Posts

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

New Artist Model member Justin Ratowsky of Cali Conscious

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model: Turn your passion for music into a rewarding career.

Cali Conscious is all about good vibrations. The reggae band that got its start playing under the pier in Huntington Beach, California combines a talent for creating great music with a commitment to organizing beach cleanups and helping the homeless.

The group recently launched a new social media campaign to attract fans to its message of peace, love and environmental preservation. And so far, it’s working.

“We’ve gotten over 1200 email subscribers and more than 10,000 Instagram followers in the past 12 months,“ according to Justin Ratowsky, the band’s guitarist.  “We are implementing the strategy of giving away our music in exchange for email addresses that we learned in Dave Kusek’s New Artist Model to successfully create our own fan base.”

“Our goals are to support our families by doing what we love while performing and touring on a national and global level.  We also want to continue to grow our subscriber base to over 100,000 and get our music licensed for TV and film,” he says.

Cali Conscious plays 25 shows a month in the summer and 15 in the off season.  The group is currently hard at work on its second album which will be released in 2016 and supported by a tour.  In addition to Justin, the group includes Anthony Haas on bass, Jason Sandoval on trumpet, Chad Stanner on keyboards, Chuy Vidales on drums, Dig Gbye on percussion, and Stephen Wood on sax.

Cali Conscious puts almost as much work into activism as it does into music.  The band has organized monthly community beach clean ups in Huntington Beach and funded construction of a clean water well in Ethiopia by donating live performance tips to charity:water.org.  Cali Conscious doesn’t sell plastic CDs at its shows and created a plantable paper download card embedded with carrot, lettuce, and tomato seeds to celebrate the release of its first album “High Times.”

The group is making the website Noise Trade a centerpiece of its current social media campaign, Justin says.  The music distribution platform lets the group trade their music to anyone who shares their email and zipcode on the Cali Conscious website.  http://caliconscious.com/  Currently, the group gives followers a download of “High Times” as well as an EP featuring acoustic versions of four songs from the new album.  

“You should use your social media platforms and the real estate on your website, to give away songs and build that relationship with your fans to gain trust and turn them into superfans,” says Justin, adding that “superfans” to him, are people who share news about the band with their followers.

Justin believes that developing 1000 superfans will enable Cali Conscious to have a sustainable music career — one that includes adequate support for crowdfunding, merchandise sales, touring and live shows.

“With Noise Trade, we get email and zip codes and fans get to download and share on Twitter and Facebook.  It lets you encourage your fan base to become part of your marketing team,” he says, adding that the service also allows fans to “tip” musicians.  “Noise Trade charges 20 percent of the money that comes in but we are still getting revenue from that every month.”

Raising awareness about the group and its music will help the band complete its newest album.  The offering will be paid for, at least in part, with a crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

“This next album will put us out there as an Orange County band starting to break through.  We believe in our producer and the message,” Justin says.  “We already have 30-40,000 listens on Pandora or Spotify.  I think when our next album comes out and we step up our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get more organized and put up our video, I’m hoping we can reach 100,000 subscribers. “

Gigging is the main source of revenue for Cali Conscious. On May 21, the group will play the Concert for the Coast in Santa Barbara where they will feature “One Love For You,” a song about homelessness written by percussionist  Dig Gbye and the first single from the new album. The band will make a music video for the song that includes an informal “jam session” with local homeless men and women.  

During their visit to the city, the band will also provide blankets, clothing, food, water and socks to people in need with the help of online sock retailer Bombas http://www.bombas.com

“Water,” the second single from the new album, will also get its own video. All proceeds will benefit Gravity Water, a nonprofit dedicated to providing filtration and storage systems to poor communities around the globe.  http://www.gravitywater.org/  Both of the videos for the singles will be included in a pre-purchase crowdfunding campaign, Justin says.

While using social media can be exciting and productive, it is essential for musicians to stay up to date on each service’s policies and guidelines, Justin says.  Early in his career, he gave away music from his own CD “Enjoy the Sunshine” to users on Facebook and got blocked by the company for a time. “They thought it was spam,” he says.  

“Be aware of limits on how many people you can contact each day and how different social media systems work. Their policies are always evolving,” Justin says.  “At this point, the main reason we are using social media, besides putting out photos, is to try to get people to go to our website. I want to get as much exposure for our website as possible. This is also something we learned from the New Artist Model.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools can really help musicians advance their careers — but players should never forgot about the importance of personal connection. Justin knows from firsthand experience that it is impossible to predict when opportunities will appear.

