A detailed interview with one of the most successful Kickstarter artists yet. And it’s not Amanda Palmer

From Digital Music News:

If you’ve never heard of Murder by Death, then maybe that’s the point. The band recently raised a hefty $187,000 through Kickstarter for their upcoming vinyl release, from just 2,618 die-hard fans. That is the third most successful Kickstarter result for any musical artist, behind Five Iron Frenzy (which raised $207,980) and Amanda Palmer (with a record $1,192,793).

So, what’s the secret? After talking with guitarist and vocalist Adam Turla while traveling through Nebraska, it became obvious that a major ingredient for success was the presence of a pre-existing, dedicated fanbase. Beyond that, a major focus on fan engagement and the presence of highly-creative, exclusive products were also critical.

Digital Music News (Paul): When your team called me and told me that you had the third most successful Kickstarter campaign ever for a band, I was floored. And when I checked out the campaign, it seemed like there were a lot of smart business ideas at work. So was Kickstarter just obvious, did you have a fantastic feeling about it given your fanbase, or were there other considerations?

Adam Turla: A little bit of both. We started talking about doing it in August of last year, and I’d been thinking about doing it for awhile. We were waiting for the next record, and we didn’t know when it was going to come out. Back in September, I’d created this massive list of all the potential pledges that we wanted to do, and it was all based on this idea that it’s a social media generation right now, and everyone is so used to having access to the artists, or celebrities, or musicians they like. Kickstarter happened three years ago because it was just something that people were already starting to do. And, with us, we’ve always actually had an extremely direct relationship with our fans.

We always respond to people’s emails. Last night, someone got engaged at our show in Denver, because the guy emailed me a month ago and we’ve been plotting the way we were going to do it – for a month via email. It’s a combination of the accessibility, but also we have the backend set up for it. I’ve put out all of our vinyl myself on minor releases: I do the mail order with a friend of mine, we sit there and package up the boxes.

So when we looked at Kickstarter, we said, ‘okay, we can either run this through our merch store like we always do, and pre-sell this album and just put out another physical thing to sell. Or, we can do something more fun, and kick some of the ideas that people have been emailing us about. We get a lot of people asking us to play their weddings, probably hundreds of requests for that. And we get people saying, ‘oh I wish you could cover this song…’

And so the idea was, well, if you really feel strongly about that, here’s your chance. And Kickstarter had such a great backend and was a trusted site, so it seemed like the natural place to go, rather than write all the code ourselves and create this massive system.

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