Soundfly

Home for the Curious Musician

8 Music Crowdfunding Campaigns We’ve Got Our Eyes on and Why

It’s all about the story. Fundraising experts will say this time and time again: “People fund people, not ideas.” In other words, when asking for money, what tends to get through to your audience the most is having a compelling and personal story, and a drive to succeed, not necessarily a great business idea.

When it comes to crowdfunding, this is no different, but your story does also need to be shaped and formulated intelligently in order to maximize your chances of being successfully funded. That’s why we created our free course, Crowdfunding for Musicians — with one of the premier experts in the field, Jay Coyle — to help musicians with great stories reach their audience in the most advantageous way possible.

Because everyone has a unique musical path, what we learn each and every time we stroll through the corridors of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and PledgeMusic is that there are hundreds of ways to share those stories with the world. If you’re planning your own music-related campaign right now, you should definitely consider checking out our course. But for now, let’s get inspired with eight of our favorite current campaigns in the music field, and dive deep into what makes their efforts in particular so engaging!

Purple Llama Coffee & Record Subscription

Chicago, Illinois

Right off the bat, not only does this campaign by Purple Llama marry the two things in my life that are literally responsible for getting me out of bed in the morning — music and coffee — but their mission is to provide further opportunities and points of sale for the small producers they work in both respects. It’s an admirable mission, it’s curatorial in the loveliest way, and it’s useful for anyone who loves discovering new music and not going to the same places every month around town to buy the same types of coffee.

Plus, a portion of the proceeds for this project will be donated to a foundation that we’ve had on our radar for quite some time, Foundations of Music.

Check out more on Purple Llama’s Coffee and Vinyl Subscription campaign.

The Cyborg Drummer

∇  Atlanta, Georgia

Six years ago, drummer Jason Barnes lost his arm in a work accident. As an amputee, his lost ability to do the thing he loved the most in the world — play music — caused a mountain of depression. Through resilience and willpower, he attempted to build a makeshift prosthetic arm that could hold a drumstick so that he could continue playing, but this only got him so far. So, after being introduced to technical engineers at Georgia Tech that would ultimately go on to design and build a custom “smart” arm specifically for drumming, his life would change forever.

But that tech belongs to the university, and he’s not allowed to perform or record outside of the campus grounds, which is why he’s seeking the finances to build his own, alongside his engineering partners at the university, and continue his path towards being a full-time touring musician.

What I love about this campaign is the variety of images and videos that help us to engage on an emotional level with Jason’s campaign. He builds his story so beautifully and communicates so much more than desperation — there’s hope and creativity and drive all there. And just like a band would, the various levels of rewards, from very affordable digital downloads to niche VIP rewards targeted at close friends and angels, provide anybody with the ability to support him. 

Check out more on Jason Barnes and Gil Weinberg’s campaign.

The Sound of Freedom: Music from Behind Prison Walls

∇  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This project has already been funded, actually, but it was such a wonderful initiative that I couldn’t help use it to talk about the ways in which a great crowdfunding campaign can really make a change in people’s lives.

Songs in the Key of Free is a series of songwriting and storytelling workshops that have been held at the maximum-security prison outside of Philadelphia. The project culminated in the recording and mixing production of 15 songs, all of which address the effects of mass incarceration on the humanity of these artists and their fellow inmates at large. They also recorded, transcribed, and edited a podcast, Prison Prophets, which takes place inside the SCI-Graterford prison. As one of the SCI-Graterford inmates says:

“No one should be defined by the worst thing they ever did…. I’m really hoping that if we can release our voices and let them fly into the universe, maybe someone else will see as human beings, too. There’s a lot of good lives being wasted in here. If we can stop looking at prisoners as a liability and instead see them as assets, then we can make a positive impact on the communities we come from.”

Once they reached their goal, they continued to promote the campaign with video and audio images so as to try to provide as much value to this community of inmates as possible, with stretch goals that would afford the organization the ability to pursue further projects. Another really cool thing they’ve done is create a bio page introducing all of the incarcerated artists on the project. Because it’s illegal to publish images of the faces of prison inmates or include them in video while they’re behind bars, they’ve cleverly and artistically staged portraits of them performing behind their instruments or facing in the other direction.

It’s a beautiful project that we’re really rooting for here at Soundfly, and will try to keep our eyes on as time rolls on.

Check out more on Songs in the Key of Free’s campaign.

LFK Tour Van Support

∇  Sassari, Italy

“We’re a band, we were making a record, and we’ve had an accident.”

It’s a hard life being a touring band — the road can be a dangerous beast. Luckily in this instance, nobody got hurt, and all LFK (Lazybones Flame Kids) needs is a bit of scratch to get them back on their feet. While there’s no video here to help channel people’s emotions towards supporting their campaign, one can hardly fault them for that, especially when they’ve managed to pull off a pretty great campaign to hopefully set them up for a successful refinancing.