A local entertainment lawyer introduced the band to renowned recording engineer and producer Sjoerd Koppert who has worked with Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Doobie Brothers and other bands. Out of nowhere, this chance meeting from a mutual connection turned into an incredible opportunity to record in a top studio.   

“I went from busking to a million dollar studio,” Justin says. The result?  His first EP “Enjoy the Sunshine.”

That recording is at the heart of another story about the power of networking. Music from “Enjoy the Sunshine” can be heard in the new documentary film “Return to Cape St. Francis” created by Robert August. August starred in the iconic surf documentary “The Endless Summer” which was released in 1966. Justin performed at the Newport Film Festival this April when the documentary premiered.

Justin has played the Huntington Beach High School Surf Team’s annual banquet for the the past six years, and the coach of that club just happened to be the director or “Return to Cape Francis.” That connection ended up getting his music in the hands of Robert August.

Justin and his bandmates are excited about what lies ahead for Cali Conscious. A bigger fanbase, new album and tour all point to great things for the band. While Justin is looking to the future, he emphasizes the importance of never losing sight of the values that define the group.

“The most important part of our music is the message we have in our lyrics, that’s how we want to connect with our fans. We strongly feel we have this musical ability and we are purposefully using a positive message to help bring the world together through our lyrics,” Justin says. “We want to be a catalyst for our fans to inspire change. If we can create an easy avenue for them to be able to support our music but also support causes we believe in — like getting water to the world and making sure that people on the streets have warm feet — that’s where we want to be.”

Embracing these values have encouraged the group to do benefit shows for The Walk for Arthritis which drew an audience of 4000 to Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, Surf’s Up for Down Syndrome and Walk On Water, a nonprofit that offers sports therapy for children with disabilities including autism, among others.

“It is important to use our gifts as musicians to make the world a better place and encourage others,” Justin says.  “I am glad to use my talent as a vessel to do good in the world.”

To learn more about Cali Conscious visit http://caliconscious.com/

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more info on the New Artist Model visit http://newartistmodel.com

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

New Artist Model member Eric John Kaiser

By Dave Kusek and Lindsay McGrath
Sponsored by the New Artist Model
Turn your passion for music into a career

Eric John Kaiser is the “French Troubadour.”  A native of Paris who lives in Portland, Oregon, this independent artist sings in French and plays guitar music steeped in  American jazz and blues.  He calls his style Parisian Americana.

“I am a songwriter and storyteller. That is what I like to do – to connect with people,” Eric says, adding that he supports himself entirely with his music. “I admire the storytelling tradition of American music, the way it combines with everything from the Delta blues to jazz. Being here in the U.S., I get the chance to live it every day rather than see it at a distance.”

Eric moved to the States in 2006.  He has released four albums and played at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco, the Blue Nile in New Orleans, the Solidays Festival in Paris and shared the stage with the Welsh super stars the “Stereophonics.”  

Eric has also toured with French star Tété, “The Lost Bayou Ramblers” in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the French band “Revolver.”

Exploring North America on multiple lengthy tours, Eric has gigged his way up through Canada and down through the South, as far as New Orleans and Washington D.C.

“If you want to go the indie route, learning about marketing is really important.  What I like about the New Artist Model (http://newartistmodel.com) is that it teaches you clearly how to get different sources of income from gigging, recording and publishing,” Eric says.  “There is no excuse not to educate yourself and the New Artist Model is the way to go.”

Before emigrating to the U.S., Eric played out part-time in Paris and did other work in the music industry. He was a programmer for the Fun Radio Network, did public relations at Source Records (a division of Virgin) and co-hosted the live music show “Melting Pop” on French television network Direct 8.

“By the time I moved to Portland, I felt like I had enough knowledge to starting playing out full-time,” Eric says, adding that local gigging at French restaurants and coffee shops helped get his career off the ground and build his confidence.

Eric still plays out a lot in Portland but says dates are getting harder to find.

“The local gigging scene is changing. Portland is saturated with musicians and it is getting harder and harder to find gigs to make a living,” Eric says, adding that many small venues are closing as more condominium and office developments spring up.

As the city has evolved, so has Eric’s business strategy.  While the bulk of his income still comes from gigging, Eric also receives money from fan funding to pay for video and recording costs.  Album pre-orders are also a good source of funds. Eric offers French cultural presentations in area schools and workshops on French songwriting.  He also performs at weddings and plays the occasional house concert.

New Artist Model has shown me the value of getting a bunch of different income streams happening.”

