If this is your first reaction when you see those Kickstarter and other crowdfunding campaigns come through your Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, I’m sure you’re not alone. Especially when it comes to musicians—seems like every couple years they come to you with their hand out looking for money to make another new record.
But is it really a handout they’re after? Take a closer look—what are they offering in exchange for your donation to their campaign? The minimum pledge of $10 on PledgeMusic, gets the pledger a digital download of the album. PledgeMusic is solely for musicians so a digital download of the album is actually included with EVERY reward. While each artist has the discretion to offer other items at any price, many offer their potential new CD for the same price it will sell for on their website once it’s released. Sure, there are always those fun, one-of-a-kind rewards and experiences available at a higher price, but a smart artist won’t set a goal amount they can’t reasonably expect to raise based on their past digital downloads and CDs sold, combined with the growth of their fan base and how engaged those fans are.
We all know the music industry has changed drastically in the last decade or so. One no longer needs a record label to make and release an album, but if you don’t have that traditional music-industry backing, an artist is fighting an uphill battle to make a name for themselves and be heard. Independent artists generally don’t have the extra funds to cover the cost of professionally recording new material, but it’s kind of a catch-22 because a current CD is vital for touring artists. If you see someone in concert but can’t purchase the music they’re performing, chances are you’ll forget about them—especially if they’re independent. No amount of clever Facebook updates and tweets are going to replace being able to listen to current recordings that are competitive with anything else you have in your playlist.
Have you ever heard a new artist and found yourself saying, “I really like them, why aren’t they on the radio?” The odds of being “discovered” or having a song or music video go viral are similar to winning the lottery. Most independent artists’ success is based on a combination of how hard they’re willing to work—and the level of support they are able to garner from their fans—the people who really believe in them.
So, if you like an artist, go to their concerts, buy their CDs, spread the word about them—and by all means—donate to their crowdfunding campaigns. If you’re thinking you’ll wait to buy it when you see them in concert, or get it on iTunes after it’s released, there’s a good chance you AND they, will be left empty-handed.
Full disclosure: I am the manager of Nashville-based sister duo, Chasing Lovely, who has a campaign on PledgeMusic to fund their second EP that ends on Thursday, November 20, 2015 at 11:58pm. Chasing Lovely has sold over a thousand copies of their debut EP, released in Nov. 2012. They have 2,070 followers on Facebook, 543 on Instagram, and 385 on Twitter. Click on their PledgeMusic widget below for more information on their campaign. http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/chasinglovely