Thinking about using Kickstarter to fund your album?
Here are some thoughts to work on beforehand.
Recently, I spoke with Yancey Strickler, who is the co-founder of Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform for creativity. In this interview, Strickler talks about moving past a one-size fits all model for financing creativity, how pull marketing models relate to Kickstarter, and why fan-funding encourages fans to become more active particiapants in their cultural lives.
On Kickstarter there’s no one to satisfy except your fans.
Yancey Strickler: The biggest differences are in who controls the relationship. Labels, studios, publishers, etc have always shielded artists from the public, but we’ve now reached a moment where that fan relationship is every artist’s most important asset. Relationships can’t be pirated, and neither can the shared experiences that come with them. A Kickstarter project hones those interactions.
Artists and fans have always had relationships, of course. The difference now is that the relationship is being pushed further up the pipe. Rather than waiting until the album is out and the tour is in full swing to engage, it’s now in everyone’s best interests to interact from the get-go. Don’t wait until the thing is out to build an audience. Do it constantly and directly. Invite people to participate as much as you feel comfortable. If you’re lucky enough to have an audience that deeply cares about your work, reward them! Bring them closer, make them part of the process, think like a fan.
How does crowdfunding encourage fans to become more active participants in their cultural lives and does it serve to more closely connect fans to the material processes of arts creation?
Yancey Strickler: The web has been steadily pulling us toward an author-less society. We don’t think of culture as being created, we think of it as being ubiquitous. It just exists, and it diminishes the importance of the source material. As great as the latest animated GIF meme might be, it wouldn’t exist without that primary recorded action. This is something we often forget. We need to reattach art to its author. Without it we feel entitled to everything — piracy increases and our respect for the creative process diminishes. We need to remember that art comes from people. It’s not an algorithm, it’s not magically generated in the cloud. It originates from people like us.
What are the essential elements of contribution tiers?
Yancey Strickler: Rewards are very important. On Kickstarter they loosely breakdown into four types:
1) Presell the thing. Someone raises money to make a record; you get a copy when it’s done.
2) Limited Editions. First 100 copies of the deluxe vinyl are individually numbered and personally signed.
3) Sharing the story. Here’s a token that demonstrates your involvement in the project and my appreciation for it. Think Polaroids from the studio, old guitar strings, etc.
4) Creative experiences. Bring someone into the process itself. “This track needs handclaps — come in the studio and provide them.”