Crowdfunding helped Eric complete two 2014 albums.  A Kickstarter campaign for “Idaho” raised just over $7000 while a RocketHub drive for “Outside It’s America” brought in $5000.  “Idaho” enjoyed pre-sales of 400 and its Portland CD release party sold out.

Eric is about to start a new Kickstarter campaign for an album he will complete in Quebec this June. He does one crowdfunding drive every two years.

“One of the most important things to do when crowdfunding is to keep expectations realistic”, Eric says.  “After all, it is a process based on trust, and trust takes time.”

“It only works if people already know you. Success with this didn’t happen in two weeks.  It is trust that was built over the years.” says Eric. “Build a fanbase first. You can’t just post a crowdfunding project and expect people to support you.”

Understanding the kind of crowdfunding your fans will support is important too, Eric adds.  His Patreon page encourages people to donate monthly or for each new creation. So far, it hasn’t brought in much money.

“My audience is a bit older,” he says.  “It scares many people to do it month by month.  They associate it with paying bills.”

Social media is Eric’s primary tool for staying in touch with fans — and he uses it in a way that embraces his unique musical niche.  Copy on his site http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com  appears in both English and French.  

People who give Eric their full name and email address get three free songs when they sign up.  “It is a worthwhile investment”, he says.

“Lots of people don’t believe in email lists but I do,” he says.  “Don’t just depend on Facebook, don’t let it control your contacts.”

Email is the most important channel Eric uses to keep in touch with fans — with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram close behind.  He reaches out to his fans once a day using his social media channels and sends our an email to his list once a month.  There are more than 4000 people on his email list and roughly the same number of friends on his Facebook page. He does not put much work into creating new fans online, opting instead to let it happen organically in person. “The connection with people at my shows is much stronger,” he says.

While Eric uses social media, he also spreads the word about his work in ways that are decidedly low-tech. He uses flyers and posters to announce his shows and asks French bakeries, restaurants and cultural organizations to help him spread the word. He also contacts local media outlets for coverage. “I’ve learned to make things easy for people who want to talk about you,” Eric says, adding that providing well written bios and promotional materials increase your chances of getting covered. “Be concise, precise and provide links that work.”

Eric spends each day on a combination of creativity and commerce. He rises early, checks his email and then reads marketing articles from the New Artist Model and other sources. He works on songwriting for a couple of hours. In the afternoon he works on booking gigs. Evenings are often spent playing out.

Some of his current projects include beefing up his YouTube channel with more cover songs and booking more house tours — both efforts inspired by the New Artist Model.

“People don’t realize how much work it is.  A labor of love that is almost 7 days a week.  If I don’t work, there is nothing that is going to be handed to me”, he says.  “Art and business have to cohabitate together. Like a brother you kind of get along with but not really — hey it’s your brother!”

Eric finds time to give back to the community in spite of his heavy workload. In the wake of the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Eric organized a benefit concert in Portland to raise funds to aid victims.  Eric and his musician friends raised more than $1800 for the French nonprofit organization IMAD which battles racism.

Eric says he will continue his musical journey through America this year with more dates in Vancouver, San Francisco, Portland, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

Learn more about Eric here: http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com/

New Artist Model is an online music business school developed by Dave Kusek, founder of Berklee Online. The online school is a platform for learning practical strategies and techniques for making a living in music. Learn how to carve a unique path for your own career with strategies that are working for indie artists around the world. Learn to think like an entrepreneur, create your own plan and live the life in music you want to live. New Artist Model provides practical college-level music business training at a mere fraction of the cost of a college degree. Programs start at just $29/mo. For more information visit http://newartistmodel.com

149374353

In the past, money was a huge barrier for musicians, and one of the main reasons many were forced to tie themselves to a record label. Today, many musicians are finding their own ways to creatively fund their albums and tours, with the most popular option being crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a huge undertaking, but, if done correctly, you can come out of it with a whole lot more than just money. It also presents dedicated and creative artists a chance to connect with their fans in a whole new way.

Learn how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign with these 5 tips:

1. It takes a crowd.  

I think a lot of people mistake crowdfunding for an endless well of money, but, the sky is not the limit. The amount of money you can raise is entirely dependant on the size of your fan base – your crowd. Generally, the more fans you have the more money you will be able to raise, although there are other variables like fan dedication and income level. Amanda Palmer was able to raise upwards of a million because she has a huge, dedicated fanbase with spare cash to throw around. Pretty much the perfect scenario.

