After you’ve checked the balance in your own bank account and the checkbook of your band mates, family and friends, you may find that you still need funds for your upcoming album. You’ve already budgeted for your album release based on the previous post in this series. Once you determine how much you can contribute to the amount you estimated, it’s time determine how you’ll get the rest of the money.
Crowdfunding as a forethought
No matter what other sources of funds you have, I recommend setting up a crowdfund first. Besides being a common practice for new albums, the worst that can happen is that you’d get no contributions. Don’t make it an afterthought. Just do it.
Set up rewards before your initial post. Make sure that you can afford them. And by “afford” I mean both in terms of your time and your money. Then, prepare your rewards for each contribution as soon as people give. That way, you aren’t in a crunch at release time. There will be plenty to do later in the process.
Post an appropriate part of your budgeting spreadsheet among the early updates in your crowdfunding. It’s best to be upfront with your fans and supporters. Contact your best fans and friends directly to see if they can donate to your album crowdfund. The more personal contact you can make, the better. Continue to interact with the contributors and keep sharing the link to your campaign so that you’ll get new donors.
Crowdfunding as engagement
Sites like PledgeMusic have turned crowdfunding for musicians into a way to keep your fans engaged. This doesn’t mean you have to choose PledgeMusic over other platforms, but check out their pages of information about creating community.
Besides getting you the money you need to make the album, crowdfunding is a great way to network. You may even discover who your real fans and superfans are by virtue of the campaign.
Be creative with every step in the crowdfund. The initial page and video; the rewards; the updates; and even the payout of the rewards are great opportunities to use your quirks or niche to make the campaign more interesting.
Follow your crowdfunding platform’s blog and setup a Google alert for new posts on best crowdfunding practices. These can be very helpful in keeping you both creative and honest as your campaign progresses.
Above all else, choose rewards you can deliver on time. Your worst press ever could be a crowdfund that failed to deliver.
Next up: inspiration
One side note: think long and hard about making your album a “charity album”. In hindsight, a better approach might be to say something like, “The first $200 made on this album will go to charity.” Having all proceeds go to charity ties you into never making any money off of your hard work. It’s very altruistic, but ponder whether it’s fiscally going to make sense for you.
If you do decide to donate all of your proceeds, you will want a crowdfund even more. Everything you spend on a charity album release will be strictly out-of-pocket and will never be recouped.