Emmy Brockman wants to turn her passion for children’s music into an album.
She knew she was going to need investors; for that, the 26-year-old Delaware native and children’s musician and childhood education specialist at The Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco turned to crowdfunding for the answer.
Crowdfunding, a method of raising money by pooling small donations or investments from individuals to finance a project or idea, isn’t new. One of the most well known icons of American culture, the Statue of Liberty, was completed in-part thanks to Joseph Pulitzer asking readers of New York World to donate money for the statue. He raised more than $100,000 in six months.
Closer to home, the statue of General William Starke Rosecrans in Sunbury was raised through donations from residents, businesses and organizations, along with money from fundraising events and the Delaware County Commissioners.
For Brockman, the ability to crowdfund came through Kickstarter.com, a Web site dedicated to crowdfunding independent projects. Brockman had been previously involved with a project funded by Kickstarter and knew the Web site. More than 3,000 projects, completed and current are registered on Kickstarter as originating in San Francisco, where Brockman now lives. Since its inception, Kickstarter boasts 54,000 “creative projects” with 5.4 million people pledging at total of $929 million.
In Ohio, more than $9.7 million has been pledged to 2,485 creative projects since Kickstarter’s launch on April 28th, 2009. Ten projects have been launched from Delaware.
On Dec. 5, Brockman launched her crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise $5,400 by Jan. 4 to record and produce her album, Dragon Dreams.
“It has all the essential elements,” she said.
Kickstarter, along with other crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo.com and Crowdfunder.com, ask investors of projects like Brockman’s to donate a small amount in return for perks. Brockman offered her investors various returns on their investments – among them, a digital download of the album for $10 investments; a personalized song written, recorded and produced with a music video for investors pledging $100; and a live performance at a child’s party for backers giving $250 or more.
She said Kickstarter required her to plan and budget, be specific on her Kickstarter page about her goals and be realistic.
Fellow Kickstarter user Brent Galloway, who started the Stay True Project to create inspirational graphic T-shirts, said he too found the structure of the crowdfunding site helpful. The Delaware-area graphic designer used a tutorial on the site to get started.
“Before starting my Stay True Project, I had to have everything planned out – down to every last detail: the projects, costs to make this happen, how to fulfil orders and what I’d plan to do after the project if it was successful,” he said. “The biggest challenge I had was figuring out exactly what I needed.”
He said he had to put the research in the budget and plan for the project, and some of his success came from trial and error.
It also required Brockman and Galloway to do a lot of self-marketing. Brockman said she emailed hundreds of people – friends, family, former classmates from Hayes High School, former teachers, colleagues and her San Francisco fan-base – about her project. Galloway said he turned to social media and depended on his network contacts to tell their network contacts.
Like Brockman and Galloway, Ben Goldberg, a Brooklyn composer working with the Central Ohio Symphony, turned to Kickstarter to fund Reconnecting, a project within the Treatment Court of the Delaware County Juvenile Court. He and symphony executive director Warrent Hyer conceived a program to use music to connect troubled youth with the community. When a grant to fund Reconnecting didn’t come through, Goldberg started a 45-day campaign on Kickstarter to raise $7,700.
“Warren and I brainstormed and developed a communications plan which included emails to people we knew, e-blasts to the Symphony’s contact list, posting on the Symphony Facebook page, a block to attract supporters, a one page ad in the Symphony’s concert program and an announcement about the campaign at the Symphony’s concert,” he said.
For all three, the relentless self-marketing paid off.
“Something that’s been very heartening is donations have come from unexpected places,” she said. “People are often more generous than you expect.”
She said she had to keep up the contacts, but before she knew it, pledges were coming in from friends and family, along with classmates she hadn’t spoken to in years.
In the end, Galloway raised $2,195 through Kickstarter, 109 percent of his goal and the project was funding on March 1. Reconnecting was also reached 109 percent of its goal, about $8,425, and was funded on May 18.
By Saturday, Brockman’s campaign had exceeded its goal and was on its way to raising extra funds for an enhanced project. If Brockman exceeded her goal by $1,000, she said she would make a music video.
When the project is funded, Kickstarter takes 5 percent of the money raised and Amazon Payments, which processes the pledged money, takes about 3 to 5 percent of the total.
For those with successfully funded projects, the small costs are worth it. But Kickstarter works on an all-or-nothing model; if a project fails to reach its goal, the project is not funded.
The success doesn’t happen for everyone: of the 10 projects started in Delaware, three were not successfully funded on Kickstarter and one project was canceled.
One such unsuccessful project was an effort by the City Art Center, 22 E. Winter St., to raise $3,000 over 60 days in the summer of 2012 to renovate and install utilities to expand the Center’s offerings. On July 21, 2012 the project ended with only $1,235 in pledges and did not receive the funding via its Kickstarter campaign.