The Power of Fan Funding Part 2

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By Tom Brislin

Last month, I discussed the increasingly popular fan funding (or crowdfunding) model for launching your own projects. Drawing from my own experience running a campaign on Kickstarter.com (which operates similarly to services such as PledgeMusic.com, Rockethub.com, IndieGoGo.com, and others), I outlined the steps I took to raise the cash to make and release my upcoming album. So what comes next?

Raise the Bar
If your fundraising campaign hits its goal, congratulations! How much time is left on the campaign? There still may be ample time to maximize your funding, especially if you’re offering good pre-order incentives. My Kickstarter campaign reached its goal with several days to go before pledging would be closed. In the project description and blog updates, I announced a new target, offered new rewards, and described what the additional funds would be used for.

Make It an Event
When describing my campaign to people, I would often use analogies, comparing it to an NPR fund drive or a telethon. On the last day of my campaign, I took the telethon model to heart and performed live online for most of that day. Using a webcam and a free account at Ustream.tv, I played from my living room, taking time to let people know about the few hours left to pledge. Keeping with the interactive nature of the whole process, I took requests and answered questions coming in from the live chat on my Ustream channel, and kept an eye on what was coming in on Twitter and Facebook as well. The result? I exceeded my original fundraising goal by nearly double. Remember, most of these fan funding
platforms are all-or-nothing (if you don’t hit your initial goal, no money is collected) so if you’re in danger of not meeting your goal, it pays to be creative, and most of all, proactive.

Take Your Fans Along for the Ride
If you’ve completed your musical project by the end of the funding campaign, you can go right to the fulfillment stage in step 4 below. However, for many of us, including myself, much of the project is still to be completed after the fundraising is over. Backers have pledged money in good faith, and while they may be patient, it’s important to let them know how things are going. Herein lies another opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your fans. Kickstarter provides an update section in which you can post blogs, photos (such as those above), video, and audio, and it gives you the option to make these materials accessible only to project backers. You can create a session diary and post photos and videos of your sessions, guest musicians, gear, and so on. You can also post previews of the audio tracks, demos, outtakes, or whatever you’d like to share. Don’t be shy—backers will enjoy an exclusive behind-the-scenes look.

Send the Rewards
If you’re offering downloads, you must arrange a method of delivery. You can send files via email or a cloud service, but you may need a more robust solution. There are plenty of free sites such as mediafire.com, or more comprehensive sites such as bandcamp.com, which offer a variety of audio formats for download. If you’re shipping physical goods, you can print postage online through the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx. It might not be as glamorous as the studio, but you can share photos of your packing party, too. Take your fans on the whole journey, and they’ll never forget it. 

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