There’s no way to tell exactly how dedicated your fans are and how much money they would be willing to donate, but you can look at some figures to get a better idea. Look at how many people you have on your email list, how many people come to your shows, and how many people you have following you on social media. Don’t assume that every one of your fans will donate – even the most amazing musician in the world couldn’t accomplish that.

Think about how much your average fan would be willing to spend to help your cause. If your fanbase is generally high schoolers or college kids, they may not have as much spare cash as working adults in their 30’s. Think about what your super fans may be willing to spend. If you offer any higher-end products on your website – like VIP passes – look at how many of those typically sell to gage the amount of dedicated fans you have. Use all of this to set a reasonable goal. Setting a goal too high and not meeting it is a depressing thing no one wants to face. Not to mention it definitely has a negative effect on your brand.

2. Choose the right platform.

There are tons of crowdfunding platforms out there, each with it’s own unique features and benefits. Don’t just use Kickstarter because it worked for Amanda Palmer. Have a reason for your platform choice.

Pledge Music is a music-specific crowdfunding and fan engagement platform with options to set up a crowdfunding or pre-order campaign. They have connections with music companies that can help you with things like manufacturing, marketing, and distribution and may be the best choice overall for music projects. Kickstarter has a huge profile, with hundreds of thousands visiting the site each day. On the downside, you only get the money if you meet your goal and you could get lost in the crowd. Depending on what kind of campaign you set up, Indiegogo can allow you to keep the money you raise even if your goal isn’t met. However, Indiegogo takes a higher fee from these kinds of projects.

3. Make a budget.

Your budget isn’t just what you want to fund. If you ask for exactly what you need to fund your recording or tour, you’ll find yourself in debt. Each platform takes a percentage fee from successful projects.

Taxes are another issue. Technically, the money you raise from crowdfunding is income and needs to be reported. This probably won’t be hugely significant for smaller projects, but all these costs can add up and you should take it into account.

On top of that, rewards cost money as well. People are paying for that t-shirt or vinyl, but you still need to make it (and ship it to them). Figure out exactly what each reward will cost you and how much they will cost to ship. If you have international fans, look into international shipping costs. The worst situation you could be in is not being able to get the rewards to your fans who took the time and money to help you out.

4. Think about your rewards.

On top of just budgeting, you need to think about your rewards creatively. Make your rewards relevant to your project and your fans. Teenage girls may love magnets made from secret, Instagram photos of the recording process. A slightly older fan base may really appreciate vinyls and even some higher-end custom vinyls with artwork. Think about the project itself. Having a signed electric guitar as a rewards for an acoustic album doesn’t make much sense. Get creative with it.

Make sure you have rewards that take different levels of fans into account so as not to alienate anyone. Digital downloads, physical CDs, posters, magnets, and other little things like that are great lower end options. These are great for your more casual fans who may not be willing to or have the means to donate very much. Mid-priced rewards like vinyls, a t-shirt, or personal things like signed copies or special notes are great for your more serious fans and those that crave personal interaction. Have a few higher-end options. A private house concert or VIP pass is a great way to get your super fans involved.

Keeping all that in mind, make sure you don’t over-invest yourself in the reward process. You need to make sure you have the time to create the rewards. Handwritten lyrics may seem like a good idea, but keep in mind that you could be writing hundreds.

5. Continuous content.

Crowdfunding isn’t just a beginning and an end. Mass pushes at the beginning and end of the campaign won’t get you very far. You’ll be left with an unmet goal and a bunch of annoyed fans who had to block your hourly updates from their social media news feeds.

Statistically, most pledges to crowdfunding campaigns come in at the beginning and end. People are motivated by new content and a deadline. You can use this to your advantage to drive more pledges in the middle of your campaign. Release a new, special reward halfway through your campaign. Keep in mind that the entire process is an opportunity to engage your fans in a new way. Release update videos showing your fans the progress of the album they are helping you make. Release short teasers or rough drafts of songs. Ask your fans’ opinions on your lyrical work-in-progress. Try to make the content exciting and engaging. You want to keep awareness for your campaign up but you don’t want it to feel pitchy.

Crowdfunding is a huge undertaking. If you’re looking to start your first crowdfunding campaign or want your second one to be more successful, check out the New Artist Model online music business school.

Dave Kusek

The New Artist Model in an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jtka

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1h7Jtka

Crowdfunding isn’t being talked about as much as when Amanda Palmer ran her famous Kickstarter campaign, but it’s still going strong. It’s still a great way to fund your projects. However, we’ve all learned a few things about the process along the way. Crowdfunding is more than just a funding tool. It’s a way to connect with your fans, build a deeper relationship, and get people interested and buying your music before its even created. Pre-sale and marketing are just as much a part of crowdfunding as funding.

