Recently there has been a lot of talk about fan/crowd funding for bands, this is essentially the idea of getting fans to pay in advance for the recording and production costs to make albums. This allows you to be free of record company/bank debt. There are sites like Pledge Music, Kickstarter or Rocket-Hub that can run the whole thing for you or you can do it fairly easily yourself. Its an idea that is becoming more and more popular. It really gets fans involved from the beginning, even some of the bigger acts are starting to use this model from Gang Of Four to The Duke Special to Public Enemy!
When planning a fan-funding campaign the first thing to do is work out how much money you need to raise for your project. Don’t go too high with your target and always try and keep your costs low, on many of the fan funding sites if you don’t raise the full amount within the alloted time you get nothing. One of the advantages of doing it yourself is if you don’t make the full amount you still get to keep what you have made.
You need to think realistically, do you really have a committed enough fan base/friends and family to make it work? Its not really about how big your mailing list is, its more about how connected your audience feels to you. You may have a few really loyal fans that want to spend hundreds of pounds on you because they are really excited about hearing your next record Make sure you explain what you are raising the money for – post some demos of tracks you are working on and some video explanations, really make the effort to involve your audience. Make it so its you and them against the world.
Once you have a target consider whether to use a site which specializes in fan funding or to just have a page on your website for the project and do it yourself. The advantages of using an already set up crowd funding site is that there may well be people on their looking for artists/projects to fund and these sites lend your fan funding project some legitimacy. On the other side some fan funding sites have had financial problems (i.e. Sellaband) and have caused problems with bands not getting paid and fans not getting refunds. If you do it yourself you will get to keep a larger percentage of the money you make.
To set up a fan funding page is fairly simple using Paypal purchase buttons, these services are available to everyone with a Paypal account. Jason Parker has Paypal buttons on his site for different pricing tiers of his CD from $10 to $100. This allows people to buy into a project at any level they want. An interesting point is that many artists say the most popular price point tends to be around £20. This is much higher than the average price of a CD and proves fans want to support music when they are passionate about it. With this method they know the money is going to the artist, not some faceless record company or retailer.
Fan funding payment tiers can range from a single CD for £5 to a Deluxe CD/House Concert for £1000 or more. Here are some examples for products and pricing tiers.
£10 – A basic CD
£15 – A signed CD
£25 – Signed CD and T-Shirt
£50 – CD plus handwritten lyric sheet
£100 – CD plus Skype Guitar Lesson
£200 – The band will send you postcards while on tour
£500 – A helicopter trip with the band
£700 – A personalised song
£1000 – House concert acoustic gig
With the products the more unusual and unique to the artists the better. Make it all about the personality of the band involved and be honest to your overall artistic vision. Limit the numbers of the top end packages to make them special. Some artists also like to give a percentage of the money they raise to a charity.
Of course this all depends on how much support you have from your friends/fans. Use all your social media channels from Facebook to Twitter to Youtube to engage your fans with the project. Make sure you keep your audience involved along the way. Let them know how much money has been raised and make short videos/blogs/podcasts talking about the process of funding and making the record. Why not do a special gig with a Live Unsigned listing and Facebook event to start the project off?
Crowd funding is a great way for making people feel part of a project and really engage with your fan base in an honest way without having to sell the rights to the music business. Its a wonderful thing to make an album knowing that there is an audience already waiting for it.