INTERVIEW: Crowd Funding with Anna Cordell
The crowd-funding craze has well and truly hit the ground running. It seems like everybody knows somebody who has crowd-funded a release, album or music video in recent history. However, crowd-funding has always been a controversial topic and one which raises the eyebrows and the judgements of others.
There are plenty of sceptics around to the crowd-funding movement, and I’m not afraid to admit that I am one of them. So I thought, for my own insight –and of course for anyone out there who has considered, or; is considering crowd-funding – to catch up with someone who has successfully sources the majority of her funding for a debut release through the Pozible platform.
Anna Cordell is a wife, mother of four, and a singer/songwriter from Melbourne’s North-Eastern Suburbs, who recently went on a crowd-funding campaign in order to launch her very first EP.
To get a sense of where Anna was at as an artist before the Pozible campaign began, I explored with her for a little while on where she’d come from musically and how her life had led her to the point of considering recording as an option.
“I’d finally been able to put together a band and allowed myself to dream. I’d been doing music for ages until I got pregnant and began devoting my time to my family. I had this vision when getting back into it of attending those really family friendly folk festivals and being able to have my kids involved. I figured the only way to get to this point was to record.
Apart from that, it was the most logical step forward after exposing myself to open mics and getting back onto the gigging circuit. I guess these things just have a natural progression, and that’s where I was at. Also, it was a great opportunity for me to challenge myself. I’d never made a full commitment to my music like this before, so that was great!”
In looking deeper towards the crowd-funding aspect itself, Anna drew upon the common concern of the embarrassment and discomfort of having to ask people randomly for money (for anything!), but also explored exactly what pushed her towards not only considering crowd-funding, but eventually launching everything via Pozible and keeping her dream alive.
“It really boiled down to being the only viable option. I’m a full-time mum, so the ordinary route of saving the money was not possible.
I really did a lot of research before coming to a decision, and found a realistic example of success through Pozible from a fellow Melbournian songwriter, Freya Bennett, whom I was able to contact for some ideas and tips towards doing a campaign.
I felt embarrassed and that there was a sense of losing your pride when you ask people for money and at the end of the day, asking for money is always going to be uncomfortable. The one thing that kept me driven was the desire to put my songs out there. I had been writing music and performing it around, but was getting really frustrated and felt unable to go any further with it as it was.
This all led the decision-making process to go for about two years. Each time I felt like it wasn’t the right thing to do, I had some amazing external and creative input from my sister and her husband who have always been totally supportive of my music from day one.”
As the coffee supply began depleting and the noise level rose as – coincidentally perhaps – a swarm of young pram-pushing mothers entered Ivanhoe’s Caffe Strada, we began to expand on the crowd-funding platforms and what Anna initially thought about the craze prior to all her research. Again, this raised concerns that I, as someone unconvinced on the idea, certainly shared.
“That it was really prejudiced and snobby, that only the people in the know would fund each other’s works. In addition to that, I really didn’t like the position of my network or fan base at the point when I began to consider Pozible as an option. I really believed that I wouldn’t have – or know – enough people to make it work.
You find out though, as you go through it that people are just consuming music differently these days, and this provides a new and interesting platform for them to do that. I know there are still people that like to have the product sitting in their hands but that the idea of heading down to the record store and purchasing it that way is really impersonal for them. These days, musicians and artists are more likely to engage with their fans if the response is truly personal for the fan.
Presenting music and art in a new way intrigues people, and that’s really what it is all about.”
Anna led the discussion quite naturally from here into how the product (generally one’s self) needs to be marketed in order for the campaign to be beneficial. It was at this point I asked in my very best Jerry Seinfeld impression, “What’s the deal with all the ‘check out my Pozible campaign’ videos;” are they necessary, or just a fad? Seriously though, what’s the deal?
“It’s the videos that provide the personal element, I think. It’s a bit like ‘Yeah, everyone else does videos,’ but there’s a reason why. If you can put a face and an active person against the product, it makes a huge difference.
The most important thing for me was making it look like you are excited and willing to handle your end of the bargain when it comes to the campaign. That doesn’t begin or end with just the finished product – your perks and rewards need to be realistic and manageable, but you also need to create that air of excitement. On that note, professionalism is a must. Although it can be seen as kinda cool to be daggy it’s pretty important to keep a real, professional outlook and display going throughout your campaign, which is definitely something I could have done better.
In the end, it’s great to remind yourself that people really enjoy seeing others achieve their dreams and giving them the opportunity to contribute to this is really huge for those people.
