Midas Whale turned four chairs on NBC’s The Voice and leveraged their popularity to raise $36,442 through crowdfunding upon their release from the show in May 2013. The folk duo created their debut album Sugar House in 2013, thanks to their beloved backers who are like family to them. After the incredible success of their last campaign, they’ve launched a new one for their side project Deep Love.
Lemme put it to you straight. You need an album to make money, but you need money to make an album. You are stuck in a paradox; trapped in a vortex between two alternate realities, neither of which actually exists without the other. Well, what if I told you that the only way to break a paradox is to create one of your own? Yes, I’m here to tell you it’s possible to make money from an album BEFORE it’s even created. It’s called crowdfunding—a distant cousin of crowd surfing. And just like crowd surfing it can be a risk to your health, but if done correctly and with commitment, it can change your life in ways you never thought possible. Ready? Let’s begin.
What is Crowdfunding?
Essentially, crowdfunding is fundraising. You get people jazzed about your project (could be an album you’re planning, or maybe you’re trying to build a time machine—doesn’t matter), and then you collect other peoples’ hard-earned money in order to execute your project, providing some form of incentive for pledging ($25 gets you a basic trip in the time machine, $50 lets you hunt a dinosaur, etc.). There are many crowdfunding websites out there, the most popular of which is probably Kickstarter (the platform we used to fund a $30,000 project). Choosing your platform will depend greatly on what your project is. Some websites are specific to music while others might be geared toward things like agriculture, investments or app development.
Remember this: just because you wish to collect money for a project doesn’t mean you can’t create it before asking people to fund it so that you can create it (another paradox). Most successful projects have a prototype created already so that potential backers can see for themselves how badly they need it. In the case of a musician, maybe you are trying to recoup money you have already spent on a great album. As long as your backers get something in return, they will be happy.
So how can I make my crowdfunding a success?
There is good (and some bad) advice on this topic all over the Internet. The best advice we can give you is to learn about the pitfalls before you begin your campaign. In other words, you’ll have to read a lot. Remember that there is no set formula; each project is unique and will require a unique approach. Here are a few things that we feel made our own project a success:
1. Set a high (but attainable) goal.
After calculating the minimum of what you would need for a project, go ahead and double it. If you’re treating your project like a full time job (which you should), you will find that your time will be worth the extra money.
Tip: Don’t forget to research platform fees and back-end expenses (like shipping). Fulfillment WILL kill you if you don’t plan for it. Trust me, I’m dead.
2. Have a fun video.
Do you know anyone on the Internet who shares long, boring videos? Make yours a joy to those who watch it, and don’t forget to make it concise. If it’s good, they will share it and the money will never stop coming in.
3. Release new content constantly during your campaign.
You can sit there all day sharing and resharing a link to your project on Facebook, but very soon people will get annoyed and secretly start wishing your project will fail. The best alternative is to release new content (videos, music demos, etc.). You will find that even a simple video can improve your public image and keep your fans’ passion going strong.
4. Organize a telethon.
Although we had funded our project a week before our deadline, our friends insisted we throw a party and broadcast it through Ustream in a last ditch effort to raise money. We invited everyone to join us in this event and encouraged people to increase their pledges, as we would write their name on a t-shirt and give them shout-outs, sometimes responding to requests to do stupid things. The turnout of backers was amazing, we had a party, and we managed to raise several thousand dollars during that event alone. It’s a win-win for everyone.
5. NEVER do a project over 30 days.
You will understand why about 10 days into your own project.
6. Accomodate as you can.
Backers are special people and will often ask you directly to accommodate their special circumstances (some people might need big shirts or want songbooks in braille). Feel free to go out of your way to make them happy, but remember your promises and KEEP A LOG as a testament of what you have and haven’t done.
In summary, time travel is dangerous. Warp responsibly.