Brian Buchanan of Enter The Haggis recently shared his thoughts on crowdfunding via Bandzoogle’s blog. He gives a lot of solid crowdfunding advice while taking a look at their differing experiences using Kickstarter, PledgeMusic and Bandzoogle (to run a DIY crowdfunding campaign). I was surprised to find more evidence of Kickstarter losing its leading position but, overall, your choice of platform and related tools should be based on your campaign needs.
Brian Buchanan’s comparison of crowdfunding options does a nice job of looking at the differences as well as the similarities of crowdfunding campaigns. However it’s not an apples to oranges approach.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that includes a broad range of projects beyond music.
PledgeMusic is a direct-to-fan platform that includes crowdfunding as an option.
Bandzoogle is a music website provider that includes a store which Enter The Haggis may have used for a preorder campaign rather than a crowdfunding campaign per se.
Kickstarter: The Traditional Crowdfunding Approach
Buchanan’s look at Kickstarter includes some talk about financial goal setting that’s important across platforms but doubly so on all-or-nothing platforms like Kickstarter.
Buchanan’s experience was of an inflexible platform that doesn’t handle pledge updates very well. In addition, he found little support from Kickstarter itself.
Though I’d heard good things about Kickstarter’s support in the past, this year I’m only hearing disappointment from campaigners. Perhaps now that crowdfunding is established expectations are higher but limited commentary of late has been negative.
In the past I’ve also heard the argument that all-or-nothing campaigns add a dramatic flare that should help boost campaigns but that seems only likely in a campaign that is running short near the finish line. Choosing all-or-nothing in hopes of surviving last minute failure is not a good plan.
Currently the only argument I’m hearing right now for using Kickstarter is the strength of their brand. I’ve talked to lots of people over the last couple of years who don’t know what crowdfunding is but have heard of Kickstarter.
However, that means you can say “like Kickstarter” and leverage their brand without using their service.
PledgeMusic: Direct-to-Fan Campaigns from Start to Finish
Enter The Haggis is having a much better experience with PledgeMusic though that campaign is still in progress in the recording phase. Paying 15% of revenue seems to be the major sticking point.
Yet Buchanan says everything about the platform is designed for musicians’ actual campaigns and that support was really awesome.
In addition, PledgeMusic looks at the whole campaign, not just the funding mechanism, and that leads to support and platform development that is closely aligned with artists’ workflow.
PledgeMusic also reports sales to SoundScan which supports indie successes such as Lindsey Stirling’s campaign that led to a #2 debut on the Billboard 200.
Bandzoogle: DIY With a Web Store
Bandzoogle is presented as an option for small scale DIY crowdfunding campaigns. Enter The Haggis used their store feature but it sounds like they actually did presales instead of crowdfunding. That’s a strong fit given that Bandzoogle doesn’t take commision on sales.
In a larger sense, Buchanan is pointing out that your choice of tools should be based on your needs. For a small scale preorder campaign, which can take on a lot of the dynamics of a crowdfunding campaign, a solid store feature along with email marketing and other basic tools can definitely do the job.
There are also resources for DIY crowdfunding campaigns including various Wordpress themes and the like some of which would handle more of the process associated with crowdfunding than would a web store.
In the past my hesitation about suggesting DIY campaigns as an option was that some people might view a campaign on a third party platform as more legitimate especially in relationship to refunds.
However, that may be changing as the issue of campaigns that failed after the money was collected is hitting not only the media but the courts.
Given that crowdfunding and preorders require a certain simple level of trust and that successful campaigns are based on direct connections to fans, a band with a strong history of following through may have more to gain by going DIY given the lower fees.
The best choice will certainly be based on your needs but Kickstarter seems like it’s losing a bit of its edge. It would be interesting to compare to recent experiences on Indiegogo in particular.
PledgeMusic is one company I always recommend considering, in part, because they focus on the campaign from start to finish and provide a lot of support.
I wouldn’t have thought of Bandzoogle for crowdfunding but they are a great example of a company offering a variety of tools at low cost to build your own web empire. And, at the end of the day, the most important platform is the one you own whether you conduct crowdfunding campaigns there or not.