Here are 5 crowdfunding for musician tips that will set your crowdfunding campaign on the right track. These tips come from the CD Baby blog. This is just a short excerpt, but you can check out the full article here.

1. Build your crowd and then fund: Although there is a discovery element to most crowdfunding platforms, you’re gonna end up very disappointed if you launch a campaign without an existing fanbase.

2. The number isn’t as important as loyalty: If you buy followers or email subscribers, it 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.

3. Give your fans an experience: You’re not just selling downloads and t-shirts. You are including your fans in the creative journey. More on this in the next section…

4. Over plan for the fulfillment process: Make sure to get all the pertinent information you’ll need when fulfilling all the orders, rewards, perks and exclusives you’re 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.

5. Keep updating after you hit your goal: There is often a gap between when all the money is collected and when 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 you’re still taking them to the dance. Keep them updated as to your progress.

There are a lot of great crowdfunding tools out there, but one that stands out for musicians is Pledge Music. Because the platform is specifically focused on musicians, they have a lot of tools in place to help you keep on track and follow the tips outlined above. Here are some stats from Pledge Music:

* 22% of PledgeMusic site traffic comes from fans sharing pledges-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.

If you want to learn more about crowdfunding, CD Baby has a free guide available.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1cZVSGs

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1cZVSGs

“The Buyer and the Beats,” a study unveiled by Nielsen at SXSW 2013, cites between $450 million and $2.6 billion incremental revenue in the music industry.  While the industry has already begun the shift towards models such as crowdfunding and direct to fan, this study suggests a demand for additional experiences, content, and engagement not yet available.  This study presents much-needed optimism for indie musicians trying to make a living off their art.

Nielsen surveyed 4,000 music consumers of different degrees of dedication.  “Aficionado fans” are the big-spending music connoisseurs, dedicated to many genres of music ranging from popular to obscure, with an understanding of the music industry. They are your superfans.  “Digital fans” are fanatic social media users with a tendency to use the free versions of internet radios and other similar services.  “Big box fans” generally associate themselves with pop and country and are strongly influenced by discounts and deals.  Together these groups account for 40% of music consumers, but are responsible for 75% of all music spending!

Despite the groups’ purchasing differences, across the board fans expressed a willingness to pay for content given the opportunity. Nielsen concluded that if music fans were to buy additional exclusive content from one band the music industry stands to make $564 million, but if these fans buy content from all their favorite bands, there is a possibility for $2.6 billion.  The true number probably lies somewhere in the middle, but either way, you can and harness this unmet demand.

According to Chief Analytics Officer at Nielsen Entertainment Measurement, Barara Zack, “Fans want more… There is a desire to engage at a different level than what they have.”  So where are you going to find this untapped revenue?  Crowdfunding and direct-to-fan platforms have shown that “fans really want are 55-dollar signed CD’s, hand-written lyric sheets, and access to the making of the album.”

The recent overwhelming success of artists like Amanda Palmer has solidified crowdfunding as a viable fund raising platform, however, it’s related functions as a direct-to-fan platform, presale tool, and exclusive content provider are often overlooked.  Currently, many artists view crowdfunding as a tool to fund the creation of an album, and any presales are just an added bonus.  This is methodology backwards and not sustainable.

CEO of Pledge Music, Benji Rogers believes fans will begin to suffer from “donor fatigue” if donations are constantly requested of them and time sensitive goals are pushed in consumers faces like big flashy advertisements.  If this path is pursued, crowdfunding has the potential to follow advertisements down the road of consumer indifference.  For this reason, Pledge Music does not display any financial target.

Nielsen reported that 53% of aficionado fans and 34% of digital fans are willing to pay for content and access, meaning many indie musicians miss out on potential income when content is given out free.  Additionally, 59% of aficionados and 55% of digital fans want to know more about their favorite musicians.  “What really kills me is that I watch these big artists tell the story, and give it away through Facebook posts and on Twitter, but I can’t buy in and be a part of it,” says Benji Rogers.  While many “aficionado fans” may find this pay-for-content model is perfectly viable, it has the potential to alienate the average music consumer – a balance must be met between free and paid content in order to target and monetize both casual and dedicated fans. Every one of your fans are different, so different products will appeal to each.

Crowdfunding’s true calling lies in its ability to sell many different products at many different price points at an earlier stage than a typical release.  You can target more casual fans and begin bringing in presale money earlier on, while simultaneously offering hardcore fans exclusive access to the making of the album.  Effectively executed crowdfunding not only brings in money earlier, it keeps you at the front of fan’s minds through constant updates and interactions.

