Setting Yourself Apart: The Key Ingredient to a Successful Music Crowdfunding Campaign

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Accomplishing a successful career in the modern day music industry is a lot like hacking away at a Rubik’s cube. You’ve seen people solve it, you’re pretty sure it can be done, but it definitely seems like there are no two people who finish it the same way. It mostly looks like a lot of twisting, turning, and starting over from square one before you start to see anything that resembles success.

In many respects, that is a proper assessment. No two people achieve success in the music industry the same way, but that’s actually a good thing! No two artists are alike, nor should one strive to offer the exact same things as another. And that is exactly why you have the power to achieve success independently funding your project through unique-to-you crowdfunding campaigns.


This video, “Why Crowdfund Music?” appears in Soundfly’s newly available course Crowdfunding For Musicians.

Ah, crowdfunding. The word likely triggers an automatic sigh from most musicians, or anyone who is lucky enough to have musicians in their social media circle. Crowdfunding is the subway panhandler who managed to worm their way onto your Facebook feed, manifested in your cousin’s Springsteen cover band confidently proclaiming that “this album is gonna be the one!” It’s easy to look around and think, if everyone and their mom needs help funding their creative endeavors, what chance do I have?

But rather than getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of people with similar dreams and just giving up, recognize that the reason everyone is doing it is because crowdfunding really can be a powerful tool for empowering your fans, giving them a way to support the artist they love, and raising some much needed money for your work.

By now, it’s no secret that it isn’t enough to just be an artist.

Today, you have to be an artist, manager, songwriter, producer, booking agent, PR agent, promoter, accountant, and more — at least at the beginning of your career. And the most successful artists retain that sense of entrepreneurship throughout their careers. There’s a lot of noise out there, and a lot of competition, so it’s actually never been riskier to self-produce an album and spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours just to watch it get lost out to sea.

In other words, artists today need to develop myriad ways to connect with their audiences, empowering them at every step of the process. Crowdfunding doesn’t just mean yelling out, “fund my project” to anyone who will listen. That approach is frequently the mistake behind failed campaigns. It means, letting the fans choose how and when they’d like to support you, on their terms. And when you allow your community that privilege, it can make all that other stuff so much easier, because your fans will be on your team.

The truth is, you deserve to have your record made.

Everyone should have the opportunity to make their dreams come true, right? No one can guarantee you fame and fortune, but the awesome world of music lovers out there can give you the resources to take your vision from a figment of your imagination to a reality — you just have to be able to tell us why.

As Simon Sinek demonstrates in his TED Talk called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” the key to successful marketing is to focus on who you are, rather than what your product is. Very few organizations know why they do what they do (most of the time the answer is simply, “to make money”), and as a result, consumers are less interested in what they’re selling.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Grant Funding for Your Music Project”

The average band’s crowdfunding campaign might focus on how great the forthcoming album will be, or maybe it’s a big name producer, or even the promise of rewards like a signed hat or a chance to be in a music video. And while those are all great things to include in a crowdfunding campaign, there’s still something missing, some reason why we the public should care enough to throw a few bucks aside for your campaign. Because let’s be honest, a lot of albums are great…

“If you want our money, we need to know who you are.”

It’s your charisma and connection with your fans that will get you to your crowdfunding goal, not the rewards you offer, or the promise of “your best collection of music yet.” Tell us why you get out of bed in the morning. Demonstrate to the world what you believe in at your core. If you can figure out a way to expose your essence, your purpose, the entire reason for doing the the things that you do, people will be curious, and respond in kind.

Let’s take a look at this campaign by Rob Harris.

Rob had great success running his campaign, for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s not hard to fall in love with the guy. His video doesn’t take long to establish the type of person that he is, his sense of humor, and his vulnerability. By the time he gets around to mentioning his album, the viewer is sold on his charm and is far more willing to contribute than if he had started with “this is my album that I want to make, and hope that it can hold its own against the countless others being made in Nashville.”

Benji Rogers, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of PledgeMusic, once said, “fans will follow great music and if you give them a journey then they will travel with you no matter where it goes.”

There’s an oft-repeated saying about crowdfunding that “people fund people, not projects.” And while, yes, people fund interesting projects all the time, the idea is that you’d never be emotionally tempted by an idea that lives inside a vacuum all by itself. You are drawn in by the passion of the people who want to make it happen. Fans inevitably want to share the journey with you in any way they can, and they trust you to take them somewhere interesting. Keep that in mind when putting together your campaign.

+ Learn more: Ready to start learning? Sign up for Crowdfunding for Musicians today!

Nailing the timing.

Another attribute of Rob Harris’ success is that he limited his campaign to a ten-day period, which created a sense of urgency for the backers and contributed to how the project spread throughout his backers’ networks. While this tactic may not always fit your campaign (there are plenty of reasons to run lengthy timelines), it is deeply important to consider the timing of your fundraising period in your marketing strategy. Here are three tips to consider while moving through the timeline of your campaign:

  1. Prepare your closest friends, family, and fans before your launch day. With everyone on the same page at the start of your campaign, it’s easier to make a big enough splash to carry over into the typically slower middle period.
  2. Keep up your communication throughout! Use “Updates” as blog posts on your campaign page to keep people engaged and revisiting the project, and let your fans know when progress has been made on the project so that everyone can share in the journey.
  3. Line up a few backer-only perks to share with people who contribute, and post them throughout. Exclusive content always helps people feel like they’re part of a tight community, so think about posting perks like a streaming link to early song demos and outtakes, or even a sneak peak at a forthcoming single, as well as behind the scenes shots or videos.

Let your passion be your trademark.

Let people know why you get out of bed in the morning, why work as hard as you possibly can, and why you make the music that is inside your heart. Let your purpose be known, and the public will respond. People value personal connection, and they look for it whether they are conscious of it or not. Tell us why you are willing to put yourself on the line, to chase a dream that so many would scoff at or call you crazy for pursuing. As the Cheshire Cat put it, “we’re all a bit mad here.” Show off your madness.

Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid, just use these tips to get your record made!

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