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The One-Step Program towards Success in Music Business

There are many lists and advices going around the internet, which are supposed to help musicians overcome the steep ways of the music business. They consist of some more and some less helpful tips (from five up to 20). Actually, most of them are obvious banalities that could work for the marketing of any given product.

Here, I want to oppose those with my One-Step Program: “Act professional!”

And it is really easy to implement, by the way: The central starting point on the web has to be one’s own internet site. Its basic design should consist of bio information, music, pictures and gigs. There probably is a talented web developer/-designer among the friend circle, who can draw that up. All social networks should lead to your website. It’s not necessary to appear on every social network, however Facebook, Twitter and for musicians also important, Reverbnation or Bandcamp, are a standard. Fans are the most important capital a musician can have. Contact with fans should always be a number one priority- but in a modest way, not by spamming (this also includes adding to unnecessary facebook groups)… and being reachable for fans always and through all channels. These are only a few relatively banal things that need to be taken in consideration. And in this case, one which always applies online as well as offline: professional appearance, even if behind the stage this doesn’t always go so smoothly. The fan should notice none of that. At crowdfunding this is decisive for everything, even success or failure. A professional appearance should be a standard in this matter as well. Here, an example (not from music crowdfunding): I am one of many, many backers of Double Fine Adventure on kickstarter.com. Not because I’m a gaming fan actually, but because this project (Attention!) made an extremely professional impression on me. Somehow, an email from this project stayed in my memory, an email after which all backers living outside the North American continent, had to pay extra 10$ shipping fees. I was certainly not thrilled to have to pay for something once again, which explains my partial amnesia. 🙂 However, this amnesia ended yesterday so I asked the DFA staff about it via the Kickstarter mailing system. Promptly, meaning within a few hours, I received an answer (1. proof of professionalism) with a link to a website, on which I could type in my backer email address and be forwarded straightaway to payment per credit card or PayPal (2. proof of professionalism). Surely, someone might object that it’s a piece of cake to do so when you have a 3, 3 Mio. $ Budget. Could be, but I think that nowadays you can have a successful (and professional) online appearance even with a small budget…. Besides, the rest is commitment and hard work. For questions and advice – cost-free - you can contact me on my email address mario[at]musicandcrowdfunding.com

Where’s the Crowd in Crowdfunding?

Although Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter “Double Fine Adventure” game project is making headlines, the big number of over 57.000 supporters (on Kickstarter called backers) shouldn’t mislead from the fact that this project is an absolute exception and can’t be compared to music crowdfunding projects.

Even if we take in consideration the positively running project of the Libertins on Pledgemusic, with at the time around 1.800 supporters (on Pledgemusic called pledgers), it still is a barely repeatable success, which only few musicians will achieve. I don’t possess any statistical values about the number of supporters and their financial contribution to music crowdfunding projects. I do assume that most (quite successful) projects are supported by hundreds if not even only tens of supporters.

These are more than good numbers for many artists who are so far unknown. “Newcomers” mostly face many problems at the same time. Firstly, they still aren’t as experienced in the music business, in dealing with fans (and sometimes the media), in presenting on the web (most of them don’t have Website, Twitter, Facebook or MySpace accounts) and generally in promoting. This is where a fan can be of tremendous support, whether it’s a new or an old one. The crowd shouldn’t only have a financial role. They can also help through giving advices, actively helping on building an online presence or simply through buzz marketing. From experience, usually there are a number of supporters who willingly take over those assignments, because they identify themselves outstandingly with the musician or his/her music. A decisive problem in this case is the consistency of this approach. Many fans tend to overstate the supporting or have a different idea of what support really means, and I know this from experience. This is what crowdfunding platforms are missing- suitable collaboration tools.

Besides, not even established crowdfunding providers managed to achieve a big, sustainable crowd, the so-called regular crowd. Most of the supporters are narrowed down to a single project and they attract other supporters through the interest of the media in the project. I believe the reason is that so far it hasn’t been possible to establish a crowdfunding brand, which can sustain enough supporters for a long period of time, regardless of some stars. Simply focusing on the funding act has surely played a big part in this case. In the beginning, crowdfunding platforms like SellaBand or Slicethepie (which no longer is identified as a crowdfunding platform) have worked a lot towards a vivid community-life. In the meantime, such activities barely ever take place. Reducing it all to a simple money business is letting a big potential go to waste. One can only hope, that the providers will remember what eventually makes crowdfunding a success – the crowd.