The Crowdfunding Quandry: Sales Vs. Art Vs. The Little Voice Inside Your Head
August 27, 2010
Ariel Hyatt in Creating a Strong Community, Crowdfunding

“The In-Crowd” is an inside look at crowdfunding, with Ariel Publicity Artist Phil Putnam and co-founder Brian Meece.  Each Monday, the boys are giving us an honest look at a crowdfunding project in action and dish on how things are going each week. From time to time Ariel weighs in as well. What is crowdfunding?  Find out here.

What does it look like?  See here.
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Ariel Says:

I have been watching this project since it has started.  Full disclosure Phil works with me and I see him a few days a week. Here we are at WEEK 9(ish):  60 days in, with 15 days remaining.  Phil has $3,888 raised (39% of the $10,000 goal), and $6,112 needed to get to his goal. It’s been a journey to have a front row seat during this process.  As you may know I believe that crowd funding is a vital tool that artists will be using for the foreseeable future and I have been blogging a series here on MTT called in Defense of 1,000 True Fans, where I have been interviewing artists who are proving the model and creating sustainable livings from their music.  Phil points out that 200,000 people have been exposed in some way to his campaign and that 0.0003% people engaged.  I would like to point out a few other things.

First of all I want to commend Phil: To have 60 True Fans or “Super Fans” (the amount of people who have contributed to his campaign so far) is no mean feat.  Especially since Phil very rarely performs live and he has not had a mass exposure event (such as a placement on a major TV show).  These are two factors that seem to make major impact for artists, according to the interviews I have conducted so far.

 The Rule of 7

The marketing aphorism that your message must be seen at least 7 times before people take notice is probably truer today than ever before.  With the thousands of messages we see I bet is more like 10 or more before people really take notice.  There is a great article on that here: that I want to refer to because it brings up another very important point:  I love this article by Andrea J. Stenberg What is the Rule of Seven? And How Will it Improve Your Marketing? because it addresses:


“So why do prospects need to hear your message so many times before taking action? If you are doing your marketing well…You have created powerful marketing materials that use language your target audience relates to. You speak to their major problems and how you can solve them. Why don’t they jump to their feet and grab what you have to offer the first time they see your message?”

One MAJOR problem here is the fact that music unlike marketing a problem doesn’t exactly solve “major problems” for fans.  Music won’t help you lose weight, or keep your house clean or whiten your teeth.  People have to have an emotional connection to music in some way, which in my opinion can be largely fostered from having people see you play live.  So, the fact that people heard Phil on one podcast didn’t motivate them to invest heavily in his campaign because it was only one touch.  He did reach a lot of people but not enough.

Here’s the second thing: The way this process can make an artist feel.  Phil won’t say it because he tends to be one of the most positive people I have ever met however I could see as his friend, his publicist and his work colleague that this campaign felt confronting on many levels because asking friends and fans and family for money conjures up the little voice we all have inside our heads that tries to convince us we don’t deserve it, or we aren’t good enough or smart enough or whatever your little evil voice says to you.

And, it’s not what an artist signs up to do. An artist wants to practice, create music and play not market sell and constantly ask for money and unfortunately in this world of 7 (at least) you are all forced to ask over and over again no matter what your circumstance.

Phil my friend, It’s not over yet and I commend you for your braveness.  I think that what you did is amazing because so few artists make $3,888 from selling their music. So maybe this year you don’t get to your goal but next year you WILL.

And in the end, win or lose I’m proud of you that you took yourself out of your own comfort zone and asked yourself to grow and expand in many ways that you probably can’t see just yet. Many people will benefit from your honesty and your effort. And Quit?  Not your style at all….  


Phil Says:

Having been raised in a WASP-ish household, I grew up understanding that social graces matter.  RSVP to invitations.  Never arrive at a party empty-handed (extra points if what you have in your hand is vodka).  A drunk bride is unforgivably tacky.  Don’t overstay your welcome.  Wear clean underwear, in case you get hit by a car, go to the hospital, and the medical community concludes that you’re a filthy slut.  And above all, handle every circumstance, good or bad, with style, satin wit, and grace.

