Trying to decide which path your band should pursue with crowdfunding? Below is a brief comparison of some different crowdfunding options, along with some details on who might want to choose each of these. If you need some tips on how to make your campaign successful, check out my other blog post. If there is an option I missed that you think is worth adding, feel free to contact me and I can edit this down the road. Good luck!
Fees: 5% of funds collected
Choose if: you have a discrete project all figured out and want to ensure an all-or-nothing approach
Stay away if: You are doing very small projects or are constantly churning out new content
Kickstarter is so well known around the world that it has almost become to crowdfunding what Google is to web search. What makes Kickstarter so popular with financial backers is that no transaction takes place unless the target goal is reached. This doesn't prevent the artists from going above and beyond their initial goals, but it does force bands to seriously consider exactly how much money they need to raise. A detailed budget is essential or you can end up finding yourself short of the required funds and an incomplete project. Otherwise the artist ends up alienating an entire fanbase all in one swift motion. All things told Kickstarter sets the standard and most of your fans will be willing to check out your campaign and see how they can contribute and if the incentives are worth it. Just make sure you follow the guide to get the most out of your campaign.
Fees: 5 - 12% of monthly income (depending on account level, 8% is most common)
Choose if: you plan to regularly release content throughout the year, particularly in mixed media formats (YouTube videos, live events, etc.).
Stay away if: you are only trying to release discrete albums / EPs
Patreon is incredibly popular across a wide array of creative industries. From musicians to painters to videographers it is a powerful way to bring fans and followers into the creative process. The main thing to focus on here is that contributions from "patrons" come monthly. As such, you the band / musician / artist should be prepared to regularly provide content to justify that monthly contribution. The advantage with this is that there is a known steady stream of income to help you produce your music, and those contributors can feel a deep and direct connection to helping you make it. You also aren't just limited to recording music. You can do special projects like music videos or concerts specifically for patrons (online or in person). Even videos made with a cell phone and a camera can become viable content.
Fees: 5% platform
Choose if: You are only looking to build hype and support for your project
Stay away if: Your project you aren’t disciplined enough to deliver without meeting the financial target
Indiegogo is the primary challenger to Kickstarter. Their offerings are somewhat similar in that you can offer incentives to backers of your project. However, Indiegogo gives you the option of collecting whatever money is pledged, even if you don’t hit your goal. This can be great for a band that is committed to making an album / EP regardless of how much money the crowdfunding campaign collects. This allows the campaign to almost be a “pre-order hype train” to allow your fans to get involved in the process and contribute to the completion. This takes some of the pressure off trying to hit that goal set by the band. However, if you aren’t willing to be committed to finishing the project you could end up leaving all the contributors hanging because a financial back-up plan wasn’t in place. All this considered, Indiegogo is a solid option with lots of customization for your project.
Fees: It doesn’t matter
Choose if: Don’t choose it, just don’t
Stay away if: you ever want to make music
Pledge music stopped operations a number of months ago due to serious financial issues (and not doing the important things, like paying their artists what they are owed from campaigns). Based on this I would not recommend them at all. Ever. Even if they reorganize and get out of debt. And hence I didn’t even bother with a link. But at least this way you are informed. It’s unfortunate, because Pledge Music positioned themselves as a music-centric crowdfunding option. Maybe one of these days they will get their act together, but don’t hold your breath.
Fees: Variable fees and interest rate
Choose if: you have a steady stream of royalty income already and need money up front for your project that you are confident you can repay
Stay away if: you aren’t already making a significant income from streaming / downloads / royalties or you want to include your fans in the process
This one is really only an option for established artists who collect significant streaming royalties. However, if you are the kind of artist that just needs some money fronted for your next project and the fanbase you have established gives you a consistent income stream this could be a great option. The downside is it removes the ability to include your fans in the process and removes some of the positive social momentum that can be created by a crowdfunding campaign.