The Dont's and Don'ts of crowdfunding

31 Oct 2017

The Story

Many of you who know me in 4N (since 2008) know that my background is rock and roll, well, I use that term to really describe music as it’s a term everyone understands. I left NZ age 21, via 3 months in a sweet factory in Melbourne to get the airfare, for London with the specific aim of joining a band. Fast forward to 2015 and my 50th celebrations at Beatherder festival in the Ribble Valley, I’m watching Vitalic onstage thinking “Am I going to get to age 70, look back to now and think why did I never finish that album” and resolved there and then NO! Not me…! So I reworked all the material, contacted a producer to mix it (he ended up releasing it as well) and set up a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the mixing, mastering, and product.

Know Your Platform

I knew a guy who ran an information centre on crowdfunding who, after a chat, gave me a shortlist of 3 or 4 platforms to choose from. They all have different funding models, different charging/pricing structure, features and restrictions. Some are all or nothing models. If you don’t reach your target the project folds, everyone gets refunded and you’ve most likely blown it.

Others are whatever you get, you fulfil. Some, if you reach the target you can go over it, others not. Some pay you as you go, others only after you can demonstrate that you’ve delivered whatever it was you were crowdfunding. Some are offering equity, some products. Pretty much all are with an expectation that you will receive your product (if you are selling a product) within a specified time after the campaign has finished. Pre-orders in other words. If you don’t know the platforms then a chat with an expert for 15 minutes will give you a lot more clarity and narrow it down for you.

What Marty Did...

Tell your story, let them know why they should help you fulfill your dreams. Have 25% of your sales already tee'd up so you hit a respectable figure quickly and look credible. Unless you are already very well known for what you do and have a large following, it means hitting up your friends, family (and 4N members!) and asking them to support your venture.

Here's the video I used to promote my album venture:



And if you fancy checking out the whole track Aftershock by me aka The Big Boss, here it is on SoundClound: 

If you start a campaign, be warned, you will start getting spammed by the multitudes of companies out there “guaranteeing” to make your campaign a success, with loads of testimonials, for only $799! Realistically, like in the REAL world, only 10% of those you think will back you, do. So that’s 10% of all the people you know. That means you have to have a strategy that engages total strangers, people you have never met, who don’t know you or what you do or whether they like it enough to but it or not. That is the nut to crack. By all means get the 25% boxed off but place most of your effort on how to pull in total strangers. Have a look at other campaigns, see how successful they are, what their video is like, what perks they are offering, how many of them have been taken up. Box your perks off with a really cheap option and stupid one-off, top banana prize, like I’ll play a gig on your private island and clean your pool!

In conclusion...

As I said at the start, this isn’t a how-to guide as I haven’t cracked it (yet!). But I hope some of this experience is useful. As the big fella says, experience is what you gain when you lose, and that can never be a bad thing. I remain a glass half full kinda person and some of the most innocuous things that have come from the campaigns will stay with me forever, like the superfan in Japan who bought the album and T-shirt and then sent me a photo of him wearing it outside Osaka castle - made my bloody year that did!

Crowdfunding is the newest and fastest growing source of funding for new businesses, but as a result, kinda appropriate for the imagery of my own venture, it's the Wild West out there, so approach with caution! It's a goldrush, and for every real nugget of gold there is tonnes of fool's gold too! But if you can strike real gold, then it's a way to take your business forward in a way that no other funding stream will give you.