How I Handled a Failed Kickstarter Campaign
Raising $15,000 is hard. I tried doing it, 6 years ago. I created a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a new album. Did it work? Yes and no. I did not raise $15,000. I did raise $2175.
Did I get the $2175? No, Because Kickstarter will only give you money if you reach the full amount you’re trying to raise.
You can check out this Kickstarter video I made (with some help) below:
(Note: my music project is called Har Adonai. It used to be called The Pit That Became A Tower. That’s the name used in the Kickstarter campaign.)
So my Kickstarter campaign failed. What did I do next?
Well, guess what: I still got to keep a few hundred dollars. Why? Because my wife’s great aunt heard I was trying to raise money, and she’s a little old to be in the Kickstarter crowd. She preferred not to give on Kickstarter, she sent a few hundred dollars to us directly. The amount was close to $200.
What could I do with $200? Well, I wanted to find out. It turns out that this was enough for me to go into the studio and record one song. What we call a “single” in the music industry.
I wanted to record the best song I could. I wanted to go big. So I looked for the best studio I could find, as close as possible to home. I contacted the King’s School of Media in downtown Jerusalem.
I needed a drummer, the best I could find. So, at my buddy Jamie Hilsden‘s recommendation, I hired one. I’ve never hired a drummer before, but boy, was it worth it.
So, I got into the studio. And with the help of Jael Kalisher‘s engineering experience, I banged out my first studio recording in almost a decade. This was also the first studio recording since I lost my hearing.
What song did I choose? Blue Pegasus. It’s a meditation on the concepts of faith vs. phantasy. Inspired by a vision my mother-in-law had of a poster of a blue, winged horse hanging in a Hong Kong train station. Also, the song references Batman – the Adam West Batman.
So, here are some quick tips from how I handled my failed Kickstarter:
1. Reach out to the older generation.
It’s our job as people to honor the generation above us, and care for the generation below us. You can solve a lot of the problems in the world just by doing that. Although it was my wife’s great aunt who helped me out by sending us cash, it was me who put her on the email list and notified her about the Kickstarter campaign. Keeping your elders in the loop is a way of honoring them.
2. Stay in your budget.
This one’s pretty simple. The few hundred dollars I got were enough to record one song. That’s it. So I didn’t try to record more than that.
3. Go as big as you can.
I knew I was going in to a nice studio. So I chose a song with the “fullest” sound I could find. I didn’t just pluck on an acoustic guitar in the studio, by my lonesome. I brought in a drummer. I borrowed an amp and a guitar from my man Jamie. I added keyboards, percussion, vocal harmonies, and… more guitars. (And cowbell, too.)
4. Hire people.
I didn’t have a drummer at the time. I knew I needed a pro, but there was no one I could find. So I reached out, got a recommendation, and offered to pay. I’ve never offered to pay a drummer before. It seemed so counter-intuitive to the indie rock sentiment. But this song had to be done right. It wouldn’t be fair to my listeners, or to great aunt Ruth, if it wasn’t so. And the drummer I found, Yoni Alush, was excellent.
5. Build a following first.
And now we get to the heart of the matter. Why wasn’t I able to raise $15,000? Because I wasn’t serving a big enough audience. This is something I’m determined to change. The audience doesn’t have to be huge. They say 1000 true fans is enough. But if Har Adonai is going to reach 1000 true fans, that means I have work to do. I need to show up every week, and I need to give my best. You can help me do this by buying my music (for as little as $1).
Check out Blue Pegasus below:
A few more quick things:
- I can sing off-key (shocker). Jael did a great job of helping me out with that in the studio.
- With my hearing, it was difficult to hear layers of lead guitars. So when it was time to record the lead guitar part, I couldn’t hear what I was playing, I was just looking at my hands, trying to play the right notes. Only when I heard the song played back to me did I hear the lead guitar part – it worked out!
- I was excited for my man Benjamin “Morphlexis” Esterlis to do the mixing and mastering of Blue Pegasus. I’ve been following his art for years, and I was happy to be working together for the first time.