Direct-to-fan bundling is also emerging as a viable model for tapping into additional revenue.  Fans have expressed a want for additional content, and in many cases that content exists but fans are unaware.  For example, 35% of aficionado fans and 25% of digital fans were interested in crowdfunding, but unaware of its existence. How can indie artists tie in direct-to-fan notifications for new products and live shows into the platforms their fans spend their time on like Spotify and YouTube?

Since 1999, the music industry has lost billions in revenue, falling from $27.8 billion to $16.5 billion in 2012.  While many blame the internet, it has perhaps added more value than it has taken in the form of exclusive content and more personal relationships between fans and artists.  Today fans have the opportunity to see what goes on behind the album, and fans are proving time and time again that they are willing to pay for this content and information on their favorite bands.  Crowdfunding and direct-to-fan platforms are certainly steps in the right direction, but fans are indicating that they still want more, and that is an encouraging thought for the music industry.

(Check out an article from Nielson here.)

How will you harness this untapped revenue potential? What can you sell to your superfans?

 

To learn more about the revenue streams available to you, subscribe to the New Artist Model mailing list and get access to free lessons.

Crowdfunding has no doubt been a continuing hit this year. Not only does it help the dedicated musician secure funding, it also acts as a marketing tool bringing artists and fans closer – more specifically targeting the super fans than any other platform. One platform has really brought crowdfunding to the next level in the music industry. PledgeMusic’s services are laser-targeted to the music industry and the needs of musicians. Check out this interview from PledgeMusic co-founder Jayce Varden to learn more about the company and what they have to offer you.

This interview, by Kyle Billings, is from the Music Business Journal. It presents a great overview of Pledge Music and the value it provides artists. Here’s a short excerpt, but you can read the full interview here.

MBJ: Would you please share with us your vision for PledgeMusic?

Jayce Varden: Increasingly, and as a result of access to social media, the creative experience has become the value point around music. The recorded product could be considered devalued from a commercial perspective. But fans want to be a part of the process. What we do at PledgeMusic is give access to a creative project, a video, or the experience of a tour. Our focus is on creating an experience in inclusion—the time on the bus, the in-studio time, and the moments backstage. PledgeMusic provides the fan an ability to be a fly on the wall and to feel even closer to the artist than they already do. In fact, we take all of the social media content that artists would normally not monetize and contextualize it, and then build an interactive community around this. On the one hand, we empower fans to experience the making of an album, a tour, or a music video. On the other hand, we enable the artist to monetize content that would otherwise go to waste.

MBJ: Could you tell us about PledgeMusic’s origins?

JV: [Founder] Benji Rogers and I are best friends and he was the best man at my wedding. We met as students at the Berklee College of Music in the early 1990s, lived together in the Commonwealth Ave dorms, and played in the same bands. Then Benji moved to New York. I came back to Boston and got a Corporate Systems degree from Boston College. I was playing in bands, working in restaurants, and living the musician’s dream for a while too.  Benji had been doing the same in New York. But he came up with the idea of PledgeMusic after I finished at BC, and I remember we sketched it together on coffee shop napkins. We thought it could work, brought in some friends and advisors, and then came up with a proper business plan. We quickly got the initial investment to build PledgeMusic in the summer of 2008 and launched in July 2009. Benji’s last EP was the first project we ran. We wanted to make sure that the payment mechanisms worked, and see how the updates of the project looked when posted. A large amount of the money he raised went to Amnesty International. As crowdfunding and Kickstater became ubiquitous, we realized there was little follow-through from project managers; rewards were not being delivered. We knew we weren’t going to be a Kickstarter and, by nature, we had customer service mentality.  This is the area that we are in the process of growing right now tenfold. We want to make sure that people feel secure using PledgeMusic. Our success rate with A&R projects is 91%, which is unheard of in the crowdfunding industry. A large part of that success is explained by our curated approach to each project. We are still music geeks at heart, constantly going after our influences and trying to sell them on the platform. We always knew our job was to fill that platform with the work of musicians we absolutely love. And four years later we are still around.

MBJ: PledgeMusic is considered mostly a crowdfunding platform. Is this right?

