The Hip-Hop Artist's Guide to Fan Funding

The Blog Team
Posted by The Blog Team on Dec 6

Hip-hop artists have to be innovative when building and monetizing their community. We believe Fan Funding can be a valuable tool for artists, if done right.

Need more advice? Read other chapters of our Artist Guide here.  

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In this Post, we'll cover:

  1. What is Fan Funding
  2. Is Fan Funding right for you
  3. Why you should consider fan-funding your next project
  4. Knowing your platform options
  5. A successful fan funding campaign
  6. Being creative with rewards and incentives
  7. Pro-Tips

What is Fan Funding?

Fan Funding is a form of Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or aventure by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. We prefer to use the term fan funding because we believe it more accurately defines crowdfunding for artists, since it's the practice of funding a project or aventure by raising monetary contributions from a large number of fans.

Fan Funding is a valuable tool for artists to engage their supporters by providing incentives, limited edition rewards and personal experiences in exchange for financial support for a project or creative initiative (ex. event, tour, art installation, etc).

Fan Funding is NOT asking for donations or begging for money.

If done right, fan funding can be an excellent tool for marketing, fan engagement, news and revenue generation.  

Is Fan Funding Right for You?

If you can answer "Yes" to all of these questions than you may want to consider Fan Funding.
  • Am I able to dedicate a month of my time, energy and resources?
  • Can I write down the names of 25 people that would be “very likely” to support?
  • Do I have an active fan base that interacts consistently on social media?
  • Do I have an engaged email list with 25%+ open rate and 10%+ click through rate?
  • Is there a real demand and desire for this project from your fanbase?

5 Reasons you Should Consider Fan Funding:

1) Rollout strategy

Once upon a time there was the concept of an Album Cycle. Artists and record labels would rollout an album over 3-6 months attempting to dominate the news and build anticipation.

Social media and the 24 hours news cycle has completely broken that model.

Music is consumed so fast today. Even major artists have a difficult time keeping their albums in the news and relevant. It can be depressing for an artist that has spent countless hours on a project, just to see it released and “old news” within days, or weeks if you’re lucky.

Well, Fan Funding can help. You can use your Fan funding campaign to roll out songs and videos to build interest in a cohesive and coordinated effort.

Once you announce your campaign make sure you have content planned for a 30-40 day rollout. Use the countdown to build anticipation and flood your fanbase with news and updates. You should be dropping new music, BTS videos, exciting updates, new rewards and surprise features.

2) Press

A creative funding campaign can help generate press. The best way to generate press from a campaign is to offer fans really outrageous, funny, fun and unexpected rewards for their contributions.

Also, if you’re able to exceed your goal and raise far more money than expected, that is often newsworthy.

3) Fan engagement  

Your fans can become actively invested in the success of your campaign, and the release of your project.

Involve your fans in the creative process. They don’t have to be involved in the music (though they can be), but they can help name a song, suggest a feature, design posters, etc.

Ask for their help, input and make sure they feel as though they are a part of the team. They are much more likely to share with their friends if they’re actively involved.

4) Increase sales

A Fan Funding project is essentially a campaign to sell music, merch, items and experiences to your fans. Fan Funding platforms allow you to easily create and manage temporary stores (for a small % of sales, typically 3-5%), which shows your progress, creates a sense of urgency and tools to engage with active fans.

With that in mind, creating your rewards is often the most important part of a successful campaign. Rewards are another name for what fans receive in exchange for contributing to the campaign. Therefore a successful campaign depends on creating rewards that fans want to purchase. Spend a lot of time thinking about your rewards, and don’t be afraid to ask your fans what they want.

Fan Funding campaigns enable you to effectively offer more to your fans so you should be able to generate more revenue and sell more merchandise than a typical album release. You’ll also be able to increase your revenue from your super fans, who may be willing to spend way more than a typical fan.

5) Data Collection

You’ll collect emails from all of the contributors, and you are able to continue to sell to them well beyond the campaign. You’ll also find out who your super fans are, and you can continue to update them on developments and ideally lean on them to grow your fanbase.

Data is power.

Know your platform options

In the digital age, fan funded projects are done predominantly through web based services. A handful of websites make it convenient for you to keep track of productivity and how well you’re doing in your campaign. There's a wide variety of platforms for funding music merchandise, albums, touring and other creative projects.

Here are some of the most popular platforms for music funding.

  1. Kickstarter

Kickstarter is the 800-pound gorilla in the crowdfunding sector making its mark on the music industry, but despite the brand’s unparalleled recognition, it does have a major drawback. All projects on Kickstarter adhere to an ‘all or nothing’ funding model. If a campaign doesn’t meet the set goal by the end of the crowdfunding period, the creator will not receive any of the funds. Still, Kickstarter is a great platform for artist discovery since it receives roughly 300% more monthly site visitors than any other crowdsourcing website.

