artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
[personal profile] artsyhonker posting in [community profile] crowdfunding
Hello, I write choral music (YouTube playlist) which I share online for free, and this is funded by my kind supporters at Patreon. I've been on Patreon for three years, and it has changed the way I work significantly. In this post I'm going to talk a bit about trying to increase my income, but I don't want it to sound as if I'm ungrateful to my existing patrons! They are all lovely and I am very thankful for their support.

I spent some time this afternoon setting up Hootsuite to tweet links to my work again, and it occurs to me that I'm possibly going about it the wrong way. I currently have a whole long list of tweets and use auto-schedule to put them in, then edit them to spread them out a bit more so I'm not just spamming people constantly.

That's fine -- but I usually link to each piece of music once per cycle, and a cycle takes around a week and a half.

It strikes me that it might be better to link to each piece of music two or three times per day for a set number of days, possibly as long as a week for the ones that have broader appeal/catchy tunes. This is because the signal:noise ratio on Twitter is really quite bad, and the 2500-ish people who follow me there are not going to see something if I only post it once. I would have to re-jig the wording a lot more because duplicate tweets tend to get rejected by Twitter, but this may actually be a feature rather than a bug.

Another advantage to the style I'm considering, of course, is that I can then focus on seasonally-appropriate pieces: both at the time they are relevant, and three, six and nine months beforehand (when people are planning repertoire, essentially; while they tend to do this in batches, some work a term ahead, some half a year, and so on). And more people singing my music means the sheet music gets in front of more people, and at least with my newer works, that means more people find out about my Patreon, and that's good.

So, I'm probably going to try this. I'll need to make a calendar, figure out when my various works are relevant and work backward from there to figure out when to link to the demo tracks.

If you use Hootsuite or another social media scheduling app, what have you found is the optimum amount of repetition for a link to a specific work of yours?

A second thing I'm thinking about: Patreon now has an option to hide the total pledge amount from would-be patrons. I'm wondering if I need to do this; have I hit a sort of ceiling where people think "oh, she gets about $306 for each new work, that's more than enough", and don't pledge? If I'm going to be a composer full-time, I need quite a lot more than this; currently I struggle to complete a new work each month. I'd like to get my teeth into longer works, but my time for that is limited when I'm trying to finish something each month so I can get paid; and I don't want to go too far toward really really short works (psalm chants and hymns) because right now I'm doing a PhD and it's important to maintain at least some reputation as A Serious Composer, and in my corner of the musical world that means not too much hymnody. I could rant about why this is wrong, but it won't change the situation.

Now, composers have almost always had the sort of "portfolio career" where they are doing all kinds of other stuff too, and I don't expect to be very different; my work is rather niche, and I'm not going to have the kind of success of someone with two orders of magnitude more twitter followers, for example. But what I'm trying to figure out is whether people are making a judgement about what I deserve to receive rather than what they're willing/able to contribute, and whether being less open about my income would help with that. Another option is talking a lot more about how much work composing actually is, but that runs the danger of getting whiny.

More data would hep me decide what to do! Do you reveal your crowdfunded income? Why or why not? Do you think people who could aren't pledging because my work is a bit too niche, or because I appear to be doing well enough already? I'll probably wait until 2018 to actually decide what to do about this, because I want to see if the planned change in tweeting habits makes a difference; but I'm interested in your experiences and ideas.

Thoughts

Date: 2017-05-03 07:01 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>> I would have to re-jig the wording a lot more because duplicate tweets tend to get rejected by Twitter, but this may actually be a feature rather than a bug. <<

One way to do that would be to make a list of why each song is cool, then match each of those with the intro:

"Awesome Italy" I sang a sonnet! (link)

"Awesome Italy" When in Rome, make music. (link)

"Awesome Italy" I wrote this for (donor name). (link)

>> Another advantage to the style I'm considering, of course, is that I can then focus on seasonally-appropriate pieces: both at the time they are relevant, and three, six and nine months beforehand (when people are planning repertoire, essentially; while they tend to do this in batches, some work a term ahead, some half a year, and so on). <<

If you have a little archive, hand-pimping your backlog is feasible. If you have a large archive, it might be better to make some seasonal resource pages and then go:

"It's X months to (holiday). For repertoire ideas, see my (holiday) page." (link)

"It's (holiday)! Check out my (holiday) songs: (link).

>> And more people singing my music means the sheet music gets in front of more people, and at least with my newer works, that means more people find out about my Patreon, and that's good. <<

When I make rec-reading lists, I put my webpage URL on the bottom. Since you've got a Patreon page, a logical footer on sheet music would be: "Like it? Love you! Want more? Find me on Patreon." (link)

>> If you use Hootsuite or another social media scheduling app, what have you found is the optimum amount of repetition for a link to a specific work of yours? <<

I don't use an app, I use my audience. I promote the Poetry Fishbowl in a few places, then reveal verses of a linkback poem in exchange for people boosting the signal. This gives me access to platforms I'm not even on. \o/ Since you're doing songs, a similar model might well work for you too. It doesn't have to replace your app, you can just add it to see if it helps.

