When I wrote my blog post awhile back about quitting my job too early and how I now need to work even harder and more hours, a lot of people on my email list wrote me and suggested I launch a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve seen some artists get well known for their success on Kickstarter. I’ve also seen some artists and bands not do so well with it. Lately, I’ve heard about a lot of bands going the Kickstarter route. It sure seems better than selling all my gear on eBay. I’ve felt uneasy about using Kickstarter. I’ve hid from it. I didn’t want to launch a huge page just asking for money. Even though I have a donate button on my page (wink!), It’s kind of off to the side, my own way of passive promotion. I’ve been looking around and I’m still considering whether I want to do it. If you’re in my same boat, I’m thinking there are 5 things we should consider before we launch a Kickstarter campaign.
Do you have a following? Or at least a list?
You have to have an email list. I was thinking about one campaign from a guy I know. This guy was in one band that had a huge following. But then he left that band and started another band. So his new band and new music had a Kickstarter. So yeah, he was Kickstarting his new project, new album, etc. But for the majority of that campaign, he was doing it just through friends, family, and social media as far as I could tell. I think at some point, his previous band reached out to their huge list to promote it to people who already were fans of his music from before. I wonder if Kickstarter is best for launching your FIRST project or your first record. Otherwise, I think about that band and wonder how it would have gone if the previous band would launched the campaign from the beginning. I don’t know the details of that; so I’m only speculating. But that’s one of the things that’s held me back.
Do you have a cause?
What’s the reason for having a Kickstarter campaign? Are you just trying to put out an album? I have this feeling that it has to be about more than that. Amazingly, technology has made it that you can make a fantastic record without the thousands of dollars that some are asking about. Here’s a great post about that. I guess that is the main thing that artists will try to raise money for. I don’t know all of the rules for using Kickstarter. I remember wanting to buy a new mixer before. I still haven’t done that. What if I did a campaign to buy a new mixer? Still kind of lame. What about a new mixer so I could start a new DJ teaching business? A little better. What about money so I could start my new business of teaching DJ lessons to kids? Now we’re talking… by the way, what a great idea for me. What about you?
Are you adding value?
What do people get for backing your project? It’s got to be more than just downloads to a new record. Especially if you don’t have a list or following. What does a fan get? I was messaged about a band’s project one time. I had never heard of them. For the different tiers of giving, you could get free downloads, posters, vinyl, t-shirts. This would all be great if I were a fan of the band. But this campaign was my introduction to the band. So I absolutely did not want to buy any of that stuff. Would you? If I were already a fan of the band, I’d have been more into it. When I think about this, I consider that maybe kickstarter is only best for fans. Maybe just for checking out the kickstarter project they should get music for free anyway. I don’t know.
Are you showing work? Showing yourself?
I just don’t want people to think I’m lazy. I work a day job (hopefully not forever). And I work on this blog. And I work on music. Yet musicians are often seen as lazy. I would not want people’s pity. I’ve been really challenged with the thought that people want to support hard workers. People don’t want to give out handouts. In my financial struggles, I’ve received a lot of handouts. I appreciate those but also, I hate that I was in the position of need. On the other hand, I would want people to know that they are not just supporting some project or some record. They are supporting me. Supporting the pursuit of art; and therefore supporting the artist. Me as a person. Do people see that when I communicate? When they read my blog? When they are on my email list? When they follow me on Twitter? Do I only speak about how I’m working on my hot new track? What is Quiet Entertainer really about? I have to think about these things. What about you? What are people supporting? The work? Or the pipe dream.
How long will your campaign be? How much will it be?
If I give people two months to donate, then is it really that important? I don’t know. Do I want my fans to raise money so that they can afford to help me raise money? It seems kind of backwards. I suppose if I did something I would make it really short. I’d know very quickly. Either I have the following and the interest of fans to support what I’m doing, or not. If so, great! If not, I can not waste two months of posting, updates, and emails with everyone asking for money. One big push and it’s over. There is some principle from Influence. Scarcity. I don’t remember it right now, but I know that if the opportunity is short to get the value, then it’s more attractive. Maybe two or three weeks max for me. What do you think?
I suppose I should stop over-analyzing and just do something. Don’t want to think it to death. However, these are some things I’m thinking about before I launch a Kickstarter campaign? What else? Let me know in the comments.
Quiet Entertainer (that's me) is a DJ/Producer that blends ambient electronica with hip-hop. I'm based in Nashville, TN.
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