Kickstarter for musiciansLessons learned in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign

[This article was written by jazz pianist and CD Baby artist George KahnRead part 1 of the series HERE, part 2 HERE, part 3 HERE, part 4 HERE, and part 5 HERE.]

The Jazz & Blues Revue’s 40-day Kickstarter campaign ended last week on Friday July 11, at 2:00 PM.  It was a resounding success: we hit our goal of $18,000 on Monday July 7, and by Friday we ended up with 250 backers pledging $19,818. I am still a bit in awe of the accomplishment – we were able to raise almost $20,000 to create an album of jazz and blues music that would never be considered by the major record labels – and I didn’t even have to call in my “rich uncle” at the last minute.

This is Part 6 of a blog I started to document the actual process of going through a successful Kickstarter campaign. There are countless guides you can find that teach you how to create a crowdfunding campaign, but  I think this may be the first one that carries you through the process. In the end we hit and actually exceeded our number by 10%. The dust has finally settled a little. It is time to reflect on what I actually LEARNED from this experience:

1. Set a goal that is a stretch, but is doable.

Kickstarter gives you very good stats before and during the process. One thing I read is the average Kickstarter donation comes out to be around $75. So I figured that to hit our goal of $18,000, we would need at least 240 backers. I felt certain that, between my fanbase and the singers’ fanbases, we must have 240 people that would step up to the plate. In the end, we had 250 backers that pledged $19,818 or an average pledge of $79.27 each. Creating a viable and realistic financial goal lets you finish strong.

2. Timing is everything

In researching crowdfunding, I knew that the dates we chose for our campaign would matter. It had to fit the schedule of the band. It had to end on the right day, and not get clobbered by holiday weekends. We all had to be available for a final push during the last week. I wanted to schedule parties and events during the campaign. Nothing can be left to chance.

3. Create scarcity

Limiting the number of people that can get certain rewards make then more valuable. This especially helps with the large rewards – big backers want to feel special!     

4. All or nothing works

There are other funding sites that are not date specific, and others that let you keep part of the money, even if you don’t hit your full goal. Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” approach is scary, but very effective. It creates urgency. It let’s people know you are serious, and if you don’t hit your goal they get their money back and don’t get stuck with a credit card bill for an inferior product. And people love to be heroes – people wanted to be the one to help us hit $10,000, or be the one to push us over the $18,000 goal.

5. Set aside time to do the work

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – fundraising is hard work. I probably averaged 2-3 hours a day to make this happen. It was challenging, exhausting and so rewarding, not just financially.

6. Make it fun

If it ain’t fun, then why do this? We created some really fun rewards, we scheduled Kickstarter parties during the 40 days, and we even scheduled a club gig the last night of our campaign. Talk about commitment! I figured we would both hit our goal and have an incredible celebration, or we would have a gig that was very depressing – and no one wanted that to happen!

7. Give Thanks

Keeping in contact with all the backers during the campaign was important, but now it is even more important to touch base and thank them for making our dream a reality. We really could not have done this without their support. The final project is months from completion, but now is the time to thank them and keep them in the loop. These 250 people are going to be our advocates when the final album arrives!

Check out Gorge Kahn’s music at To view their Kickstarter project, click HERE.

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