The following is an excerpt from Scott Steinberg’s new book, The Crowdfunding Bible. The book is free to download at www.CrowdFundingGuides.com, or in e-book form on Apple, Nook and Sony Reader devices.
Ed’s musical credits are far too numerous to list here, but he’s probably best known as the co-producer of the acclaimed compilation Song of America. Recently, he launched a campaign to produce and distribute a recording by Giuseppi Logan, hailed as one of the bright lights of free jazz, and a contemporary of John Coltrane. In the ‘70s, Giuseppi disappeared from view and remained lost to the music world for over 30 years, until 2009, when he was found playing for change in New York. Truly a labor of love, Ed saw an opportunity to bring Guiseppi’s work to contemporary fans of jazz music with his campaign, and, as he puts it, “support a legendary jazz player in his love of making music.”
Q. What turned you on to crowdfunding?
A: I had approached several record labels for the project, but all of them turned us down. Almost all in fact, without even hearing the work we’d created. Frankly, this pissed me off, but it isn’t uncommon given the state of the record industry. Undaunted and somewhat emboldened by the rejections, I decided to take matters into my own hands (I’ve done this pretty much my whole music career). I had heard about Kickstarter for a couple of years and have some friends who’ve used it successfully, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Actually, I wasn’t a big fan of crowdfunding. To me, it had a tinge of begging and the recording industry is humiliating enough without adding to it. However, when it was pointed out to me that in essence we were simply pre-selling our wares to fans we already had and potentially new ones as well, I realized that my prejudice was silly.
I thought that the reclamation of a heralded jazz legend was a compelling tale. Giuseppi had been missing for almost 40 years after a highly respected start in the ‘60s. The fact that he was homeless, penniless and so in love with music that he was playing for change in a New York City park made me believe that other people may be as moved as I was.
Q. How did you plot and assemble your campaign?
A: I did copious research. We studied several, maybe even dozens of campaigns… why some were working, why others weren’t, why some were more attractive than others, etc. We also looked at which promotional devices they were using, what their networks were, and so forth. We actually spent about a week or ten days studying other campaigns.
We used some of the more effective campaigns we studied as a jumping off point, but then followed the Kickstarter tutorial to the letter. We made a video, wrote a deep and compelling story, and explained the project as completely as possible: Kickstarter actually has copy on their site about this. Then we spent about four to five days writing and rewriting, all the while referring back to some of the more successful campaigns we saw.
My advice here: Study as many campaigns as possible! Take time to do the research. And take your time: I truly believe that a successful campaign is very carefully considered and composed. But even then, there are no guarantees. If it wasn’t for a stroke of luck, getting a prime The New York Times cover story, we may not have reached our goal (although we in fact far surpassed it). We spent four hours a day for three weeks after our campaign launched writing to every jazz journalist, every blog, every website and every record collector we could find. We sent out hundreds of individual e-mails and letters. We did our homework and worked hard…. but ultimately got lucky.
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