Fan Funding | KickStarter vs. Pledge Music

The General Idea

The concept of fan-funding is not a new one. Busking on the street, for example, conveys the same principal idea of “if you like what you hear, drop me some change so I can keep it going.” There is no concert involved, no merchandise handed out, no CDs sold, just good old-fashioned faith in music. Somewhere down the line this idea turned digital and exploded in the world of independent music via fan funding websites. As an artist you can sign up for any such site. Post videos, music, bios, links to your social media sites, anything to get the public interested in who you are and what you’re doing. You then create a project, which is what you will be raising money for. Compensating expenses incurred through producing an EP or going on tour seem to be the most popular projects for musicians. You can then set your goal and decide if you will allow fans to donate any amount of money or have a specific pledge amount (say $10 per pledge). Once you set a goal due date you are ready to start collecting.

The two most popular sites doing this right now are Pledge Music and Kickstarter. These companies offer some pretty cool tools to help get projects, musical and otherwise, off the ground and running. The sites do feature some projects on their main page but it’s mostly up to the artist to promote. The catch (or benefit depending on your perspective) for both sites is that if you don’t raise enough money to hit your target in time, fans aren’t charged a single cent and you get nothing. Both sites offer rewards or incentives for fans. Any pledge will give the fan exclusive access to the finished project, but pledging above and beyond will score you some pretty cool stuff. Some artists offer CDs, shirts, and even lifetime access to any of their concerts. Read our comparison of the two sites below and decide which is right for you!



Pledge Music Logo

Pledge Music
If you’re broke, think you make some awesome music, and have a good amount of fans on MySpace, your next logical step is heading to Pledge Music. This is one of the simplest and most popular fan-funding sites around.

  • Pledge Music makes a profit by taking a flat 15% fee once an artist’s goal is reached. They call it an administration fee and promise that is all you will be charged for each project.
  • Payments are made using a credit or debit card or through PayPal.
  • Credit and debit cards are not charged until a project reaches its goal.
  • Using PayPal for transactions requires fans to pay up front. If the goal is not reached their payment will be refunded.
  • Pledge Music allows projects to be funded from anywhere in the world.



Kickstarter Logo

KickStarter
Oh you’re a painter? A filmmaker? A writer? No problem! KickStarter is built to help anyone fund their projects, not just musicians. The site is a little more polished than PledgeMusic but the concept is the same. Create a profile, promote your project, collect some cash before time runs out.

  • KickStarter charges a fee of only 5% if you are successful in reaching your goal.
  • Payments must be made through Amazon Payments only (it’s possible that they also make money through this affiliation)
  • Amazon Payments are flexible, you can pledge upfront but will only be charged on your Amazon account if the project reaches its goal.
  • To open a fan-funded project in KickStarter you must have a bank account in the U.S. They hope to support international projects in the future, but I’d say this is what really draws the line between the two sites.



The Funding Wrap Up
All in all I really like KickStarter, for a few reasons. First off, I’m a sucker for well-designed sites. Secondly, I can create a project for a film I’m trying to make about the life and times of my goldfish, Sacco and Vanzetti. Lastly, I live in the U.S. so I don’t have to worry about not getting an Amazon Payments account.

Pledge Music has its advantages as well. As a fan of music you can head to the site and only see projects by musicians. The projects can also be taking place anywhere in the world which is kind of cool for a fan who might not be able to see their favorite indie artist in person.

There are several other sites that operate in a similar space as these two: slicethepie, sellaband, and artistshare just to name a few. If you decide to take this route to get some cash, it will all come down to where in the world you are, how much you’re willing to give up for “fees,” what type of project you’re working on and how hard you’re willing to work to reach your funding goal.

-Brittni

Additional Reading:
MTT on Fan Funding
Passive Promotion on Fan Funding

6 Responses to “Fan Funding | KickStarter vs. Pledge Music”

  1. John Pippus says:

    I raised $3K on Kickstarter to help finance my album. I don’t live in U.S. so I had a friend who lives there act as my “treasurer”. I checked with Kickstarter and they were fine with that. The money went to my friend’s Amazon acct. and he just transferred it over to me at the end of the pledge campaign.

  2. Thanks for doing the research for us! Very helpful. One question remains, any statistics on which site has the highest percentage of successful projects?

    • Our pleasure, Jess! We did some quick research just now and found that 77% of PledgeMusic projects are successful. We couldn’t find a figure on what percentage of music related Kickstarter projects are successful, but from 2009-2011 they have a 43% success rate for all projects in general. Hope this helps!

  3. Our pleasure, Jess! We did some quick research just now and found that 77% of PledgeMusic projects are successful. We couldn’t find a figure on what percentage of music related Kickstarter projects are successful, but from 2009-2011 they have a 43% success rate for all projects in general. Hope this helps!

  4. David says:

    Clarification: Kickstarter projects must take place in the US (ie. have US bank account associated with it), but donations can COME from all over the world, correct?

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