The internet has changed everything. Yeah, yeah, I know. It isn’t exactly breaking news. But this week, I’d like to share with you how the internet is helping artists to create their art, and how the internet has become a virtual fundraising tool—with sites like KickStarter.com and IndieGoGo.com.
The same premise drives both sites. Artists, musicians, film directors, and photographers list an upcoming project, along with a fundraising goal to bring it to fruition. They share the project with their friends, family and fans, who then donate what they can. Typically, the donations are incremental, and are incentivized accordingly. For example, donating $10 to a musician’s album project might get you a copy of the CD when it’s released. Donating $1,500 might get you a private show, and so forth.
A few of my friends have used Kickstarter with great success. Bri Bagwell—a Las Cruces native who’s now shaking up the Texas country music scene—for instance, created a Kickstarter campaign to fund her first music video. She and her band set a fundraising goal of $11,000 to produce the clip. They managed to raise nearly $21,000.
“People ask me all the time how they can help me further my career—my fans are angels,” Bri told me. “As hard as it is to say, the thing musicians need the most is money! Before Kickstarter, there was no medium for me to involve my fans directly in my fundraising. With Kickstarter, we make much-needed funds, the fans get something for donating, and everyone feels more involved and connected with my music.
“The money I raised during my Kickstarter campaign would have taken me at least one year of careful saving,” Bagwell said. “I did it in one month! The music industry has changed so much, and it is very hard for musicians to get any label support. With our Kickstarter project, we are putting out a music video, buying all new merchandise, promoting a radio single, AND going on a radio tour without any support from a management company or record label.”
Another friend of mine, Nick Britt, also has a Kickstarter success story. Nick once fronted Snow Road, a wildly popular Las Cruces band. He has since relocated to Nashville, where he continues to chase his dream with his new band, Nick Britt & Black Market Research. With a fundraising goal of $7,600 to produce the band’s full-length album, they managed to raise more than $14,640 from fans.
“Not everyone has the pleasure of being born into wealth,” Nick told me. “So Kickstarter allowed us to accept gracious donations from friends and strangers who truly believe in our mission and the message of our music. Not only did it cover our costs for production, it exceeded them, giving us the ability to explore new opportunities that previously we would not have been able to afford.”
I recently supported a campaign to fund a feature-length independent film, called “Shoplifting at American Apparel.” I stumbled across it by accident, after seeing something written about it online. After visiting the film’s IndieGoGo campaign page, I was lured in by the trailer, and—I’ll be honest—by the perks for donating. These included a limited-edition chapbook, a T-shirt, a placard of the movie poster, an autographed DVD, a digital download of the film’s soundtrack, and my name in the film’s credits. Sweet, right?
I reached out to the film’s director, Pirooz Kalayeh, who told me, “If we didn’t meat our fundraising goal on IndieGoGo, I wouldn’t have made the film. That’s how important virtual funding is to the life of some films. It’s money, yes, but it’s also a gauge for interest in the product you’re creating.”
Next time you’ve got a couple of extra bucks on you, visit one of the sites and poke around. With a small donation, you can help bring some tremendous art into the world. And you can make a few artists very, very grateful.
Originally printed in “Pulse,” 04/12/2012.
© Damien Willis, 2012. All rights reserved.