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Crowdfunding a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity
editorial

Crowdfunding a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

By Pim Betist

This is the third year in a row I participated in a panel discussion at Womex, the world’s largest world music conference. Musician and cultural activist Alan Bern was also on the panel. He is the director of a band called The Other Europeans, who was selected from over 700 bands to showcase their CD at Womex. This was as much a challenge as an opportunity for him and his band.

Bern, who needed more than $10,000 dollars to fly his 14 member band to Copenhagen, chose to employ crowdfunding as a way to raise the budget. After a 43-day Kickstarter campaign, he successfully raised the funds, sharing some interesting stats and lessons with us along the way.

Bern wrote three posts, with audio and video, spaced across approximately three weeks. He reached out to his first circle of friends and fans via e-mail (450), Facebook (1075), the band’s fanpage on Facebook (531), and another music fanpage (500). Each posting ignited a wave of support, resulting in 138 backers that contributed $10,971 dollars.

More than three quarters of his backers invested $50 dollars or less, for which they received rewards like signed CDs and DVDs. These smaller backers were very keen on this reward scheme, Bern explained. The bigger backers didn’t care about the rewards; they just cared about supporting the initiative.

In total, Bern reached out to around 2,500 contacts. There was almost certainly some overlap between the different media he used (e-mail, facebook, etc.), but it gives us a ballpark figure to work with. Of the 2,500 contacted, 138 people actually went ahead and backed the project. This represents just 5% of Bern’s network — though the actual figure is less than that, because not all backers came from Alan’s network. The first wave of backers did, but the second and third were friends of friends.

Bern’s experience once again reveals the significance of getting that first movement going. Without this group of “first believers,” the other backers would have never jumped on board. Bern made clear to his friends and relatives that this project was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him and the band. He succeeded in getting that message out, and that was the key to the crowdfunding success of The Other Europeans. He never made the assumption that thousands of people were sitting by their computers waiting with their credit cards to support him and his band. He dove in headfirst and didn't stop working until he reached his goal — the only way to achieve a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Pim Betist is the author of the blog Crowdfunding – As We Learn, We Share and is the founder of Africa Unsigned. He also created online label SellaBand, attracting music fans to invest and empower unsigned artists. Betist was nominated Dutch Direct Marketing Man of the year in 2008 and won the title of best speaker at MIA, Holland’s largest marketing conference in 2008. He was listed in Management Team as one of Holland’s top 25 creative business people in January 2010.

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