage there and that’s what gave their campaign the needed boost to not only reach but exceed their goal.

That’s a lot of work but it becomes even more worthwhile if you keep in mind that it goes beyond reaching your campaign goal and offers a great opportunity to let folks know about your music. This work can even set the stage for later coverage in outlets that didn’t cover your campaign.

Deepening Your Relationship with Your Fans

I recently spoke with Adam Turla about how he ran a campaign that made Murder By Death the third highest funded Kickstarter music campaign to date. They reached pledges of $187,048 yet Turla maintained that the opportunity to connect with their fans trumped even that impressive figure.

Conducting a music crowdfunding campaign will tell you a lot about the relationship you’ve established with your fans but it also gives you the opportunity to deepen that relationship. Not only are you reaching out to get their support but your marketing and outreach could win you new fans.

Many of the rewards for Murder By Death’s Kickstarter campaign didn’t just constitute a fair exchange but also became opportunities for interacting with fans. Such rewards included house concerts, a book club and a postcard club. These rewards give superfans a special experience and/or give you an opportunity for repeated contact with fans over time and that’s a powerful way to deepen your relationships.

So Go Beyond “Show Me The Money”

If you’re questioning crowdfunding your next music project, keep in mind that there’s much more to be gained than just the money.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) maintains a business writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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