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Music Crowdfunding Without A Fanbase

Launch-and-releaseIan Anderson and Levi James created Launch and Release to document and share what they were learning about crowdfunding music. They've put in a great deal of work and one of the more interesting discoveries they've made is that numerous artists are successfully crowdfunding in the under $10,000 range without the fanbase that one might assume is necessary. I spoke with them last week about this topic.

I wrote about Launch and Release last year and have been following the blog ever since. Now co-founding bloggers Levi James and Ian Anderson are getting ready to launch an online class titled "The Music Crowdfunding Course for Intelligent Artists." Based on our discussion last week and their clear and direct writing at Launch and Release, it's likely to be well worth your time if you're planning a music crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding Without a Fanbase

Last week we discussed the topic of crowdfunding without a fanbase and what they've learned from numerous campaigns and musicians who don't have huge numbers of social media followers and, in some cases, don't even have mailing lists.

They clarified that those are definitely things you want to have to build your career as a musician and to raise larger sums of money. But they also found that musicians who connect directly to the people they do know can successfully raise funds in the $1 to $5000 range and the $5 to $10000 range.

They maintain that smaller campaigns for artists funding their first album are generally more about supporting the individual rather than the particular project. The individuals that successfully achieve such goals are the ones who don't just post about their campaigns on Facebook and the like but reach out directly to individuals with whom they have direct connections, especially friends and family.

But the artists have to be willing to sit down and think through all the different groups of people they know and be willing to contact each individual and follow up to encourage pledging. This work will be much more productive than attempting to expand one's fanbase during a campaign and to solicit funds from new fans.

Even larger campaigns ultimately rely on the people with whom artists have already established a connection to achieve their goal.

Didn't Their Dad Just Cut a Check?

One of my biggest questions going into the interview was whether or not these artists were being funded by a few rich family members. Though they usually see at least a couple pledges in the hundred dollar range for such campaigns, many are successful without having any big donors.

We agreed that not every artist is situated to pull this off. Some people have serious blocks about asking for support, another topic about which they have plenty of insight, and others are simply in impoverished settings which reduce the likelihood of gaining financial support.

Another issue that many musicians discover when they first tell friends and family that they want to go pro is that sometimes your biggest critics are people that are quite close to you. That's a hard lesson but both Ian and Levi agreed that crowdfunding gives you a way to identify your true supporters and establish a base on which to build.

Nevertheless a surprising number of artists are finding support without substantial followings.

Here are some places to start if you want to dig deeper:

Rob Harris Funds Album on Indiegogo in 5 Days With No Fan Base

How You Can Fund A Kickstarter Without A Mailing List

Music Kickstarters: Personal Connection Trumps Presentation

How To Fund Your Band’s Kickstarter When You Have No Fan Base

We covered a lot more ground and raised some points to which I plan to return but, based on what they've seen and learned from the musicians with whom they've spoken, the bottom line for successful music crowdfunding campaigns is that a good plan, direct communication and a solid goal will lead to higher pledges.

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The Music Crowdfunding Course for Intelligent Artists


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.