Every indie artist has experienced setbacks due to budget issues. When your budget is tight–or nonexistent–every penny counts.
You’ve just wrote three songs but can’t afford to record, mix and master them properly. Or you’ve spent all of your budget on the recording process and now you have no funds to promote your new music. Or you’ve landed a few multi-city gig opportunities as a result of your promotional efforts–and solid release campaign–but have no budget to go on tour. Or worse; you’re just too damn broke to even write!
What do you do when you don’t have a label underwriting your career and you have to choose between paying your personal bills and paying a studio engineer, publicist, or rental van company?
You fund raise!
I’m sure you’re thinking, “yeah I know I need to fund raise, but that’s easier said than done!” And you’re absolutely right. It’s not easy being an indie. That’s why there’s a term called “grind”. Indie artists must grind and grind hard. You must give it above 100% on everything just to move the needle an inch. This holds true for fund raising as well.
To fund raise effectively, you need to make a plan. You need to know what avenues you’re going to take to raise funds, how much funding you’re trying to raise, and how soon you need to raise the funds.
Set a reasonable goal over a reasonable period of time. Are you trying to raise $5,000 in 30 days, $10,000 in 60 days, $15,000 in 90 days or $100,000 in two weeks?
Assess your known challenges and address these challenges in your fund raising plan. For example:
- Do you have a full-time job or are you in school? If so, how many hours each day or each week can you set aside specifically for fund raising efforts?
- Do you have transportation? If not, then most of your fund raising activities may need to be conducted from home.
- Do you have dependents? If so, can you afford to put aside the monies you raise into your savings account specifically for your music career or do you have to share those funds with your expenses supporting dependents?
- Do you have two or more members in your group? If so, how will you allocate responsibility for fund raising?
There are many questions to ask yourself. Try to be thorough, honest and reasonable. Your assessment will help you figure out what tactics to take towards reaching your fund raising goal.
I’ve put together this list of fund raising tactics that you should consider incorporating into your fund raising plan. It’s not an exhaustive list so I welcome readers to comment with other ideas. Also, if you’ve tried any of these tactics in the past, what worked for you and what didn’t work for you?
If you’re a band, I seriously recommend that you open a joint savings account at a local bank and agree to deposit monies raised for the band into this joint account. You should also discuss what should happen to the funds if a member leaves the band before the funds are used–I personally might be a bit pissed if I helped raise $5,000 and then am kicked out of the band because I’m a sucky bass player. You might want to write up a band fund agreement and have each member sign it and keep a copy.
Also, I recommend allocating 1 or more tactic to each member, and setting individual fund raising goals based on what you all agree is reasonable based on that tactic. An equal split may not work since some tactics may be much more difficult than others.
For the solo artists out there, you might want to consider asking a friend to help you fund raise. If you’re a songwriter, your producer might help if you guys have an ongoing collaborative relationship.
Once you’ve considered all of the above pre-planning details, the next step is to choose your tactics, set specific fund raising goals as a portion of the total amount of funds you need to raise and then set timelines for reaching the tactic-level goals.
To help you with planning, you might want to consider using a project management and/or collaboration platform. Here’s 30 of the greatest online project management tools to check out.
10 Ways To Raise Funds For Your Next Music Project (Without Selling A Single Record)
1. Donations From Family & Friends. Don’t let your pride get in the way; ask your family and friends for donations toward your goal. If you have a website, consider using PayPal’s Donation platform to facilitate credit card transactions. You can also post an app on your Facebook Page using FundRazr. By allowing family and friends to donate on your website or Facebook Page, you eliminate the anxiety or self-prescribed embarrassment of having to ask directly to their face. Instead, you can send an email or text blast.
2. Crowdfunding Websites. By now, if you haven’t heard of the story of Amanda Palmer–the singer/songwriter who raised $1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter–then you have a lot catching up to do in the world of crowdfunding for musicians. Basically, the way crowdfunding works is you set a goal to raise a specific amount of funds by a specific end date. Then, you create a campaign page on the service’s website to compel strangers–crowd–to fund your project–crowdfunding–in exchange for receiving something once you’ve reached your fund raising goal. Kickstarter and IndieGogo are both very popular crowdfunding platforms, but there are many others such as PledgeMusic, SellABand, FeedBand and Patreon. Check those out as well as others via a Google search. Make sure to understand the differences such as whether or not you get to keep the funds if you do not hit the goal–that’s a no for Kickstarter but yes for Patreon–or if there are restrictions on how the funds can be used. There are others out there, so search the web!
3. Get A Songwriter or Artist Royalty Loan (No Credit Check and No Monthly Fees). Lyric Financial is a special financial service founded by musicians for musicians. They claim to be a leader in providing songwriters, producers and artists loans–or an advance–on future royalties from your songs. You can draw cash immediately for royalties that have not yet been paid by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, your publisher, or your label. You do not have to pay any monthly fees. You do not give up your copyright ownership. They claim that there is no qualification; no credit check. As long as you currently earn royalties, you may be eligible for a loan.
