Crowdfunding Perks And Rewards: The Musician’s Crowdfunding Manifesto – Part Five

Hello Again

Last time it was all about the video and how to make it as engaging as you could for your backers. This week, it’s all about perks and rewards for your potential pledgers. I’ll share six methods that you can use to get the most out of your audience and to make sure that they get the most out of you. (Which is much more important by the way…) Let’s jump in.


If you didn’t know this yet, all good crowdfunding platforms will give you the ability to offer rewards or ‘perks’ for your backers’ contribution. Now some people will give to a project without any self-centricity or thought of reward. These people are the ones who know you and just want to support you and your cause. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to give people incentives, and these are a crucial part of your campaign.

Some people will be happy just to be involved in the creation of your next album, but other people will be thinking, “What’s in it for me?” They won’t necessarily be thinking this consciously, but it is a factor when it comes to people’s finances. Some projects are fairly easy to set rewards to. For example, if you’re making a physical product, like a CD or vinyl LP, obviously one of the rewards should be a copy of that CD or LP! However, if your project is something else, then you many need to think creatively when it comes to your rewards, although if you already have CDs pressed from a previous project, there’s nothing stopping you from offering those as perks.

Six Ways to Optimize Your Crowdfunding Rewards

1. Make your Tiers Incremental

This is fairly common sense. Don’t have a $10 option and then jump straight up to a $500 option with nothing in between. You want to give people options without overwhelming them. Once again, think of your target audience! Are they people who probably don’t have a lot of money to spare? If so, keep many of your options affordable, while still providing value. However, you still want to leave pricier options for any high rollers who are feeling generous. We will talk about these high rollers in point number 4.

2. Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Promising your backers the world is a surefire way to setting yourself up for hard times. You may be tempted to give the best possible value to your backers. After all, they are helping you pursue your dream, right? However, if your rewards are too costly financially or in terms of manpower and effort, then you are going to end up shooting yourself in the foot. There are plenty of ways to engage your backers very cheaply, from personalized handwritten thank-you notes to custom-made oven mitts. People are more willing to donate to a project if they can feel like they are a part of it. For musicians, some of the cheaper perks that are now common are:

  • Including backers’ names in the “Thank-you” section of the liner notes – This one is practically obligatory, although if you have another creative way of including people’s names in your project, go for it! People like seeing their names.
  • Writing a song for a backer – Be careful with this, you don’t want to have 50 people wanting personalized songs from you. Perhaps make it a more expensive option with a limited number.
  • Giving lessons. If you don’t feel like you’re confident enough to teach someone to play, perhaps give a songwriting workshop or teach something else entirely. Play to your strengths! Is your day job running your own florist? Use that! Get creative
  • Personal thank-you notes are certainly very effective – keep in mind cost of postage and how personalized you want them to be; the more personal, the more time it will take for you to make them.
  • Copies of sheet music used in the recording sessions signed by the members of your group. One campaign I came across offered album themed artwork ON handwritten music used during recording. Very cool! (On an unrelated note about sheet music, check this out)
  • Do you have a track that could use a ‘clap-track’? Offer backers the chance to ‘perform’ on the actual recording! What’s more engaging than actually being on your favourite artist’s album?

This is just a short list; the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Take stock of what you already have and what you perhaps take for granted and use these things as incentives in your campaign. However:

3. Reward Your Backers

“It is better to reward your followers upfront than it is to entice them with content” – Kacie Anning via Mike Jones.

I couldn’t have said this better myself, but what does it mean? In short, having exclusive content, like behind the scenes video or unreleased B-sides or singles, will be extraordinarily valuable to your fans, but rather than offer these kinds of things as a reward that people would pay money for, give this content away to all of your backers. This will do wonders for audience engagement. (I will be explaining exactly how to do this in 2 installments time)

Giving exclusive content away to all your backers is a very generous thing to do. It’s above and beyond what is ‘required’ of you, so you automatically get brownie points from your backers; especially considering it’s an unexpected bonus. By over-delivering, you engage your audience .

If you’d like some examples, Will Fisher gave his backers the opening track of his album in advance as well as an exclusive preview of the album artwork. Kacie Anning gave her backers four short scenes from her series, Fragments of Friday: one for each week of her campaign. By releasing them over the whole span of her campaign, she was able to keep her backers coming back to her project, so that it was always in their mind. She kept them excited and engaged about her campaign.

4. Hey Big Spender

Have a big reward amount, ($1000 or more) even if you don’t think anyone will go for it! It’s understandable that not everyone single person in your audience will fork over $5000 to help your cause. That does not mean that you shouldn’t have a $5000 (or higher) option available, right? Someone may just be crazy enough, (or care and believe enough in your project) that they might actually fund the majority of your album/tour/creative endeavor. Will Fisher had a $1000 option that included every other reward as well as an executive producer credit on the album and 8 copies of the album. Someone actually went for it!

People may not realize that you can pledge more than the amounts listed in the rewards so it makes sense to have an ‘Uber-super-backer’ option for your high roller friends. If nobody takes you up on it, then you haven’t lost anything, but if you don’t offer it, then you just may lose everything. (Overly dramatic? Probably…)

5. Hey Moderate Spenders

Have a $25 option, regardless of your project. Statistically, the most common amount pledged to crowdfunding campaigns is $25. I’m not entirely sure about the psychology of this, but regardless of the reasons why, you should have a $25 reward amount. The most common kind of crowdfunding campaigns run by musicians are the campaigns where an album is the final goal. If this is the case, make your $25 tier a copy of the album: Simple. Often, crowdfunders will also offer a digital download of their album at a lower price, say $10-$15, but include this download in the $25 package. Great idea. It adds value to the offer but doesn’t actually cost you anything to have more people download your album.

6. Be Remarkable

I’m not talking about just being the best you can possibly be (Although, you probably should do that). What I mean here is that you have an incredible opportunity here to build some ‘viral-ity’ into your campaign. By making your perks something to talk about, you automatically increase the chances that people will share your campaign, which will get more people looking at it, and potentially more backers. Also, having something like this will increase the chances that your crowdfunding platform will select your project to be featured on the home page.

How do you create a ‘remarkable’ perk? Well, that’s easier said than done. One great example is Anna Morsett of Yet Cut Breath. She became remarkable by putting her ass on the lineliterally. She offered to tattoo her rear end at the $5,000 level. She also makes a hilarious, cheeky* reference to it in the video. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) nobody took her up on the offer, but having a truly remarkable perk like that gives people something to talk about. That reward would also have been very cheap to follow through on. It would have been win-win. Think about how you can use your perks to make your campaign stand out from the crowd.

*Yes…Pun intended

Do Your Own Thang

Of course every campaign is different and what you have to offer will be completely different to what anybody else has. Generally speaking, try to keep your rewards somehow related to your project. The trick is to make the decision to pledge an emotional one rather than a financial one. I say this in every installment, but engage your backers on an emotional, personal level with everything you do. The more engaged they are, the more likely you will be to reach your target.

Join The Conversation

Thanks for checking all of this out. Hopefully you learned something about putting your ass on the line. If you did learn something or if you just like it, share it with someone you know.

Would you do things any differently if you were running a campaign? Leave a comment down below if you’ve got a reward you want to see from a crowdfunding campaign.

Next week, there’s a six-step launch process I will share with you. Stay tuned.


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