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Let The Crowd Decide

More and more musicians are turning to crowdfunding campaigns on sites such as Pozible, Kickstarter and Indiegogo to finance their tours, album releases, music videos and other projects. TRAVIS JOHNSON reached out to a couple of Perth acts who had taken the crowdfunding plunge to get a feel for the pros and cons of the increasingly ubiquitous funding model.

Chaos divineCHAOS DIVINE
Answered by Ryan Felton.

What are you funding?
We have started a campaign on Pozible to fund $15,000 towards the costs to produce, release, promote and tour our third studio album.

Why go this route as opposed to more traditional funding?
The band thought long and hard about crowd funding this record, as we have so far largely funded all of our activities ourselves (we are all normal guys with normal jobs). Unfortunately, the cost of recording, promoting and touring means we can’t always give our fans the products and tours that we dream of.
In the past it has always been the case that a portion of the expensive costs of touring and creating albums was helped by the grant programs of the State Government and Arts WA – a godsend for impoverished bands like us just trying to get their music out and about. After we self-produced our last album, The Human Connection, we were given specific instruction by Arts WA that we would no longer be receiving financial assistance, as we have so kindly been given several touring and production grants in the past. This threw a bit of a spanner in the works for us this time around, and led us to look for alternative funding options like crowdfunding.

What affected your choice of platforms?
There are a whole heap of crowdfunding platforms out there but we liked the simplicity of Pozible and how easy it is to use for both project creators and supporters.

How did you set your rewards?
Using other bands and projects as a starting point we drew up an album release budget, schedule and a list of the items that we wanted to produce not just for the broader album release, but also for unique rewards specifically for people who pledged to our campaign. As we had just started tracking the record when we launched our campaign, we had a pretty good idea of when were likely to be able to produce and deliver some of the items and reward experiences.

Were their any unforseen problems?
Obviously the main issue that faces any large crowdfunding project is the chance that it doesn’t reach its target. We had to be realistic with what we thought we could raise in the timeframe, yet raising enough to make the project viable.
We have really just tried to be as open as possible with our fans and supporters so they know we are simply doing this to try and make the best record possible. We aren’t in this to make a buck. We still have a way to go to reach our target but we have been really driving the promotion of the campaign through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter as well as some advertising. We are also playing a live show at Amplifier on May 23 in support of our campaign in the hope that we can get some more people on board.

Any advice?

I would definitely encourage any band in a similar financial position to consider crowdfunding, but just be prepared to set realistic targets and rewards and work hard with your fan base to promote the campaign!

Answered by Timothy Nelson.

What did you fund?
Our upcoming second album.

Why go this route as opposed to more traditional funding?
We did both actually, we got a grant from the DCA, we played loads of gigs and all threw in as much of our own cash as we could. Making this album was a long process and throughout we were also touring nationally and releasing singles in the lead up to it. We wanted to make a record that could stand up against anyone else’s and the way we chose to do that, and promote it of course, was never going to be cheap. We needed all the funds we could get, really.

I think crowd funding has proved to be a brilliant and revolutionary avenue for artists to not just raise funds, but also have a closer connection with their audience by breaking down those barriers. There was a stigma attached to it for a while (I can’t quite tell if it still exists, no one brings it up around me these days…), like it was rude or something to ask people for money, but it’s hardly begging. You offer something in return for a donation. If people want to get involved it’s their decision, and that’s where the connection between you and you’re audience strengthens.

What affected your choice of platforms?
There are a few crowd funding websites out there, but Pozible seemed like the most trusted and recognizable of the lot. We figured if we’re asking people to donate money over the internet, they’d more likely feel comfortable doing it through Pozible.

How did you set your rewards?
We did a lot of basic merchandise packages and gave people the chance to pre-order the album. The song Cocoa Jackson from the new album was also offered as an exclusive download for people who donated. From there it went up to backyard shows, music lessons from the members of the band, a recorded cover song of the donator’s choice, all the way up to me shaving my head which, thankfully, never happened.

Were there any unforseen problems?
Not really, from the get-go everyone was very supportive. We were actually surprised at how many people wanted to be a part of it and were excited to hear a new album, which in turn gave us all the more encouragement to make a great record.

Any advice?
Be realistic about your goal. With Pozible, if you don’t raise the amount you’re asking for, you don’t get any of it. No one’s credit cards get charged until the campaign’s over. And unless you’re prepared to push yourself over the line, it could all go to waste because you set the bar too high. Also, put a lot of thought into the rewards you offer. It can feel self indulgent to put yourself out there in such a way – at first, I thought offering to record a cover of someone’s choice was a bit of a reach, but that reward turned out to be quite popular.

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