CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Campaigns with a Story from Annie Gallup, Gideon Irving, and Beat-lele
I got my start as a music journalist covering the festival scene. In that job, I interviewed a lot of smaller-name artists who spoke about the things they did to their setlist to draw “walk up traffic” to their show. Covers, more uptempo songs, and increased crowd banter were some of the strategies small artists used to try to get people wandering from one big stage to another to stop at their small one and give them a chance.
Artists who launch crowdfunding campaigns face a similar challenge. The primary audience for a campaign is always going to be existing fans who can be engaged via social media or at shows. But for a campaign to succeed, there also needs to be a certain amount of “walk up traffic” — people who are browsing a site, see your campaign, and give it a read.
One strategy to draw someone to a crowdfunding campaign is to have an interesting story. For this week’s trio of campaigns, I looked for artists with a compelling story to tell, from an artist who was forced off the road by a chronic illness recording at home instead, to a house tour on horseback, to a band that has managed to find a new way to cover the most covered band in rock history.
Annie Gallup – Bookish (click here to view project)
Annie Gallup is an artist who has spent more than a decade touring and forging a successful career both as a solo artist and as a member of the duo Hat Check Girl. After being diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, Gallup had to stop touring. After moving to Maine last winter, she used being homebound by both her illness and the cold Maine winter to focus on writing and recording her new album Bookish, as well as working on the packaging design, website, and promotional materials. The album was recorded solo and live at her Hat Check Girl partner Peter Gallway’s Bay Studio. Now she has launched an Indiegogo campaign to get the album mastered and manufactured. Backer rewards include a signed copy of Bookish on CD, as well as signed copies of her previous two albums (Lucy Remembers Her Father and Ghost), a book bag, and a custom song written around a mood, situation, or occasion of your choosing.
Gideon Irving – Horseback Tour of the West (click here to view project)
Gideon Irving is as much a performance artist as he is a musician. Making his living as a “house tour” performer, Irving relies on the generosity of friends and friends of friends to map out his tour date. At the end of each concert, he unfurls a world map and invites attendees to write in the name and contact info for a friend from another part of the world who might host a show. In the past, Irving has toured on bicycle and rollerblades. This time, he’s adding two more mouths to feed to his touring troupe by planning a 3000-mile tour of the West accompanied by two horses. Irving’s Kickstarter campaign is aimed at ensuring he has the funds for proper food, veterinary care, and farrier service for his companions. Irving’s backer rewards include a monthly newsletter detailing the challenges and rewards of traveling without a set destination and relying on the kindness of strangers, a download of his forthcoming album Glitterbones Bargain, a tour tea towel containing maps of houses visited or drawings from shows, and a handwritten letter from the road, to include a recipe from a house show host.
Beat-lele – Second Album (click here to view project)
Some instruments just get a bad break. Deliverance set the banjo back as a serious instrument for over a decade. As for the ukulele, most people over the age of 40 will immediately conjure up an image of the towering novelty musician Tiny Tim and his tiny ukulele doing a falsetto rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” But in recent years, the ukulele has seen a resurgence, with stars like Eddie Vedder and Amanda Palmer reclaiming its status as a serious instrument. Beat-lele aims to continue that reclamation by using only ukuleles and a cajon to cover the music of The Beatles. Even for a band whose songs have been converted to bluegrass, punk, metal, and classical forms, this is new territory for The Beatles. But Beat-lele was successful in doing it once with their self-titled debut in 2017 and currently have an Indiegogo campaign for album No.2. Backer rewards include the album in both digital and signed CD forms, a campaign-only Live at the Cavern Club in Liverpool DVD, a Kanile’a Islander uke, and the slightly disturbing “Foot Massage and Car Wash Package” for those who like to get, um, “hands on” with their music.