Crowdfunding – A First-hand Account

By: Jessica Lynn

There have been episodes of “Now Hear This Entertainment” where the guest has talked about their crowdfunding campaign.  As much as an effort IS made to get “What did/didn’t you like about it” input from the guest, there is always lots more ground to cover during those interviews.  So, today we have an entire blog contributed by a recent NHTE guest who is currently going through such a campaign.  Here’s what country singer/songwriter Jessica Lynn has to say based on what she is doing through PledgeMusic right now:

Jessica Lynn performing liveAs an independent artist, there are an immense amount of challenges when it comes to furthering your career. You have to be incredibly proactive and creative in finding ways to constantly keep moving forward, to keep things interesting for your fans, and to fund your way towards the opportunities that you are presented with, because unfortunately, in this business, money often has a greater voice than talent.

I'll never forget my first national tour. After we filmed my initial television special for PBS, which we made on a dream and a shoestring budget, we started receiving phone calls about major festival slots all across the country which included opportunities to open for and share bills with country superstars like Brad Paisley, Jake Owen, and Montgomery Gentry. I remember like it was yesterday.  My dad (who manages my career) hung up the phone after the conversation with the booker, looked at me, and said, "OK, GREAT....now how are we going to get there and do this?!" I responded, "I don't know...but we are going to figure it out." We HAD to take these massive opportunities that would help solidify my place in the country music world, but did not have the means to. It was then that I was introduced to PledgeMusic.

I chose PledgeMusic to help fund my first tour, and am now returning to that crowdfunding website for my first large-scale international tour and EP release. Again, as an independent artist, absent the marketing and funding of a record label, I find myself needing help from my fans and friends to take my career to the next level. I chose PledgeMusic over the other fundraising websites because Pledge is solely committed to helping musicians at any level reach their goals, whatever they may be. A company solely focused on musicians and the struggles of navigating the music business really resonated with me and I felt that they would be the perfect fit and partner on my journey. You almost feel a sense of camaraderie, being on the same platform as so many other artists, chasing their love for music, songwriting, and performing.

It is a somewhat uncomfortable position, to ask people for money, and at times, especially in the beginning, it made me feel very awkward and unsuccessful. However, when you start looking at your PledgeMusic campaign as an exclusive and interesting way to involve fans in the process of whatever project you are trying to complete, it takes on a different meaning. I discovered that you aren't simply asking people for money, but rather you are giving people a special insight and piece of your world and dream. When they hold my CD in their hand or hear my single on the radio, they can know, that at whatever level they were able to contribute, that they helped make that possible. As an artist, to know that people believe in you and what you are doing enough to spend their hard-earned money to help you succeed...there is nothing more fulfilling.

My advice to other artists considering starting a crowdfunding campaign would be to have fun with it and make the incentives included in the campaign uniquely "you." The best part about PledgeMusic is that you are giving fans an inside look into your career and what it is like behind the scenes, so you want to be as real and open with them as possible. The more creative you can be, the better, because people will be more interested in what you are offering, especially if they can't get it anywhere else. You also want to make sure that you center the campaign around a cause that you need a great deal of help with and that will make a real difference in your career. You don't want to reach out to your network of fans and friends for a cause that is insignificant in the grand scheme of things because then when something REALLY important comes along, you won't be able to call on their support again most likely. My PledgeMusic campaigns were enacted three years apart, and I only created them when I knew I couldn't move forward without humbly asking my fans, friends, and family for help.

I was very touched and surprised to see that I reached almost 50% of my goal in the first week of my current campaign alone. It meant everything to me to see how much love and encouragement I received from people all around the world in regards to my music. Feeling such support made me, actually, very emotional because it gave me the confidence and push I needed to keep going and trying, even on my darkest days as an artist. The music business can really take its toll on you, facing a thousand closed doors before you arrive at the one that is open. PledgeMusic can be that one open door, in a world full of difficulties and disappointments, with the key being held by the people out there who believe in you more than at times, you have the strength to believe in yourself. And that... is truly special.

Keep up with Jessica via her official website as well as the social media channels linked to on there, and listen to our interview with her.  Go here to see past blogs we’ve initiated as well as other guest contributions.  And, join our Facebook group to talk about crowdfunding and other topics with musicians, NHTE listeners, and others!