In the past, money was a huge barrier for musicians, and one of the main reasons many were forced to tie themselves to a record label. Today, many musicians are finding their own ways to creatively fund their albums and tours, with the most popular option being crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a huge undertaking, but, if done correctly, you can come out of it with a whole lot more than just money. It also presents dedicated and creative artists a chance to connect with their fans in a whole new way.
Learn how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign with these 5 tips:
1. It takes a crowd.
I think a lot of people mistake crowdfunding for an endless well of money, but, the sky is not the limit. The amount of money you can raise is entirely dependant on the size of your fan base – your crowd. Generally, the more fans you have the more money you will be able to raise, although there are other variables like fan dedication and income level. Amanda Palmer was able to raise upwards of a million because she has a huge, dedicated fanbase with spare cash to throw around. Pretty much the perfect scenario.
There’s no way to tell exactly how dedicated your fans are and how much money they would be willing to donate, but you can look at some figures to get a better idea. Look at how many people you have on your email list, how many people come to your shows, and how many people you have following you on social media. Don’t assume that every one of your fans will donate – even the most amazing musician in the world couldn’t accomplish that.
There’s a buzzword I see popping up a lot lately in articles about how to become a career artist: superfans. The idea is that if you have a subset of your fans who will support everything you do – buy every album you release, go to all your shows, buy all your merch – then you can build a sustainable career with the support of these hyper-dedicated fans.
As someone who has made a career as an independent artist, I have found no better way to build a collection of superfans than partnering with existing fans to put on deeply connective concerts in their homes. The remarkable success I’ve experienced with this model has led me to abandon traditional club touring, instead performing almost 150 house concerts in the last 2 years.
House concerts are the most connective, fulfilling, and rewarding performance experiences I’ve had as an artist. I’ve built relationships with fans at house concerts that have turned into meaningful friendships. And those connections go both ways; it’s not surprising to hear a guest at a house concert say, “I’ve never been to anything like this before and it’s the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time!”
I’ve thought a lot about why house concerts are so good at turning audience members into committed fans. I think it comes down to intimacy, exclusivity, and connection.
Social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans. However, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – after all, you still need to sell your record or tickets to your show. Here’s 10 secrets to help you find that social media balance.
Socializing is, by nature, a two-way exchange. Try holding a conversation with someone with your ears plugged. Social media is talking with your audience! There are other tools out there for talking at an audience. Make it a habit to read comments and messages. You’d do the same on your personal accounts, wouldn’t you? By listening to your fans you could also get valuable information like what new song they are digging the most or what they liked about your show last night.
2. Leverage Online and Offline
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While some artists have managed to build their career on one channel, most of us need to find a balance of online and offline. Maybe you leverage Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and some local shows in your area. The key is to think about how you can send fans from online to offline and visa versa. You need to create a flow.
All the rage, at least with regards to income from digital music distribution, has been centered around YouTube monetization. However, the problem is that many artists are misinformed on even the basic strategy about obtaining more views and subscribers, which ultimately leads to more income.
We stumbled upon a very informative case study from Flight Drummers on how they were able to build their YouTube subscriber base and capture 500,000+ views in a 10 month time frame.
Check out the entire article below and see if you can adapt some of their strategy to help improve your results!
As an avid marketing blog reader, my inbox and Feedly are constantly filled with fantastic marketing techniques on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.
Although I use these social media sites heavily, I’d like to bring in another extremely powerful (often overlooked) marketing platform to the table—YouTube.
At the beginning of 2013, my business partner and I decided to attempt a different marketing tactic for our (slow) growing drumming education company, Flight Drummers.
We constantly used Facebook and Twitter as our prime marketing resources, but it was soon apparent that the dream wouldn’t last long if we didn’t pick up more traffic or make more sales.
That month, we studied our competition hard and realized that Youtube was a rare marketing commodity in the drumming industry. Sure, a majority of drumming education companies had Youtube channels, but the view count, subscriber count, and interaction was minimal.
Seeing as this was a difficult marketing strategy for competition in our niche, we decided to capitalize on their weakness by filming some Youtube videos.
The following month, we geared up, filmed, edited nearly 70 videos, and began harnessing the true power of Youtube.
