It is funny, great and sad all at once at how fan funding has progressed in the past number of years. I started with the process with some of my clients as far back as 2002 and now with numerous websites and different ways to both donate directly and sites where you have to achieve the full amount before receiving it, fan funding has taken center stage in many ways.
Artists are throwing numbers at dart board and telling fans that’s all they need to make the album that will bring them to the masses. The bulk of the time, the number is way under what is required and many of these projects are not being finished, fail to even see the light of day or they are falling apart right out of the gate.
Now for certain artists that are just trying to make a recording for a smaller fan base and doing it on a shoe string budget with more of the intentions of creating a product more on the fun, hobby or local level, this is a fine approach. Yet, it can cause issues when artists are pushing for a larger level of success.
Now the music business is a crap shoot with in itself, but if you are thinking of either taking the fan funding route or being a fan that is funding an artist, the devil is in the details or lack of details for that matter.
From the funding stand point……
Ok, you received a request to help out a band or an artist. First off, if you are not doing it out of the kindness of your heart or as a friend, you might want to reconsider. Again, most fan funded projects are under budgeted, under organized and lack the organization to bring the project to a sustainable success level leaving many donors wondering what happened.
Now success is not always the goal, but if you think by donating a hundred, a thousand or more and you are going to be listed as some executive producer on a break out album, you again, might want to think again. This donation is not going to make a name for you.
If you want to be involved in a larger scale project, then ask questions, ask about the full budget, the plan and the details of the recording, the release and the publicity, marketing and promotion of it.
It is fine to help out as a friend or a fan, but have a realistic view on it. Watch out for promises that might seem over the top and if someone tells you they are going to give you a tax write off for a donation, make sure they actually have a 501c3 associated with the project. Many artists are out there painting much larger pictures and trying to come off more organized than they are. This can come back to bite you in the end.
So in the end, if you are a funder, find out the information you need to know or if you are a friend that is just their to help, then be that friend, otherwise, stay aware.
From the artists looking for cash…
First off, a few things…
There are a lot of you out there. Tons and tons of artists are taking this route. So how are you standing out? I get at least four of these fan funding requests a day at a minimum. Most of them consist of very simple emails with no details just saying “help me finish my recording so I can take it to the top.”
Now first off, the bulk of these come in a mass email or spam approach. Wrong answer. Second, I am not even a fan or for that matter a friend with the bulk of these artists on any social media network.
I also find it interesting how it is always an even and rounded out number. This brings up suspicions as well. Especially when there is no budget attached or offered. These artists usually explain how all they need is this or all they need is that amount and their careers will just take off.
It takes much more than just finishing an album and it takes much more than a guestimate number to find the funds you will need to take things in the direction they need to be. This is true unless of course if you have very, very rich friends.
So what do you do?
Take a more personalized approach to fan funding. Consider that many others out there are doing the same thing. Stand out and maybe, just maybe consider giving something back.
All the artists that work with me through my sort of brand of fan funding work with me to create a basic business plan that explains every expense and a real plan and plan of attack they are going to follow. The details talk about why the amount that is being requested and what every dollar is allotted for.
Artists I work with also fund raise from fans with a charitable incentive that every sale of the product has a percentage that goes to a charitable organization that the artist believes in. it is a good thing and good marketing as well.
It is about the details, it is about the organization, the preparation and the execution of what you are going to do with the money and not just asking for a number that you think will cover it all.
Write a letter that talks about how you are maintaining control, taking the right steps, looking to realistic levels of success. Add the parts that most leave out…those parts being the DETAILS!
It is about creating an organized and well-planned budget and laying it out. Now this is not something you have to show everyone, but having that information ready will help you find the larger amounts as well as give your project a fighting chance at success.
Fan funding in a key part these days in achieving the budgets that are needed to not only record but get a recording off the ground and initially launched. Still, there are a mass of artists that are doing it wrong, short-cutting and faking it. Don’t be one of them. Organize and put the time and detail in to your project and the funds you are raising for it. It is a challenging road to take, but if you give your all, you will achieve your goals.