I think also, you really need to do your research to maintain that fresh approach when marketing your product. Know what has and hasn’t worked for others, when is a better ‘season’ for releasing and when is a better ‘season’ for funding, and on that note, make Pozible (or other crowd-funding platform) work for their cut. They get a good deal of money out of this, and the people are there ready to help you, so don’t be scared to contact them if you have any questions or concerns.”
The noise became unbearable for us both, particularly Anna who was enjoying one of her life’s rare moment of having time without the responsibility of children around (don’t worry, kids; Mummy doesn’t love you any less, she just gets tired), so we moved outside and moved the discussion back a few pegs to concentrate on envisaging the perks and reward systems which become the driving force of any funding campaign.
“How did I create them? Well, it was always going to be tough to begin with, because you just think, ‘What can I offer in my current situation;’ and then ‘How does it become an incentive?’
Something I was really surprised with in my own rewards was the ‘Musician’s Mixed Bag’ component. It provided a great avenue for co-promotion among peers and opened up a new opportunity for networking with artists I’d never dreamed of being put with. I saw it as such a fantastic opportunity to share some of my favourite local artists with others, and to be able to get those local artists’ music out to more people. Those community-centred ideas are a big winner.
Coming up with the perks is really exhausting and time-consuming, but it really is fun and satisfying when you see everything coming together. It’s important to call on friends or existing networks to expand your ideas for rewards. You can’t solely rely on yourself, it creates too much work. Most importantly: send thanks and congratulate everyone who is involved. The pledgers; anyone who has leant their services or products; friends; family, just thank everyone!”
Anna’s personal experience certainly weighs up all the pros and cons of the crowd-funding movement. There’s certainly a lot of effort involved and still a certain amount of luck has to fall your way. It probably suits a certain type of creative thinker with a bit of a knack for strategy and beyond all else, a true and unwavering passion for their project.
Finally, I asked Anna what advice she might give to anyone contemplating a crowd-funding campaign.
“Check out what other musicians in your genre have done these sort of campaigns, find their pledge videos and work out what you like and don’t like. This all comes back to doing your research and doing it well. It’s also good to keep in mind that as more and more people dive into crowd-funding the public gets more and more familiar with it, and eventually probably get sick of every second link on their Facebook being about someone wanting money for something. Combat this by inventing some really creative perks and even by approaching some business partners to offer their time or products for you. A café owner friend of mine leant her time to discussing the finer points of having a café as a business as one of my perks!
Make sure you always be yourself across whichever media you are communicating through – it is totally OK to be a dag. Remember in that that crowd-funding isn’t ‘cool’ – have an air of humility around what you’re doing.
Don’t sit there collecting the money if you’re not willing to do anything for it. It’s not an easy ride. You still need to work for the money. The harder you work and publicise your campaign, the more money you will receive.
By the time it’s all over, there’s a sense of achievement in completing a campaign and then delivering the rewards and the product itself, so always remember that. After the fact – remember to keep things timely and don’t let the rewards or the music taper off. Remember that people have paid for that experience or that product so they expect to receive it.
Lastly, have things to talk about during the campaign. The constant ‘give me money’ line won’t work. Update people on how the recordings are going, if you’ve written new songs, give them sneak peeks and things like that; always have something to say, and never be silent.
You do, however, need to find the balance. Don’t be bombarding people with posts. One a day – at the right time of the day – can be enough. OH! And I’d strongly recommend setting up Instagram and Twitter if you’re not already on them. Everyone works from a different platform, so make sure you have everything covered.”
Anna’s debut EP, funded through Pozible, will be available mid-late 2015. To keep up to date with upcoming shows and further news regarding the release, feel free to follow Anna on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website via the links below.
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.
Author DetailsJosh Forner
Josh Forner is a folk/pop songwriter from Melbourne, Australia and Virginia, USA. Forner was born in Melbourne on July 2 1988, and spent the first 18 months of his life there before moving with his parents to the town of Reston in Virginia, USA. At the age of 3, Forner and his mother returned to Melbourne, where he has stayed ever since.
Josh sings of love, primarily (wow, what a shock right?), but also on his list of ‘hot topics’ are politics, famine, poverty and - of course – landscapes: the folk writer’s favourite.
He’s played with some of Melbourne’s stalwarts including Timothy Cannon, Bridget Pross, Mr Brady, Pro Rata, Gabriel Lynch & Kyle Taylor, and has contributed two of his tracks to non-profit compilation CDs in the past.
Josh’s repertoire continues to grow. He released his first album, a 10-track LP entitled ‘Leading to Nowhere’ at The Workers Club on May 28th, 2013. Forner has since returned to the studio to begin work on a 5-track solo EP to be released by the end of 2013. Following that, he has plans for album number two in 2014.