The Last Installment? The End of the Line
We’ve reached the end of our music-making-crowdfunding journey. So you followed all the steps, you set your goal, you chose your target, you made your video, came up with amazing rewards, launched your campaign, pushed it hard with social media, updated your backers, and now, you have reached the end of your campaign. If you’ve made it to this step, congratulations. I’m sure you had many a sleepless night leading up to your campaign, not to mention the days and nights during your campaign!
At this point, one of two things has happened. (There are probably more, but let’s keep it simple)
1. You have reached your target within the time limit for your campaign.
2. You have fallen short of your goal.
Each one of these outcomes brings with it new challenges that you have to face. This final installment is about rising to meet these challenges. Let’s first deal with the challenges of not reaching your goal.
Not So Great Success
If you did not reach your goal, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. The trick is to learn from your experience and use what you learn to succeed in your next try. There are any number of reasons why a campaign may not reach it’s goal. Here are a few, along with some of the ways to learn from them.
- Was your goal too high? This is probably the most obvious one. If you were hoping for Amount-X and it wasn’t reached, maybe you aimed too high. The obvious way to fix this is by lowering your goal, HOWEVER, remember back to the post about setting your goal? If you set your goal for lower than what you need, you may face the very real problem of not being able to deliver on your promises at all. Before decreasing your target, try increasing audience engagement as well as the reach and scope of your campaign.
- Was there something wrong about the video? Having watched a lot of crowdfunding videos, I sometimes come across videos that just baffle me. It could be confusing, awful, pretentious or just plain laughable (not in a good way). Successful campaigns generally don’t have horrendous videos. Also, if you didn’t have a video, you haven’t been paying attention to the advice from part four! Have a video the next time around.
- Did you push it as far and as hard as you could? How much and how well did you utilize your mailing list, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed? You want to reach your goal even if it means annoying a small percentage of your fans through over-promotion. The flipside of this is to under-promote and fail to reach your target.
- Were you engaging enough? How many people did you contact directly about your campaign and ask them to contribute or spread the word about your campaign? Could you have added more people to that number? Did you let the fear of coming across as pushy turn you away from contacting people directly? (Believe me, I know what this feels like, but it is possible to be directly engaging without being pushy or ‘salesy’)
- Is there really a market for what you are doing? Do people really want the kind of music you are offering? Ask yourself, “Is anyone else doing something similar to what I’m doing?” If the answer is no, then that could potentially be a very bad thing. It sounds like a contradiction. If nobody else is doing it, then you must be the first one, so people would have to go to you to get what they want, right? Actually, most of the time, the opposite is true. If people are succeeding doing something similar to what you are doing, then it means you can be successful too. It’s no surprise that there isn’t much of a market for Spanish language heavy metal polka.
- Did you have the following to reach your goal? Many times crowdfunders can overestimate the average number of people in their networks will contribute and also the average amount that they will pledge. This is why it’s important to research your audience and network. It’s also important to have an influential following. By this, I mean having people in your network who can influence people both in and outside of your own network.
These questions can be difficult to answer objectively. It can be easy to blame any number of other factors, but ultimately, you must take responsibility for the success or failure of your project. That can be a particularly difficult pill to swallow.
Ask For Advice
If you didn’t reach your target, it may be for one big reason or several smaller factors that added up. It is difficult to do, but try to look at every aspect of your campaign objectively. If you are really having a hard time pinpointing the source of the campaign’s downfall, try finding somebody who contributed and ask them why they think the campaign didn’t succeed.
If you wanted to take it a step further, try contacting someone who you thought would pledge, but didn’t. Try asking them what they think about the campaign and how it could be improved. If you do this, it’s important to come at it with the mindset of, “How do you think the campaign could be better?” rather than, “Why the hell didn’t you pledge to my project!?!?!” Make it very clear that you are seeking advice, not trying to make them feel guilty for not contributing. Oftentimes, people are willing to give advice to help out a friend.