Within three months, we had accumulated more than 100,000 Youtube views with 1,800 subscribers, and by month 10, had generated 500,000+ views, accumulated a Youtube subscriber base of more than 8,400 people, and established paid members in 14 countries—primarily through Youtube.
Despite our current success with Youtube marketing, it wasn’t until we began following these eight steps, that we began to experience 2,000-3,000 views per day (5,000-7,000 views on release days) and a highly interactive subscriber base.
It’s almost spring and you know what that means…TAX PREPARATION TIME! This can be a very daunting time of year for most indie musicians; however, our good friends at SonicBids has written a great article to give you a helping hand
If April 15th isn’t already circled on your calendar, then the constant barrage of TurboTax and H&R Block advertisements will soon have you sweating about filing your taxes. Until software programmers come out with a package especially for us musicians, there are some basic things you’ll want to know – even if you hire a professional to help – to save yourself time and stress with tax prep.
As a self-employed musician, you need to know more about taxes than the average worker bee. You may be earning money from several different sources (solo gigs, session work, teaching, recording, songwriting, merchandise, etc.), so it’s important to know how to keep track of everything and which tax forms you’re required to file.
So gather your receipts and check stubs, and let’s talk about need-to-know tax info for you and your band.
One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. Here are 5 great strategies with real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.
1. Make a Plan from the Start
Making a great plan is one of the best ways to get to that music success you deserve. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be.
Try to make your goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.” Break down your lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.
If there is one thing that almost every musicians dreams of, it is of that first major tour. Its that feeling of playing night after night, in the best venues of all of the major cities around the world, and always to a sold out crowd. But before that will ever happen, you need to answer one major question: Do you have a plan? If not, you can be sure to kiss that dream goodbye. And if you do have a plan, is it good enough? Music is a business just as anything else, and as such it is your job to play entrepreneur and marketer. While it is your product or service you are trying to sell, it is also your job to expose your music to the public.
First we will take a look at forming a proper plan, followed by exploring different strategies for putting that plan into action. The following are very important steps to ensuring that you have a proper plan in place before you even attempt to get that first gig:
1) CHOOSE THE RIGHT VENUES
Every venue has its own style, and is known for showcasing music of specific genres. Some venues are known to hold rock concerts, other are known for hip-hop, so on and so forth. It all comes down to the location, and the surrounding music scene. Picking the right venue for your gigs is very important, as is the first step towards growing your core fan-base, which will ultimately increase the attendance at your gigs. If your not playing to a crowd who won’t absolutely love your music, then you haven’t targeted your audience correctly.
As with any well thought-out marketing strategy, the first important step in promoting yourself and building your brand is knowing who your audience is. If you are trying to build a core fan-base, you better be sure you know who that crowd will consist of. If you are playing acoustic folk/rock, don’t play in a club for people who are looking to dance to reggatone. The same thing goes for hip-hop artists- don’t play in a coffee shop filled with art students who listen to indie rock.
Getting a record deal is the musician equivalent of a high school ball player making it pro, only with fewer head injuries and lower odds of an overdose. Two albums into my career as a rapper, I had a hit song, and the recording industry whisked me off to Hollywood. My fairy tale lasted 11 months before they abruptly dropped me from my recording contract without ever releasing my album, despite my first single going gold (selling over 600,000 copies in just a few months).
In that short time, I got a crash course in the recording industry: how it works, how they exploit and manipulate young talent, and how to go from having nothing to everything to nothing again in a very short period of time. My name is Spose, and this is an inside look at how the sausage is made.
Chances are, if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, you’re doing too much. You have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr account, and maybe more. You may not even realize it, but you find yourself wishing you’d start that business, try for that dream job, or make that record… and you don’t because of “obligations” or “responsibilities”, or worse yet, simple “lack of time.” I’m with you. I’ve been there. Unfortunately for us as humans, this doesn’t get easier as we grow older and add families or children to the mix, so it’s best that we learn how to handle it now. No more excuses. It’s time to trim the fat.
This rule applies to people as well as activities. You know those friends I’m talking about; the ones who seem to disappear until they have a favor to ask of you. Though removing yourself from unbalanced friendships may have its difficulties now, the rewards in time and creative energy down the road are exponential.
