Fan-Funding Lessons from John Vanderslice: It’s All About Creative Rewards

Kickstarter Tips: Offer Good RewardsYou’ve all heard about fan-funding (or crowd-funding) by now, right?

Using a platform like RocketHub or Kickstarter, you can raise money for your upcoming creative project (album, tour, etc.).

You set your funding goal (the amount of $$ you want to raise), post a video telling people about your project and why they should contribute to the effort, and offer a series of tiered rewards to incentivize that funding.

If backers (contributors) collectively pledge enough money to meet or beat your funding goal, you get the cash — and they get the rewards!

Fan-funding done right: it’s all about memorable rewards.

Much has been written about how to launch a successful fan-funding campaign (and you can link to some of those articles below) — from tips for crafting an effective pitch to etiquette and follow-through — but today I want to talk about the rewards aspect of fan-funding.

One of my favorite artists, John Vanderslice, recently launched a fan-funding campaign on Kickstarter. He’s self-releasing a new album of original material, as well as a bonus album where his band recreated David Bowie’s classic Diamond Dogs.

Ermahgerd! Dermernd Dergs!

So obviously that bonus album makes a pretty sweet incentive right there! But what really impressed me were some of the bigger rewards Vanderslice is offering. Sure, he’s got autographed discographies, T-Shirts, private tours of his studio (and a lunch-date), and a lot of the other stuff you’d see on a typical Kickstarter campaign. But the coolest rewards, in my opinion, were the ones that felt most intimate.

Prizes, prizes, prizes

Here are a few of those intimate-feeling rewards from John Vanderslice’s Kickstarter campaign:

* You can be an extra in his music video, and John Vanderslice will personally apply the makeup.

* He’ll play a house concert in your living room where you get to collaborate on the set-list, have dinner beforehand, and he’ll “tweak your home stereo.”

* You can record an EP at his studio — and he’ll produce the record.

* He will marry you (to someone else). Yep, he’ll help you propose, do all the paperwork necessary to marry you in your state, officiate the wedding, bring his guitar, and “get tipsy” after the ceremony.

So, if it isn’t obvious already, what I think is brilliant is how personal these rewards feel. You get access not just to Vanderslice’s music, but to the person too. These rewards fit nicely with the ideas JV expresses in his Kickstarter video about breaking down barriers between artists and listener (presumably one of the reasons he’s using Kickstarter and self-releasing after more than a decade on labels).

What kind of memorable rewards have you offered in your fan-funding campaigns? In what creative ways have you encouraged fans to contribute to the cause? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more info on fan-funding, check out:

Fanfunding Tip: Offer Imaginative Incentives to Entice More Fans

Crowdfunding Success

Is Fan-Funding the Future of Music?

Crowdfunding Patronage: a SXSW Panel


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