“Kickstarter is an asshole.”

 I’m a connector. Thats what I do. I have tons of information and people and details and meta details crammed inside my clickety-clackety brain. Friends of mine asked me to be a part of the launch of their really smart social justice music project.  Since my  expertise isn’t in Kickstarter, I got to work sharing the project with my network, collecting feedback and tips.  

They are building an app that allows artists to get paid retroactively for beats that have been sampled to death with no real rights or royalties going to their creators! Its called “The Amen Project” and it starts with the Amem break. A beat that has been sampled by just about every   major recording artist out there– from David Bowie to KRS 1.  The thing is, the drummer who made that beat…died penniless and unsung. A tragedy for such an epic contribution to modern music. This project isn’t about just paying musicians and establishing a posthumous income for the families of deceased musicians. It’s about social justice, righting a wrong, reconizing the contribution and legacy of past muscians and creating a method and practice for the elevation and renumeration of future beat makers.

They started this endeavour with a $50,000 kickstarter campaign goal, a lot of energy and a dream. Two electronic musicians trying to live their values. My expertise is in the realm of grantmaking, traditional fundraising strategies and smaller goals… so I reached out to Jason Wyman, an arts activist, organizer, administrator, youth developer, producer instigator, collaborator and all around dashing queer about town, for some advice.  

Here is his sage advice:

“Kickstarter is an asshole. Quickly glancing at the campaign, I can pretty much guarantee that they are not going to reach their goal.

  •  For something like $50,000 as their target, they would have had to have, already identified folks they knew were already going to give BEFORE the launch of the campaign. 
  • For crowdfunding specifically, if a minimum of 40% isn’t reached in the first few days of launch, there is absolutely no way the goal will be achieved. Almost all successful Kickstarter campaigns start with concrete committed funds. Those that don’t are complete flukes. 

The only real advice I can give is to be realistic that they are not going to reach their campaign goal and start prioritizing what they really need to raise and create an engagement strategy that will get them to that goal. It should NOT be tied to crowdfunding. It should be tied to personal donor cultivation, product development (same as what they would be “giving away” through Kickstarter, which truthfully their perks are really lacking for this type of platform), fee for services, grants, and/or any combination of those strategies. If they want to do something in the crowdfunding arena, they should pick a platform that isn’t “ALL OR NOTHING” like Kickstarter. Additionally, they should have a much more realistic goal in the 1-5K range. (Once that is reached successfully then they can move on to larger campaigns.)
I hope this is somewhat helpful. I highly encourage to NOT jump on the crowdfunding bandwagon and go back to more tried and true fundraising approaches.

  • Reading through their Kickstarter page, they should have folks that would be willing to contribute to their efforts. The need these people to feel special. That isn’t going to come from an online strategy. 
  • They should go to some of the DJs and MCs that they personally know are using the Amen beat and ask them directly to donate. They should get those that donate to give a short testimony on the legacy of the Amen beat and how it’s shaped their musical stylings. These testimonies can then be shared with others to encourage their giving.

 It is much more targeted approach, and one that will probably yield much better results.”
Wow Jason! Thanks for the stellar information, honest feedback, and targeted campaign strategies. Look for my interview with Jason about life, love and the artist hustle coming soon!