Getting started in the arts can really be difficult.
Whether you’re trying to produce an EP or an album for your band or planning to shoot an independent film, it’s extremely hard to get started without funding.
While there are definitely ‘more traditional’ ways to get funding, such as scoring a record deal, getting a grant from funding bodies or approaching wealthy investors and convincing them of your worth, the internet is now providing many with another solution, and it’s all through the power of social media.
No matter how worthy you think a cause might be, the act of forking out money can often be seen as a risky investment, as there’s no real way of knowing how much others have contributed to the cause or whether it’s actually going to go ahead. Also, not very many people like giving away something for nothing, and would be happier to ‘buy’ something if they knew they were going to get a return on it. This is where crowdfunding sites come in – to bridge the gap between uncertainty and making plans a reality.
To explain the concept of crowdfunding, it would probably be easier to use a real-life example.
The Jane Austen Argument are a Melbourne cabaret duo who are currently generating money to make their debut album through the Australian crowdfunding site pozible.com . They already had a number of fans through playing a number of gigs (including a national tour with Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls) and had already independently released a few EPs, but they knew an album was going to cost a lot more money to produce. They created a Pozible page, setting the funding goal at $5000. People could pledge as much money as they wanted, from just $1 to hundreds of dollars, but the money would only come off their credit card if the $5000 goal was reached during the time limit set. This way, people could be certain that their donation was going to achieve results, and that they wouldn’t be losing money to a dead cause.
On top of this, the band offered different ‘rewards’ depending on how much was donated. For example, a donation of $15 or more would entitle you to a digital download of the album, once it was made. A donation of $30 or more would entitle you to a signed copy, while $50 would get you a signed copy plus a tour booklet memento. For a couple of hundred more dollars, rewards included a 20 minute concert over Skype, a song written especially for you, or even a private performance at your house – all yours in thanks for your hefty donation.
Novel ways of funding such as this are good as they not only generate excitement, but can be spread quite easily over the internet through the use of Facebook (an event was made that their fans were invited to) and Twitter (constant reminders were sent out to please donate), as well as fans passing on information to their friends with an easy link to their page. Also, having exciting rewards for the more expensive donations encouraged some fans to pool in money to have them play at their house, while another couple booked them for their wedding.
In this case, the Jane Austen Argument are a success story, having passed their $5000 goal and being on their way to $10,000 – enough to cover all the costs of their album. If it worked for them, there’s no reason why it couldn’t work for you – and could be a great way to get an EP recorded for your band or some money together to make a music video or short film – other artists have even used this method to pre-sell tickets for shows with the concert only happening if enough people have pledged to come. The only downside is that crowdfunding sites do take a percentage of the money donated to you as a fee, but still, the ease of getting donations and the clear transparency of the financial growth of your dream is seen by many to be worth the cost.