One of the biggest problems independent hip hop artists have always faced is the lack of steady cash flow.
While you want to focus all your time and energy on your music, with no record label behind you or someone investing in your craft, the odds are you’re going to have problems sustaining your recording career.
For the younger artists still living with their parents grinding on their laptop, they can make it work without having a steady income, but how about all those artists out there with a family? It’s hard to consistently focus on creating dope music when you’re worried about your kids’ welfare.
If you’re an independent rapper or producer struggling to make ends meet but you’re still 100% committed to pursuing your music career, then you should definitely consider crowdfunding as a revenue generator.
For any independent rapper reading this unsure of where they can monetize their energy and passion, consider crowdfunding.
What is crowdfunding?
As defined by Wikipedia: Crowdfunding (also known as crowdsourcing) is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, today often performed via internet-mediated registries. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.
Put simply, you come up with a great idea. From that great idea, you ask people to fund the essence of it. Crowdfunding, then, allows you to basically tell people the story of your potential release.
Crowdfunding means that people put in the money in advance of the creation, meaning that you know before investment and creation of the product – in this case, musically related – is wanted.
It removes the fear of lack of demand. It also removes the fear from the consumer that they won’t like what’s on offer; they literally paid for it to be created.
This method works especially for well for artists who have put in the time and effort to build up a strong, loyal fanbase. As we’ve said time and time again, having a strong following will make or break an independent artist.
Would you rather have 20,000 passive fans, who follow you on Twitter and listen to your music every now and then, or have 200 loyal fans who always support your live shows, buys your music and cops your merchandise?
How does crowdfunding work?
You’ll set up a page in a wide range of crowdfunding websites. There’s many to pick from, especially given the industry of music, from Indiegogo to Kickstarter. You make an account with the company, you create a campaign and fill in all the details.
You should record a video to sell the story of what you want to say, you should include samples of your music, and you should provide an eloquent idea of why you are worth listening to. If you have to, hire a writer to create an eloquent prose to sell the crowdfunding campaign.
Having worked with a budget in mind you can then ask for X or Y to cover the cost of whatever it is you want to do. It could be creating merchandise, funding a tour to get you around the country, creating an album – anything at all – but you know that you can find it online.
If you are sick of having no funding you just make an account on here, sell the idea properly, and if people sound convinced they’ll invest. It’s really that simple!
The best platforms to go for tend to be Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Although both very similar in layout and style they offer the finest ways to make the best investment.
They get lots of people from various background and decisions so you can get lots of pole finding you by accident on here.
Crowdfunding Run the Jewels
If you’re sitting there, reading this article wondering how the hell crowdfunding could possibly help your career as an independent hip-hop artist, look no further than the indie rap darlings, Run the Jewels.
After dropping the acclaimed Run the Jewels 2 in 2014, Killer Mike and El-P decided to have some funs with the fan after a group of diehards started a campaign to crowdfund a remix version of the album – Meow the Jewels. The campaign raised over $60,000 for the remix album which Run the Jewels donated to charity.
El-P: It did start to gain a little traction, and we put our support behind it. I think we realized there was a chance to do something cool—not even really about the music, but an unexpected mechanism to give back to people and do something for charity. That was when we decided, “Alright, fuck it, if people make it happen, and the people like this idea and want to make something happen for that reason, as well as just to watch us suffer while we try and create a cat record, then it will be worth our time.”EL-P On The New Cat-Rap Classic Meow The Jewels: “It’s A Lonely And Strange Thing” | Deadspin
Common crowdfunding mistakes
However, many artists crash and burn when it comes to crowdfunding. They fail to sell themselves and end up ruining a bit of their potential reputation. Why?
Whether you are trying to crowdfund the creation of special merchandise or anything else, you have to learn how to sell it. It’s ironic that rappers, the masters of turning words and creating interesting phrasing, are terrible at being creative in selling their music.
Why? They offer ridiculous ideas, they get way too egotistical, and they fail to live up to expectations.
For example, avoid offering ridiculous offers. Look around on any good crowdfunding websites and you’ll find people offering nonsense like a date with a band member, a night out on the town with them, contribution to lyrical content on the album etc.
Be creative but also realistic and you’ll find it’s easier to actually reach your target audience.
Tips for successful crowdfunding
A major problem that lots of artists find is that they try and make the goal they need to reach sound extreme. People add in these incredible costs per day to try and justify why they are asking money.
Sorry, but the internet sells you short – anyone who is investing in your idea could go online and look at studio hire costs. They’ll find soon that your claim of $1,000 per day studio rental costs are nonsense. Don’t perpetuate the bad stereotypes – be honest about what you need the money for.
You are asking for people to give you their money, so be honest about what – and how you – intend to spend it. Don’t tell them that you need to go to some ridiculous level of cost to get a decent song recorded. People know that some brilliant rap songs are heard on mixtapes that sound like they were recorded on a phone.
Production matters but don’t make it sound like if these kind people just give you $10,000, you’ll make an album like Jay-Z. You can learn how to produce and make your own music these days yourself – think about budgeting for crowdfunding to learn how to do this, even.
It might still not be the best example of a good musical crowdfunding, but it’s better than asking for five figures to go on a tour of a music studio courtesy of other people’s money.
Use the money you are looking to be funded to help do something productive like boost your profile or buy proper high-end equipment, software and tools.
Crowdfund for stuff that will make a real high-end independent rapper, not stuff that makes it sound like you’re playing pretend superstar for a few days. That might make those few weeks awesome, but it won’t do anything for your profile except trash it.
Whether you choose to crowdfund via Kickstarter, Indiegogo or another platform, just remember that regardless of the platform, the campaign has to be honest, well run, and for a good reason. Be honest about what you need, what it will deliver and how it can change your future.