The latest DIY trend in staying financially afloat is to jump on the fundraising bandwagon. Essentially replacing the financial backing of a record label, fundraising has become a very successful means of building the capital necessary to record full-length albums and purchase touring vehicles. The two most common tools used to set up fundraising campaigns are the donation-based Web sites indiegogo.com and kickstarter.com. Although Kickstarter may be more popular, Indiegogo has a much better system that works more for the musician. The most integral difference is that unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo lets bands keep whatever money they raise, even if they don’t make their goal (in Kickstarter, artists get nothing if their goal isn’t met). Furthermore, Indiegogo offers additional incentive by dropping its slice of the pie from 9 percent to 4 percent after the goal is met.
These campaigns have been remarkably successful, due in great part to a host of factors including digital trust, ease of use, promotion, and the sheep factor — the more people donate, the more legitimacy it gives a campaign, and thus the more inclined others are to donate. There’s plenty of information out there on how to create a successful campaign, but the most important elements to add are a clear and entertaining video pitch describing the intentions of the fundraiser, some awesome perks for contributors, and a heavy promotional push both online and at the shows. When creating the tier of perks and donations, do not underestimate fans’ wallets or generosity, and get creative with the big gifts. While most donations are typically in the $10–$20 range, there are always the high-roller surprises. As an example, out of the blue my own band recently received a $4,000 check after a show from a generous couple we’d never met before. This helped us raise our goal of $12,000 for a new van and trailer. From little victories of $1,000 campaigns to übergoals like March Fourth’s campaign of $46,000 for a new tour bus, the system works, so let the fans take part and make a difference.
Again, remember that none of these suggestions will generate an instant bump in income, but they can certainly nourish an emaciated financial foundation. Don’t quit the day job, but do try implementing these strategies. Try viewing the band as a cold hard business. It will only help things at the bargaining table, and who knows, maybe in a few months the band will graduate from the per weekum to per diem and you can all eat like kings at every gas station stop.