So you know those songs I’ve been collecting in my online songbook for the past 18 months? Well it’s time to do something with them…like, record them at a studio or something.
Since I am only one man, and cannot fund this massive project alone, I am asking you to help me get it done. I’m talking about crowdsourcing, using an online service called Indiegogo, and yes those are both real things. I swear I’m not making them up. I’ll try to anticipate all the questions you might have in this post, but as always I welcome any additional questions/comments you have.
Please visit my campaign website, take a look at the perks, and support the project at whatever level is comfortable for you. Every bit helps! My awesome-sauce campaign
If you’re not all about clicking on links then here’s the embedded campaign video.
I hope that shows you how much I care about getting this music produced so I can share it with you. Please consider helping to make that possible by supporting the campaign and sharing it with your friends, family and co-workers.
Thanks. You Rock. If you still have no idea what I’m talking about please read on…
What is Crowdsourcing?
You won’t find this word in the dictionary…yet. Crowdsourcing is the fancy-pants name for a new kind of fundraising strategy. One that is entirely democratic in nature and is poised to take certain industries back from the hands of corporations and governments. I’m going to ignore all talk of the politics of it (maybe save that for a later post) and talk instead about the mechanism of it and how it works with music business.
A brief history….Arts have seldom been funded by the artist. Artists are not known for being independently wealthy and have, in many cultures, been considered a lower class. They relied on the patronage of nobles to make a living. When fiefdoms were replaced with representative governments some art/music was commissioned by the state, but most of it was made with the funds from privately wealthy citizens and the church. This trend continued to the modern day, and with the advent of recording technology a brand new music business popped up that concerned itself completely with the recording and distribution of music. This industry caught fire with the popularization of the radio and now musicians were not looking to governments or the wealthy to fund their music-making projects…they looked to record companies to loan them the money. The idea was that the recorded music would increase their popularity so that when they did a live performance they could make money by charging admission, and ultimately pay back the loan to the record company. The problem is that this isn’t a sustainable way to have a career in music. Only the very, very few at the top of the popularity pyramid would actually be able to make it work. Then, another problem hit…computers.
With digital sharing, copying music became easy and virtually untraceable. It’s much easier to copy a file than a vinyl disc or a tape (unless you don’t mind signal degradation). The companies were bleeding profits…those margins got transferred two places: to the consumer and the artist. This means that buying music is more expensive and the loans and deals to get it made were worse. Then on top of it all…recession. People didn’t have an extra $80 to spend on concert tickets, or an extra $20 to spend on a new CD in a retail store. In fact, many people found that cover charges were too much of an imposition and stopped going to places that asked for them. All this is bad news for someone operating in that company-based music system. But then someone had a brilliant idea…
“What if, instead of asking a record company for a large amount of money I just asked the people that love my music to each chip in a small amount of money? With enough people I could get the same amount and produce the album myself.”
That’s crowdsourcing. You ask many, many people to each support at a small amount to add up to a goal that you predetermine will fund your musical project. It’s completely democratic…the music that people want to hear will get made. The music they don’t want to hear won’t get made. Wow…revolutionary. Now listeners can directly support the careers of the artists they love in a meaningful way without middle men.
So Why Not Just Ask for Money?
- Because…that’s a lost opportunity to build a community that will sustain your music career. This isn’t just about getting money…it’s about getting feedback and input. It’s about allowing those who care about your music to show it. It’s a chance to put yourself out there and be known by your fans and to get to know them. The money is nice, but if you don’t build meaningful relationships around the music you’re trying to create there will be nobody to listen to it once it is done.
- Because you need transparency and accountability. If a third party is managing your transactions, showing who supported, for how much and documents who is getting what in return for their support it really holds you to your promises and instills confidence in your request for support. It legitimizes your campaign and your project because it demonstrates foresight. In order to complete a project you must show a plan, a budget, a goal, and make a video to articulate it. That process is a lot of hard work and to do it well you have to be pretty darn prepared.
- Because you probably can’t build a cool website with all the functionality in the back-end programming that these crowdsourcing sites do. Not even close.
Sooo…What’s Indiegogo then? Is that like Kickstarter?
Yes, it’s like Kickstarter if Kickstarter were cool. Just kidding…they’re almost identical. Kickstarter has the name recogntion going for it. It also has a few drawbacks…rather that go into a point by point comparison I’ll just cut to what really matters. Kickstarter only pays you if you make your entire goal…if you don’t you get nothing. Indiegogo let’s you keep what you raise. Kickstarter only lets you pay through Amazon, it’s annoying. Indiegogo lets you pay by PayPal and by credit card, much nicer and you don’t have to create an account to do it. Indiegogo is better.
Is this a donation?
No. A donation implies that you are giving me money and getting nothing in return. With crowdsourcing there are perks and you’re making a purchase…the perks themselves are usually about %10 of the total goal amount, but the supporter knows that they are paying for a portion of the work to complete the physical perks. Many people think of it as an album pre-sale, but often artists will have lots of creative, fun perks and this is a good time to get a deal on something. In my campaign I offer private shows, parties, tshirts, food, photgraphy, etc. All the perks are designed to give the supporter something of adequate value while still costing me about 10% of the support amount so the majority of the money can be used on creating the music, as the supporter intended.
How can I be sure that you will deliver on the perks if I support you?
You’ll just have to trust me. Working in your favor is the fact that this is a wholly transparent and public process in a business built entirely on relationships where you sink or swim based on your reputation. If I had a reputation as a cheat that took people’s money and went back on his word then my music in the future would be as worthless as the blank CD’s that I can’t fill because I can’t get anyone to trust me enough to back my next album. It’s problematic and short sighted for me to do that to you, so I won’t. Plus, it’s mean.
So here we go, a month of craziness and then hopefully I’ll have the means to begin recording these tunes for you! Fingers crossed…
On second thought, nah, you guys are awesome. I know you’ll get us there, so instead I’ll say…”Go Team!”