For the February edition of our Disc Makers Twitter chat (#DMchat), we asked composer, singer-songwriter, and music business/branding consultant Cheryl B. Engelhardt for some crowdfunding tips for musicians.
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To view the entire chat transcript, please visit this link. Below is a reformatted version of our discussion.
Q1: Who’s with us today in? Please introduce yourself and let the conversation begin!
CBE: Hi all! I’m Cheryl. Let’s talk about our favorite thing…. BOWLING!! Wait. Music. I meant music.
Just a tiny background–my last 2 records were crowd funded (new one just came out!). I’m in NY.
Q2: What’s the biggest challenge #musicians face when it comes to successfully executing a #crowdfunding campaign?
CBE: Getting people to SHOW ME THE MONEY. Also, marketing the right opportunities to the right people.
Guest: Based on my own feelings, I’m gonna say feeling like it’s okay to do it in the first place. Fear of asking?
CBE: I had this too for a while. It’s not asking, it’s presenting an opportunity to be a part of something. Yes, I think it’s still a new concept to a lot of people. It feels awkward, but it’s an opportunity to invite participation.
Q3: How has your view on fan-funding & crowdfunding changed over time? Do you still prefer your own site to outside funding sites?
CBE: I first fan funded using PayPal on my site. You need to have the fans to ask, or your campaign will not work. You have to offer them something in return for their financial support, but you don’t need a ton of fans. A few super fans make all the difference. The second time, I used PledgeMusic to compare the pros and cons for both. Both take a lot of work. On my site people knew it was me, payment is simpler, etc. Other platforms are new for some fans, but PledgeMusic is ready to go on the back end. Their customer service was great.
LB: Yes, and Kickstarter and Patreon as well to name a few. Cheryl used to only raise funds from fans on her website, wow!
CBE: I used PledgeMusic for my last record. It’s designed for musicians.
LB: Definitely, and in our experience, utilizing some of the music-targeted platforms help you expand your reach as well.
Guest: What are the preferred platforms: PledgeMusic, Indiegogo, etc.?
LB: We like PledgeMusic, Patreon, and Kickstarter, but the best one is likely the one your audience feels most comfortable with.
CBE: Patreon is very different from PledgeMusic. One is constant content versus one project at a time. On Patreon, I’m working on making it a community for career musicians with networking opportunities. The $10/$50 tiers are like a mastermind. I’m still new on Patreon, so if you want to watch how it goes, get in here. Last thing on Patreon, if you constantly create content, it’s is probably the platform to use.
Q4. How do you utilize and engage your email subscribers in your #crowdfunding campaigns?
CBE: My fan list is always the first to know anything. That is my promise to them.
Q5. What’s the best way to develop your rewards tiers and stretch goals?
CBE: Don’t be afraid to ASK your fans what they want out of your next record creation process! Have something for everyone & then make sure you let them know so they can choose. And go big! I had some reward tiers that included ALL my released music, up to writing a song for them, or time in the studio with you.
Guest: Did you ask fans what they wanted before you started the funding project? Did u plan first?
CBE: The first time I didn’t but the second time I did. I wanted to see what was missing, and what worked. I sent out an email blast. The VIP, exclusive listening event thing was popular–drinks on me at the release show, video chat room stuff, etc.
Q6. How much time do you recommend setting aside to campaign development and management?
CBE: SO MUCH TIME. Seriously, it’s proportionate to how much you want to make. Say you make $5k/month putting in 40 hour work weeks, then UP the hours if you’re aiming to raise $20k/month fan funding. If you put in 40 hours a week reaching out to individuals, marketing to bloggers, creating awesome content, you’d reach your goal. Not that that’s feasible, and I certainly didn’t, but I realized that I could be doing a lot more than just hitting “launch.”
Guest: Thank you Cheryl. It’s hard to put in 40 hours a week just on promotion, unless you make your full-time job just promoting the campaign.
CBE: True. I use that as an example–a LOT of people launch a crowdfunding campaign and just LEAVE it. But it takes work!
Guest: Would you say it’s not worth doing until you have a real fan base though (and not just your friends and family?) Maybe it’s not worth doing is the wrong wording…
CBE: Sometimes crowdfunding on a platform like PledgeMusic can GET you new fans. Their audience is more targeted towards musicians and music fans, whereas Kickstarter has video games, art projects… Listen to my interview with PledgeMusic’s CEO. He gives some stats that were helpful for me. Also, it depends on what you want and what your money AND music goals are. What kind of project, who you want to attract, etc.
Q7. What does it mean to prepare an “elevator pitch” as it relates to your campaign message?
CBE: Have 1-3 sentences saying how being a part of your campaign is an opportunity for THEM. It’s NOT ASKING FOR HELP (or for the love.) This pitch is really important. I JUST released a quick video course on how to powerfully pitch. I’ll give y’all a free link – The Perfect Pitch. This video course includes super valuable stuff I used to get TWO 5-figure checks for my last record.
Guest: That makes sense, thanks. Any recommended sites to look for, or do you look for specific places that fits your genre?
If you’re looking for more crowdfunding tips and content, we have more information on our website. Disc Makers also offers a 10% discount to artists who successfully fund a project with PledgeMusic.
CBE: That’s cool! I didn’t know that!
It’s been a little while since we shared a new guide, but we update the DM blog 3x/week!
Q8. How do you determine your campaign length and schedule your progress updates?
CBE: I updated fans 1x a week. My campaign ran about 3 months, ending just before the record release in January.
Q9. How important is it to line up initial backers to help “seed the tip jar” early on in your campaign?
It can help figure out your goal if you have a slight idea what you can make. But I don’t think makes a huge difference. I talk about lots of this stuff in my monthly email, would love to have you join (& there’s a FB group too!)
Q10. How do you target your marketing and outreach messages to your different donor levels?
CBE: For anyone about to crowd fund, the people who give $10 want different things than those who give $500. It’s ALL about creating an opportunity that really caters to that level. WHO is in that level, what problem can you solve? For the $10 level, what do they want to be a part of? Are their playlists old and boring and they need new music? For the $1k-10k level, get them on the phone & see what they want, whether it’s to invest in the CD or be in the studio.
Q11. How important is it to connect with your fans in person before, during, and after your campaign?
CBE: So important. My 5-figure checks came from people who were fans of me, my music, and the whole package. Be passionate about what you do & have a CLEAR purpose with WHY you’re doing it (this is THE 1st thing I do with my clients). When you’re clear on what you’re up to & it’s obvious in your branding (websites, social, etc.), you’ll attract the right fans.
Have a great night everyone! Thank you Disc Makers for having me. And printing all 4 of my CDs. 🙂
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