In this episode, Leah and C. J. launch in an in-depth 3-part series on crowdfunding taken directly from Leah’s recent successful crowdfunding campaign for her fifth album, Ancient Winter, in which she exceed ALL her revenue goals! And to make this even more challenging, she decided to host the fundraising on her own website instead of using popular fundraising software such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe. Her goal was to raise $50,000 in 30 days—ambitious in and of itself—but she exceeded that amount by over 30% for a whopping $80,000+ in just one month! Even though she’s done crowdfunding campaigns before, she still learned a great deal during this successful campaign. Her first thought was, “I should create a course on this,” but then decided, “No, I’ll share everything on the podcast for free, but it may take a few episodes!” Well, you’re in for a treat, because Leah holds nothing back in this episode. Sit back and enjoy!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Success in crowdfunding is not determined by software or tools.
- Why Leah chooses to crowdfund her albums.
- The different approaches to all her crowdfunding campaigns.
- Why you should try crowdfunding.
- Being crystal clear on your WHY.
- Why crowdfunding is better than a record label deal.
- Leah’s crowdfunding is not begging. It’s pre-orders.
- Leah’s “three launches” for her albums.
- How Leah chooses the amount for her crowdfunding goal.
- Leah’s secret to surveying her fans ahead of the campaign.
- Warm vs cold audience.
- The power of creating scarcity and urgency.
- The key to crowdfunding is knowing how to sell.
- How Leah inspires her fans to support her.
- What Leah included in her crowdfunding offers.
“It’s very, very important that you are crystal clear on why you are crowdfunding, what the purpose is, where the money is going and what you’re going to do with it.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:07:19]
“My goal with crowdfunding like this several months before the album launch, is to launch my album with zero debt and zero anything owing anybody anything.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:08:08]
“Typically an album or a record deal with a label is essentially a loan.” — @MetalMotivation [0:08:53]
“The majority, like 97% of this campaign, the funds are raised from my warm audience, meaning people who already know me.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:18:02]
“I’ve got the skill of copywriting. These are the reasons why it’s successful. It’s not because of the platform.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:18:58]
“You don’t need a course on crowdfunding, you need training on how to sell your music.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:26:13]
“If you’re going to have a career in music and you can have that career in music, you’re going to have to be the artist and you’re going to have to be the marketer.” — @MetalMotivation [0:46:46]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Leah’s Crowdfunding Page (Limited time) — http://ancientwinter.com
FREE Crowdfunding Guide — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/
Call Savvy Music Academy — www.callsma.com
Inessa Hk (Student Spotlight) — https://www.innessamusic.com/Click For Full Transcript
00:21 CJ: Well, welcome once again to the savvy musician show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy and I get to be the cohost of this savvy musician show with the lovely Leah McHenry. Leah, how are you?
00:36 Leah: I’m good today. Really good.
00:39 CJ: That’s always great. And I can tell guys, we have a bit of chatter, chit chat before we get started and I can always tell when she’s feeling something and she’s feeling something really, really special. So much so that it’s going to consume a few episodes of this podcast and I’m really excited about it. And Leah, what are we doing right now?
01:03 Leah: We’re gonna do a three part series all on crowdfunding and lessons I’ve learned, mistakes that I made during my recent crowdfunding campaign, 80 K in 30 days. Once again, second time I’ve done this and we’re also, I put it out there in our free Facebook group and in our student groups; what do you guys want to know about crowdfunding and anything that you’ve observed me doing? And so we got a boatload of questions coming in. So we’re also gonna do some Q & A on this. So it’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to talk to you about it cause it’s so fresh on my brain.
01:41 CJ: Yeah, this is really awesome. And I think you might listen to this, ladies and gentlemen and say crowdfunding, how important is that? By the time we’re done with this, you’re going to realize just how important this is. And just in the issue of serendipity, I had a conversation with somebody just yesterday about this very thing who was looking for a record label going back and forth, hated every deal presented before him and had not considered this particular option. And so I think this is going to change a lot of minds and again, all a part of the big transformation process that needs to happen, as Leah talks about, in terms of thinking about marketing your music online, so this is very, very relevant. Before we get started, we love to share student spotlights and today I’m sharing from one of our elite students, Innessa, who writes #win this is a huge win for me. I cracked the branding and Facebook engagement at last. I feel like I know what I’m doing. Posting finally comes naturally to me, no frustration and wonder what to post about from 1 to 5 likes per post and no shares in February to a steady 50 120 likes per post and many shares now and it’s growing every day. Yay, she says.
Now Leah, I think what’s interesting about this is that in light of what we’re about to talk about, we’re going to get into something which I think is the deeper aspect of this. It’s kind of like music. You can know all the mechanics and the theory and things of music and the methodology, but there’s something about being a musician, right? There’s something about that in terms of the art itself, in terms of the sensitivity to, you know, the kind of music that you want to write and the kind of ideas that you have.