  1. Ingiegogo

Indiegogo is a platform that’s centered around a love for helping artists develop cool projects. Unlike Kickstarter, this site allows for two types of funding. In addition to the all-or-nothing model, Indiegogo allows you to keep the all the funds you raise, even if you don’t hit your goal. This is a decision that must be made before the start of the campaign. They refer to the “keep it all” method as Flexible Funding and the “all-or-nothing” as Fixed Funding.

  1. ArtistShare

Artist Share was the first crowdfunding made site specifically for music. This platform is much more than just a collection plate; it's a place for fans to fund and participate in the creative process behind their favorite musicians' work. This is one of the best sites to use if you want a simple and easy way for fans to stay in your loop and donate to your cause. The Artistshare website describes the approach as “redefining the music industry by allowing fans to finance artist projects in exchange for access to the artist’s creative process.” Much of this access is provided through the provision of additional material such as video clips, open letters and so on.

Other noteworthy crowdfunding sites:


3 Steps for a Successful Fan Funding Campaign

Asking for money because you have a dream won't be enough to get people to invest into your music. You have to exude eagerness and passion about your upcoming music video, photoshoot, documentary production, or whatever it is you’ve got up your sleeve.

Here are 3 steps to ensure a successful fan funding campaign:

  1. Create a compelling story 

You want your supporters to be able to see your vision. A great way to spread the word is to create a heartfelt video introducing yourself and elaborating on why this fundraiser is so important to you. Ask yourself: “What goals will I accomplish with this pledge money?” and “Why would anyone want to donate to my campaign?”

Promotional images are a great branding and promotional tool to encourage your contributors to share your story on every social media platform as well. Whatever you do, show some sincerity. Don't just straight up ask for money!

  1. Planning and budgeting

You’ll need to do the math in advance to have an estimate of how much money you're going to need to fund your next move. It's most beneficial to create a spreadsheet list of all expenses as documentation. There should be an extra cushion in your budget since nothing ever goes 100% as planned in production and entertainment. 

  1. Fan Rewards

Your fans are the heart of this campaign. You have to let your contributors know that you’re appreciative of their investment. Innovative gifts and rewards can be great incentives to donate, even if they’re something simple like a private link to new music before it drops or a button with your face on it. If nothing else, be sure to say “thank you” to your pledges for helping you fulfill your dreams. Which leads us to...

Being Creative With Rewards and Incentives

A successful fan funding campaign does well at enticing it’s funders to donate with creative rewards in return for their contributions. Your fans should feel special considering they played a major role in the success of your project. Prizes categorically aligned with donations is an alluring strategy as well, similar to having gold, silver or platinum sponsorship packages.

Here are some fun incentive and reward ideas to help start your creative process:

  • Very limited edition merchandise (5-10 total)
  • Hold a private show for 100 friends
  • Fan can record and intro or skit
  • Be the voice on a fan’s answering machine
  • Autographed a piece of clothing - or memorable item - from a music video or album cover
  • Feature your fans in a music video
  • Invite fan into the studio to hang out during a recording session
  • Do you have a special talent or skill - beyond music - you can incorporate?

Regardless, be true to yourself and create rewards that you’re excited about.

Finally: Be sure to follow through! There is nothing more devastating than supporting an artist, only for them to renege on their word. Remember this is an investment in your fanbase as well.  You don't want to lose your supporters by making them feel swindled and unappreciated. Do as you promised!

Pro-Tips

  • Campaign with pride. Never think that you're too cool to engage with fans.
  • Update your status frequently. People visit your crowdfunding page because their either interested in donating or want to see what you’ve been up to since their contribution. Give them something to look at so the money keeps coming!
  • Make your fans feel like a part of the family. They should feel as though they’re right there with you every step of the way. Invite them into your life and be hospitable!
  • 30 days of fan funding. Most fan funding sites will allow you to select the length of the campaign. We feel that 30 days, give or take 10 days, is the right amount of time. Any less than that and you’ll have a tough time fully executing the campaign. More than 40 days can be a bit draining for your friends, fans, press as well as yourself, and your team.
  • It’s a full time thing. A great fan funding campaign takes a lot of time and energy.

 

Fun Fact: De La Soul's 8th album “and the Anonymous Nobody…” is a merited fan funding experience. They’re the first mainstream rap group to completely finance a project with their own De La Soul Kickstarter page. Having no experience, they surpassed their funding goal of $10k by receiving over $60k within 24 hours!  They went on to have one of the largest Kickstart campaigns of all time raising over $600k from 11,169 backers.

For every newsworthy fan funded project, there are hundreds of other successful campaigns completed every week.

Need more advice? Read other chapters of our Artist Guide here.   

Sign Up for Artist Guide

The Artist's Essential Guide to Hip-Hop is presented by Squarespace, the simplest way to register a domain and create a beautiful website.

Start your free trial today by visiting squarespace.com/A3C. When you’re ready to go live, use offer code A3C17 to save 10% on your first purchase.

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The Blog Team

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