LFK offers tons of reward levels so that people on any economic level will be able to support them if they wish. And something I took note of immediately was that there is no doom-and-gloom attitude here — they’re making light of the situation as best they can, and asking, humbly, for their community to help them push forward.

Lastly, using this catastrophe as a shareable story, especially one tied to the making of a forthcoming album, will only help them in the long run. Forever, this album will be tied to the car crash event in both the band’s and their listeners’ minds.

Check out more on LFK’s Van Support campaign. 

Costa Rican Composers Concert Album

∇  Heredia, Costa Rica

Okay, stop. You had me at “Hola.”

We here at Soundfly love Latin American composers. There’s an enormous wealth of talent and vision that has erupted from Latin American countries in the last 50 or so years, and almost none of this new orchestral music is popularly performed or known outside its home countries. And while that’s somewhat to be expected, despite being unfortunate for us North American music lovers, that’s not even the most unfortunate part — this incredible contemporary music isn’t even popularly known or performed in its home countries! Lots of composers, conductors, educators, and ensembles are trying to change that, and I’m really excited about that.

So back to this great campaign. Since the infrastructure for public commissions of this type of work barely exists in Costa Rica, I see this campaign as functioning on a variety of levels, all working towards a positive outcome whether or not they reach their funding goal (but hopefully they will). In creating this platform for visibility and support, the composers working with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Heredia are building an international network of Latin American musicians and music fans willing to invest in this community on a DIY level. They’re spreading the word about their work and mission locally, as well as in in New York, Chicago, Holland, and North Dakota, and funding what could potentially become a sustainable pipeline of content creation in the future.

In other words, while the primary goal is to fund the concert and recording they wish to execute in July, the long-term goal is to hack a model for economically sustainable music creation in Costa Rica, and a crowdfunded campaign is the perfect space to start on that path.

Check out more on The Orquesta Sinfónica de Heredia’s campaign. 

Reverse Tension Guitars

∇  Fort Myers, Florida

It’s always nice when you can learn something new about your instrument from a crowdfunding campaign. I never realized that the sheer amount of weight that string tension puts on the bridge, which affects not only the playability, but the resonance and sustain of the guitar. And depending on the wood the guitar is made from, this can have dramatic effects on the overall quality of the sound the guitar is able to produce.

I like this model of campaign, because it serves as an advertisement for a company’s new product, as well as an “infomercial” educating the public about the benefits of this design, and a story that the company is trying to tell that includes its supporters. You don’t have to just be a consumer of their product; you can be part of the history of the product itself by joining in the creation process.

Check out more on RT Guitar’s campaign. 

The Alexandre Voboam 1665 Guitar

∇  Lévis, Quebec

David Jacques’ campaign to purchase this rare 17th century guitar from a luthier family who frequently worked at the court of Louis XIV is certainly one to root for. The campaign is only in French, but the story goes that he’s a musician and researcher specializing in early Baroque music, yet he’s never had the opportunity to perform using actual instruments from the period in which his repertoire was written… until now.

With the opportunity to acquire a rare, perfectly restored 1665 guitar has come a great financial burden. So he’s doing what he can — asking his network for help in exchange for a private concert with the instrument and/or recordings of him playing. Merging a beautiful instrument with a beautiful story, together inside even more beautiful music, it’s hard to go wrong — we’re all rooting for David!

Check out more on David Jacques’ guitar acquisition campaign. 

KLOS Carbon Fiber Ukulele

∇  Salt Lake City, Utah

Admittedly, I’m not a huge uke fan. But also admittedly, after watching this video, I kinda wanted to go out and try to find one of these black beauties to test out. By now, KLOS Guitars is a bit of a household name, having produced a wonderful carbon-fiber travel guitar — which, for the record, I’ve seen people play out in the world. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve done a ton of great things with this campaign, that we can all take away from, no matter our budget.

Firstly, check out the informative and well-laid-out graphics appearing throughout the campaign. It’s important to remember that not everyone who arrives on your campaign page is going to feel like reading. Some people are visual learners, or skimmers. Doubling the most eye-catching points in your pitch with graphics is smart. 

Secondly, they used contacts in their network to gather some great endorsements from the ukelele world, like Jake Shimabukuro, whose intimately performed cover version of “Eleanor Rigby” is basically priceless. Well done!

Check out more on the KLOS Carbon Fiber Ukulele campaign. 

Learn how to crowdfund like a pro with Soundfly! Check out our free course, Crowdfunding for Musicians, and learn how to raise money while developing your core fan community and sharing your unique story with the world.

Feed your musical curiosity. Join our brand new email magazine, Soundfly Weekly.

Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a music business guru and loves giving advice to young, emerging bands on how to make their tours more effective. He also plays guitar, publishes audiobooks, runs a record label, and is an artist working in sound media. He has performed and released material throughout Europe, Asia, the US, UK and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.