Something deeper, something deeper, and it’s that very same thing with marketing. It’s that very same thing with presenting yourself online in social media, et cetera. So even though you’re going to be talking about this crowdfunding campaign that you’re just about to finish up on the upcoming winter album, that there’s still, there’s deeper aspects to this, which is why we’re taking so much time with this particular subject because it really makes the point that it’s about the sales process. It’s about understanding culture, understanding your marketing, your audience. It’s about, you know, how you present yourself in what Innessa just told us is that that’s what the breakthrough was. She didn’t mention anything necessarily about a particular app, right? Or about or the specific time of day to post. She had cracked the code and the code was, for her, finally understanding, you know, what it means to be this online marketer.
So I’m really excited that we’re going to get into that aspect to it as it relates to crowdfunding. People are thinking crowdfunding, what is that? You know, typically, when somebody sees crowdfunding, they think of, oh, so-and-so got an accident, so they’re doing a crowdfunding campaign to help with their hospital bills or help to repair their car or something like this. You have used it now a few times to actually produce and market your albums and to do it very successfully. Like I said, you’re about to finish a campaign now. In fact, this Sunday, so just in two or three days from now. First of all, Leah, how is that campaign going and tell us why and the what’s why you crowdfund your albums?
05:20 Leah: Yeah. Oh man, there’s so much to say already. I think most people are familiar somewhat with raising funds online nowadays. Like you have the Go Fund Me’s for personal things and there’s Kickstarter for tech companies and gadgets and gizmos and all of that. So where people are donating or pre-ordering something and then they get it in the mail six months, sometimes a year later. We ordered something, it was a gadget for a camera that you could like move any which way you wanted and it would just kind of follow along and actually when Steve bought it at the time, he didn’t realize it was like a Kickstarter thing, so he was expecting to get it and didn’t for like eight months and then finally it showed up. But this is normal and expected in the crowdfunding world. What I’ve used crowdfunding for in the past, my first big one was to actually fund the album itself, meaning I didn’t have the money and if I didn’t raise the money, I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. I would be able to pay for anything.
So that was for the Kings and Queens album. So I figured out my budget, how much it would cost to work with the musicians I wanted, the exchange rate working with people in Europe, which sucked. And all of those things, then that’s how I calculated the total, I would need around $25,000 US dollars and ended up doing $27,000 something. So that was mind blowing to me that that even happened. The past two crowdfunding campaigns, the objective is a bit different. The past two crowdfunding campaigns, the album was already complete and what I was looking to do was recoup my costs and then hopefully have enough leftover for the marketing and PR, that kind of stuff.
So a little bit of marketing expenses covered. And of course, what we can’t forget is we’re offering something in exchange. They’re not just promoting the album, oftentimes there are other perks, there’s other merchandise, there’s specialty things. And so we have to also budget for ordering those items at wholesale prices or whatever we’re doing. And so there’s a lot to consider when doing crowdfunding. But you know, there’s many different objectives you could have for crowdfunding. And it’s very, very important that you are crystal clear on why you are crowdfunding, what the purpose is, where the money is going and what you’re going to do with it. I’m happy to talk more about the budgeting stuff side of it. I’ve seen some questions come in asking, you know, what do you do with the profit? Well, first of all, I want people to understand that I’m not trying to make profit on this crowdfunding campaign. I’m recouping costs, I’m paying for the merchandise that people ordered and if there’s leftovers that’s going towards my ad budget that’s going towards marketing stuff, I’m reinvesting it all.
If there’s anything left over after all that, while I’m also paying contractors, you know, graphic designers and such, I’m really not trying to make a profit here. Not here. My goal with crowdfunding like this several months before the album launch is to launch my album with zero debt and zero anything owing anybody anything. Basically starting at ground zero and by the time I’m launching my album now I’m in profit zone. You couldn’t ask for a better situation under any circumstance from a label or otherwise. Like you cannot ask for a better situation than to have all your expenses paid for and come out the other side of it in profit zone when your album was about to launch, like that to me is does it get any better than that? I don’t think.
09:08 CJ: Yeah. I don’t know. Because typically an album or a record deal with a label is essentially a loan, correct?
09:14 Leah: Yes.
09:16 CJ: So they’re fronting all that money, but you still have to pay that back. It’s the same thing in book publishing. You know, you may get up signing bonus or something for coming on board with that particular label, but all the initial sales are going to pay that back. And so royalties become very minuscule. In this situation, even though again, you are recouping your costs, for someone who you know, doesn’t have necessarily the capital to do that. They can fund the entire project. So it’s six and one half dozen the other, either way, but you’re doing it yourself directly with your super fans.
