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POZ Perspective: How Indiegogo Is Standing Out In The Crowd(funding)

February 4, 2013
January 24, 2013 · 21 notes · 0 Comments


We like looking at different angles in the music industry that directly relate to our scene and favorite bands, which is why we’re stoked to be kicking off a mini-Perspective series on third party helpers, like Indiegogo. Editor-in-Chief Erik van Rheenen takes a great look into the company and how they stand out against their competitors in a time where crowd-funding is more popular than ever. Check out the great Perspective below by clicking “Read More!”

Kevin Devine stole last week’s Kickstarter headlines, making quick work of raising fifty grand for two new albums in twelve hours flat. Not bad. One week later, KevDev’s up to just under $85,000 in pledges, which will offset the costs of recording, production, distribution, and touring in support of both albums. Devine didn’t outline his spending plan or upload a budget chart to his Kickstarter page, and rightly so. Fans understand that, through crowd sourcing, their money goes directly towards the making of an album. No fans really care if their ten-dollar pledge goes to studio time or post-production, as long as it goes to a new album.

What got lost in the fold of Devine’s Kickstarter success came the next day. Protest the Hero, critically acclaimed if not terribly prolific progressive metal band, set out to fund their fourth studio album the do-it-yourself way. In an afternoon, the band raised a $40,000 chunk of a lofty $125,000 goal. This weekend, the band broke the $221,000 mark and with 25 days left of their campaign, could easily double their initial goal. So why was there no fanfare, and most of all, no controversy?

Protest the Hero’s campaign is on Indiegogo. That’s why. Indiegogo might not be the “name brand” of crowd funding (not yet, at least — that title goes to Kickstarter still), but the platform has worked for artists on a global scale and continues growing.

When it comes to crowd sourcing, Kickstarter is the platform elbowing its way into the spotlight the most, often with different degrees of controversy. But even though Kickstarter is the most recognizable name in the way of do-it-yourself platforms for artists, that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives that work, and work well. That’s where sites like Indiegogo come in. The site operates in nearly the same format. Band creates a campaign to fund a project. Band sets funding goal and set perks for donations. Fans become shareholders of sorts, pledging money to the projects until the project reaches its goal. Rinse and repeat, right?

Not really. Indiegogo takes a more democratic approach to crowd-funding, one of the key differences setting the site apart from its competition. “There are no gatekeepers at Indiegogo,” says Karen Bair, Indiegogo’s head of music. “We don’t believe that there should be anyone picking and choosing what projects and artists can fundraise or not. Anyone can launch a project with us.”

Indiegogo also has a flexible funding option for artists trying to get projects off the ground. Simply, if an artist doesn’t raise enough pledges to meet his or her goal, they can still keep the money that was raised and scale back their ambitions. But crowdsourcing works: Protest the Hero is the latest, but not first, success story Indiegogo can chalk up. From bands like Conditions raising funds to put out a record, to Linkin Park raising money for their Music for Relief campaign, to the funkadelic George Clinton fundraising to rebuild his studio and #SaveFunk, the DIY trail works for artists who put in the effort.

“Artists shouldn’t expect to put up a campaign page and wake up the next morning and find that magic elves have deposited $50K in their account,” Bair says. “You need to set a realistic goal of what you need, look at how big your fan base is, and make sure you are offering cool perks that your fans want.”

Bair’s picked up on trends followed by artists with successful crowd sourcing endeavors at Indiegogo. Always make a short pitch video (just to explain what the campaign is about, where the money is going, and what fans get for pitching in), for one. Campaigns with videos make 114 percent more than campaigns without — that’s one of Bair’s favorite statistics to rattle off. Bair keeps a collection of them, and they’re all useful nuggets of advice. Forty-five days is the sweet spot for campaign length, campaigners that send out weekly updates make four times more than those who don’t, and always, always, have a 25-dollar perk. “Across the board, campaigns with a $25 perk level always do better,” Bair says.

Bair, always quick to share a success story, has seen a lot of projects make it through the ranks at Indiegogo, but one of her favorites is still currently running. The band, the Reigning Monarchs, is putting together a “very cool and innovative album” with help from what she calls a “very passionate fan base.”

“They would never have received an advance from a label with the current state of the industry. However, they are able connect with their fans and offer them the opportunity to support their project from day one,” Bair says. “This is what crowdfunding is about; enabling artists to create something that they couldn’t otherwise have gotten the resources to make.”

Which is exactly what Indiegogo set out to do in its inception back in 2008. The site’s three co-founders — Danae Ringelmann, who came from a finance background; Slava Rubin, who first started fundraising through his own charity on cancer research after losing his dad; and Eric Schell, whose expertise is rooted in technology, — brought together their vastly different backgrounds with a common frustration: how to raise money online. From the Golden Gate Bridge, the three met to try to solve one of the oldest problems in history (fundraising) by tackling it from a more technological standpoint. Their brainchild — a social media-driven, perks-based model that would help spur the “crowdfunding” moniker — became Indiegogo.

Almost five years later, and the model continues to work and push towards the future. As label budgets shrink, Indiegogo continues to expand, and expand quickly, a trend Bair thinks will hold steady.

“Crowdfunding is empowering artists of all sizes. It’s no longer necessary to have a traditional label advance to fund a project,” Bair says. “Fans get to say in advance whether they want to hear your music or not. The fans get to curate instead of label executives- how powerful is that?”

For bands like Protest the Hero, very.


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