While the term “independent” in the music industry generally refers to running your own career, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it alone. This is one part of the puzzle that I find many creatives miss. I know I certainly did. The beauty of being an “independent” artist is that you’re suddenly the boss of your own career; the CEO and founder of your music, and it’s your job to build a team under you.
So how do we do this? If you’ve followed rule #1, you should have already eliminated anything that isn’t necessary to do. With what’s left, ask yourself if it’s necessary that You specifically do the task, or if someone else could do it for you, possibly even better than you. [side-note: I don’t generally suggest delegation of creative work. That’s what you enjoy, remember!?] If it’s work that you personally need to do, [for example, communicating with your fans] I move it onto the next rule. Otherwise, I find a way to delegate it.
Below is a question/answer conversation with EricTheReDD, the former general manager of WJSC-FM (Johnson State College, Vermont), about his experience with college radio and everything it takes to get your music played on a college radio station.
Would you mind introducing yourself? What station did you work for and how long were you there?
My radio handle is EricTheReDD; former General Manager of WJSC-FM. I started at WJSC in September 2003 as a volunteer DJ and slowly worked my way up the ranks. I became assistant to the Production Manager after a few weeks of kissing ass. There ended up being a mass exodus of upper-management and I rose quickly to the position of General Manager; a title I held (through an electoral process) for 4.5 consecutive years. I took the position once more when our then-GM was forced out for violating station rules involving drugs and alcohol in the studio and I held the position in-interim until elections when I chose not to run and resumed my duties of Program Director, Music Director and DJ until I finally stepped away in May 2012. In total, I worked at WJSC for just shy of 9 years; holding every management position at least once, overseeing two radical format changes, re-branding, building of a brand-new station and complete overhaul of our on-air booth in the process.
Since I left the station has reverted to a fully open radio format (very common for college radio) and plays everything from bluegrass to metal to show-tunes and plenty of everything else in-between.
How many packages did you receive from bands every day? How many of them actually ended up getting opened and listened to? If not 100% of them, why did some of them get tossed aside?
Very few packages came directly from the artist; they normally came from labels or promotional companies. But a package was a package and all we cared about was getting it to the proper recipient. A lot of labels rely heavily on the promotion and spins that college radio can provide and therefore stagger their releases to ensure a present student body. Hence, few lesser-known bands release albums over the summer but there’s an explosion of releases in the fall.
Every package gets opened. EVERY. SINGLE. PACKAGE. And every day is different. Some days we’d receive a postal container full of packages and sometimes we’d maybe get one or two. It depended heavily on the labels we were affiliated with, their release calendar, and other factors like that. Typically, we split up the mail by genre; each sub-director being responsible for their own share. Mine was Hard Rock / Metal / Punk. I’d open my packages, keep the PK (Press Kit insert) with its respective disc and recycle the packaging. I would then take the stack into my office (or the production studio if it wasn’t being used) and go through the music. I’d put a disc into the player and scan through the tracks while reading the PK notes. Songs needed to grab me. Long intro, I might skip in to the minute mark. If I wasn’t dazzled in about 5 seconds per track I’d keep going through the disc.
PERSONAL RULE: I always give the title track a chance to “wow” me. In my experience, if you’re going to name the album after that track then it’s got to be something special. If the title track sucks it’s going to be tough to get me to take the rest of the album seriously.
In terms of airplay or “getting tossed aside” it comes down to democracy. The free spirit of college radio is in the DJs and we gave them free reign (within the law) over their weekly chunk of airtime. We DID have a few requirements; playing a PSA once per hour, reading something from our underwriters (businesses that donate money in exchange for mention; it’s a non-profit thing), and the coveted “PUSH” pile. Labels foamed at the mouth to get their albums into the “PUSH” pile. We would require that twice an hour the DJ pick any disc from “PUSH” and play something from it. This ensured new music was getting played and labels were getting the necessary spins to keep their executives happy. Directors would leave little post-it notes on each disc with a brief description and one or two recommended tracks to make it easier on the DJ. But at the end of the day there are still piles of albums that, for whatever reason, don’t garner much attention. They’re archived alphabetically and by genre and tucked away on the shelves. And about once every 5 years we’d go through the “vault” and clean house; selling albums that people are willing to buy and giving away the rest (typically a FREE bin outside the station was sufficient).