Client Experiences: Crowdfunding with Jason Amm of Suction Records
At Marsh Mastering, we have noticed more of our clients coming in with projects crowdfunded by the using sites such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. One such client, Jason Amm/Solvent of Suction Records, recently did two releases with the help of IndieGoGo. The first release was a remastered CD/Vinyl release of Ceramic Hello’s 1980 release ‘The Absence Of A Canary’; and the second was ‘I Dream Of Wires’, an independent documentary film of the modular synthesizer with score music written and performed by Solvent. Stephanie recently spoke to Jason to see how the processes were different for each project and whether he plans to continue to use crowdfunding for future releases.
Stephanie: Your last two major releases were both crowdfunded through IndieGoGo. What were your initial reasons for choosing IndieGoGo?
Jason: The reason I chose IndieGoGo over Kickstarter was simple - I'm in Canada and at the time, Kickstarter wasn't available to Canadians. I think that's changed now though. Anyway, if I were to choose 1 over the other now, I think I would still choose IndieGoGo, because unlike Kickstarter, you receive your funding regardless of whether or not you reach the campaign goal. Even though I would consider both of my IGG campaigns to be successful, I didn't reach the campaign goal on any of them. The argument for Kickstarter is that there is more of a rallying incentive to help projects reach their goal, since not reaching it results in no $ / no project. Having not tried Kickstarter though, I can't speak to how effective that rallying incentive aspect is.
Stephanie: After completing two different kinds of projects with IndieGoGo, will you continue to use them for future projects? Did the site work better on one project than the other?
Jason: I would say that the Ceramic Hello campaign was a better experience. The main reason is because I had a firm release date in mind, and because I kept the Perks very basic. IDOW became a bit of a nightmare because of the extensive and complex set of Perks that I offered, which seemed like great ideas at the time, but required too much follow up. For example, I offered t-shirts with the IDOW campaign - when it came time to fulfill those, I had to email everyone individually and find out their shirt size. And then those packages took a lot of time to assemble because they were all individualized. The IDOW campaign was also tough because we were never sure how or when it would be completed, and the pressure of all of these people waiting and asking about it constantly really can weigh on you, especially when people follow up about it in an angry way - "I paid for this movie a year ago - Is it EVER going to get done? What did I pay for?". I would advise anyone with a big project with an unknown release date to keep in mind that you will be dealing with a lot of pressure from your contributors, so this is something to make sure you are prepared for.
Stephanie: It seems your IndieGoGo campaign was a little different from the rest, as you had set up 4 rounds of fundraising for IDOW, ultimately collecting $32,000 in funding. Was this a byproduct of the continual feedback from the community and the ever expanding nature of this project or was it because the campaigns were not being funded 100%?
Jason: It was really because the fundraising goals weren't met. It was also because as IDOW evolved, it just became a bigger project, which seemed to demand that we continue to set the bar higher... Which meant a larger budget was needed. $32,000 was actually nowhere near the budget we ended up needing to complete IDOW, and fortunately our last round of direct-sale fundraising was VERY successful - we made more than $100,000 with that - all budget that went towards completing IDOW to such a high standard.
Stephanie: Would you use crowdfunding again and why? What would you do differently?
Jason: For some projects it's going to be a necessity. It was a necessity for IDOW at the time, but I would hope that with IDOW under our belts, we won't have to resort to crowdfunding again, because it's a lot of stress and work to fulfill a long and complex campaign like IDOW. We caught a lot of flack, criticism (which we deserved to some degree) and even some downright rage, for reneging on our pre-sale campaign promise that the IDOW DVD/BluRays would be limited edition. We intended it to be that way but in light of some circumstances and because of the huge demand for IDOW after it starting getting out to people, we decided to make it widely available. So if I were to do IDOW again, I would be a lot more careful not to make firm promises that may not be possible to stick to. I would try to make it clear that the project may evolve and that the nature of the campaign Perk/promise can also evolve and change.
On the other hand, I would definitely consider using crowdfunding again on a small scale campaign like the Ceramic Hello LP/CD campaign I did. I had a firm release date, and simple Perks that were easy to fulfill.
Thank you Jason sharing your experience with us! If you have a story to share please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.