4. Sell Or Auction Off Your Royalties. If you are generating royalties each year from previously released songs, you can sell the rights to your works on an auction to cash out and fund your next project. Royalty Exchange is a marketplace to sell royalties. Unlike the Lyric Financial loans, you do give up your copyright ownership in the works. This is because the new owner will be the person purchasing your copyright and therefore collecting all future royalties.
5. Music Licensing Agencies. If you have songs recorded–released or unreleased–you may be able to get those songs placed on TV shows, commercials, movies, or advertisements. When songs are licensed to a production, you earn synchronization fees as well as public performance royalties collected by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. There are dozens of music licensing agencies out there. They spend their day contacting music supervisors, advertisers, and production companies to convince these guys to license music from their indie artist clients instead of major recording artists. And they are working; driving millions of dollars in licensing deals every year. You can sign-up for several at one time and check out their listings. Here are a few to consider: Music Dealers, YouLicense, Pump Audio, BeatPick, BroadJam,Ocean Park, LicenseQuote and RumbleFish. There are others out there, so search the web!
6. Random Side Jobs. Depending on where you live, there may be plenty of weekend and evening side jobs that you can do to raise money. Check out the “Gigs” section of Craigslist.org. You might also consider spending a few hours a week getting paid to take surveys. Companies seek consumer insight to help make business decisions. They often use market research companies to do outreach to a target audience to get their feedback on a product or service; and they pay you for your time. Check out SurveyMonkey and ConsumerSurveys. There are others out there, so search the web!
7. Make Your SmartPhone Make You Money. Did you know that there are apps currently available on the PlayStore and iTunes that you can download and make money from today? There are apps that ask you to go to a store, such as Best Buy, and then take pictures of a display. The reason the product manufacture pay you to do this is because they want to make sure their product is on display properly. There are other apps that asks you to be mystery shoppers. And apps that pay you to check-in at locations. There are quite a few and here is a detailed list of 10 mobile apps to consider.
8. Gig, Gig, Gig. There’s nothing better than making money when performing your own music. Playing shows and selling tickets is not an easy task; but hey that’s the business you’re getting in. Try to setup shows locally and see if you can charge $5, $10, $15 a person. Also check out websites that help you find gigs such as SonicBids, GigFinder, Indie On The Move, and MusicClout. There are others out there, so search the web!
9. Get A Part-Time Job. If you already have a full schedule, you may consider becoming a “weekend warrior” for a few months while you save money. A lot of retail stores hire additional staff seasonally to support an increase in business and store traffic. The months of October – December are heavy holiday shopping months, so retail stores may seek additional stock room employees or cashiers.
10. Mr. or Mrs. Investor. Getting someone to invest in your music career is incredibly difficult to do unless you’ve proven your worth through previous releases. But getting someone to invest in you as a human being and future impact-maker may be a different option. As far as an investor in your music, this can be anyone with deep pockets. An in investor would typically like to know how the money will be spent and what kind of a return on their investor they should expect. One way to structure an investment deal is to keep 100% of your copyright but give them 50% of your publishing and executive producer credits to your songs. Only do this for the songs they are investing in; not your entire catalog. You should also think about when their publishing split should revert back to you. If someone invests $20,000 to record and promote one song and then own 50% of the publishing, they could potentially recoup their investment in 24-36 months; enjoy residual income for another 36-72 months. But what happens if it’s a smashing hit and their $20,000 is now bringing in $200,000? Well, an investor would say the point of investing is to earn the highest return. So, keep all of that in mind in structuring an investor deal. In terms of seeking an investment in you as a person–and not just a musician–you should check out these websites that helps individuals earn investments from other individuals in exchange for future compensation: Pave, ThrustFund, and Prosper. There are others out there, so search the web!
11. YouTube & Website Advertising Revenue. If you’re earning several hundred to tens of thousands of views on YouTube, you should join the YouTube Partner Program to earn money when ads are aired on your videos. If you are earning tens of thousands of views or more, you may be eligible to partner with a multi channel network such as INDMUSIC–Read this interview with the founder, Brandon Martinez–or the big dog Fullscreen to increase your ad revenue share. If you have a website with lots of traffic, consider working with SKIPIT to earn money when visitors decide to skip an ad airing on your videos. You can also use Google Adsense to earn advertising money from your website or blog.
12. Promote FREE Streams For Small Bucks. If you have music currently released digitally that is no longer selling; drive fans and friends to stream the hell out of your tracks for FREE on Spotify or other services such as Rhapsody and Rdio. They stream your song for FREE–or part of their subscription plan–and you earn pennies on a dollar. But remember, every penny counts!
13. Still need more money-making tips? Here are 52 Ways To Make Extra Money by Philip Taylor