Amanda Palmer: Kickstarter Millionaire Rocks The Crowdfunding Scene
Crowdfunding hasn’t quite looked like this before. And while the musician-entrepreneur market might not heat up as much as say mobile apps, the music industry might have been changed permanently nonetheless. Last May, musician Amanda Palmer raised over $1 million for a new album using Kickstarter. Her venture was the highest funded Kickstarter music project ever at the time.
Palmer left her big label and gambled that fans of her band The Dresden Dolls would continue to follow her. Boy, was she right. Before her funding drive, the second-highest earning Kickstarter music project brought in a little over $200,000. Palmer’s project was the seventh of any kind to break the million dollar mark.
For those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it’s an online platform for musicians, artists, gadget inventors of all variety to raise money to fund projects. Check out a project, pledge to support what you’d like to see created, and if a project meets or exceeds the proposed budget, the artist receives funding.
Palmer saw her funding surge past her goal of $100,000 in a single day. The final sum pledged was $1,192,793. Pledges started at $1 and went as high as $10,000. A total of 24,883 people backed the project. The two people who signed up for a $10,000 pledge can look forward to Palmer flying to their homes for dinner and a portrait by the artist.
Lest any newcomers think crowdfunding is easy, or that simply having a great product will ensure a massive, supportive crowd, take heed from Palmer herself:
“this… is the culmination of YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS of connecting with my fanbase and my community… In a nutshell: i have a connect-at-all-costs policy 24/7. brian and i, as the dresden dolls, toured for three or four years SOLID and signed after every. single. show. we hung out with our audience. we got to know people. we stayed in touch. we cared that they cared about our band and we showed it. the internet is an extension of that. the twelve years of blogging i’ve done and the 25,000 tweets haven’t been for strangers. they’ve been ways of connecting with my crowd…all over the world. every city i’ve ever played a free show in, every house i’ve crashed in, every band i’ve hand-selected to open up for us on the road…”
And just because her project brought in over a million, it’s not time to start calling Palmer a millionaire. Before even posting her Kickstarter project, Palmer had already spent $250,000 on recording the new album.
Here are additional costs of the project, by Palmer’s rough estimates:
- $150,000 for business management expenses
- $105,000 for 7,000+ high-end CD-books & thank you cards
- $100,000 for 4 to 5 music videos
- $80,000 for 2,000+ art books
- $75,000-$100,000 for Kickstarter and Amazon payment fees
- $30,000 for 1,500+ vinyls & cards
- $30,000 for 100 copies of the Neil Gaiman/Kyle Cassidy photo book
- $30,000 for 300 Arts & Crafts/7-inch packages and vinyls.
- $25,000 for artwork to be sold at the art shows
- $15,000-$20,000 for designers to do various things
- $15,000 for 100 painted turntables
- $10,000 for touring expenses for six cities
- $10,000 for expenses related to 35 house parties
That’s not all. Like more traditional startup entrepreneurs, she has a slew of other expenses: new website designers, full-time staff, equipment (band costumes, gear cases, stage backdrops) and loads of incidentals.
So, if she didn’t escape the hassle of business operating expenses well known to the traditional music model, what’s the big deal?
She’s proven that there is a space for art when the entertainment industry isn’t willing to take a chance. By bankrolling and financing her project with crowd-funding, Palmer has also shown how an artist might keep control of production, distribution, and, most importantly, product–the artist!
Check out more on the Amanda Palmer Blog.
Start bootstrapping, independent musicians! The market is yours for the making and taking.