09:52 Leah: That’s right. So whether you’re recouping it or you’re just trying to get the funds in place so you can finish it. Either way to be able to come out the other end not in debt and you didn’t have to take out loans from the bank or family and friends and be able to, just in practical terms, that’s the dream of every artist. Be able to self-fund their music from their fans and keep making music. That’s the ultimate. So then after that, I will say for on the outset here, this is going to be a doozy of a year for me because not only do I consider a crowdfunding campaign, a launch of sorts, it’s a prelaunch, I consider this a prelaunch campaign. So again, this is, there’s a differentiator here where it’s not like, please guys, I really need your money.
That’s not, I’m not begging for money. This is a preorder. This is a transaction. You ordered this specialty item at a specialty price for this specific amount of time and I deliver that to you. And there’s some benefits. There’s a win-win situation going on here. So it is a preorder campaign. Then there is the actual prelaunch like two weeks before the album comes out. There’s going to be some benefits for people to preorder at that time. I’m coming up with that plan now what that is, maybe a discount or a bonus thrown in or some reason I got to give them to buy before the actual launch. So that’s launch number two. Launch number three is the actual launch. Now I’m not saying everybody should needs to go to this extent that I’m going to, this is just where I’m at.
And then because my album launches in the middle of November, guess what comes right after that? Black Friday and all the holiday sales. I mean, really I didn’t really think that part through earlier this year when I picked my album date, it didn’t cross my mind until I got neck deep into the salt and I thought “holy cow, what did I just do to myself?” So this may be for another episode. We can talk about holiday sales later about how I’m rolling in my album launch and Black Friday and holiday sales all in one. It’s a big, you know, it’s twice as much work essentially, but it could be one of the most successful quarters of the year I’ve ever had.
12:16 CJ: Wow.
12:17 Leah: It could be, it’s going to be a doozy. I’m expecting that. But I’ve got a little team and we are revving and ready to go. So it’s all being planned out. People we do not wing this kind of stuff.
12:30 CJ: That’s right. Well let me ask you then, just so people have some perspective on the results. What was your goal for this particular crowdfunding campaign? Where are you now?
12:43 Leah: So I set a $50,000 goal for the campaign and that goal came from all the different expenses I had for the album. That’s was like the minimum that I wanted to hit to be able to recoup costs. That sounds like sounds like a lot of money, but certainly not in the major record label world. If people are familiar with what some bands have spent on their albums. It’s really peanuts. There are some record labels, like what does Metallica spend on a record? Like millions, I think to make records. Of course they get the five star, everything in the five star studio treatment, you know, so I’m not going that far. I do a lot of stuff at home. I record all my vocals at home. I’m doing a lot of stuff here, composing and whatnot. But, so that’s how I set the minimum for me. I’m currently sitting just under $80,000, which we will hit in the next day or so here as the campaign is closing. So doors are closing.
13:45 CJ: This Sunday. Okay. So again, I want everybody to have a clear perspective on what we’re talking about here. Her estimated costs for what it would take to even this is a very streamlined operation, as she said, doing so much at home, hiring vendors and contractors such as designers and the like. Busy musicians who are accomplished and on, you know, in popular bands themselves who have helped out, string musicians in the like, and all of this together she calculated to be about $50,000. Again, not an uncommon number, but for most of the people probably listening to this podcast, $50,000 too much, you know, for them. And so the campaign is not over yet. When did it begin?
14:31 Leah: 30 days ago.
14:33 CJ: Wow. Okay, so again, I want everybody to have perspective here. This began 30 days ago. The goal is $50,000 to recoup expenses and she’s currently sitting at $80,000. So that’s $30,000 more than what her goal was. The campaign is not over yet. Now you’ve had, like I said, this may be the most successful, but you’ve had very successful crowdfunding campaigns before. Why did this work? Why is it working?
15:07 Leah: Well, and I think this campaign is actually special, and even more impressive in some ways. My last crowdfunding campaign, I actually raised a bit more, at least where I’m sitting at at the moment. And the reason is because it’s like a metal thing. What’s impressive about this album is I’m doing something completely different. First of all, there’s only eight songs on it, so it’s not like a very long album and B, it is a holiday album. It’s holiday, there’s no metal in it at all. So I completely switched things up. It’s very Leah, it’s very aligned with my brand, but it’s a totally different thing. So that was a risk in and of itself. So I do really, you know, that’s why I didn’t say shoot for $100,000 as my minimum cause I didn’t really know fully how it would go over.
