Take Your Music From Crowdfunding To Fan-funding

Kavina Kumar
Kavina Kumar

The huge outpouring of support from our fans this year gave us the courage to try all types of funding, especially when the government support wasn’t quite the dish-out we needed to get us through the live music restrictions. As we retreated to the studio and honed digital skill sets we never thought we’d be touching when we signed up to be full-time Musos, we were pleasantly surprised when all roads lead back to something that fans were eager to jump on board with. Whether it was investing in our NFT (Non-fungible Tokens) experiments or sending us money for a coffee. 

Crowdfunding has shown us how a little from a lot of people can go a long way, and it made the self-conscious decision to ask fans for Kickstarter donations, a surprising new journey to be shared between artist and fan. We shouldn’t be so surprised as the one thing that social media and music have in common is the power to connect, and while fans adapted pretty quickly to support the artists they love from a distance, it was only a matter of time before crowd-funding took on a mind of its own and became a whole fan-driven economy. 

Why should you put the FAN into your FUNDING?

Yes, fan-funding is a thing now and it’s there because fans want to invest in music, not because you need it, so don’t feel so bad. Also, it’s taking over the crowdfunding model. It makes sense, with consumers only wanting more and more; I mean, I bet they’d wear your skin if you were selling it, it was only a matter of time before they integrated themselves fully into the artist experience. Did you think it would stop at TikTok lip-syncing videos? And it’s because we all want to be creators, we just lack the talent. (WAH).

Welcome to the creator economy 

That’s fine though because we have this new thing called the creator economy, population YOU. You may think of influencers and bloggers first, but musicians are content creators whose reaaaaally valuable content is everything related to music. 

Streaming profits haven’t been working out, not because Spotify is scamming you, they get a lot of flack but they give 70% of proceeds back to their artists, it’s just that the users of streaming sites are only willing to pay so much money for daily usage. 

Communication and content on the other hand are THRIVING. Forget about label deals and brand sponsorships, artists are earning money straight from their social media and selling directly to fans. Engagement platforms have transcended our hopes and dreams, and it’s only been a matter of time before technology caught up to allow musicians to become incentivised by their fans to create more content. Enter the fan fund. 

You don’t have to sing for your supper, this is the year of monetising stuff

Music doesn’t stop costing just because you can’t play gigs. In a relatable response, look up any fan-funding website and you will find mention of a reliable income stream as its first benefit(feels). Apart from financial stability, it’s another step into a deeper fan connection, where you can test new ideas and gain invaluable feedback from what your backers purchase and respond to. You can still interact directly and receive fan requests for the kinds of content they’d like to see, and it allows you the creative freedom to purpose exclusive tour footage, artworks, photography, lyric writing, private performances, NFTs, and all the other content you’ve been giving away for free, into digital merchandise that’s purchasable. This just happens to be a far more fruitful connection because you give them what they want, and you have the income to do it.

Have FUN with it. 

Whether you are funding the next music video and had a vision that it was on top of the Eiffel tower, or you wanted to record your first album and needed help to get to your Guru in Joshua Tree, there’s a story behind the music, and we all want to be a part of seeing unique projects come to life. 

From crowdfunding to fan-funding: A quick journey (jump in anytime) 

It all started with crowdfunding; 

Kickstarter

A term that is synonymous with crowdfunding, Kickstarter is one of the big three crowdfunding sites, alongside Gofundme and Indiegogo. Used as a platform for “bringing creative projects to life” – in their own words, it has launched projects in technology, film, gaming, music, and the arts. If you can put a price on it, and call it a product, then you’re ready. 

Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing payment model, where you set the deadline(they say 30 days is the most effective) and if a project meets its funding goals, the project funds are transferred from the backer’s accounts to the creator. As an incentive to pledge different amounts, the creator offers rewards from the project like limited editions, or copies of the albums before release. 

Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from successfully funded projects as well as a transaction fee for donations, so check the fine print when choosing a funding site that works for your fans.   

