Is Concert Crowdfunding a New Path to Exposure?

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It may feel easier to just play your music and wait to be discovered, but the truth is, most musicians need to put on a major hustle to get a manager, an agent, a concert promoter, a distributor, or a label contract. And if you want to add one more tool to your hustling set, you can try crowdfunding a show or five.

You probably have a general idea of what crowdfunding is – in a nutshell, it’s taking money from multiple interested parties, producing your product, and then distributing it to those said parties. This way, the person with the idea is protected from lack of demand for their service or product. With concerts, crowdfunding means less financial risks for musicians and/or their teams, as well as more performing opportunities.

How does it work? Instead of putting your own money on the line when producing your concert idea, you pitch the idea directly to your fans and get the money for them to finance the project. You pre-sell the tickets to your already planned but not yet produced or financially backed show, allowing your fans to pre-order performances from you. This helps gauge market demand for your live shows without taking any financial risks that come with investing in show production before you sell any tickets.

Whom concert crowdfunding is best suited for?

  • emerging musicians who don’t yet work with concert promoters and booking agents
  • performing bands and musicians who want to put on more solo shows and have strong fanbases to support their shows
  • up-and-coming musicians negotiating with a venue for better slots and need proof of turnout
  • musicians looking to go on tour and planning the route
  • musicians and bands looking to build a public portfolio of successful performances
  • established musicians who want to explore unique show themes, topics or locations
  • band and solo artist managers who want to promote their client’s shows themselves
  • concert promoters who want to decrease financial risks of the event they are organizing

If you are one of the listed above or feel like concert crowdfunding might be a good option to fast track your next live performance, read on.

The first step to crowdfunding a show of any size – be it just 10 of your most hardcore fans, friends or supporters or a larger event for 50, 100 or even 500+ people, – is planning out your night.

This will help you calculate the show budget in step 2 and create promotional descriptions, texts and media in step 3.

To properly plan your show, consider this: will you have a central theme to your event? Will you use costumes or stage decor? Where would you like the event to take place? How many people will fit in the venue? If the venue is spacious, ask yourself if you will be able to draw a large crowd?

Think if your show idea is something your fans will enjoy and whether it fits their lifestyle. Will you have guest acts or hosts? How long will your show last and what the program/playlist will look like? What are you going to title your show and what key message do you want to convey?

After you answer all of these questions, you should have a pretty good idea of what your show is going to be like and what will go into its production. This means budgeting time.

Determine exactly the amount you need to raise by adding up the following costs:

  • performer & host fees (including yours)
  • venue cut
  • travel, transportation and accommodation costs
  • equipment rent, costumes, stage decor
  • food & drinks, themed decor and props (if applicable)
  • staff wages (ushers, stage technicians, security, etc.)
  • marketing (posters, flyers, ads on social media and/or in local publications)

Now that you have your total event budget, you need to divide it by the number of tickets you can offer to determine the price. If you have different tiers of tickets, consider how to differentiate the prices – based on how close the seats are to the stage, whether they come with additional perks, like merch, meet-and-greets or music.

Calculating ticket prices for several ticket tiers is a little harder than simply diving your event budget by the total number of tickets available, but you can use Show4me built-in campaign calculator to make these calculations for you (we’ll talk more about the services you can use to run your campaign a little later).

As you call the venue, equipment rent companies, check the prices for travel and accommodation, etc., and correlate those costs with your ticket prices, you might want to make a few changes to make tickets cheaper by cutting a few production costs. Things may go the other way around though – maybe you’ll realize you have more funds to put on a more expensive production and increase your prop or costume budget to come up with a more monumental, impressive show.

Once you’ve set in stone the total amount you need to raise, it’s time to prepare your campaign description and promotional media, e.g. images, audio and video. You need to sell your show to anyone dropping by your campaign page or reading about your event on social media or in local press/blogs.

With all the promotional materials set and ready, it’s time to pick your crowdfunding tool.

There are a few options that you have that do not require a monthly subscription or upfront payments.

General-purpose crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter or concert-specific crowdfunding toolset from Show4me Music Interaction Network. The former has better brand recognition, but also more competition on the platform, while the latter has the advantage of very narrowly-focused tool, like built-in budget calculator, option to upload your music samples, built-in ticket generation and distribution, free ticket scanning app, and more concert-specific features.

Once you’ve decided on the service you want to use, create your campaign and launch.

But if you feel like this is where your work is done, I’ve got bad news for you (or good, depends if you like working on your music career). Promoting your crowdfunding campaign will make or break your event.

Being able to get the information about your upcoming show out there and emphasize the importance of pre-buying the tickets early as the event is alternatively funded is crucial. Depending on the size of your event and how large and active your fanbase is, the process might take you a day or a few weeks.

If it’s just a small show for 10 to 20 people and that’s half the size of your immediate friend group, a group chat note and a social media update might do the trick. But if you are aiming to put on a larger concert and/or your fans and supporters are not all that into getting out to a live event (or the location you are exploring is remote), you’ll have to work much harder.

Send out private messages and emails to all your contacts, make multiple social media posts, send out information about your event to local and thematic media, try to get local influencers or fellow musicians to advertise your event to their audiences, as well as run some ads, if your budget allows it.

Track your ticket pre-sale very carefully – if the pace is good enough to meet your deadline, keep your promotional activities steady, but if the sales are underwhelming, think about additional ways to promote your event. Remember that in Kickstarer and Indiegogo you can run campaigns of up to 60 days (for longer campaigns, use Show4me as they allow campaigns of up to 150 days).

Once your event budget is met, do a little celebratory dance, withdraw the raised funds and produce your show as you normally do for traditionally funded events.

Regardless of whether you manage to raise the funds for your show or not, remember to thank everyone who supported your event and invite to follow your journey and join any future events. If the show did not raise enough funds, all contributions are fully refunded, which is something you need to remind your fans about in your thank you note.

We hope this has been helpful. Have fun crowdfunding and come back to let American Songwriter know how it went!

Author: Mary Ivanova, website: https://show4me.com

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