I had really good reactions from the song I released and some of the teasers, but I didn’t for sure know. So I wanted to pick something I knew I could hit. So I know I can hit 50 so I chose 50 and I knew that that would cover the basics so when I’m factoring in the merchandise we still have to order and delivery and shipping, and you know the basic costs, it’s really not that much money when you break it all down.
Albums are expensive to make, I’ll add. To make world-class music. That really sounds good. And some people just forget how much it costs to make. And you know, sometimes fans forget how much it costs cause they’re just, they are used to streaming nowadays and I think it’s important and healthy to remind them. And so if anybody wants to check out the page just to see what I wrote on there, go ahead. It’s ancientwinter.com I’ll have that page up for awhile. Even though it’ll be expired, like the timers won’t be going, you won’t be able to purchase the items anymore, but you can, you’ll be able to read it. And I explain this, you know, what’s involved with making an album like this. So you have to educate people too. Now we can circle back to this a little later about how, what to write and how to write it and all that kind of thing and copywriting, essentially.
17:08 CJ: I think the best way to do this is to deconstruct, I guess what you’re doing.
17:13 Leah: Yeah.
17:14 CJ: And so take us back to the first of the campaign. Any campaign, what’s the first thing that you’re doing?
17:19 Leah: I will say from the outset, I want everybody to understand that what made the last one’s work, what made this one work, why is any of it working? I’m going to address this kind of the way I address, questions that I get about Shopify and things like that. It has nothing to do with the platform, clearly. The last couple of times I used IndeiGoGo this time I’ve been hosting it on my own shop, on a landing page and I’m not even using an app. There’s no apps on this. It’s just a landing. So we can conclude it’s not to do with the platform. It has everything to do with the fact that I know how to market my own music. I have an audience, I have an email list that’s active. I engage my followers on a daily basis through organic social media. I hustle like crazy during a campaign on organic, I know how to run ads and run them to very targeted people.
The majority, like 97% of this campaign, the funds are raised from my warm audience, meaning people who already know me. I do run sometimes a little bit to cold just because I have so much social proof already there, meaning tons of comments and likes and stuff already on my ads that if I show that same ad with like, you know, 50 comments on it to a very targeted cold audience, so someone who doesn’t know me yet, and I already know what all their interests and likes and hobbies are, they’re going to check it out. Cause now they’re interested because I was, you know, my graphics are aligned with the music and the social proof is there and everything looks right that it’s just, it’s very enticing. So I do make sales from cold, but I do not recommend, most people do that. So I have, what did we say? I’ve got an email list. I have an engaged audience. I’m running Facebook ads,
I’m engaged in organic social. Did I say that twice? I can’t remember. And I know how to sell. I’ve got the skill of copywriting. These are the reasons why it’s successful. It’s not because of the platform. It’s not because of the app. It’s not because of the font or any of these other superficial things. It’s not because of the time of year that I threw this campaign up. None of that stuff matters. It comes down to audience, your skillset and yeah, your knowledge and ability. And I will say market research. So one of the first things that I did that, going back to the question you asked, one of the first things I did before I launched this campaign or any campaign is I survey my fans. I do market research on my own fans and I start putting the feelers out there saying, “how would you feel about this?” “How do you feel about me doing this kind of an album?” “Hey, here’s a sample of something I’m working on.” And I just kind of gauge the reaction.
Now, at the end of the day, you have to do, you have to make the music that makes you happy. Okay, so I in no way am implying here do what the market wants you to do. I’m just saying it’s very much I treat my fans like a relationship. You guys have heard me say this a lot on this podcast, but it is a two way street and so I throw things out there and I see what happens and I gauge the reaction and then sometimes I’ll adjust based on what I see that as long as it’s aligned and I still feel authentic about it. So I survey my fans. So I use Google Forms or Survey Monkey or whatever you want. Again, the tool doesn’t freaking matter.
The point is get some answers from people who care about you and your music. Now, if you don’t have an audience and you’re starting from scratch, we have other episodes on that, you know, the chicken or the egg scenario episode. What other episodes do we have about starting? Just a recent one that came out of about when you’re starting from scratch.
21:09 CJ: How to Fund An Album If You’re Broke.
21:11 Leah: Right. And we covered some topics in there about starting from scratch. I’m not going to address that here, but when you have an audience, I don’t care if it’s a hundred people, you should be surveying them. Getting data. Data is your friend as a musician selling music online, you need that data. I don’t care how artsy-fartsy you are, that will take all the guessing out for you. Why would I guess when I can just ask and get the answer immediately?
It is the best gold mine of a tool that I have ever used and it’s free. Google Forms is free. Survey Monkey is free. They have paid plans, who cares? Like whatever, use whatever and get those answers. People are gonna want to know, what do I ask them? Right? I actually have the link here so I can tell you what I ask them. This is what I sent out to them. Once I announced that I was doing this album, I asked them, “do you plan on pledging to the new winter fantasy album by Leah? Definitely. Maybe or not this time?” I just let them tell me. What I was looking for here was getting people to pre-pledge to me, like just verbally pre-pledge so I could kind of gauge how you know, how big this could go.