JV: Crowdfunding is the payment mechanism. We absolutely have ties to crowdfunding, but when you shift the focus from the transaction to the experience, it becomes more a direct-to-fan business. We emphasize that crowdfunding is just another way to directly engage fans, and this is the point we often make to our artists. People who are quick to say that crowdfunding is an answer [for marketplace success] should be aware that they better have answers themselves to a litany of questions and issues that will likely crop up during the campaign. You really need a thought out communication and content strategy. As a marketplace brand, PledgeMusic is focused on getting more out of the artists we launch on our platform—drawing out their creativity and working with them to create a fuller experience for their fans. So it is a much more customer intensive business model than Kickstarter or IndieGogo because our artists are never alone and we work very hard with them from start to finish.

MBJ: How else does PledgeMusic create value for artists?

JV: The biggest value of PledgeMusic is our human capital. We treat these projects as marketing plans; each project has a dedicated representative. We offer artists several platform tools as well. For example, our data-capture widgets are buttons that offer a .zip file or audio track in exchange for an email address, Facebook like, or follow on Twitter. We also offer an email program for artists that have yet to understand the basics of email marketing. We aggregate subscribers in a PledgeMusic system and facilitate direct to fan communication. The proof of concept is the community we build for the artist—that is what pushes these campaigns. Social media integration is part of the package. We also become a viral marketing tool for the record labels. Instead of constantly asking fans to come back to the platform, we can automate the process of exposure for labels.

MBJ: How does a PledgeMusic campaign benefit artists in the long-term?

JV: Provided they have run a truly engaged campaign, and also that they have fulfilled their deliverables, our artists leave PledgeMusic in a very strong position. In fact, we’ve seen returning second or third time campaigns. PledgeMusic is much more than a fundraising well. If an artist has created an experience, that is repeatable. PledgeMusic does not just fund something, it grows fanbases. We continue to promote the artists in our ecosystem. For example, we promote the Ben Folds Five playing at the Barclay’s center or Will Daley, a local artist who’s going to France. That’s fun—being able to carry them all along the way with us. Because we allow the artist to own the data, and because we are there to help them understand what it means, it becomes a sustainable proposition for artists.

Crowdfunding is one of those things that you cannot fully understand until you do it yourself. You can read up on crowdfunding books and still encounter something completely unexpected during your campaign. This is why it’s so important to pick the brains of successful crowdfunders when you get the chance. If you don’t know someone with a crowdfunding campaign under their belt, search the internet for the next best thing. There are a lot of people blogging about their crowdfunding experience these days. Find some people who funded similar projects to the one you plan on starting and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Jody Quine is a vocalist and songwriter who recently completed a Pledge Music campaign for her solo EP,“Seven.” In the past, she has been a part of some very successful projects, but never had the funds available to do anything solo. She launched her Pledge Music campaign in November, 2012. She wrote this post for Crowdfunding For Musicians.

1. Timeline

All eager to succeed and get my music out there I figured I’d raise the money in less than a month, record immediately and have a finished product mixed, mastered and manufactured in no time.

My campaign went LIVE in November 16th, 2012 and the last of my exclusives/CDs were put into the mail on October 29th 2013.

Keep in mind that when all goes well it’s possible to get your record finished and delivered in no time but things pop up from producers having other better paying projects running long to computer issues when designing your cover. Give yourself time to honestly deliver your product to your fans. They’ll appreciate your honesty and awareness. Also make sure to keep them up on what’s happening and they’ll be pretty forgiving.

2. Underestimating cost and setting the right ‘Posted Goal’ amount

As much money that you might be able to raise keep in mind that you could always use more. With Pledge you don’t get your money until you hit your posted goal amount so keeping it lower to ensure you will get funding is great but then once you hit your 100% people think you’ve raised all the money you need to record and pledges can slow down immeasurably. Remember that one song really could prosper with the use of real strings or that you might have to retrack the piano when you get home from LA and pay an extra $500 for that day in the studio.

It’s a fine balance between how much you think your fans will kick in and being realistic with how much you’ll need to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Between those 2 numbers you’ll find the right ‘Posted Goal’ so you’re able to get your funding as well as afford the record you want to make.

3. Charity

PledgeMusic is a great service and wonderful opportunity in the new music industry model, however they don’t work for free. They take 15% of all the money you raise. Beyond that you can also agree to give a % of your pledges to a charity of your choice. I agreed to give 10% after I’ve reached my posted goal to a charity. As my ‘Posted Goal’ was too low to actually record a full album now I also had to earn an extra 25% to meet my expenses.

