How to Crowd Source (Without Looking Like a Jackass)
Sweet merciful crap there are a lot of crowd sourcing campaigns right now. I usually like to post my favorites and point out the campaigns I think are deserving of your time, but unfortunately I’ve got a sad dry well right now because it seems like nobody knows how to do this shit right.
That doesn’t mean that the bands crowd sourcing aren’t deserving of support. In fact, most of them are great hard working musicians who could really do great things. Unfortunately, they have no idea how to run an online crowd sourcing campaign, much like 99% of the people who seem to think that it’s easy money.
Musicians know better. They know the hustle of selling albums, tickets, t-shirts. They know what it’s like to have to beg their fans for support so that they can keep playing music. Why then are they failing so miserably with these crowd sourcing campaigns? I will show you some massive “don’ts”, and hopefully they will help strengthen campaigns in the future. This really is the future of music, so lets get it right.
Charging Too Much / Turning It into a Handout
There are a lot of bands who think that crowd sourcing is all about getting a lot of money without having to provide much (if anything) in return. These bands will ask for “donations” instead of a “pledge.” They might give you something small, like a single MP3 in exchange for a $20 pledge. DO NOT DO THIS. Not only does it make it look like you’re asking for a handout, but you’re basically telling your fans to pay $20 for one song.
DON’T. DO THAT SHIT.
By asking for a lot of money for little in return, by calling it a “donation,” you’re perpetuating the myth that musicians are too stupid to run a business and instead come off as gaddamn leeches. Learn how to price out merch. Don’t ask for something for nothing.
Would you pay $10 for one song? Probably not. Don’t ask your fans to do something that you would think is dumb. Yes, you’ll probably get some money from your friends and family, but you are missing out on the opportunity to make new fans by providing them with a product whose price makes sense. How much do you pay for an MP3 usually? $.99, and that’s if you already like the band. You’re probably not going to get a lot of new fans willing to plunk down a tenner for one MP3.
Shameful Example – Echoes Never Lie Hits the Airwaves
Being Vague About Goals
If you’re raising money for your band, the first thing to consider is what that money will go towards. Even dumb people aren’t into throwing their money around willy-nilly, so you need to convince them that you’re not gonna take their hard earned Tubmans and spend it on cocaine. If you wanna do that, be upfront, but don’t give your fans (and potential fans) some bullshit spiel about how you’ll spend the money on “transportation” or “new equipment.”
SPELL. THAT. SHIT. OUT.
How much do you need, exactly, for a new amp? How much do you need, exactly, for that music video? Break it down in a pie chart. Do some fucking math. Stop being lazy and treat your band like a business before you ask people to throw their money away. You’re a metal band, it’s not like people trust you to be financially intelligent as it is.
“I need money to buy recording supplies so I can record the album at home. If I raise the funds I will be able to accomplish my dream of creating a metal album I am proud. With your help I know in can do it.”
Really? How do we know you can do this? What are your qualifications? Where did you learn to record? Are you a wizard?
Shameful Example: Sleepless in the Dark
At this stage in the game, a lot of established bands are turning to crowd sourcing. This can be a great things for their fans, who are now able to get stuff they never could before. This also might intimidate younger bands, who see those piles of money and think “that’s all we gotta do!”
Not so fast, kiddo. If your band has never released an album, it’s probably not a great idea to ask for $17,000. In fact, it’s borderline insanity. If that’s your ultimate goal, fine, but that is asking a lot from new fans who have probably never seen or heard of your band before. This brings us to our next “don’t”–
Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver (without going personally bankrupt)
If you use a crowd sourcing platform that doesn’t require that you make your goal (such as IndieGogo), it means you STILL have to deliver the goods to whatever backers you got, even if you never made enough to cover your costs.
Oh, you need $20,000 to pay for CDs and recording but you only made $2,000? Well you’ve still gotta provide the backers with the things you promised, so have fun eating that last $18,000 bank loan because it’s probably the last one anyone will ever give you.
Shameful Example: Mercy Isle’s album Undying Fire
Next: patrons. There has been an uptick of artists using platforms like Patreon, which is a pretty cool idea if you don’t mind throwing money at people for almost nothing in exchange. Back in the Renaissance, artists had patrons who would pay them to keep them working. Most of these artists would paint portraits of their patrons. Same with musicians; they’d play for their patrons, or write songs about them. These patrons were also rich as fuck, and typically an artist didn’t need more than a few.
If you’re an up-and-coming band, asking randos to give you an asshload of cash for the joy of knowing they contributed to your music is not only stupid but also kind of sad. You couldn’t spend 10 minutes coming up with real rewards? What is wrong with you?
Shameful Example: Wicked’s End Death/Thrash Metal for Jesus Christ, Expenses
Add Music and Shit You Idiots
If you’re trying to sell your music, you might want to consider actually ADDING MUSIC TO YOUR CAMPAIGN. No, a link will not do, because human beings are lazy assholes and making them hunt for a link is enough to lose most of them to the void. Your laziness does you no favors. If you can’t even be bothered to add a link, you might as well go kill yourself right now because your stupid crowd funding campaign is muddying up the works of some really good musicians who can actually benefit from this platform.
Add music, add video, add pictures. Show your customers what their products will look like! Get them pumped! If you’re not jonesing to show off your stuff, why should someone be stoked to buy it??
Shameful Example: Converter Thief
Which brings us to the end of my advice, and that is…
GET FUCKING EXCITED
You’ll probably be annoying as hell for a few weeks. That’s okay. Share the fuck out of your campaign. Tell your parents, tell your neighbors, tell the guys at your local bar. Whenever you talk about it online, INCLUDE A LINK. Those “I’m so excited, yay!” posts are worthless if you don’t include a link to your campaign EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Remember, people are lazy. Make this easy for them! Show them your shit, show them often, and maybe… just MAYBE you’ll get enough to pay for some decent studio time and a chalupa.