Kaz Simmons: Crowdfunding - A Way Forward?



Kaz Simmons writes - (her current funding exercise is at the time of publishing this, already 93% achieved.)

Crowdfunding - A Way Forward?
A few months ago I sent a survey out to my mailing list to ask whether anyone would be interested in pledging money via a crowdfunding website to help raise funds towards the costs of my next album recording.

I had recently discovered such organisations existed. Musicians seemed to be using them to raise money for anything such as an album recording, a tour, a video and so on. Some organisations such as Kickstarter don’t just cater for musicians either. Anyone with a bright idea can use the site to drum up some cash. I was dubious, but I received such a positive response from my survey, that I decided to research further and then plan to launch.

Why would I go down this route? Well, this is my fourth album. I have always self-funded my albums and although an extremely rewarding process, they are also extremely expensive. I have never made back all the money I have spent, but then I don’t do it for the money. I do it, like lots of musicians, for the love of the music and out of a creative necessity.

The crowdfunding website I chose to work with was Pledge Music, mainly as one of my musical idol’s, Martha Wainwright, was using it to fund her tour. Even established artists with a world-wide following are going down this route. Dave Weckl currently has a campaign on Pledge Music at the moment, as well as The Beach Boys.

The way Pledge Music works is that every person who pledges on a campaign will receive a download of, in my case, the album, before it is officially released. The minimum Pledge is £8. Effectively, this means pre-ordering the album before it has been heard and in my case, recorded. It’s a gamble on both parts, but I felt that as it is my fourth album, my fans and friends would hopefully be happy to trust me. Every person who pledges will also have access to exclusive updates, which I will add as the campaign goes on. For example, photos from the studio, little videos and so on. There will also be the option of “Pledge Plus”, where if someone spends more, they can pledge for the CD, handwritten lyrics, a cover song of their choice…. and adding a fish to my fish tank.

A target is set and if that target is not reached, after say, 60 days, then no money is taken from the pledgers, no exclusives are fulfilled and that’s that. So it is vital to set a realistic target. Any money raised after the target is a huge bonus.

The money, raised during the campaign, goes directly into the musical process. Of course Pledge Music take a cut of the proceeds, but then, so do Amazon, iTunes and distributors.

It also means that I will interact with my fans much more than I will have done before.

I’m enjoying it already. I began my campaign two days ago and my target was relatively modest in comparison to people I have spoken to who have heard of musicians attempting to raise thousands. I still expect to pay for most of the album myself and as I said, it is an experiment. But I have been totally humbled by the support and encouragement from my fans and friends and at the time of writing, my target is at 93% of its goal. There are still 59 days to go! Amazing.

I already have two cover songs to record, from the Pledge process and I can’t wait to work on them. I also can’t wait to get in the studio next week and create videos for the pledgers. I’ve always been secretive and worried and nervous when recording my albums, but this time, I am merely excited and nervous.

More and more bands and musicians seem to be going down the crowd-funding route and although very early days, it has definitely been worth it for me.

If you would like to Pledge on my campaign for my fourth album, please visit:

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/kazsimmons

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