I had a friend who pointed out to me ‘Why are you giving it to charity when you’re already the charity’. I had to laugh because he’s right. It’s great to give back for sure but perhaps keeping it to a lower amount or making yourself available to play shows for or at your charity makes more sense. So do give back but again remember your costs of recording, mixing, mastering, designing, manufacturing, and SHIPPING, sometimes to fans who live on the other side of the world, adds up and as wonderful as it is to give to a charity if you can’t complete your project and deliver it to your fans you’re shooting yourself in the foot to really be in a position to give.

4. Exclusives

What is it you really have in you to make for your fans? I offered handwritten thank you notes and lyric sheets as 2 different exclusives. I love that idea! But as the day came to start fulfilling those pledges I was completely reminded of how I fractured my hand at the age of 11 and now decades later all the writing I do is barely legible and only for creative purposes. Anytime I have to write for more than 10 minutes in a way that people can read what I’m writing my hand cramps and the pain sets in. Next time I will keep this in mind and offer only a set amount of them for a larger pledge amount making them more of an exclusive exclusive and offer other items I am more able to create without pain. Lol.

Also I’m more aware now of what it is that I can offer that is exclusive to who I am as an artist as well as a person that my fans might enjoy. Be aware of what you really want to be making for them so you can do it joyfully and in good time.

5. Fun

Have fun!

This is not an exercise in stress or disappointment! You’ve got to be open to go with the flow and trust the unfolding of your record.

There will be challenges and hold ups but all in all your fans are there for you and helping you do what you love to do! So be grateful and enjoy the process because if you’re lucky you’ll get to do it over and over again.

KICK ASS!!
jody

What have you learned from your crowdfunding campaign?

Indiegogo has recently released a guide to monetizing your YouTube channel with crowdfunding that features 9 tips to make your campaign and your channel more successful. You don’t need to be a full-time YouTuber to take advantage of the tips in this guide. Most musicians and bands today have some form of a YouTube channel where they upload music, music videos, behind the scenes footage, and vlogs that give fans a glimpse into their lives. This guide will give you some ideas on how you can incorporate some YouTube features into your crowdfunding campaign to keep your fans engaged and excited.

1. Stretch Goals – “For example, you’re asking for $50,000 to publish a book, but you tell your contributors that, if you raise $60,000, you’ll also be able to do a concert, if you raise $70,000 you can make an album — and so on.”

2. Contributor Map – “You can…incorporate this into your project itself; for example, the top ten contributing cities will be the stops on your road tour. We’ve even seen campaigners post interactive contributor maps on their campaign pages to help leverage the global reach of their channels.”

3. Referral Contests – “You can use the tools provided to you in Indiegogo’s Campaign Dashboard to track which individuals are driving the most traffic and contributions to your campaign — and then reward those people accordingly. For example, you could offer a top secret perk or exclusive opportunity to the winner.”

4. Live Hangouts – “Put that ‘You’ back into YouTube by leveraging Google’s ‘Hangouts on Air’ feature that allows you to stream live on your YouTube channel. This is a good way to interact with contributors, answer their questions, perform, make special announcements, solicit feedback about your project and perks, or just have some fun.”

To see the other 5 tips, check out the article on Hypebot or download the full guide for free from Indiegogo.

Online crowdfunding has been gaining momentum over the past few years and is becoming an increasingly powerful resource for startups and indie projects.

Check out this cool infographic created by GoGetFunding.com for some interesting details on the recent growth of the crowdfunding industry.

For a more detailed report, check out the 2012 “Crowdfunding Industry Report: Market Trends, Composition and Crowdfunding Platforms” by CrowdSourcing.org

Crowdfunding Infographic

Last week, Dave Kusek did a keynote presentation at the ADISQ conference in Montreal, Canada. He spoke about current effective marketing strategies for musicians and artists in the digital age. Business models for success. Here’s the presentation.

musicbizrecapHere’s a recap of some of the key trends and topics that marked the music business in 2012.  As we move forward, it’s good to look back, especially amidst the music industry’s chaotic, shifting paradigms.

As the music industry’s traditional structures continue to fall away, new models are building upon unsteady foundations.  Some of the new companies that stepped onto the playing field in previous years fought in 2012 to stay in the game.  Major music companies merged and reorganized while digital startups gained more and more attention.  Digital Music News reported that 1 in every 43 venture capital dollars was spent on music related businesses last year.1  One example, The Echonest, a music data and analysis company, popped up from under the radar and secured over $17 million in funding.  With success stories from Amanda Palmer, Kickstarter pushed funding into uncharted territory, creating viable new streams of capital for musicians.  Here are ten examples of trends and events that marked the music industry in 2012 and that will continue to have an impact on the months and years to come.

Check out the full story at The Berklee Music Business Journal