Unfortunately, we all can’t be Regis Philbin from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”.
Nephelococcygia is the practice of doing what?
A. Finding shapes in clouds
B. Sleeping with your eyes open
C. Breaking glass with your voice
D. Swimming in freezing water
For those of you without a falsetto range, don’t worry. The answer is not C, it’s A: Finding shapes in clouds. This was the million dollar winning question on the T.V show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” For one American, this question changed his life forever, but we all aren’t millionaires, and some of us don’t really care for Regis Philibin. Finding funding to create your dream, to record your album, and to get studio time isn’t as easy as choosing A, B, C, or D. So how do musicians without million-dollar answers find the funding they need to reach their dreams? Does crowd funding really work?
You’re not going to reach stardom and fame in the music industry with your head in the clouds, nor by finding shapes in them either. Musicians know that if you want to record a full studio album, as well as promote your band outside the city you live in, there is real work to be done. Things aren’t like they used to be 20 years ago. It’s not really safe to go door to door, and you’re probably not cute enough to sell cookies and lemonade on the corner. When I first heard about crowd funding, I was a little hesitant because it’s an advertisement to the world basically saying “I Need Help.” But then I came to realize maybe it’s true! We can’t all get there on our own.
Pro-bono music just doesn’t exist anymore. If you’re like me, it’s hard to be humble and ask for money. Nobody likes a hand me down. As artists, we like to feel that we’ve earned our money. On the other hand, we have minimum wage jobs, families to feed, rent to pay, and what was once a coin jar on the kitchen counter for your next album, has now become a coin jar to fix the kitchen sink. So before you become too critical about asking for money, hear me out: I think crowd funding is a viable option and there are several ways to go about it.
Founded in 2009, Kickstarter was one of the first crowd funding companies built on the principle that the artist retains full creative control. More often than not, record labels and producers manipulate the musician’s sound more than they objectively support it. They’re in it for the money, and they believe that their two cents is deserving of their two cents (and usually more). KickStarter is different. What they’re essentially saying is, We want to help you raise the funds to create your project, and when we help you get there, we’re not going to tell you how to produce it. The con to Kickstarter: You won’t receive a single dime unless you’ve reached your funding goal. That’s right! Even if you reach 99% of your goal, you won’t get any money unless the funding has fully come in. The pro is that it motivates you to promote yourself, because no one is going to benefit from making 65% of their goal. If you reach your goal, Kickstarter will charge a 5% fee and another payment and processing fee of 3-5%. In the end, they’ll make around 10% for helping you fund your album. It’s not a bad deal and it keeps you motivated to promote your own success (which is good practice for promoting your band anyway.)
In my opinion, one of the best things about Kickstarter is that they are a Benefits Corporation. What that means is that they are a for profit company that is “obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society.” Not only are their decisions eco-friendly, but they also make decisions based upon the impact of small communities. Whether you’ve thought about it or not, maybe artists do have a responsibility to making this world a better place. Kickstarter seems to be conveying the same message.
Interested? Check them out here: kickstarter.com
With buzzwords like campaign, momentum, and marketing, Indiegogo has a slightly different approach to crowd funding than Kickstarter, but with the same end goal in mind. Indiegogo is efficient in their approach to supporting your funding. Some of the major differences include: pre-campaigning, multiple funding models, and continual funding after your campaign is over.
Indiegogo believes fully in the campaign of your work. They offer “coming soon pages” and pre-campaign tools to get you the head start you’ll definitely need. Indiegogo also emphasizes the importance of keeping close contact with your funding companies and communities every step of the way. Finally, Indiegogo offers certain project packages that allows you to keep your money, even if you don’t meet your funding goal. They highlight this as a primary advantage over Kickstarter. As a less familiar crowd funding company, Indiegogo knows the crowd funding competition is fierce so they’ve even provided a link of the differences between their company vs. Kickstarter. You can view that here: Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter
In my opinion, one of the greatest things about Indiegogo is their tools and resources, as well as the variety of funding models they offer, (especially offering you the $$$ even if you don’t reach your goal.) I haven’t worked with Indiegogo specifically, but they certainly have a milieu of resources available to you through the services that they offer. Maybe you should Go Go and check out the site for yourself.
Interested? Check out Indiegogo here: www.indiegogo.com
Though an excellent site and resource, gofundme is a little more rudimentary than the other two crowd funding companies. Gofundme doesn’t seem to cater to artists as much as it does to the general public, which might be a good thing. (Maybe your aunt and uncle who don’t know so much about music would be more willing to donate to this site as opposed to the alternatives). Many of the projects range from raising money for a family member’s illness, to charity support and benefit. They offer step by step instructions that even Regis could follow. The website isn’t as chatty and gets right down to the point with lines like, “Make it Personal,” or “Keep it Simple.”
Gofundme advertises itself as the most trusted fundraising platform, and it also triumphs in slogans like, “More money raised here than any where else.” In Tips on how to raise money, Gofundme emphasizes importance on the name of your campaign, which I think is pretty wise. They also suggest events like “hosting your own brunch,” “emails and newsletters” and “Walk-A-Thons.” In my opinion, Gofundme is a great way to go if you have a huge following and support already. Gofundme seems to cater more to groups than it does to individuals or band members.
Interested? Check out the site for yourself: gofundme.com
So… For those of you who’d rather sit outside and practice nephelococcygia, maybe you can start imagining dollar signs in those clouds, but for the rest of you, I offer my own million Dollar Question:
What’s the Best way to fund your Album?
D. Ask your rich Aunt Suzie
Or…. Maybe there’s an E.
E. Do everything you can to implement your own knowledge and research into your decisions. Work hard. Be an artist who cares enough to put in the time and effort. Being a successful musician or artist is a lot of work. It’s more than posters and flyers, having money and the owning the right microphone. Being an artist means being fully dedicated to who you are. If you want to raise the funds needed to create the Album you’ve always wanted, than go out there and do it. Hopefully the 3 companies I’ve listed can be a jumpstart to the musical career you deserve. But earn it, and then let me know how it goes. If I see your own project on a site, maybe I’ll donate a buck or two. Until then, I’m going to Go Go and Kickstart it on the couch.