[This article was written by Fiona Zwieb, a virtual assistant for indie musicians.]
Many DIY musicians have turned to crowdfunding to raise money and build a community of fans in support of upcoming albums, tours, recording projects, and more.
But with so many crowdfunding platforms to choose from, how do you know which is the best one for you?
[Editor’s note: If you’re interested in using PledgeMusic, check out our “Musician’s Guide to PledgeMusic.”]
Founded in 2013, this platform allows creators to receive funds on a regular basis for ongoing projects: think funding for a video series, music lessons, original compositions, blogs, etc.
Pentatonix famously receives about $20K a music video.
You can build your own free page to highlight your ongoing project, include a video explaining your project, and add your social links. You can choose a ‘per month’ campaign or ‘per creation’ campaign. You always want to fill out as much as possible: a full profile is a welcoming profile!
From there, you build your ‘subscription levels’: $1 can mean access to the feed on Patreon, $2 can give patrons early access to videos, $5 can allow patrons to join exclusive Google Hangouts with you, and the list goes on. It can be whatever your heart and your fanbase desires.
It’s completely free to sign up and create a page. Patreon sends funds collected to you on the 5th of the month, right to your bank account. Patreon does take 5% and any additional credit card fees, ranging from 2% to 4%.
* While your project is in action, you are able to communicate and share updates with the group of super fans on the page.
* You’re able to change or edit your goals at any time.
* You can click and download your Patron Manager (database of patrons) at anytime for your own needs/use.
Discoverability friendliness is very low for anyone browsing on the site. When you select ‘Music’ as a category, only 12 featured projects pull up. When any type of creator is able to sign up for free, it can be challenging for creators to get noticed.
Kickstarter is the most well known platform for crowdfunding today. The site is credited with 20,152 successfully funded campaigns in the music category since its launch in 2009.
You build your own fundraising page for free and select your funding goal, include a video explaining your venture, whether it be raising money for an album release, tour, etc., and then set your deadline.
The most creative and fun part of using crowdfunding is selecting your ‘rewards’ to people who contribute to your goal. This can be anything you can think of, and a great way to get creative and cater to your fanbase!
You have to set a deadline of 1-60 days after the launch to meet your goal. If you don’t meet your goal by your deadline, you get nada. If your project is successfully funded, Kickstarter takes a 5% fee of total funds collected, plus 3%-5% to Amazon Payments, which processes contributions. You are paid after a 14-day window has passed after your deadline date.
* While you are building your Kickstarter site, you can send your draft as you build your site with bandmates or colleagues to get feedback before launching (IndieGoGo does this too).
* They give you access to stats on where your backers are coming from, giving you an opportunity to expand marketing in those areas.
* After the campaign is over, you can stay in communication with the community of fans you created on your Kickstarter page to update them on what you are doing with the funds and fulfill rewards right from the site.
Kickstarter accepts roughly 80% of all proposed campaigns, NOT because they’re choose-y or censoring, but because a campaign MUST meet the rules and guidelines of the platform. Kickstarter is focused on projects of an artistic or creative nature though, so the platform is friendly to musicians.
The oldest of the three, founded in 2008, IndieGoGo is similar to Kickstarter but differs in that it allows anyone from anywhere to create a crowdfunding site. (Well, as long as it’s not pornographic or illegal). Inc. reports that Indiegogo averages $15,000 raised per campaign.
You can build your own fundraising page for free, enter your funding goal, include a video explaining your venture, and then set the deadline for your goal. From there, you build your rewards, catering to your fanbase.
Your deadline is 1-120 days after the launch to meet your goal. You can choose ‘Flexible Funding’ or ‘Fixed Funding.’ If you choose ‘Flexible Funding,’ they take only 4% of the total if the goal is met, and 9% of the total if it’s not, plus additional processing fees of 2.9%. If you choose ‘Fixed Funding,’ like Kickstarter, you’ll be charged 4% if you reach your goal but receive zero funds if you don’t. Payment is usually within 15 days after your deadline passes.
* They pride themselves on their analytics for your patrons, saying they “empower you with the most insights of any platform, so you can run the best campaign.”
* Pages are within categories and subcategories: ‘Final Countdown,’ ‘New This Week,’ and ‘Most Funded’ — and patrons can filter their search if desired by location, status, nonprofits, and more.
* They offer a best-practices handbook, giving very helpful step by step recommendations and how-to’s, especially useful for first-timers or DIY musicians.
Although they organize their site and search tools well, the fact that they accept anyone – including individuals seeking funds for a new car – makes it hard to get noticed through it all.
Now that you know what’s involved with each platform as far as setup, payment structure and little extras, you can take each into consideration the next time you’re planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign. If you’re in a group ensemble that does cover songs in a creative way, Patreon could be the best option for your video series. If your project has a charitable aspect to it, IndieGogo with Flexible funding might be the best route. If you’ve got a strong fan base and a strong album concept, Kickstarter could be the one to help you fund your new project.
In the end, it’s not all about which platform you use, but more about how you promote your project and market your crowdfunding camapign to your supporters that will determine how successful it will be. Utilize all the resources out there to make it work for you, and happy crowdfunding.
Author bio: Fiona Zwieb is a professional virtual assistant that works specifically in the music industry. Follow her on Twitter at @fionazwieb.