The Secret to Successful Crowdfunding

The Secret to Successful Crowdfunding


Today’s post comes from well-known music strategist and music business writer, Carlos Castillo. We’ve written a number of articles on crowdfunding, Kickstarter, and getting your fans to be part of the process. But we love this post because Carlos re-emphasizes some important points while offering a fresh perspective.


I know how exciting it is to hear a secret, so I’ll get right to the point and then offer some additional insight. The secret to successful crowdfunding is perspective. “What perspective?” You may ask. Well, here’s the key: CROWDFUNDING IS NOT CHARITY. CROWDFUNDING IS PRESALE.

Pretty simple, right?

When the concept of crowdfunding first circulated it was presented as a way for people who didn’t have any money to raise funds to complete their projects. Now don’t get me wrong, it still serves that purpose. But you don’t have to be broke to take advantage of crowdfunding. Therefore, you shouldn’t approach it from the perspective of being a charity.


Other than approaching the idea as if you were on the street corner with a cardboard sign, there are some pitfalls that musicians tend to fall into that I’d like to point out in order to help you avoid them.

Putting crowdfunding before fan building:

Although there is a discovery element to most crowdfunding platforms, you’re gonna end up very disappointed if you try starting a campaign without a significant fanbase with which to start.

Buying followers:

Just because you bought them doesn’t mean they’re gonna buy your crap. You don’t need a huge fanbase to run a successful campaign. You just need an active group of loyal fans. The kind you earn one at a time and interact with regularly.

Failing to give your fans an experience:

You’re not just selling downloads and t-shirts. You are including your fans in the creative journey. (See: The Art of Asking Your Fans For StuffMore on this in the next section…

Troubles with fulfillment:

Make sure to get all the pertinent information as you take orders for the perks and exclusives you are offering. One of the most commonly overlooked pieces of information is the size preference for t-shirts. But also, make sure not to offer the house concert option to people in Thailand if you’re not going to be able to follow through.

Disappearing after the campaign is over:

There is often a gap between when all the money is collected and the final product is released. Don’t leave your fans hanging like a prom date that might not show up. They spent a lot of money on that dress. Make sure they know your still taking them to the dance. Keep them updated as to your progress.


Give Your Fans What They Want

If you really do want to get the most out of your music career and have a genuine connection and reciprocal relationship with your audience, you’ve got to give them what they want. Well what do they want? Here’s an easy way to figure that out: Think of someone you admire. What would you want from them? Here are some examples:

  • Fans want to participate in the creative process. They want pics and stories from the studio. They want to vote on the album cover. They want to see their name in the credits.
  • Fans want to share the exclusive updates. And when they do so on social media it will generate more traffic back to your campaign.
  • Fans want acoustic versions of their favorite songs. And when you play them live it’s a great opportunity to pitch your campaign and let them know that acoustic downloads are available for contributors.
  • Fans want options other than just the album. They want test presses, signed CDs, vinyl, handwritten lyric sheets, house concerts, and all the intangible stuff that the traditional consumer experience leaves out. You are a creative person. Here’s an opportunity to use your artistic side as your business acumen.

How This All Benefits You

You’re making an album for people who have already bought it. This way you don’t have to feel pressured to be a salesman. And we all know that an artist is more interesting when he is an artist than when he is a salesman.

You have so much more to offer than a $12 album download. Connecting with your fans gives you all that much more opportunity to generate income. Even after the campaign is long over, every time a fan listens to your music they will reminisce about the experience they shared with you. That’s how you turn fans into superfans.  See 5 Tips For Making True Blue Fans.

And finally, isn’t it so very liberating to be able to walk into the studio with everything already paid for so that all you have to think about is making music? And this goes for musicians at absolutely any level of success at any point in their career!

Fun Stats from Benji Rogers of PedgeMusic

Well, anytime I write an article like this, people ask me which service I would most recommend. So as the above title indicates, I’m going to take this opportunity to give the Schwilly Family Stamp of Crowdfunding Excellence for Musicians to PledgeMusic.

Not only is this platform built for musicians by musicians, but also Benji and his excellent staff are there to guide you through the process every step of the way. I’ve never waited more than a few hours for a response to an email. And I’ve never seen higher success rates for musical crowdfunding campaigns. So the last thing I want to do is share with you a few interesting statistics I got from the founder himself:

  • 22% of PledgeMusic site traffic comes from fans sharing pledgers-only updates.
  • 75% of pledgers contribute to a campaign without knowing the band personally. Ergo, they are the email subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc..
  • The average pledge is $55-$70.
  • 37% of pledges are over $250.
  • 37% of the income comes after the 30-60 day campaign on other platforms would have ended.
  • PledgeMusic boasts an 86% success rate of reaching funding targets.
  • On average it takes 17 pledges-only updates to hit your financial goal.

I am in no way compensated for endorsing PledgeMusic, so let me just finish by saying that whatever platform you choose, crowdfunding truly is a great new way for musicians to get the most out of their careers as quickly as possible. So GO GET YOURS!

My special gift to Grassrootsy Readers

I help musicians identify key niches, connect authentically to passionate fans, and turn them into paying customers. So I put together a Music Marketing Strategy Guide that I would like to share with Grassrootsy readers, just because I love Grassrootsy (and you!) so much. Check out this Schwilly Family Musicans page, drop your email and I’ll send you over some awesome stuff I’m preparing especially for musicians like you.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. An 11-page Strategy Guide for Marketing your Music online.
  2. Regular updates and tips on how to make the most of your music career.
  3. The opportunity to open a one-on-one dialogue with me about your musical journey, goals, and strategies about how to accomplish them.

Thanks so much for reading my stuff and don’t forget to check out Schwilly Family Musicians.


Captian1Carlos Castillo is a music marketing strategist, live performance recordist, international road-tripper, lap steel player, and Captain of the Schwilly Family. Find him at SchwillyFamilyMusicians.Com, tweet him at@CaptainSchwilly, or email him at Carlos@SchwillyFamilyMusicians.Com.

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