Crowdfunding has become a serious way to raise funds four your next album project.
We've reported on bands like Protest The Hero who have raised over $340,000 towards their new album recording. While we're not all in their position of having three full-length albums on a big label and a huge international audience to make donations, it's still completely possible to raise the relatively small amount it takes to record a great album from your local music community.
If you decide to take the crowd funding route, what do you need to do?
Figure out how much you need to raise.
It's time to stack up those costs. The big one is recording, but don't forget mixing and mastering which are just as important. Then there's CD duplication and artwork, and you'll need a little extra for digital distribution using a service like CD Baby or Tunecore. You might want to look at advertising costs, either in magazines or online like Google or Facebook. And then, because budgets never work out, add some more.
If you can keep those costs down, you'll have a better shot at raising 100% of the funds.
Pick a crowd funding platform
The two big ones are Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Kickstarter is better known and has just released an iOS app which will help bring extra traffic to your page, but if you don't raise 100% of the funds then you lose it all. IndieGoGo has a big presence outside of the US, and lets you keep the funds even if you don't raise the full amount.
Prepare a list of perks
It's a good idea to explore the sites and even fund other projects, just to get a sense of what works or not. You'll notice that each project has a list of "perks" to entice visitors to offer more money. Think about what perks are most tempting to you, and why - then list the best ideas to offer in your own project.
Make the prices of each perk cheaper than they would be once the album launches. For example, one perk might be to get the album for cheaper than you plan to sell it in the shop. You want to give them a good reason to wait months before they get anything from you, right?
Produce a video plea
Before you film your video plea which sits at the top of your funding page, write a script and compose it with the same attention to detail as your best songs. To put it in musician speak, that means getting to the hook and cutting out the filler.
Don't worry about renting a high-budget camera (but if you have access to one, use it). A smartphone camera will look fine in a well-lit environment and on some kind of stand to keep the shot still.
Don't talk endlessly about how much the project means to you. Make it relevant to the viewer and explain what they will personally get out of funding your project.
Imagine you only have ten seconds to catch their attention. What can you do to convince them your project is worth backing? Hopefully you have a clip of some killer music, but a good sense of humor can work too.
Write a description
The same advice applies: keep it to the point, discuss what the backer gets out of funding you, and make everything as concise and clear as possible.
Now that your funding page is ready, it's time to launch and promote as hard as possible. Social media is important, but you'll do best if you also step into the real world. Talk to your local newspaper, phone friends and family, and stick flyers up in venues and coffee shops.
This is the hard part. Put as many people as possible in front of your project page. It might be worth putting some of your own money in during the first week so it looks like there's some momentum to encourage new backers.
If you succeed...
Hopefully your hard work has paid off, and you finally have a budget to record an EP or album. Now the real work begins!
Stick to your budget, no matter what. The worst thing is to fall at the last hurdle and be stuck with a dead project because you're out of money to complete it - and you can be sure the community will give up on you.
It's really important to update your backers with progress as you record. Take studio videos, talk about the people you're working with, and even tell them about things that go wrong - but always explain your solution and how it's not going to be a big deal in the end. Of course, if things go really wrong, you have to be honest and give their money back, which is another good reason to plan carefully and get everything right.
If you've made it this far, congratulations! You're an accomplished representative of the new music business. Good luck in building on your career!
Have you tried crowd funding? Are you planning a project but have other questions before you go ahead? Ask us in the comments and we'll try to help out.