Last week Amanda Palmer became the first musician to raise more than a million dollars on Kickstarter. Her project’s numbers: $1,192,793 pledged by 24,883 people in 30 days. A musician getting a million dollars from the internet is a very big deal. How did it happen?
While Amanda Palmer’s project is the biggest in music so far, thousands of musicians have found Kickstarter to be an effective tool. They’ve used it to make records, go on tour, and reissue old material, among many other things. More than 7,000 music projects have been successfully funded, the most in any category.
Music projects are also successfully funded at a high rate — 52% of music projects reach their goals versus 44% of all projects. The most successful genres: Country (62%), Indie Rock (60%), Jazz (57%), and Classical (57%).
In total, more than $42 million has been pledged to Kickstarter music projects by more than 600,000 people. Only the Film category has seen more dollars or pledges.
The goal of Amanda Palmer’s project was to release her new album, and 94% of the project’s pledges were pre-orders of the record.
For $1, fans could get a download of the album; for $5 a download and a PDF; for $25 a download and CD; for $50 a download and vinyl; and for $125 a download, vinyl or CD, and limited-edition art book.
Backers pre-ordered 23,383 copies of the album. Not only did backers pay for her music, they paid more than they had to: 80% of pre-orders were for more than the $1 minimum.
Excluding the $125 art-book level, backers paid on average $16.25 for the record. Even after Kickstarter’s 5% fee and Amazon’s credit card processing fees, Amanda gets to take home several times what a musician would get from a traditional physical or digital sale.
The value of experiences
While pre-ordering made up most of the project’s activity, more than $300,000 was pledged for rewards offering experiences rather than things.
For $300 you could go to a backer-only show — 397 fans chose that. For $5,000 she would play a show at your house — 34 backers chose that. For $10,000 you could have dinner with her and she would paint your portrait — two backers chose that.
Traditional marketplaces restrict fans to being consumers, but Amanda’s project invited them to participate. Private shows, personal mixtapes, studio visits, and similar experiences are common among music projects on Kickstarter.
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