The internet has its fans and critics, but undeniably the phenomenon of crowdfunding would simply not be possible without it. Crowdfunding brings together people from all over the globe who share a passion for a project and who are prepared to invest in that project ahead of it’s realisation, to make it possible...
Its impact on collaboration has been profound, enabling people to easily join forces on a scale rarely seen before. This helps entrepreneurs kick start projects that would otherwise not be possible by conventional means. Crowdfunding is increasingly being used for collaboration between people who share nothing else in common other than a collective passion to make something new happen and contributes to innovation through the power of collaboration. The approach is risk free for the people who back a project as nothing is paid if the project does not reach it’s financial target.
I was privileged to play a part in helping two musicians successfully fund their crowdfunding projects. The first was an album and UK tour for Bernie Tormé, former lead guitar player for Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple's Ian Gillan. The other was a former Virgin Records artist Richard Strange, who has mounted an audacious arts project to celebrate the life and works of American novelist William Burroughs. So, what has Crowdfunding done in these two examples?
Hard Rock Café
Bernie Tormé’s project was funded via Pledge Music and was so popular that it was fully funded within 24 hours and subsequently funded itself to 420 percent of its original goal. This has enabled the artist to invest more in the album production and provide additional benefits to the people who pledged their support. Beyond fundraising, crowdfunding has reconnected Bernie and his music with his community of fans across the world.
Collaboration is key to such projects... finding the needles in the haystack around the world who want to get involved but otherwise would not know about the project.
He says that crowdfunding has been developed a real community spirit compared with the old music business model where a record company puts the record out and there is no connection between the artist and the consumer. The crowd are now helping him to market his UK Tour, having made the financial and emotional commitment to the album project.
Collaboration is key to such projects, building online communities who spread the word via social media, to find the needles in the haystack around the world, people who want to get involved in the project but otherwise would not know about it. Collaboration also features in the build up to the project. Bernie gave his backers exclusive access to the writing and making of the album via video and other updates.
A little bit of pizazz also helps… In Tormé’s case, he auctioned his Fender Stratocaster guitar which was given to him by Ozzy Osbourne to create an aspirational goal for the project. Since Bernie did not really want to sell the guitar and because it was donated by the Prince of Darkness, he set the price at £66,600!
Strangeways here we come
Richard Strange is the enigmatic founder of The Doctors of Madness, a band that inspired The Sex Pistols, who signed to Virgin early in their brief but riotous career. Richard was dubbed “The Godfather of Punk” as a result. He used Kickstarter to raise £10,000 from 68 crowdfunders as seed capital to fund an arts project to celebrate the life and works of William Burroughs at the Royal Festival Hall.
The show features contributions from Bill Nelson (Be-Bop Deluxe), Sarah Jane Morris (The Communards), Audrey Riley (Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, Kate St. John (Philip Glass, Marianne Faithfull), a one-off reunion of The Doctors of Madness and many others.
Richard sees crowdfunding as means of democratising the music business. He observes: “Ideas are the real currency. No, strike that. Ideas are the only currency. Music should describe the energy of ideas. If it’s wrong, make it brilliantly wrong and you get it right. When you’re stuck, bang together two existing ideas and you’ll spark something new. Whatever you do, don’t whinge!”
Crowdfunding works on some time-honoured principles:
- Collaborate via a crowdfunding platform to find the ‘long tail’ of backers who share a passion in the project.
- Build your online community by conveying the essence of the project in a potent way.
- Communicate with your community frequently to build commitment and develop the network.
- Deliver your promises along the way and engage more backers through the power of the crowd.