I spend a lot of time thinking about how artists can make money and writing about how artosts can make money. One of the newer topics I am covering in my talks at music conferences and on my vlog series Sound Advice is crowdfunding.
Many artists that I speak to seem interested in crowdfunding but many seem hesitant because they don’t think its OK to ask their fans for money or can’t figure out what exactly to offer them.
This week artist Phil Putnam (who is also the sales director at Ariel Publicity and a Cyber PR artist) and Brian Meece the founder of Rockethub.com have started a new blog series called “The In-Crowd” which is insiders look at crowdfunding, and will answer these questions and many more that you may have about this topic.
Each Monday, the boys are giving us an honest look at a crowdfunding project in action and dish on how things are going. Phil is not only talented and a fantastic sales director, he is also hilarious and this blog series promises to be informative and fun.
I will be cross posting here with my two cents and I would very much love to hear about your journeys with crowdfunding. This first post will give you the 411 on crowdfunding a well as some solid advice from Phil on what you need to have in place before you attempt to launch your own project.
What is crowdfunding? Find out here.
“I’m gonna vomit. Really, I am. No wait, I’m ok. Ah, nope, there’s the burn. I’m gonna blow.”
My internal monologue has run something like that for the past week. There’s also been “$10,000 in 75 days…$10,000 in 75 days…$10,000 in 75 days… …,” and “I swear, even if dragons fly down from heaven and breathe fire across 7th Avenue, I will NOT spend another night stuck at my laptop. I WILL go to the gym!”
My crowdfunding project launched today, and it is not for the faint of heart. I mean, there’s dragons involved. It is, however, for artists who genuinely love their fans/friends and want to carve out prime space in the creative process for them. The crowdfunding lightbulb went on for me in May while I was sitting 15 feet away from Brian (Meece) at one of the Networking parties we throw at Ariel’s place. He looks like a character from a Michael Cera movie and rocks the Tom Ford-esque glasses without the faintest trace of irony. Clearly, he’s good times. He also, along with his incredible RocketHub co-founder Vlad Vukicevic, was the answer to a question that had been nagging me for months. “My friends/fans respond most to my personality, even more than to my music…how do I put my personality to work?” Crowdfunding; that’s how.
Crowdfunding relies on the strength of the relationships you’ve built with your friends/fans. Do they like you? Do they want to have experiences with you? Have you invested enough time in your relationships with them to support the involvement you’re asking them to take in your career? That’s the ball game. Fortunately, relationship-building is my language. It’s my love. It’s where I live, as a total interaction-junkie, and that’s why I’m on facebook 97 hours a day and have 4,600 friends and know most of their pets names and favorite vodkas and WOW characters. Most importantly, it’s why I make music. To me, music is a conversation, an interaction, a relationship with my fans/friends, and as in all relationships that are dear to us, there comes a time when you ask for money.
Money is funny, and it always has relationship consequences when exchanged among friends. I was raised in a white suburban sorta kinda WASPy home, and was taught that there’s something unsavory about asking friends for money. But in the crowdfunding context, there’s something really exciting about it. I mean, if you’re in my wallet, you’re in my life and I’m in yours, and that’s a relationship going on there.
So, relationship is GO. Campaign is launched, and I’ve already learned a lot. Here are some nuts and bolts, pre-launch stuff and all:
1. Lead Time – plan at least 6 weeks of pre-launch prep time into your crowdfunding time line. You need time to make your project video, select and fine tune the rewards, and take note of who your True Fans are. More than anything, though, you need time to think and sleep, because you will do very little of both in the week before your launch. You will just edit video and post on facebook and eat Kettle Chips. That is all.
2. Line Up Your Ducks – identify your True Fans. They’re easy to spot; they’re the ones who respond to everything you post on facebook and Twitter. Make a True Fan list on facebook. It will make contacting them during the campaign much easier.
3. Love Yourself – i know, it’s so Oprah, but take some time to reflect on who you are because that’s exactly who you’ll need to be through your crowdfunding campaign. If you suddenly take on a pose because you’re asking for money and that’s challenging, your fans/friends will feel the shift and disconnect. They’re only going to support someone they know and trust, so be the person they know. Be You.
So, back to the vomit. I’m nervous. “$10,000 in 75 days…$10,000 in 75 days…” Big goal. Small time. Thankfully I have a fantastic network of friends/fans, and if I make enough VLOGs they may just get involved in this project. I am not above asking you to get involved in this project. Visit my “Songs About You” RocketHub page to check it out and give some support if you’re inclined.
I love Mondays. Heart, Phil
This spring I had the serendipitous pleasure of meeting musical artist Phil Putnam – at a networking mixer at Ariel Hyatt’s place in Brooklyn. I was impressed by his cool, confident vibe and superb knowledge of social media as applied to his art. We hit it off, exchanged CD’s and business cards, and made a plan to hang out again and talk shop further. Phil had been following the crowdfunding movement and wanted to pick my brain on how it all works. I also had questions for Phil – like how the heck does he stay in touch with over 4,600 friends on Facebook?!
At our next meeting over coffee Phil discussed a project he wanted to launch – “Songs About You” – and explained why he wanted to make it. In a nutshell – Phil explained he was looking to deepen the connection with his fans by having them actually contribute to song materials and to have other “high connection” opportunities, ranging from personal phone calls and handwritten mementos to low-tech iron-on shirts. ”This is cool” I thought, as I went through the fundamentals of crowdfunding (the principles can be found at www.RocketHub.Org). And went on to ask Phil about his impressive online (and offline) network of fans and friends: “How do you synergize these conversations with music in a very natural way?” He chuckled and said sometimes his fans were more interested in the sandwich he was eating than the song he was writing – but in the end it’s the relationships that matter. As he continued, I realized Phil holds these relationships in very high regard – and has a core value of simply caring about people. Once you meet him and speak with him, this becomes very apparent.
Today Phil launched his project on RocketHub – and the goal is pretty ambitious at $10,000. However, Phil’s rewards menu offers great value to his network – and the video he made feels like an authentic “mini-movie.” I’m excited for Phil as he launches the album – knowing the challenges he is facing firsthand – having crowdfunded my own album. The first couple of weeks of a crowdfunding campaign are key to getting traction by having folks contribute and talk about the project. This is when the true believers, the first followers, jump on board and express their passion for Phil and his music. - Brian Meece
Please do tell us about your experiences with crowdfunding here on MTT. - Ariel