Music costs money.
One of the major pain points for any musician is raising funds for an album release.
Recording, printing, replication, distribution, and even marketing can all cost money.
Some costs have certainly decreased over the years, but by and large, recording projects require a significant investment of time and money.
If you’re struggling to figure out how you’re going to raise the money you need for your next album release, here are five tips you can put to use.
Many artists have successfully raised funds for an album using sites like Kicsktarter, Indiegogo, or PledgeMusic. Another interesting possibility is Patreon, a site where content creators can encourage pledgers to donate a small amount of money every time they create a new piece of content.
But don’t look at crowdfunding as “easy money”. You need a following if you’re going to raise funds using this method, and some sites even have guidelines in place for how big your social following and email list need to be.
If you have a strong following, and you’re confident that you can attract additional attention through social media, PR, advertising and other means, then go ahead and launch your crowdfunding campaign. But if you’re not looking at the campaign as your full-time job while you’re in the process of raising funds, don’t expect to meet your funding goals.
2. Launch A Pre-Order Campaign
If you’ve got some money set aside for your next album project, but you don’t have enough to cover all of the costs, then you might consider launching a pre-order campaign. Many entrepreneurs launch products in this manner to gauge interest and build excitement while the product is in development.
Having some money is important, because you need to be able to update your fans on the progress of your recording project as you’re taking pre-orders. Reassure your fans. If nothing else, show them some video footage of your band in pre-production. The last thing you want to do is lose trust with your fans. It can be very hard to recover if you don’t fulfill your pre-order promises.
In general, however, pre-order campaigns can prove very effective for raising funds. As with crowdfunding campaigns, you have the opportunity to build buzz and anticipation while you’re working on your project. You may consider preparing several different bundles so that you can offer tiered pricing. That way, your fans can simply pre-order the album or put more money towards other bonuses.
3. Apply For Government Grants & Funding Programs
The availability of government funding for the arts largely depends on what part of the world you’re in. In Canada and Europe, there are a variety of grants and loans musicians can apply for, while in the US they are a little scarce.
Either way, you should do some research to find out if there are any funding options available to you. You may come across some underutilized programs that match your needs. Ask around, and see if anybody in your locality has been able to get funding for their projects.
You should also be aware that, oftentimes, your application has to be structured in a very particular way for it to be accepted. If possible, find someone that can help you write your grant. There are trained experts that know the ins and outs of grant writing. You may have to pay them for their services, but you will greatly increase your chances of getting the funding you want.
4. Save Every Cent You Earn From Music
Over the long haul, launching campaigns and promotions to obtain funding can prove unsustainable. Your fans could burn out, you could burn out, and you can’t expect the same strategy to work every single time.
A better way to ensure you have the funding you need for the projects you want to record is to get good at earning and saving. If you’re willing to delay gratification, you can work hard, save up, and pay for recording projects out-of-pocket without owing any money. It’s a long-term strategy, but one that can be very fulfilling, because self-funding is a massive achievement.
A lot of experts out there suggest touring a bunch to earn the money you need. This isn’t a sensible plan for every musician. Instead, I would recommend looking at your most profitable activities and start prioritizing them. For some musicians, that will be playing live, but for others it could be selling merch bundles or making YouTube videos. Take some time to figure out what’s working for you.
5. Ask For Donations
If you consider yourself an active networker, then asking for donations might be one of the best ways for you to raise funds for your next release.
Friends and family are only going to take you so far. They might be able to connect you with others that have more money and are willing to invest in artistic projects, but by and large you have to be proactive in how you approach your fundraising efforts.
It is also possible to get cash injections from businesses or entrepreneurs. Just make sure to clarify expectations – both yours and theirs. You don’t want resentment to build up, so make sure donating parties know exactly what they’re giving towards, and make sure to deliver on your promise in a timely manner.
In my opinion, you need to be able to take care of yourself before you start worrying about recording projects. Whether it’s a high-paying day job or an enterprise of your own, being financially solvent as an individual is extremely important to the longevity of your creative career.
I will also add that – in most cases – going into debt to record an album is bad advice. I’ve seen it pay off a handful of times, but for most people it tends to reinforce an unhealthy spending cycle that leads to long-term financial problems.
I know it’s hard to delay gratification when you feel like your new album should have been finished a year, five years, or even 10 years ago, but the best plan is still to become a good manager of your own finances before trying to become a good manager of a creative project.