You gotta recognize when people aren’t laughing at your jokes.  You gotta know when you’ve lost the room.  You just gotta be able to see when they’re not interested.  And that’s what I’ve done.  In general, people just aren’t interested in my crowdfunding project.  Besides the 60 sensational, faithful, deeply cherished friends and fans of mine who have supported the project, the rest of my community of fans/friends just don’t care.  Well, maybe they care, but the best I can see is that they’re indifferent.  Indifference speaks.  Caring acts.  Over the past 60 days, over 200,000 people have heard about this project directly from me, whether during podcast and radio interviews, videos they’ve viewed, facebook posts they’ve commented on and liked.  Over 200,000 people are aware of this project, and only 60 have taken action to support it.  That’s a 0.0003% response rate.  Three thousandths of a percent.  There’s no pretty way to paint that; it’s just not happening.  They’re just not interested, so I’m just not trying to push them to be.  Not anymore.  The party has crested, I’ve grabbed my coat, and I’m making the goodbye rounds gracefully.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quitting the project before the full 75 days have passed.  WASPs don’t quit.  Good lord, WASPs just don’t quit.  Anything.  Quitters never prosper.  Quitters don’t go to Yale.  Quitters lose their country club membership.  And now my grandfather is crying.  Nice.  See how quitting tears families apart.  I’m not quitting, but I have essentially stopped pushing the project to my fans/friends.  No more new videos, no more facebook posts, no more “Please get involved” status messages and tweets.  Once it became clear that they weren’t interested, I started doing this cost/benefit foxtrot in my head, which you also will instinctively do if you’re ever in this situation.  I could see that it would take a massive promo push to have a chance of raising all the money, and I could also see that my fans/friends would become seriously aggravated, and then alienated, if I kept shoving the project at them.  I looked beyond the end of this project, this phase that is one short piece of a very long career still in front of me, and saw that it’s not worth souring their future allegiance for the sake of this present project that is, by all reasonable expectations, going to fail.  I want my community with me for the long haul, and to make that happen I have to let this one go.  So I did.  I have.

Barring some astonishing miracle of hellacious generosity, I will not raise all $10,000 and the Songs About You album will not be made.  That’s cool.  I’m okay with that.  The RocketHub team and I worked our asses off for this and it didn’t work.  Some projects fail.  Sometimes they fail publicly.  I have no problem failing publicly.  I’m content to fail because I love to learn, I love to grow, and I love to share my experience with others so that they can learn too.  Hence this blog.  There are still 15 days left in the countdown, and still a couple more entires to come in this series, in which I’m going to genuinely enjoy gathering up the good that has come from this journey and gratefully proclaim that nothing is ever a complete loss.  I’ll take warm delight in being that well-heeled gentleman who departs right on time and thanks the host on his way out the door.

We musicians can take a page from the WASP handbook.  We can handle every circumstance, good or bad, with style, satin wit, and, above all else, grace.

Brian Says:

One of the fun things about Crowdfunding a music project on RocketHub is that it allows you to gauge project demand, test the market without risk and tweak accordingly.

Phil has a very high-concept album project framed around co-writing songs about his fans.  So far the demand has been good, but not overwhelming for this particular project and this is valuable information to have.  To gauge and test without risk, the funding method is “all or nothing” so if Phil is unable to raise the goal amount within the selected time limit, the project is scrubbed and contributed funds are credited back to Fuelers. This protects his fans from getting a sub-standard product – and protects Phil from having to make something when the demand (and funding) is not in place.

To be clear, Phil has had a high number of people contribute to his project  - over 60 so far.  Phil has also managed to raise close to $4,000.  These are solid numbers for any musician.  Plus Phil still has two weeks to raise roughly $6000 – which is also not impossible.  The bigger picture happening here is that Phil is getting valuable feedback from his network regarding this project – and this feedback will serve him well regardless of the campaign outcome.  This makes Phil a winner for taking the plunge and putting his emotions on the line.

Want to participate?  It’s not too late!


Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
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