Then I asked them, “provided there’s some amazing bundles, how much of a co-creator of this album would you like to be?” Again, I didn’t say, “how much would you like to pay me?” This is a nice way of saying that, but I’m asking them “how much of a co-creator would you like to be?” This is, I’m turning it and making it about them. This is copywriting, right? Learning how to phrase something in a way where it shows somebody a benefit to them and what they will get out of it. So then I gave them specific dollar ranges. You know, $20-40, $50-80 to go all the way up to $1,000 and I wanted dollar amounts. How much of a co-creator, how much credit do you want in this essentially? And so I got a bazillion answers in there.
And then I asked, “is there any specific items you’d like to see available for preorder?” Three questions, three questions and that data I based my entire crowdfunding campaign off of. So I didn’t have to guess about a single thing and you could download these things into a CSV form and just go through them thoroughly. It’s just, it was such a gold mine for me to know what to do, what items they wanted to see, what I needed to think about and they gave me that I wouldn’t have thought of too. So, my goal was to get a thousand pre-pledge responses and this was mostly all coming through my email list and organic social media. I didn’t do any ads for that. I got a 1,669 so I was really happy with that. Really happy. And of course that’s a small segment, I have more than a thousand fans, but it’s almost more than that.
24:07 CJ: Yeah, it’s almost twice the amount. Your goal was a thousand. You’ve got 1,700 I’m you nearly, you know, doubled it. As far as that goes. And what’s killing me here, Leah, is that I know what people are thinking because it sounds like there’s so much involved and I don’t want anybody to miss the point because the first temptation is going to be to think, “oh my gosh, it’s the tools, it’s the tools”. You know? So you mentioned the survey tools and this tool and that tool. No, no, no, no, no. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re completely missing the point. It has to do with what she just said about knowing her audience, being a marketer, copywriting and these sorts of things. I wish guys that we could just give this to you in a mini-course or something like that.
This is where the coaching comes in. This is the true essence of the Savvy Musician Academy. For example, our Elite program. This is the kind of stuff we talk about and work with students, the student spotlight that I read at the outset that didn’t come just because you took a course, it came because you are working with marketing experts, copyrighting experts and we help to develop that. That’s the kind of thing that goes on in this Elite program and so as we continue through these episodes on crowdfunding, Leah, I really, really want everybody to be thinking about how serious they are about their music career.
25:41 Leah: Yeah.
25:42 CJ: How serious they are about literally coming through this debt-free and learning how to have a lifetime career of playing music and earning money, playing music, by selling to your own super fans that you literally don’t need a record label and Leah is going through the latest thing that she did to describe that. And you know we’ll be talking about at the end of this episode about how you can have a call with one of our team and talk about your particular project, your particular needs and see if this is something we can help you with.
But my goodness, Leah, I mean you set a goal for $50 K money-wise, you’re at $80,000. You wanted a thousand responses, you got 1,700. Surveys who stops in the middle of their day to fill out a survey, right? Only somebody who has a very close relationship between the artist and the fan. And you only can create that if there’s not a bunch of mediators in between, like a record label for example.
26:46 Leah: I guarantee you record labels never survey their database ever. They would never do such a brilliant thing. But yeah guys, listen, the reason I don’t have a course on crowdfunding is because you don’t need a course on crowdfunding, you need training on how to sell your music. You need training on just copywriting, Facebook ads, how to build your email list, what to send your email list, just selling stuff. That’s all you need. And then crowdfunding is easy. Crowdfunding should be a lot easier because there’s inherent scarcity and urgency built right into it. Scarcity is referring to the quantity that’s available that it’s limited quantity and urgency refers to a limited time and that it’s going to end soon. And so those two things are really powerful psychological triggers. I’ve mentioned this before, but those things are inherently built into a crowdfunding campaign.
If you have some kind of weird crowdfunding campaign going on where you don’t have those things, I will not be surprised if you do not hit your goal. Those things need to be part of it. So the bottom line is that crowdfunding should be easy, relative to just everyday sales. So if you can sell some CDs and t-shirts and hoodies yourself, then you just prove to yourself you can sell anything and you can sell large quantities of it. You can scale that. So that’s what you need training on. You don’t need a course on crowdfunding. You just need to learn how to be a marketer of your music.
