City City: LA-Based Indie Rockers Fund First Full-Length Album with IgnitionDeck

The Tally

LA-based indie rock band City City raised $4,508 to help them record and produce their first full-length album from 74 pledgers during a five-month campaign. The band’s first full-length album is now available on iTunes and Amazon.

City City used IgnitionDeck + Membership to crowdfund their first full-length album on their own self-hosted site

The Takeaways

  • Crowdfunding is a mainstream model now, so focus on standing out with your ask video instead of explaining how crowdfunding works.
  • Ask yourself, “Would I want this?” when creating your rewards.
  • Let your personality shine through, from the video to the rewards and the way you ask for funds.
  • Explain exactly how you will spend the money you’re raising, and include anything that will convey your dedication and planning.
  • Don’t come across as desperate. Keep the mood positive.

Where To Start A Successful Campaign? With A Creative Video

After seeing many musicians run successful crowdfunding campaigns, City City knew better than to put the primary focus of their ask video on explaining crowdfunding. Instead, they turned their attention toward standing out, which is one thing they attribute to their campaign’s success. Lead singer Dan McCollister recalls:

“We’ve seen so many of these dud videos that we really just wanted to entertain people with ours and earn their dollar. We knew the product was good, so this initial video needed to be consistent with that goodness. We felt we owed that to our friends and family.”

They stayed true to themselves, as other bands and crowdfunders have advised, and created a video that reflected their personalities and senses of humor.

Deciding On Levels and Rewards

The band offered 11 support/reward levels starting at $10 for a digital download of the full album and building from there. Staying true to the band’s personality, for a $3,000 contribution, guitarist Kyle would “get a tattoo of ANYTHING YOU WANT on his body! Tattoos [could] include company names, personal names, random images, and phrases that mean nothing [such as] ‘Athletic Duck Chocolate’”

And while that reward clearly had their sense of humor worked in, the band really took their reward offerings seriously during the planning stages. Dan explains:

“Simply asking for money for your band is lame (anyone see that Portlandia sketch?), but giving people the opportunity to pre-buy something at a discounted price and be an investor isn’t lame…We spent time designing incentives that reflected this. For us, a donation incentive of $100 to eat pizza with them just wasn’t something any of us would normally buy, but spending $100 to get a CD, nice hoodie, American Apparel T-shirt, and a producer credit printed on the CD was something more tangible.”

City City also realized the value of their musical skills for those that can’t tell a sharp note from a flat one, offering one perk where the band would write a jingle for a local business.

“Sounds goofy, but it’s actually something people can get use out of and I think that’s important.”

Finding The Right Platform

City City used IgnitionDeck Shortcodes to make a totally custom crowdfunding page with their own WordPress theme
City City used IgnitionDeck Shortcodes and Deck Skins to make a totally custom crowdfunding page with their own WordPress theme

Once City City decided to crowdfund, they needed to find a platform to use. After reading the fine print from a couple of services, they were uncomfortable about moving forward with them. They credit IgnitionDeck as part of the reason they were able to distribute their first album. Dan explains:

“The big crowdfunding sites take a WHOLE BIG CHUNK of the money raised when you use their platform. With the knowledge that we would be the one promoting this campaign, it didn’t make sense to give them more money just because of their name. IgnitionDeck provided the same super familiar functionality for one low, LOW price and actually more flexibility in the end.”

The band used this decision to communicate their high level of preparation to fans. On City City’s website, they explained how using IgnitionDeck would eliminate commission fees that big-name crowdfunding sites charge. Explaining why they weren’t using a site like Kickstarter helped strengthen the case to their audience that they researched their options and also revealed their thoughtfulness about how their fans’ contributions would be used.

CIty City’s Advice to You: Make Your Video Awesome

“Don’t just sit there and talk about your woes as an artist [such as] recording is expensive [or] we need money or we can’t do this. Make it original. Yeah, you can’t afford to do this stuff otherwise, but we’ve all seen that video. How can you stand out?”

Dan goes on:

“And be mindful of the ask video’s tone.  Don’t go into a “desperate” place. That’s when you start thinking of yourself first and your fans second. Make it a sweet deal for them. Offer them an unbelievable service and both parties will benefit.”

One last thing Dan says helped them – watching Amanda Palmer’s TED talk about the art of asking. “That will help get your mind right.”

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