Three-year-old crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is out with its end of the year review, a collection of facts and figures that show that crowdfunding in the musical sphere had a very good year.
Music has long been a popular category on Kickstarter for launching successful campaigns — an avenue of fundraising that got a good bit of press this year when Amanda Palmer raised more than one million dollars to fund her new album/tour. (The success of her campaign also shed a little light on other campaigns as well — ones that failed to deliver on their promises — but that’s a story for another day.)
In 2012, 9,086 campaigns were launched in the music realm, and more than half — 5,067 to be exact — were successfully funded. Those numbers made music the most successfully funded category of 2012. The same was true in 2011, when users funded 3,653 projects.
The amount of money pledged also grew. (Note: Pledged does not mean collected.) In 2012, music projects saw $34,953,600 pledged, up from $19,801,685.21 in 2011. However, despite the fact that music had the most successful campaigns, it was not the forerunner when it came to pledges in 2012 — games take that honor with $83 million pledged, up from $3,616,530.88 pledged in 2011.
All in all, Kickstarter saw growth in 2012 from the previous year — and the year of its founding. Cash pledged in 2012 amounted to $319,786,629, with 18,109 successful projects. Out of that $300+ million, around $274 million was collected. That’s up from $99,344,382 pledged in 2011 with 11,836 projects launching, and $27,638,318 pledged in 2010 with 3,910 projects making their goal.
As we head into 2013, it’s likely that Kickstarter will continue to see growth — especially in the music realm — as bands of all levels take to the platform to fund everything from music videos to recording studios. If you’re one of those bands aiming to collect cash by Kickstarting, it might behoove you to take in some tips we compiled earlier this year from Amanda F**king Palmer herself.
Check them out below:
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.
Image courtesy of Christian Reed