28:16 CJ: Like I said, I think that’s the part that people are going to stumble on because they’re expecting it to be secrets. They’re expecting it to be a special method that you do or a special application or piece of software that you’re using and I know we’ve talked about in previous episodes things like Click Funnels and all of these popular funnel-based sort of software to try and automate this online marketing thing as much as they can and there is no automation in that sense. It really is the application of probably the most pure, highest expression of traditional marketing that’s ever been done before. You don’t get 1,700 responses, ladies and gentlemen, to a survey. People don’t take the time out of the day unless there is such a close and personal relationship with somebody, but this is a relationship with an artist who’s going to sell something to you.
But she likes, she talks, she shares with them, she treats them as literally co-creators. She sees them as co-creators, she features them. Go to her website. You’ll see pictures of the people that support her. Okay, so this is why the dynamic of social media has changed the game of online marketing and marketing in general forever. And if you don’t pick up on and realize that you have to come out from behind the microphone from behind the piano, from behind the guitar, and engage and market to an audience and learn and study, you know, the way people think and what they respond to and create the kind of products and items and things that they’ll purchase and want to invest in, you’re going to forever think this is magic. You’re going to forever think that Leah is doing this in some underhanded scammy way or that this is some sort of secret of the universe. It’s not.
30:11 Leah: I promise it’s not.
30:13 CJ: She’s doing what musicians and labels are unwilling to do. Some because it’s too big for them to get their head around or others because they don’t want to feel like they’re a car salesman or others just because they’re plain ignorant of the principals that are involved. And now in your case, it’s not just getting people to, like you said, to just give you money. It’s pre-launch. It’s pre-sale. So people are buying something. And so, you know, if you’re giving something to people that they genuinely want and they get not just, like for example, I’ve worked over the years, Leah, with nonprofit organizations, right? 501C3 nonprofit organizations, they rely exclusively on fundraising. It’s amazing what people will do, what people will go for just to be able to donate. They want their name inscribed on something. They want their name to be on a plaque, they want to be listed in a newsletter or what have you. These people for any little reason so long as it’s a cause that they believe in, they will freely give their money. Billions of dollars a year are given to nonprofit organizations. In this sense. This is not a donation.
31:31 Leah: Right.
31:32 CJ: This is pre-sales.
31:34 Leah: That’s right. Actually, after I launched, I went back on even made some tweaks and changes to my page to even emphasize more about how it’s about them and how they get to partake in something special and unique. It’s not just about pre-selling the thing, it’s about, it’s bigger than that, right? So I’m just looking at my page right now. The main headline is “Partner with Leah, become part of her fan-based label to launch a new Celtic fantasy-inspired holiday album”. Then there’s a personal letter from me. Everybody can go and see this later. How you can partner with Leah. I keep talking about this partnership. I keep talking about how they are an integral part of not only launching this album, that’s how I’m phrasing it, and this is a campaign to launch the album, but I also tell them in emails that by you participating in something like this, you’re actually really contributing to the music industry and that they’re doing something that they can feel good about because I let them know that in this day and age, there are many artists right now who are watching this campaign who have said to themselves, they’ve read the articles, they’ve read the doom and gloom articles that have said, this is the end of the music industry, it’s streaming only, everybody’s screwed. And by them seeing the way fans support an album, an eight song holiday album, that they are instilling hope in other artists and they are helping to make the world go round tight now.
They are actually supporting this industry. And it’s not a dying industry. It’s a thriving industry. It’s a new industry. And so I help them understand that this is more than just supporting an album. They’re actually contributing to a thriving music industry. So I make it bigger than the music. And I think that that’s important because bands, they don’t necessarily, they’re not tuned into what we’re tuned into. You don’t know those things. Not necessarily. Some of them do, but some of them don’t and they don’t know what it takes to make music like this. And I think that’s very important in the selling process too, in motivating someone to really understand why they might want to be involved with this. I am not the best copywriter in the world and you don’t have to be the best copyright in the world. I’m just writing from the heart and doing what I know to do, which is make it about them, not about me. That’s what I know works.
34:03 CJ: Yeah. You’re the best copywriter for your audience.
34:06 Leah: Right. So guys, don’t go copy and pasting my copy on my landing page because it won’t work the same for your audience, by the way, if you do that.
34:13 CJ: No, it is certainly won’t. I want to broach this subject with you in this episode about what you’re exactly offering. What were the items that were involved and the reason why is because you’re doing something that I think if everything, all the results that you’ve had so far and the way you’ve gone about this is not unique enough, the added dynamic here has been vinyl records. Okay, now I think just the other day we were sharing an article with each other about, might’ve been a rolling stone or something about for the first time now vinyl sales have out-paced CD sales. There are now more vinyl records selling than actual CDs. Vinyl records, ladies and gentlemen are selling. And you know, you mentioned earlier about scarcity and part of the reason why there is scarcity is because you didn’t print a whole ton of vinyl and CDs in that sort of thing.
