The demise of PledgeMusic left many musicians doubting the legitimacy of crowdfunding. But the music marketing experts that we've interviewed still strongly still believe in music crowdfunding even as they experiment with alternatives. Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR offers four alternatives to PledgeMusic and examines the pros and cons of each.
By Ariel Hyatt of CyberPR
It is horrible what happened with Pledge Music and I am devastated to see so many artists who worked so hard and got screwed.
However I still deeply believe in Crowdfunding.
Because Crowdfunding equals us at our highest, taking a risk, sharing ourselves, receiving, and being given the opportunity to express gratitude towards others. The magic lies in the reward from your community that you reap, which is not simply the financial gain — there will also be a deep sense of connectedness that you will feel from getting the support that your crowdfunding campaign creates. The ripple effect is profound, and it will resound into your future. Crowdfunding represents a little piece of your dream, and it will make you realize you’re not alone. It will spark creativity, and bring you closer to your tribe. Even if you only get partial funding, it will be worth it for the transformation you’ll undergo.
OK! On to Brass Tacks!
Here are four crowdfunding platforms that artists should consider working with as alternatives to Pledge Music
I’m going to start with 2 you already know, and they are tried and true. But, they are also not specifically tailored to musicians (which was why so many of us loved Pledge).
Platform #1: Kickstarter
This is arguably the most recognized platform in the crowdfunding space. Kickstarter is open to art, design, fashion, film, tech, music projects, and more. Kickstarter is known for quite a few record-breaking campaigns, including the Pebble Watch, The Coolest Cooler, and Amanda Palmer’s album-focused campaign that raised over 1M.
Kickstarter takes 5% of all the money raised in a successful campaign, plus 3% and $0.20 per pledge for payment processing. For pledges under $10, there is a discounted rate of 5% plus $0.05 per pledge.
PROS: It’s the biggest platform with a wide variety of projects and campaigns.
CONS: If a campaign is not successful (i.e., it doesn’t reach its fundraising goal), the money is never collected from your donors. If you miss your goal by just $1, you get nothing.
Click here to learn more about Kickstarter for musicians.
Platform #2: Indiegogo
Projects on Indiegogo range from education to technology to arts to community. With Indiegogo, if you want to raise money for charity, you can register your campaign as a nonprofit.
PROS: You can try a crowdfunding campaign and keep what was raised, regardless of whether you hit the goal or not. If your campaign is raising funds for a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, there is a 25% reduction in Indiegogo’s fees, and your funders may be eligible for a tax write-off.
CONS: Indiegogo collects 9% plus processing fees on all contributions. If your campaign reaches its goal, it refunds 5%, for a processing charge of 4% (plus the 3 to 5% charged by the credit card companies). Essentially, it holds 5% of your funds until you reach your goal.
Click here to learn more about Indiegogo
Platform #3: Single
This article on Hypebot By CEO Tommy Stalknecht and the team at Single grabbed my attention when it came out and I have since connected with Tommy, who was generous enough to walk me and my whole team through 2 separate demos of how Single works. It is the closest to Pledge as you can get; however, they don’t take that heavy 15%!
PROS: This is the most like Pledge, so if you were used to their system you will love this. PLUS they take a flat fee vs. a percentage, so you stand to keep a lot more of your hard earned crowdfunding cash.
CONS: The one caveat is that you need to master Shopify and install it on your site. If this is daunting, you can hire someone on Fiverr to assist you – there are dozens of vetted VAs on Fivrr to help you. You will need to create and build a lot yourself, and thread many levels for your campaign together.
To re-create the “mockups” like Pledge used to have, you will need to get them from a third party.
Note: there are dozens of designs to choose from for almost anything you want to offer – here is a T-shirt and a tote example:
Here is an excerpt from the article that gets to the heart of Single:
How would I build my own “direct-to-fan” campaign?
People build and maintain e-commerce storefronts using Shopify. The owner chooses a starting “theme”, then customizes that theme to build out a store. Shopify has excellent articles about how to do all of that. Today we’re focused on the Jumpstart theme – a free template to create a crowdfunding campaign using Shopify.
Shopify is amazing for generalized selling, but artists running their own campaigns will need music-specific features. Single Music powers pre-orders, bundles, digital downloads and SoundScan reporting. Create a digital release in Single and have it automatically sent to Shopify as a product. Add the release to any physical product in your Shopify store to create a bundle.
What about other crowdfunding features? Well… these are easy to replicate too. In fact, there are a handful of 3rd party Shopify apps that add functionality to your DIY crowdfunding campaign. Using CrowdFunder you can create multiple simultaneous campaigns, complete transactions regardless of your campaign meeting its goal, and create product pages that look nearly identical to those on traditional crowdfunding platforms.
Why is this solution better than Pledge? While Pledge’s pricing scales linearly (starting at 15% of all funds raised), Shopify’s costs are a flat monthly subscription fee, plus a little under 3% for payment processing using Shopify Payments. Single doesn’t even touch the money – we let Shopify handle that. This means the money you raise from your campaign will be in your account in just two days. Pledge waits until your campaign finishes; a Shopify-powered campaign sends you your money as you go.
Why is this solution better than Bandcamp? Whether you offer a digital standalone album or a digital album as part of a bundle, Single Music only charges you for album delivery, which is 15 cents / track (capped at $2 / album). This pricing is comparable to a service like Bandcamp (and half the price of iTunes). Except, Bandcamp takes 10% from your physical merch sales. Single does not.
Here’s an ongoing pre-order campaign for Todd Snider (these are great b/c they contribute to your day 1 sales where you can make an impact on the charts.
Take a look at Avril Lavigne as well.
Click here to learn more about Single.
Platform #4: Bandzoogle
I am most excited about this new release from Bandzoogle because I have been working with them for 15 years. They are artist-friendly, and so many artists already know how to use the Bandzoogle platform.
With their crowdfunding template, you can take album pre-orders, bundle digital music with CDs or vinyl, and create custom merch bundles and experiences for your fans. Like Single, these will be recorded with SoundScan. In order to do presales, you will have to become a Bandzoogle Pro plan member.
This video walks you through the options:
PROS: Pledges from your fans are commission-free, and we don’t touch the financial transaction. Funds are processed through Stripe or PayPal and go directly into your account, without delay. (In other words, you get the money immediately!)
CONS: If you don’t already use Bandzoogle, you will have to learn how and create a second site for your crowdfunding campaign. (It’s not much more work than it would be to set up a Kickstarter or Indiegogo Page, PLUS it is designed with musician crowdfunding campaigns in mind.)
To Get the first month FREE Sign up to Bandzoogle using this code: cyber15
There is an easy to use blog feature to post campaign updates right to your crowdfunding page to keep your funders updated with the latest news and progress of the campaign. Plus, you can create a FAQ page and use Bandzoogle’s built-in mailing list tool to stay in touch along your journey (a must if you want to succeed).
With the Store feature, you can offer unique items like signed lyric sheets, songbooks, exclusive merch, and even instruments or gear that was used during the recording.
Bandzoogle’s full announcement and details are on their blog here.
I hope this helps and I would love to hear about anyone’s experience with any of these platforms – especially Single & Bandzoogle (as they are newer) from you indies out there on ease of set up and release. It is especially enticing because you can set up presale and Billboard / Soundscan charting.