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Friday
Jul022010

Interested In Crowdfunding? Watch and Learn! A Play By Play Series For You

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.

What does it look like?  See here.

WEEK 1: After 6-7 weeks of prep work, Phil’s crowdfunding campaign has launched.  “Songs About You” is live, and some money has already come in.  Exciting road ahead.

Phil Says:

“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

Brian Says:

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

Reader Comments (4)

I'm really glad you're journaling this project Ariel/Phil. I'm thinking about crowdsourcing to fund an album in the near future, but it seems like a pretty nerve wracking process. Maybe this will help give me some more perspective. Great article as always:)

July 2 | Unregistered CommenterJosiah Mann

We crowdsourced the pressings of our last EP 'Destroy' using pre-sales. We targeted the superfans and got 30 of them to buy four in advance, which was easier than selling 120 quickly.

Donations page (on old site): http://www.gwonder.com/gwonder/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=46&Itemid=53

Blog post about it: http://www.gwonder.com/destroy/blog/103-how-we-used-twitter-to-finance-our-destroy-ep.html

We needed a good HD camera. We crowdsourced that too. Took us 2 weeks to get £850. We didn't even put 'rewards' for donations up to start with, we did it as an afterthought!

Here's a blog post about it when we started: http://www.gwonder.com/destroy/blog/118-camera-not-so-obscura-hopefully.html

Another story you may know about - this isn't crowdsourcing, but to finance our new album we're doing the whole thing in our local music shop. The project is called 'Made In Nevada'.

http://gwonder.com/madeinnevada/

Hope this shows that this stuff actually works, you really do need to focus on the superfans, and it's not JUST about crowdsourcing - it's also about thinking laterally.

:)

Julian
Georgia Wonder
www.gwonder.com

July 2 | Unregistered CommenterJulian

I've been following the crowdfunding movement pretty closely. I'm most familiar with Kickstarter and like what I see there. It isn't open to everyone, which makes it more selective, and they do promote the artists they host.

There have also been some great posts by people who have used Kickstarter successfully and posts by people whose funding fell short. In other words, there's a lot of transparency which is allowing all of us to learn more.

I have a few thoughts:

1. When most bands go the crowdfunding route, I wonder if clutter will begin to overwhelm the concept as has happened for other popular music promotional tools. When every band is hoping to rally their fans, will people start tuning it all out?

2. I know one band that successful met their goal to raise a few thousands of dollars to cover their EP. Their logic was that once the EP is released, it will likely be available for free, so it is better to get whatever money they can upfront.

3. What happens when your fans have no money? I'm closely following someone who will be released a CD soon. She's not on a crowdfunding site but has been doing a variety of money-raising activities: presales, eBay auctions. She's got an international fanbase, who love her and who engage with her all the time, but I think many of them are young with limited funds, so their support comes in online conversations rather than buying anything from her.

Yeah, I share the same view. Money has indeed consequences when shared with friends. Great post and an informative one. It certainly help with my gatering of helpful bits of information on wise crowdfunding.

February 19 | Unregistered Commenterjana@ crowdfunding

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