35:11 Leah: Yeah. I want to expand on this a little bit in the next episode when I talk about the mistakes that I made and lessons that I learned from this campaign. Because one of the mistakes I made was I did not offer vinyl initially when I launched this album, or this campaign I should say. I’ll expand more on that later, but why don’t I go over the bundles I did offer on here. So, the last campaign I did, which was $87,000 in a 30-day time period as well. That was for like kind of a big metal album. I launched it with two bundles only. And people hear that and go, “what? Two bundles? I mean, every campaign I see they have like 50 things”. And I said, “exactly”. There’s a saying out there that says if you confuse, you’ll lose. I know Donald Miller says that and other people say that, that if you have too many offers, people just sometimes choose none because they’re overwhelmed. There’s too many things to pick from, now I’m stressed out, this is burning too much glucose in my brain, I give up.
So by simplifying and paring down the options, only a few simple cohesive things, you make it much easier for the person buying. You’re taking away any obstacles that are getting in their way. You want there to be less friction between them deciding they want something and actually buying the thing. So in this campaign, I did come out with more, I had four initial bundles, so bundle one we called, we named them cutesy little names so that you know it’s part of the branding and also on the back end we can kind of tell the difference between them.
But bundle one had an autographed digipack album, you can only get this digipack during this campaign it came with a digital download, instrumental download, signed card and we added later, an exclusive Q & A live session, like a Facebook live. We’ll put up like a little pop-up Facebook group for that. Just to add to the perceived value, and this is everything. Perceived value is everything. Two different companies can sell the same water bottle. One of them does a really good job with branding on the logo and the image and the product page and the description. The other company could sell the same water bottle and just really be lazy on their branding, their imagery, their product description. And the one water bottle could sell for $35 the other one could sell for $7 and the $35 water bottle will sell, you know, $1 million a year in that and the other company will be struggling to make $200 a month.
So it’s all about perception, it’s all about adding perceived value. And I decided that adding like some kind of exclusive hangout session would really add to that. So we actually added that to every bundle you buy, anything you get to be included in that. So that really helped and we added that later on. So one question that came up that I will address now, you know, how planet was everything and how adaptable were you to like change things? My philosophy is planned spontaneity. So you plan as much as you can and then within that structure you gotta be prepared to pivot, change, add, tweak, whatever you to do. And that has been my secret weapon as a marketer. Even building Savvy Musician Academy, you go in with a plan and if at any point you need to change something you just do and you don’t think twice about it.
So I hope that answers that question and I will talk in the next episode about some of the things I did change. Things we had to add at the last minute. Bundle two was a little bit more money. So that first one was a $35 price range and I’m not saying this is what you should charge. This worked out for me based on my profit margins based on the research we did and what we could afford to put these out at. Bundle two was, again, there’s several items here so I don’t know, do you want me to read out all the items? I feel like this could get.
39:19 CJ: Yeah, just give kind of an overview.
39:21 Leah: Yeah, I mean, so it’s like a t-shirt and a digipack and a download and a card and stickers. And I dunno, we get a little bit crazy. Bundle three, there are 11 different items in there, but this is a $250 price point and they sell. It’s still selling. They’re still coming through. And so at this point though, there are some custom things going on. Like I hired a, a freelance guy in Finland to custom hand make these leather pendants for people who get this bundle and it’s gonna have my logo branded on the back and just very exclusive, really cool unique items. So there’s some, it’s not just a t-shirt, hoodie stuff. This is special stuff. So, really cool. And then the fourth main bundle was all of that, plus an early listening party. They’re going to have credits in the next lyric video and you know, the live session, a bunch of that. So in each of these bundles, I included the items in a list. I feel like by numbering the list, your brain can just really comprehend how much you’re actually getting.
Then below that I put in bullet points what the features where, which are really the benefits. So the bundle, like what it included in the, what are the benefits of all those things so that it could just, you know, limited supply, special written commentaries on each song. The downloads are going to be available in all these different formats. People really do read all of this and they can tell when you’re being lazy about it and when you really put a lot into it. So handmade, LEAH branded leather, pennant, original design, just for this campaign, we won’t be selling them afterwards. That kind of thing. And also adding these make a great holiday gift, since it’s a holiday album, we want them, they may have not thought of that until they thought, “wait a second, I have like a sister who loves this kind of music, I could totally get a gift early for her as well”.
