How to Use Kickstarter to Fund Your A Cappella Album: Lessons from the Starving Artists and OOTB
Looking for alternative ways to fund your next a cappella album?
OOTB has noticed that a cappella groups are increasingly turning to Kickstarter, the “world’s largest funding platform for creative projects,” to fund their albums. Kickstarter allows anyone to set up a donation page, set a target amount of money to be raised, and get donations via Amazon Payments. There’s also a safety mechanism in place—if the target amount isn’t raised, Kickstarter refunds all donations, so your money won’t be wasted.
We talked to Abby Armstrong, Business Manager of the Brandeis Starving Artists, about their experience with Kickstarter. She and OOTB have compiled some great advice for a cappella groups who want to make the most out of the Kickstarter experience!
1. Bring up your Kickstarter account to friends and family in a personal way, not just by sharing the link. Most of the Starving Artists’ donations came from people they knew personally. Every person in the group wrote “personalized emails, letters, [and] made phone calls” to share their funding search with people they cared about. Reach out to alumni as well! Your alums are one of your biggest markets for your CD, and if you give them a way to finance the CD, they can feel even more connected to the process.
2. Set a realistic goal. Remember, if you don’t meet your goal, you don’t get any of the money! You can think of your Kickstarter project as part of a series of installment payments for your CD. The Starving Artists used Kickstarter to raise a large block of money to record their CD the first time around, but they’re shifting to a more staggered recording experience. Kickstarter can be the way you fund recording or mixing—it doesn’t have to be your sole source of money for the whole CD! However, if you’re worried about not making your goal, try out indiegogo.com. It’s basically Kickstarter, but even if you don’t make your goal, you get all of the donations contriubuted to your project. Some friends of ours at Brown, the Bear Necessities, are using indiegogo to fund their latest CD, Eat the Beach.
3. Use Kickstarter as a way to presell your CD. People are much more willing to donate money if they know they’ll get a good return. Advertise your Kickstarter as a way to get in the door early.
4. Create awesome incentives for your donation amounts. One of the coolest projects on Kickstarter are the Double Fine adventure games. I talked to a friend who enjoys adventure games about the incentives on Double Fine’s Kickstarter page, and he had this to say:
"Double Fine’s Kickstarter project is awesome because you get to see the whole process from start to finish. They send out a really well-done documentary video every month (seriously, Tim Schafer is hilarious), so I get to experience the most exciting and interesting parts of building the game without actually having to do any of the work. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.”
Double Fine is using incentives that get people excited about the finished product and reminds them that their money is being well-used. OOTB is no stranger to prerelease videos (remember the OOTB Recording Project, which took you behind the scenes of 16 Edgwood?) and we think they’re a great way to engage your Kickstarter donors. Try using traditional incentives, like signed CDs or T-shirts, but here are some other ideas we thought up:
- Sneak peeks of songs before they’ve been released. Everyone likes to have early access to cool stuff!
- Blooper tracks. Every so often, recording just doesn’t go quite right the first time. I have some “less than perfect” but hilarious takes from 16 Edgewood in my iTunes right now. These are especially wonderful for alumni and family members.
- Interviews with pitches, business managers, and professionals mixing the CD. Other a cappella groups are interested in how you record and how to save time and money! Let them know what you’re up to from a technical standpoint.
- Personalized recordings for big donors. The Starving Artists offered private performances to people within 100 miles of their school. You can offer live performances to donors close to you, or record a quick birthday greeting, hello, or thank you to those farther away.
5. Publicize your CD after it’s done. Try to get as much information as possible to your donors after your project is complete. If possible, send a thank-you email to each individual. After all, if they donated, they’re probably interested in your group, and you want them to associate you with quality CDs and friendly people.
A cappella groups are utilizing Kickstarter to create exciting new CDs! Kickstarter is convenient, and also levels the playing field a bit for new a cappella groups with less alumni support than others. OOTB encourages you to check it out (not just for a cappella CDs, but other awesome projects like An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, which is readings of Neil Gaiman’s work live and set to music!).
P.S. Check out the Starving Artist’s latest CD produced with help from Kickstater, Order Up!