3 Benefits Of Music Crowdfunding Beyond “Show Me The Money”

Show-me-the-moneyIt'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 Together

Musicians 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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  1. True. A thought – If I have to think of crowd-funding as a business model then I should mention to my fans that a portion of the monies raised will go to my personal account in addition to mentioning exactly how much goes into production and how much into fulfillment and distribution. Else, you’re just covering costs and it’s still great – just not a business model. And if you don’t mention how much goes into your personal account, then it doesn’t seem right. Anyone else feel like that?

  2. Great points Clyde! Taken to logical extremes, I wonder if setting an extremely unlikely target would still be worth it for the press angle (“let’s beat Amanda Palmer, etc”).

  3. Crowdfunding is not a business model. It’s a one time event that is one element within a larger business model.
    But you bring up an interesting point regarding taking money off the table and transparency.

  4. I would really hesitate to do that. I know when I see musicians claiming they’re going to do something that seems really beyond them it kind of makes me think they’re either talking empty publicity talk or don’t know what they’re doing. And either would turn me away.
    It reminds me of some of the publicity I used to get in hip hop media!

  5. That’s a good point given that it doesn’t seem like something most bands could do on a regular basis.
    I would be surprised if she didn’t keep doing such campaigns though I would expect her to develop her own platform so she doesn’t give up that percentage.

  6. Actually, it’s kind of immoral to publish your books. You know society has reached a new low in it’s decay when everyone starts publishing their income. Because there is only one way to get there: institutionalized envy.

  7. I’m not sure if I follow but in any case, I wasn’t talking about publishing one’s books. If fans are acting like investors, then one needs to tell them where exactly their money is going

  8. Yeah, I wouldn’t consider them investors. Investors make things happen by putting their money at risk with chances of making a profit. Music fans are not profiting. When they interact with you, they are getting something that they value more than the X amount of dollars they are spending on you.
    Transparency is not needed, unless you want it to be part of your identity as an artist.

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