>> A second thing I'm thinking about: Patreon now has an option to hide the total pledge amount from would-be patrons. I'm wondering if I need to do this; have I hit a sort of ceiling where people think "oh, she gets about $306 for each new work, that's more than enough", and don't pledge? <<

I doubt it, although you should test that yourself if you can, because contexts do vary.

Evidence against:

Crowdfunding hub sites like IndieGoGo routinely see a near-end surge in activity, especially if people have a push goal in sight.

I've seen exactly the same thing on my blog, if we're close to a goal, people are more likely to pitch in. The pools -- where several folks join funds to get the quarter-price rate when available -- are also hugely popular. My fans get excited when the numbers get big. If it's heading for a threshold we rarely hit, sometimes I'll throw out a stretch goal like, "If this session cracks $1000 before it closes, you get another free epic."

I was also completely flabbergasted by HOW MUCH money people will spend on poetry. The most I ever got from an editor was $200; I have a few k-fans who have spent more than that repeatedly. Most of my fans have more modest budgets, but don't overlook the possibility of attracting angels. :D

Whether it's the same for music, I don't know.

>> If I'm going to be a composer full-time, I need quite a lot more than this; currently I struggle to complete a new work each month. I'd like to get my teeth into longer works, <<

Talk to your audience about that. I cannot overemphasize the usefulness of this technique. Many of the best ideas in my (and other people's) crowdfunding projects came from the audience.

>> but my time for that is limited when I'm trying to finish something each month so I can get paid; <<

Sometimes it helps to redefine what "finished" means to you. I've done that with some types of writing. Serial poetry, I can finish one poem and post it, as part of a longer storyline. In music, many types such as classical have sections you could break down. Others like folk music have "cycles" of songs that go together. It's doable, but sometimes you have to rethink what you're doing.

When I first started doing the Poetry Fishbowl, it was all one-shot stuff and I envied my friends writing webserial fiction because they could build up a fanbase for those characters. And what did my awesome audience do? Started asking for reappearances of favorite characters/settings, and now serial poetry is most of what I write. \o/

>> and I don't want to go too far toward really really short works (psalm chants and hymns) because right now I'm doing a PhD and it's important to maintain at least some reputation as A Serious Composer, and in my corner of the musical world that means not too much hymnody.<<

Calculate how much you need to feed the idiots, do that much in their style, and that's all, unless you just want to do more.

>> I could rant about why this is wrong, but it won't change the situation. <<

That's for OLD publishing. We're past that now. Sure, there are still dinosaurs holding the fort and will be for some time. But it's not ALL dinosaurs now, and they no longer control the bottleneck. You have internet, you have the world, all you need is to get its attention.

You think this limitation is wrong and stupid? By all means, rant about it. There will be other people agreeing with you, and some of them will have money. Hell, I've sent people money just because I was pissed with someone else I couldn't belt directly, and the disagreement or counterexample caught my fancy. Also watch for other people ranting about how this is wrong and stupid. If you have an archive of short pieces, you can then say, "I agree, it's a stupid limitation. Here's my hymnody page. Want more? Find me on Patreon!" (link)

Few things are as valuable as spotting an underserved market. Are people using the thing those in power are dissing? Does it have an audience and a market? If so, go for it. All you have to do is get their attention. If not, you can always try to build your own. It's doable, just takes longer.

You don't have to change the whole world, just the part you're touching. It's not easy, but it is possible. And I'm never going to hear "There is no money in poetry" again without laughing.

>> Another option is talking a lot more about how much work composing actually is, but that runs the danger of getting whiny. <<

The overwhelming trend is that crowdfunding fans love interaction, love creators, love knowing more about you. It's one thing they CAN'T get from the mainstream. Feed a cat, gain a cat. Also the more you talk with them, the more ideas and solutions and inspiration you get.

>> More data would hep me decide what to do! Do you reveal your crowdfunded income? Why or why not? <<

For most sessions, yes. It's like releasing the bunny in front of the greyhounds: they run better with something to chase. :D

>> Do you think people who could aren't pledging because my work is a bit too niche,<<

If you're not writing what you current fans want, that's a problem. You can solve it by searching for people who want what you write and/or figuring out what your audience wants and writing that. A great deal of what I write is niche, and they're niches the mainstream has zero interest in filling: disabled heroes, superheroes who solve problems without hitting, that sort of thing. My fans LOVE this stuff. My projects are geared to helping us find the overlap between what they want to read and what I enjoy writing. Everyone wins. And it's something the mainstream sucks at, which cuts down the competition.

>> or because I appear to be doing well enough already? <<

This doesn't seem a major barrier in crowdfunding, but YMMV. Among the biggest motives in donation aren't affected by it:

* Love the creator, want to sent them money so they will be successful. More successful is more awesome, take that stupid mainstream.

* Love the work, want more of it to exist. Will happily throw available pocket money (or sometimes much more) at favorite causes/topics.

* Love the creator and/or work, want to advertise support of the arts. Either a regular supporter at modest levels or occasional big donations; get excited over name postings. (I don't seem to attract this kind, but the hub sites sure do, so I know it exists.)

* Ticked off by mainstream, use crowdfunding to fight back. Throws money at favorite patrons or projects based on matching whatever theme just pissed them off again.


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Crowdfunding: Connecting Creators and Patrons

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