Don’t Repeat Your Mistakes
Once you’ve figured out exactly why you think your project may have been unsuccessful, you can go ahead and try again; changing the things that need changing and reinforcing the things that worked. Did you have a killer video, but you just weren’t on top of your social network getting the word out? That’s an easy fix. Keep the video and go bananas on your blog, your email list, Facebook and Twitter. If you had the social media aspect nailed, but you were just sending people to a crowdfunding page without a video, then make a video! Once you iron out the kinks in your campaign and your strategy, you are on your way to being a:
Congratulations! You have achieved crowdfunding success. The first thing I would insist you do when you reach your goal is to send out an update telling everyone that you reached your goal and thanking all of your backers. Make it public, so the rest of the world can see it, and it wouldn’t hurt to continue soliciting contributions. Remember, your crowdfunding platform takes a cut, so that $5,000 turns into something more like $4,600 – $4,800. Every little extra bit helps, right?
Whether you reached your goal in the first day or in the last minutes of your campaign, your new goal is the same:
Deliver On Your Promises
You better back up your words with action in the days, weeks or months after your campaign has ended. Depending on your project and where you stand with it will determine what your next step should be. Let’s take the example of recording an album. Let’s say hypothetically, you had all of your material ready to go, as well as a studio in mind and a production team on board, you just needed the money to pay for all of those things. The obvious next step is to book the studio time and record the end product. However, if you already had everything recorded, and just needed money for manufacturing costs, then your next step would be to send your masters off to the manufacturer of your choice.
Go down your list of rewards that people took advantage of, and see what can be done immediately after your campaign is over. Were handwritten thank-you notes part of your perk scheme? Get writing! You could even start these before your campaign actually ends, as long as you’re confident in your campaign’s success. Did you promise personalized thank you videos on YouTube? Personalized songs? These are all things that can be done right away, or even before your campaign is finished.
Don’t Stop Engaging
You may have been successful in your crowdfunding campaign, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop engaging your supporters. If anything, you should engage them even further. Many successful crowdfunders use the list of email addresses they acquired from their crowdfunding campaign as a sort of exclusive mini-list they can regularly update on their activity. Most crowdfunding platforms allow you to update your campaign long after it’s finished.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Being transparent is essential, especially if you receive some bad news. For example, if something happens that prevents you from delivering your rewards on time, keep people in the loop. They will be a lot more forgiving than you might think. The people who supported you aren’t going to go crazy angry if the estimated delivery time is a little off. This is especially true if you let people know in advance and the specific reasons why the delivery might be late. Also be sure to give them a revised delivery time period.
Anna Morsett faced this exact problem. After promising a June delivery of Yet Cut Breath’s Kickstarter-funded album, she, and YCB drummer, Aaron Latos were offered the chance to tour with These United States, which they took. Yet Cut Breath’s supporters were kept in the loop though. Morsett updated her backers on the goings on in a very classy way. It offsets the bad news of late delivery with the good news of touring with another great band. You can read the update here. She invites all of her fans across America to come to see them when they are in their backer’s cities. So far, she hasn’t had any problems with supporters getting angry about the late delivery.
It seems like every step of the way, there will be a lot or work, and then when it’s done, it will take care of itself, but that’s just not true. Once you set your goal, choose your platform, make your video, and figure out your rewards scheme, you are tempted to put it up on the Internet and let it go. In reality though, you have to work just as hard or harder in promoting your campaign to ensure it’s success. Once your reach your goal, it can again be tempting to think, “Well, I’ve reached my goal, now I can take some time off” when in actual fact, you need to work hard to deliver to your supporters. You also have to put in the work of actually making your project happen, whether it’s an album or a tour or anything else. You are responsible for making it happen, which can be daunting, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life.
If you are now a successful crowdfunder, I applaud you! Congratulations! You undoubtedly worked your a** off to get to where you are and you now have something to show for all that work.
In Summary (Tell me what you think…)
Thanks for reading this final installment. If you have read the whole series of posts, thank you also. If any of this information has been valuable to you, let me know! I really want to hear from you. Leave a comment below, or email me through the “Contact” page of the site. Tell me what you think!
How can I make these posts bigger and better? Should I have covered something in more detail? Was there something that needed more explanation or clarification? Did I miss something entirely? What would you do differently?
I want to make this guide as valuable to musicians as possible. I believe that crowdfunding is a truly great way to help create new music. We live in an exciting time! So if you have any ideas on how you would add to this manifesto, then I want to hear from you. Get at me through the ‘Contact’ page or leave a comment below.
Thanks again for reading.