Making music isn’t cheap. Whether it’s making an album, a music video, going on tour, or anything else you can imagine. It all costs us money to create it. That’s just a fact. One of the biggest problems for my old band was deciding what was reasonable budget for making our next album. On one hand, you want to make the best album possible, but regardless of if you have the money to do it or not, you still want to be able to make your money back or get your money’s worth. Well, now you can put this glorious burden in the hands of your fans with crowd-funding and direct-to-fan platforms. This way you know beforehand if this investment will pay off. I’d recommend four different platforms each with a somewhat different take on crowd-funding/direct-to-fan. Based on what your project is, you probably want to go with either Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, PledgeMusic, or Patreon.
Kickstarter is probably the most well known of the crowd-funding world. It is strictly for crowd-funding and not direct-to-fan. This entails that the creator of the campaign will set a minimum funding goal and a deadline. Your contributors are not charged until the campaign is over so, if the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected. Their position is that your fans are funding your project, not necessarily just buying your rewards.
Kickstarter is perfect for the artist who has a project that can’t be done unless a specific goal is met.
IndieGoGo is also a tried and true crowd-funding site, but what differentiates them from Kickstarter is that they offer both fixed and flexible funding. Fixed funding is the standard process where if the goal is not met by the deadline, all money is refunded to your contributors. Mind you, I say refunded because IndieGoGo charges their contributors on the spot. Flexible funding, on the other hand, means that whatever you make, you keep and funds are actually transferred to you as you go as opposed to at the end of the campaign.
IndieGoGo is perfect for the artist who has a project that needs funding, but not necessarily a specific amount. Even if you have to cut a few corners, some money is better than none.
PledgeMusic is not a crowd-funding site; it is actually considered a direct-to-fan platform built solely for musicians. Both are similar in the sense that fans are not charged until the project target is reached, and if the target is not reached, fans are not charged. PledgeMusic describes the difference is in the way the artist is asking for contributions. They say that the direct-to-fan approach is, “I have something exciting in the works, and I would love for you to be a part of it. Would you join me in this journey as we create something awesome together?” Though, PledgeMusic also offers traditional preorder campaigns where the fans are charged immediately and you are paid upon project completion.
PledgeMusic is perfect for the artist who is going to be creating regardless of crowd-funding and just wants to make their fans an integral part of their creative journey.
Patreon is a funding site on a level all of it’s own, as they are the only platform on this list that enables creators to get recurring funding. Instead of funding individual projects, your fans literally become your patrons (maybe that’s where they got the name?…). You have the choice of setting up a campaign where your fans pledge a fixed monthly contribution, or alternatively, setting up a campaign where fans can pledge a given amount every time you create a new piece and patrons have the option of setting a monthly limit.
Patreon is perfect for the serial creator who is constantly creating new music and is not tied down by the confines of a specific project.
Taking it one step further:
Now, when you look at the contributors of campaigns on any of these sites, the vast majority are family, friends, and current fans. One of the hardest things to do is turning strangers into fans and convincing them to back you. Well, with Feature.fm, the first step is already done for you. We turn your potential fans into real fans simply by getting your music to their ears. If you’re currently running a crowd-funding or direct-to-fan campaign though, you can take it one step further. Ask these new fans to contribute to your campaign with Feature.fm’s Call To Action button. The first step towards failing a crowd-funding campaign is to not ask at all. Let new fans not only discover you, but also be a part of something and join you on whatever your musical venture may be!