Yesterday I found out that I did not receive the grant I applied for from the City of Seattle for my Nick Drake Project. While it would’ve been nice to have their support, I know that grants are a crap-shoot that I can’t expect them.
The good news is that now I know and can proceed accordingly.
What this means is that now I have to up the ante for my fan-funding/micropatronage campaign for the project. If that’s a new concept to you, fan-funding/micropatronage has become a common way for independent artists like me to raise the money needed to make a record by asking their fans, friends and family to help out by pre-ordering the CD.
You may remember that I have run two such campaigns in the last couple years, one for the Jason Parker Quartet’s last CD and one for the JPQ tour last Spring. At the time that I ran these campaigns there weren’t any third-party sites helping musicians figure this stuff out so I just did it myself. I designed a page, built some PayPal buttons and put it up. Much to my surprise there were dozens of people willing to contribute to my dreams, and I couldn’t have done either the CD or the tour without their support.
Nowadays there are many sites that can help me run a campaign for the Nick Drake Project. The site that has generated the most attention and helped more artists than any other is Kickstarter. They have helped hundreds (maybe thousands) of artists raise the much-needed money to see their projects through to fruition.
To Kickstarter Or Not To Kickstarter
As I plan my upcoming campaign I find myself wondering if it’d be best to do it myself or to enlist the help of Kickstarter. There are pro’s and con’s to both and I’m having a hard time deciding which way to go.
The cool thing about Kickstarter is that it provides a really nice interface and does all the work so that I don’t have to design my own page. Check out my friend Andrew Boscardin’s Kickstarter page for his recently completed campaign for his band Zubatto Syndicate here. It’s really slick and clean and gives you lots of multi-media capabilities. Granted, I could do this all myself but it would take some time to design and do all the coding and updates.
It may be that using Kickstarter lends a sense of legitimacy to a project. Instead of just little old me asking for money and backers sending their contributions straight to my PayPal account, the transaction is handled by Amazon Payments. For people that don’t already know me this might be a good thing. For my fans/friends/family I don’t think it’s really an issue.
There are two things about Kickstarter that could be good or bad. One is that you have to limit your campaign to a finite timeframe, like 30 or 60 days. This could be good as it lends a sense of urgency to the project, but it also condenses it down to a smaller amount of time than my past campaigns. The second thing is that with Kickstarter its all or nothing. You have to set a goal, and if you reach the goal your project gets funding. If you don’t, you get nothing and no money is charged to the backers. This is good in that it gives a concrete number to shoot for and a goal to keep in mind. But it’s terrifying to think of not reaching my goal and getting zero dollars!
The only downside I see to Kickstarter is that it does put a middle man between me and you, my fans/friends/family. Instead of going to my website you’d be going to theirs, and all correspondence between me and the backers would be through their system, not direct emails from me. I don’t like the sense of disconnect this brings, but maybe it’s not that big a deal.
What Do YOU Think?
Since I’m conflicted about all of this I thought I’d ask you your opinion. You are my target audience here, and most of the support I receive will probably come from you, my fans/friends/family. What do you think about DIY vs. Kickstarter? Are you more likely to contribute one way or the other? Does it matter? If you’ve tried Kickstarter, did you like it, not like it, have mixed feelings?
I would truly appreciate your input. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.