It's almost a certainty that at some point in the last twelve months, a band that you value has launched a campaign to secure funds for something or other. With the state of the music industry, and the lack of label support, the idea of crowdfunding a project has been increasingly more common. The major label model hasn't completely disappeared, but given the alternatives, it seems more likely by the day. And, as a result, the fans truly hold the power.
But before we extol the virtues of passing the collection plate, we have to remember that not all funding ventures are created equal. Be it a Juggalo-centric documentary, a book of poetry, or a one woman show, crowdfunded success is not a guarantee, or even a likelihood. But for a band looking to do something a little outside the norm, it can serve as a call to action and hype session, all at once.
And this is where Kickstarter, Indie Go-Go, and Pledgemusic, among many others, have become an integral part of the music industry structure. Their success and growing appeal is plain as day:
- You know where your money is going. All successful campaigns have one thing in common: clear, concise descriptions of why they're here, what they want, and where your hard earned money is going. Whether it's a new album, music video, or extensive tour, every penny (minus administrative costs) is going to good use.
- You're in on the ground floor. For the casual music fans - those who listen to music but rarely venture any deeper in the new, reviews and rumors that come along with being a full time fanatic - it gives you a small sneak peak at the process. You buy in to the idea the band is laying out. And you have a chance to see it go from idea to reality, thanks, in part, to your contribution.
- You know what you're getting. The beauty of the process is simple: you aren't giving your money away. The notion of a reward system makes "donating" your money easier. In fact, it's even simpler than that; you're buying something, up front, and your cash is being used to get it into your hands. You decide how much you want to give, based on what you want out of the project. CD, vinyl, digital downloads, shirts, signed artifacts, it's all there for you to choose from. It's fair value for your dollar.
It's more likely than not that you'd be spending the money anyway, so why not shell it out on the front end, and help things get rolling? And if the option is to give the money to the band, or to a cashier at a chain music store, the decision should be easy.
From the artist perspective, an open campaign is even more telling. They control how it is promoted, and how big the payoff will be. Success is a reinforcement of what they're doing. It means there is a concrete number of people who have committed, monetarily, and will receive content in exchange. It isn't a hope of sales, or an empty promise; it's a base line reading and it can only go up as you come closer to completion. Conversely, if it fails, it could also be a saving grace. Maybe the people, the fans, are trying to tell you something.
Put both perspectives together, and it all makes sense, doesn't it?
The major takeaway here is relatively simple: you have the power. With your clicks, your views, and, more specifically, how you spend your money, you tell the bands, the labels, and everyone that wants to keep their hand in the cookie jar what you want. And when your favorite band decides that crowdfunding is the best way to get the job done, pick your reward and tell them how much what they're doing means to you. You won't be alone. Unless you still want that Juggalo documentary to get made. Then you're alone.