Asking your fans to help fund your recording endeavors may still seem like a risky imposition to some, but given the current state of the music business, it’s becoming more and more common. The reason why? Musicians are finding ways to do it right. By offering fans incentives (anything from work-in-progress demos to personal performances), fan funding becomes less about asking for a handout from your fans, and more about making them a part of the creative process and offering a return on their contribution. We’ve heard from plenty of CD Baby artists who have had success with this method, and it’s not surprising: When it comes to connecting personally with your fanbase, there’s an opportunity here for a unique give-and-take that benefits both the fan and the artist. Everybody wins. So how do you “fan fund” an album?
Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com), an online fan funding service, has found itself at the forefront of the movement by providing a safe, easy-to-use interface that connects artists with potential contributors. Here’s how it works:
-As the artist, you determine a goal amount (the money you hope to raise), a time limit (the time in which you hope to achieve your goal – between 1-90 days), and what rewards or incentives you are going to offer your contributors. You can offer different rewards for different levels of contribution.
- Fans can make pledges until the end of your time limit, at which point your goal will either be reached or not. If it is, the contributors’ credit cards are charged and you get the money to start your project. If it’s not reached, all pledges are cancelled. It’s an all-or-nothing system.
- If your goal is met, Kickstarter takes 5% of your total, and you are solely responsible for getting the rewards to your contributors as promised. Simple.
Just like anything else you do in your music career, it’s how you approach an endeavor like this that makes all the difference. Make your rewards unique – maybe more unique and personal the higher the pledge. For higher-tiered pledges, some artists have been known to offer a mention in the liner notes, a personal concert, or even to write a song about the person who made the contribution. You’ve got to give your fans a reason to want to help you out. If receiving a signed copy of the CD before it’s available anywhere else is good enough for your fans, then great! But offering more than one incentive will ensure you reach the widest audience. You know your fans, and only you will know the best way to pay them back for their support.
CD Baby artist Allison Weiss tried out Kickstarter on a whim, and was shocked by the response she got. (She met her goal in 10 hours!) You can hear Allison’s story on the DIY Musician Podcast by clicking HERE.
What are your thoughts on fan funding? Have you tried it? If so, do you have any stories to share? Let us know in the comments below.