Crowdfunding, or raising varying amounts of money for an idea or project from many people, typically on the internet (as opposed to traditional funding sources like banks), has had some spectacular results. Witness the making of the “Veronica Mars” film, video games like Star Citizen and Project Eternity, 3D printers, smart home security systems, and so much more.
While Kickstarter is probably the best and most successful of the crowdfunding sites, artists and bands, both known and unknown, have also found success through some of the more music-specific sites like ArtistShare, Indiegogo, PledgeMusic, and Sellaband.
Is crowdfunding a good idea for finding your way to a summer music program?
No Free Lunch
Success at crowdfunding takes work on your part. Each crowdfunding site — and there are many — has its own approach and set of rules. To be successful, you need to survey the options and be clear on what each crowdfunding site allows.
Kickstarter, for instance, specifies that it “does not allow charity, cause, or ‘fund my life’ projects” and requires you to reach the goal you set for your project in order to see even a dime of the money you raise.
Most crowdfunding sites expect you to create a compelling video about your project to “sell” it to prospective supporters. They also expect you to offer “perks” or incentives in the form of a relevant gift back to contributors, the value of which increases, the higher the contribution.
A Successful Campaign
Brennan Lowrey, a high school sophomore and violinist from the small town of Sheridan, Arkansas, is crowdfunding his way to Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. He was thrilled to be accepted into the program, but the cost is prohibitive for his family. Even with the scholarship Interlochen offered, it’s too much of a stretch.
With the help of his parents, Brennan researched many options and came up with a crowdfunding plan through GoFundMe At the time of this writing, he had raised about 62% of his $6,500 goal. His crowdsourcing site allows him to keep what he raises minus administrative fees, regardless of whether he reaches his goal.
Anyone expecting crowdfunding to work for them should be ready to recruit an inner circle of family and friends to help them launch their project. Lowrey has done this and not surprisingly, he says that most of his supporters have been relatives, family friends, and people in his community. His secret to raising money? “Promote yourself and ask!” he offers. He adds that crowdfunding has been quicker and simpler and less awkward for him than personally contacting each and every person he knows.
Brennan’s mother Jennifer emphasizes the importance of Brennan “owning and managing” his fundraising campaign, from creating his video to the ongoing supervision of his GoFundMe page. She’s also urged him to “think outside the box” and not rule out any possible funders. Even the local newspaper has been contacted, to bring awareness to what Brennan is trying to do to make it possible to attend Interlochen this summer.
By the end of June, Brennan Lowrey fully expects to be playing his violin far from his home in Arkansas and close to Lake Michigan. When asked how he feels about what’s ahead, he responds, “Excited and terrified!”