“If the campaign is successful, it is so easy for the artists to get blinded by the money and it is easy to lose the focus on what really made you successful enough in the first place for people to invest in your new album.”
By J.P. Kallio
Crowdfunding has been a lifeline for many musicians and artists, since the so called “fall of record industry”. Amanda Palmers phenomenally successful campaign is a great example of how this concept can change an artist’s career very much like getting signed to a major label did in the past. This format has funded some projects that in the traditional record industry format would not ever seen the day of light. It has also brought the artists and the fans closer to each others. It is a format that no doubt is here to stay.
There is an art to it as well. There are many websites that enable artists to do this these days, for a modest percentage of the money raised. The beauty is that if the artists do not reach their goal, the people who wanted to support the artists did not loose anything as their investment is returned. And also the system by its nature require you to have following to be able to raise the funds, if you have no following, no one will not donate.
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I believe crowdfunding is a great format and as it has proven it’s effectiveness not just in the arts, but also in many other fields of business, I believe it is here to stay. But with every opportunity comes a responsibility. If the campaign is successful, it is so easy for the artists to get blinded by the money and it is easy to lose the focus on what really made you successful enough in the first place for people to invest in your new album. As a musician you might have dreamed about recording an album in the best studios money can buy, with the best equipment you can get your hands on. Once the money is in, we rush to make this dream reality and the results are so far away from that homegrown indie sound that made us popular with our fans in the first place. We as musicians might prioritise different things than what our fans might think. If only we get the “sound right” and we proceed to polish all the feeling out of our songs…
So what if instead of our crazy dream, we would follow the format that made people invest in us in the first place, go back to the cheap studio where we got that great vibe in the first place, or use our own recording equipment again, but upgrade some small parts of the equipment, invest in mastering, maybe even think about some experienced indie producer as long as they are respectful of what you have done in the past. And the biggest mistake I see time and time again is artists investing a fortune on recording, but nothing on promotion. Build it and they will come? Well… actually no! Nobody will come if they will not know about it in the first place.
If people are willing to invest in your career, I believe you have a responsibility to use those funds in a responsible manner and make them last as far as possible. If you want to throw money down the well, make sure it is your own money, not your investors money. You can take risks when it is you gambling, but if you have investors behind you, you have a responsibility to give them return on their investment, even if this is not actually financial return, but artistic.
J.P. Kallio is a singer/songwriter