Crowd funding, or the practice of using an Internet-based platform to gain funds for a creative project, has officially gone mainstream. In 2012 no one could escape the seemingly endless stream of media stories of artists, especially musicians and performers, that used several platforms to attain much-needed funding for their creative projects.
The most famous of these artists is Amanda Palmer. She used the platform Kickstarter to raise over $1 million dollars independently to help fund her musical ventures. Tagged as the it girl, media darling, poster child and model case study of what independent artists should do to gain success on their own without having to compromise their art for corporate interests, Palmer has been reported on from CNN to The New York Times. She even recently gave an exclusive TED talk entitled “The Art of Asking”, in which she gives a personal account of how she has used her fans as a prime source assistance to help fuel and finance her career as an independent music artist.
From the many websites that are now available online (Kickstarter, Pledge Music, Indiegogo, RocketHub, Indaba Music) coupled with the success of Palmer and other artists success using said tools, it’s easy for an artist at the independent level to get a bit gassed up about the potential of crowd funding and what amount of work is truly required of an artist that may go this route to fund their next big creative project, be it an album, tour, merchandise, studio time, video footage, or all of the above. But it’s also important to remember some of the following tips should an artist decide to delve into the new crowd funding phenomenon.
Have a strategy and know what you want to accomplish– Simply going onto Kickstarter and asking for money won’t get it done. Know what you want to get funded from the outset: T-shirts? Studio time? Album artwork? None of it is cheap. Have something tangible that you want to attain.
Do your best to have something to give that people actually want –It’s already common knowledge that music fans in this day and age want (and many times deserve) more from their favorite artists. Ranging from exclusive online content to dinner with the artist, knowing how to give fans what they want and showing appreciation for their support is all the more crucial in crowd funding.
Find and learn the crowd funding tool that best suits your needs…then own it – Not all crowd funding sites are made equal. You can do certain things on Kickstarter that you can’t do on Pledge Music, and so on. Once you’ve identified which platform is best for you, become a master at it and learn all the ins, outs, ups, downs and quirks until other artists are coming to you for advice.
The thing is: there’s still a lot about the practice of crowd funding that we don’t know. But with all of the success that has been garnered from it in the past two years, clearly it has already become a vital and nearly irreplaceable element of the music and arts-centered industries. Stay tuned for further developments.