Indiegogo

One of the first crowdfunding sites, and the main alternative to Kickstarter, Indiegogo is well known for its focus on innovation but has a lot to offer for Muso’s, who opt for it because it’s an Indie alternative to the Kickstarter giant… sort of. Its main difference to Kickstarter is that it offers a flexible funding goal – as well as the all-or-nothing model if you want it. Money is distributed straight away, so it’s a great tool to consider for ongoing costs, like tour costs and music video production. 

If you don’t need a fixed amount to get a project off the ground, then Indiegogo is a great gateway from crowd-funding into fan-funding. As consumers don’t feel the pressure of fully funding an entire album in 30 days, this way offers a catch-free approach to one-off donations without having to join a subscription, or purchase content, which they may not be interested in, especially if you’re just building a following.

A crossover to Fan-funding; 

Bandzoogle

Launched in 1999, and way ahead of its time, we can’t not mention the founder Chris Vinson from Rubberman. What started as a way for bands to build EPKs and websites, became their all-in-one marketplace for merch and commission-free music, plus crowdfunding and fan subscriptions. With over $83 million in commission-free sales(and counting), they’ll even dive into SEO and growing an online community that converts your social media following into loyal music supporters who want to fund your journey. 

Patreon 

If you’re getting into ongoing content creation then check out the Patreon funding model.  

Amanda Palmer fans unite, and I won’t go into too much depth because you can find what’s basically her love letter to the platform on her Patreon page. While she was stuck in New Zealand during COVID, she was able to harness her social fanbase by creating a monthly paid subscription on Patreon, where she released content in exchange. And that’s essentially the whole vibe because musicians will always be incurring costs, it makes sense to take your most loyal fans on the journey with you by including them in whatever projects you’re working on at the time. 

Patreon stems from the Rennaissance concept of patronage, where the homies would pay for Michelangelo’s bed and board so that he could focus on creation, not his part-time job as Coffee Exhibitionist – goals. Plus, Kimbra is a vibe, if she’s using it, we’ll give it a go. 

Fan-initiated funding; 

Brace yourself because this is where the future starts to look bright, and it’s driven by fan demand.

Cameo 

One of the first of its kind to exist, and it would be hard not to mention, even if you’re not Boy George or Snoop Dogg because it paved the way for a marketplace in celebrity social content. From Kyle Chalmers(he would), to Tom Felton, to an unsurprisingly large reality-tv base, stars have been unwittingly creating digital content that you might be giving away for free. So go have a look, have a chuckle, and use some of the personalised message ideas to craft your own fan rewards because nothing beats a personal connection. 

Serenade 

Apart from personalised performances, Serenade gives fans a chance to stake ownership over musicians’ content in a digital world through their new limited edition marketplace. Launched in 2020 during the pandemic, it offers fans the chance to purchase NFT’s(Non-fungible Tokens) and other bits of art content from their favourite bands, which moves beyond funding goals for a certain project, to the selling of singular digital merchandise. The merch is similar to that offered for tiers of crowdfunding, which become standalone items. Serenade creator Max Shand puts it as “tightening the relationship between creator and fan,” and as content and social media continue to overlap, musicians can harness the creator economy to sell social content that still encompasses their bands’ identity and music direction. 

You’ll see names like Ladyhawke, Ben Lee, and Bernard Fanning(Powderfinger) on there, so you’re in good company. 

WeeBID

This is a hot tip for you early adopters because WeeBID hasn’t even launched yet – but you can now sign up. A marketplace for fans to fund projects from their favourite artists in exchange for unique content requests. Its founder Greg Spero got the idea while touring with Halsey as her meet-and-greet fans kept asking her for different things, which she obviously wouldn’t have the time or incentive to take on as individual projects.

Separately, on his Weeklypiano youtube channel, he kept getting requests in the comments section for so many different techniques that he couldn’t keep up. He decided that the only way to make it feasible for everyone was to monetise the unique requests. And his community of fans loved it! 

So there you have it, fan-funding and the ways of 2021. 

Enjoy your search, package up your music-inspired content and see what the world makes of it. You could surprise yourself more than the time you learned about a gig-booking platform called Muso App that connects you straight to all the gigs in your city. 

Laughin mate, just laughin.