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The List: 3 Lessons from Kickstarter’s Most Successful Music Project

Julia Nunes recently set the record for Kickstarter’s most successful music crowdfunding project, “Julia Nunes would be nothing without me,” raising $77,888 over the length of her campaign from 1685 donors. In addition to raising more than enough money to complete her album (her goal was $15,000), she also got publicity from Billboard, music industry pundit Bob Lefsetz, and CNN.

What made her project so successful? It takes a special artist to raise over $77,000 in a month. I took a look at Julia’s crowdfunding campaign and gathered the following lessons from the project:

1. Having a large following when you start your project helps. Spend time building a true following and the promotion will fall into place.

Well before she started her crowdfunding project, Julia had already amassed a huge fan following, mostly through YouTube.  Something to consider: a year before the crowdfunding project started, CNN did a feature on her that states she had over 37 million YouTube views and 172,440 YouTube channel subscribers. The more work you put in on the front end building a genuine following, the less you’ll have to focus on convincing people to contribute to your project when the time comes. Julia surpassed her goal in the first 24 hours.  Everything else was just icing on the cake. Take the time to hone your craft and build a real following to increase your chances of success.

2. Fans will pay for the rewards of EXCLUSIVITY and PERSONALIZATION.

Nunes was able to raise a large sum of money from rewards that gave her fans exclusivity and/or personalization.  Take a look at the campaign’s reward prices. While some people paid the standard $10 for a download of the album, Julia received the bulk of her money from rewards priced at a premium.  Autographed albums, personal messages, handwritten lyrics, and CUSTOMIZED UKELELES (see Lesson 3 to find out why this worked) hit it big because they were scarce and/or they forged a deeper connection between Julia and the fan. Give your fans a personal connection or additional access and you’re on the road to success.

3. Authenticity and genuine connections always win. Always. Knowing what your followers like about you and your music is key.

Julia Nunes fans like her because she makes good music, she’s quirky, and she’s really creative (well, I know that’s why I’m a fan). Her campaign pitch and the rewards she offered reflected that and connected with her fan base enough to get them to pledge money to the project. It really helps to know who’s listening to your music and why they have a connection with you and your art. Not only will it help you reach your crowdfunding campaign goal; you’ll also be able to build real relationships with your fans over the long-term and create a sustainable career. Don’t believe me? Ask Julia Nunes what she thinks.


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