As a vocalist and co-writer for 3 very cool electronic projects, Balligomingo, Sleepthief and now DJ Ryan Farish, I have had songs on the Billboard charts and videos with over 100,000 views. I have been able to be a part of creating and releasing music almost yearly. It’s been super rad and I have LOVED all of it but deep down inside I am also a solo artist and have been writing my own material the whole time as well.
Last year I decided it was time to start demoing my own material. Our household income goes to caring for our family and with nothing left over for my addiction to creation it fell to me to barter, trade and find the budget to demo. I was able to get a good footing and some action on 4 songs but when the $500 I had scraped together had run out and I needed at least another $300 to record pianos and re-do some vocals my friend and co-producer Scott Ord suggested I look into crowdfunding. The light bulb went off and the next year of my life was in wonderful motion. I explored the crowdfunding platforms and chose PledgeMusic. These are the 5 mistakes I made during my campaign and how to fix them.
All eager to succeed and get my music out there I figured I’d raise the money in less than a month, record immediately and have a finished product mixed, mastered and manufactured in no time.
My campaign went LIVE in November 16th, 2012 and the last of my exclusives/CDs were put into the mail on October 29th 2013.
Keep in mind that when all goes well it’s possible to get your record finished and delivered in no time but things pop up from producers having other better paying projects running long to computer issues when designing your cover. Give yourself time to honestly deliver your product to your fans. They’ll appreciate your honesty and awareness. Also make sure to keep them up on what’s happening and they’ll be pretty forgiving.
2. Underestimating cost and setting the right ‘Posted Goal’ amount
As much money that you might be able to raise keep in mind that you could always use more. With Pledge you don’t get your money until you hit your posted goal amount so keeping it lower to ensure you will get funding is great but then once you hit your 100% people think you’ve raised all the money you need to record and pledges can slow down immeasurably. Remember that one song really could prosper with the use of real strings or that you might have to retrack the piano when you get home from LA and pay an extra $500 for that day in the studio.
It’s a fine balance between how much you think your fans will kick in and being realistic with how much you’ll need to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Between those 2 numbers you’ll find the right ‘Posted Goal’ so you’re able to get your funding as well as afford the record you want to make.
PledgeMusic is a great service and wonderful opportunity in the new music industry model, however they don’t work for free. They take 15% of all the money you raise. Beyond that you can also agree to give a % of your pledges to a charity of your choice. I agreed to give 10% after I’ve reached my posted goal to a charity. As my ‘Posted Goal’ was too low to actually record a full album now I also had to earn an extra 25% to meet my expenses.
I had a friend who pointed out to me ‘Why are you giving it to charity when you’re already the charity’. I had to laugh because he’s right. It’s great to give back for sure but perhaps keeping it to a lower amount or making yourself available to play shows for or at your charity makes more sense. So do give back but again remember your costs of recording, mixing, mastering, designing, manufacturing, and SHIPPING, sometimes to fans who live on the other side of the world, adds up and as wonderful as it is to give to a charity if you can’t complete your project and deliver it to your fans you’re shooting yourself in the foot to really be in a position to give.
What is it you really have in you to make for your fans? I offered handwritten thank you notes and lyric sheets as 2 different exclusives. I love that idea! But as the day came to start fulfilling those pledges I was completely reminded of how I fractured my hand at the age of 11 and now decades later all the writing I do is barely legible and only for creative purposes. Anytime I have to write for more than 10 minutes in a way that people can read what I’m writing my hand cramps and the pain sets in. Next time I will keep this in mind and offer only a set amount of them for a larger pledge amount making them more of an exclusive exclusive and offer other items I am more able to create without pain. Lol.
Also I’m more aware now of what it is that I can offer that is exclusive to who I am as an artist as well as a person that my fans might enjoy. Be aware of what you really want to be making for them so you can do it joyfully and in good time.
This is not an exercise in stress or disappointment! You’ve got to be open to go with the flow and trust the unfolding of your record.
There will be challenges and hold ups but all in all your fans are there for you and helping you do what you love to do! So be grateful and enjoy the process because if you’re lucky you’ll get to do it over and over again.