Musician/social media queen Amanda (F**king!) Palmer recently Kickstarted the hell out of the popular crowdfunding site, raising $100,000 in the first seven hours of her campaign to fund her first studio album in four years (with new band Grand Theft Orchestra), tour and art book. Her goal long achieved, she’s up to nearly $500,000, and she still has 28 days left to go before the campaign closes. Intrigued by the ex-Dresden Doll’s success, we hit up Palmer for advice on how to launch the perfect music-related Kickstarter campaign. Check out her tips after the jump.
1). You have to have fans before you can ask them to help you
I think it’s important to have at least a bit of a fan base before you try to Kickstart, whether from working the net or the touring road. You need to be speaking to someone on the other end of the phone before you ask for help, if you know what I mean. So don’t start a band at a party, come up with a name and a clever logo, and go to Kickstarter hoping to get funding for your non-existent entity. Nobody will care.
2). Show, don’t tell
Secondly: HAVE A GOOD VIDEO. The video is your personal pitch. It needs to be short and INFORMATIVE. People want to know WHAT you are using their money for. If your video is too schticky or boring to watch all the way through, you probably won’t have an enthusiastic response. The video is not a music video: It’s not a piece of art. It’s a PITCH. Keep it that way. I’ve seen lots of bands tank because they confused the pitch video too much with art.
3). Don’t just reward the rich
People, if they already love you, are going to donate where they CAN, and hopefully be excited about what they can afford. Your packages aren’t going to lure them too far away from where their budget is. So just make sure you’re keeping every level rewarding for both your poor and rich supporters. And keep your music dirt-cheap. It’s bullshit to sell a digital download for a ton of money. Everybody knows that shit is technically free, anyway. Face reality.
4). Be honest
Don’t say stupid shit. Don’t try to sound important. Don’t ever write about yourself in the third person. Just be honest. Tell people what’s going on. You’ll be amazed at how helpful people really are when you talk straight with them. People LOVE helping artists. But it’s hard to help an artist who’s standing with their back to you, head hung, mumbling shamefully something half-coherent about how they need some money to buy a tour van. And as for the people who accuse you of “shilling” or “begging”…fuck them. They won’t help you anyway, and they’re probably just pissed that you’re an artist, period. People used to scream “GET A JOB” at me out of their car windows back when I was a street performer. I was always really amused at the irony of this: I WAS doing my job. I feel those are the same people who say that crowd-funding is “begging.” They’re missing the point entirely.
5). No tool is a deus ex machina
There’s a ton of tools out there, and it actually doesn’t MATTER what you use, as long as you’re getting free and cheap content to your fans and giving them occasional chances to kick you back by buying physical items, see you live, and support you directly. ANY platform can work. I think the main mistake in the music business nowadays is that everybody is trying to decide WHAT the next big tool is instead of accepting that there are 100 roads to Rome and it’ll change from year to year. Some things NEVER change. Your music must be good, you must respect your fans, and pretty much without exception: YOU HAVE TO TOUR. Playing your music live in front of human beings isn’t just the oldest tool in the book, it used to be the point itself. Nothing can replace it… not YouTube, not webcasting, not anything. And as long as people will pay for the experience, you’ll make a living no matter what the other trends are.
BONUS TWITTER TIP
Maintain a balance between talking about real-life shit and talking about business shit. If you talk about business shit all the time, you’ll bore yourself and your followers to death. Also… don’t live in a vacuum. Follow and retweet other artist’s feeds who you love and respect, so you’re part of the world, not just tuning in for your own ego gratification. What goes around ALWAYS comes around. If you expect your fans to support and take an interest in you, you have to support and take an interest in them. It’s a two-way street.