Crowdfunding) has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 2 years. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Pledgemusic and the likes have seen thousands of new campaigns dedicated to musical projects. Bands and artists have been fine-tuning their crowdfunding strategies and getting more successful over time. There is a right way to make sure you meet the goal.
A newer spin on crowdfunding is for live events. Several sites have sprouted up over the past year, such as Gigable, Showkicker and Gigfunder. Fans of the Foo Fighters have used crowdfunding to bring the Foos to a region they haven't toured in years. Dave Grohl has said; “I'm telling you, it could become the way that bands decide where they want to play.”
But, as with any other campaign, you can't just set it and forget it. You need to leverage your superfans and insiders to get the ball rolling.
Here are the 5 elements to running a successful campaign:
Allow enough time for pledges
If you know your potential venue and can have them reserve your gig date at least 90 days in the future, that is optimal. Typically, you will want to think of your campaign in 3 phases. Phase I is the campaign preparation and launch. Design your rewards and set a ticket price that is reasonable as well as profitable. You should consider running your campaign for about 45 days, this will be enough time for word to spread and leverage social media to acquire pledges. Once your campaign is launched, engage-engage-engage! Post updates to the campaign at least every 3-4 days. This is the magic phase where you will draw in more superfans – get to know them!
Phase II happens after the goal is met and you agree on a show date with the venue. This is why it's important to talk to the venue prior to Phase I so they are aware of the potential date and can hold it for you. During Phase II, you can leverage a ticket platform like Ticketfly to sell more tickets and get sponsors on-board. Once you have your ‘core group’ of fans who pledged in Phase I, you have some incentive to get sponsors’ attention. You can even offer to add their logos on your gig campaign page.
Phase III is the week or so leading up to the show. Historically, 80-90% of ticket sales will happen in this window, however since you effectively pre-sold half the show during the campaign, you won't have to rely on that. You may, however, have people who will back out of the pledge and getting some last minutes sales will help, so, it's best to think of your total campaign duration as 90 days – 45 days to meet the goal, then the final 45 days to sell-out. For smaller shows, a 60 day plan works as well.
Create special virtual and physical incentives
You are an innovator. You may not think you are, but you are writing music and that is innovation. So get creative on your incentives. Some ideas are: mp3 downloads of songs recorded at the gig, collectable decals, download cards. Keep it simple and bundle one or two with the price of the ticket. Give the fan as much value as possible with their ticket pledge, but keep it simple. You don't want to have to paint 150 pictures or whiddle 200 statues.
Don't skimp on the intro video
There are so many talented videographers out there. Find one and have a great video made. You can re-purpose it for your YouTube channel (you have one of those right?) and this will help in your open-rate on social networks since video is the most viewed content. If possible, create a special edit of the video that starts out with you explaining your campaign. “We are excited to come to Green Bay, Wi. since we have never played there! We hear it's beautiful with very cool people.”
Find your superfans and put them to work
You know who they are. They are the first ones to jump in on anything you create; they are ready to help you and support you. This is KEY to a successful gig campaign. You need to talk to them personally and have them share the heck out of the campaign. They don't necessarily have to live where you are planning to play the show. The real superfans will help out any cause you ask (as long as it's not weekly). Don't forget to thank them.
Set a goal that gets you at least 50% sold out for the venue
It will be tempting to set a goal that will equal a sold out show, but you don't have to do that. Remember, crowdfunding only works when the goal is MET! You can set your goal to 50-60% sold out, so if you are trying to get 500 people to the show, set the goal for 250 tickets pledged. You can leverage those first 250 and promote a standard ticket link, once the campaign is over. Remember, you will still have 45 days until the actual gig. And let's face it, crowdfunding is still a rather new concept and not all your fans (and potential fans) will jump on board or understand it. There will be a large contingent that will want to purchase tickets the old fashioned way.
Rogin's Egg Blue is a rock/acoustic outfit from New York that is touring Japan for their debut album release. They are using a high quality video for their campaign and offering many digital incentives. They have partnered with fizzkicks.com to create a collectable download card as well as a offering a tour t-shirt. Even though they are touring Japan, they have a U.S. and Japan campaign running and offering download codes for U.S. pledgers.
Robin's Egg Blue chose Gigable as their crowdfunding platform because Gigable can run international campaigns in the U.S. and Japan. They were also able to split the funds with their promoter and it all happens automatically behind the scenes.
Now, go out and polish your performance and win some new fans!
Guest post: Mike Echlin is a co-founder at Gigable and a passionate entrepreneur/musician. Over the past 30 years, he has written hundreds of songs, played countless gigs and has been known to start a few companies in his spare time.