And then we ended up adding later on in the campaign, here’s one thing that has always worked well for me is, you know, launching with say two to four core bundles, those are the ones that are gonna make most of your money from, then a week or maybe two weeks into the campaign, say this is like a, a 30 day campaign, you bring out something else. Because one thing I found out about these kinds of campaigns is people need to see something new every once in a while. If you show all of your cards at the beginning, then you kind of just, you know, showed your hand and there’s other expressions for that too, but I won’t say them. You’ve shown your whole hand and then that’s it, and people just kind of get sick of it and then that’s it, you’v got nothing left to kind of bring out later, whereas in this instance, I’ve got my core offers where if I didn’t offer anything more, those are still great. And then I bring out maybe two or three weeks later, something I will call more just like revenue bumpers.
So I didn’t offer a digital download of the album by itself until things start to kind of dwindle, right? Or in the middle of the campaign. The middle of the campaign has always, when you see it’s kinda, it goes a little dead in the middle because people, the excitement has gone down, people forget about it, whatever. And so that’s a perfect time to bring out something new. And so I would do that, bring out something new in the middle. And so that’s when I brought out the digital download, which I always make it a bundle, it’s not just a digital download. You’re going to get the instrumental, you’re going to get all these different formats, MP3 and Wave. And when I send this to them in a zip file, I also usually include other goodies in there. So there’ll be the PDF version of the, the liner notes, the booklet. They’re going to get some photos of me and I’ve even in the past included like a thank you video that they weren’t expecting. So just try to really blow them away and give them more than they were expecting. And then we also came out with just this limited edition digi-pack on its own kind of a thing. So they are autographed. I won’t be autographing them after that. They’ll just be regular jewel case. So six in total there. That’s more than I did in the past and this was just, again, I’m always experimenting.
It worked the same as the last time when I will say it’s a lot more work, adding more bundles. More bundles means more work. And there’s more complexity, more things can go wrong, more technical issues, things like that. Then we’ll talk about this more in the next episode, but I do want to talk about vinyl because as you noticed, I didn’t say anything about vinyl yet and that’s because I launched this whole campaign without vinyl. Now I did do a survey and I did see vinyl in there, but I think sometimes with surveys it’s not always an accurate picture because only certain people respond to it, right? Certain people will fill that out. And then other people don’t. What happened was after I launched this, I had an FAQ section at the bottom of my page just to help cut down on customer service, so it’s customer service prevention, like “do you offer PayPal?” “Yes, we’d offer PayPal.” “When will my bundle ship?” And we tried to think through all the scenarios that people would ask about and try to pre-answer them so that would also increase the revenue as well.
“How long does shipping take, what’s the shirt size, what are the dimensions and blah, blah, blah”. And one thing I put in there, it’s not in there now, but I did say, I knew people would ask about vinyl, so I said, “if you really want vinyl, please write to us at this email address and let us know”. Well, the emails came in. At first, it was like one and then it was three and then it was 12. And then it just kept going. And what was interesting to me was not just the enthusiasm asking for vinyl, but like there was genuine, people were upset that I didn’t have it genuinely upset to the point where I got the same guy like DMing me on Instagram, long messages expressing his deep disappointment that he couldn’t give me money because I didn’t have vinyl. And then also writing to me in emails these lengthy things, explaining all the reasons why he only listens to music on vinyl. And I mean, he really went in-depth. I was like, this is hilarious because like some people might even be offended like he was a little on the negative side of things, but I thought, I mean, this guy really wants to give me his money. He really, really wants to and I have failed him. What can we do to fix this?
I’ll continue that discussion in the next episode, but you can be sure that we made it happen. We made it happen. So I’ll explain more of that later. But we did come up with vinyl, so that ended up being part of the campaign. We had two options originally and they sold out in like three days, and so it was a limited. campaign-only like blue vinyl sold out. I mean, I was shocked. I was shocked and I was like, holy smokes. I mean, that definitely gave us a huge bump right in the middle of the campaign that I wasn’t expecting.
46:49 CJ: Yeah. In other words, it was literally blue records guys too. Blue cover, when she says blue vinyl, that’s not a technical term. That’s blue records.
46:58 Leah: Yeah. Yeah.
47:00 CJ: That’s awesome. Yeah. I, as you can see, guys, this is why we said at the outset, there’s no way we can cover this in a single episode, and we even went a little longer in this one. But that just goes to show you just how much is involved in this campaign and I know it can feel like it’s overwhelming, this kind of information. You don’t have to do everything that she did. Her first campaign was not like this, okay? She’s a few campaigns in, so she’s an expert, so she knows what she’s doing. It’s just trying to show you the possibilities and you can learn all the gory details of the offers and the applications and all of that good stuff, but the basic essentials, the reason why this works, the reason why she gets these numbers, the reason why she gets these responses, the reason why her fans are writing her lengthy emails and direct messages explaining their love of vinyl is because of that relationship. It’s because of Leah as a marketer and an artist. It’s both.
If you’re going to have a career in music and you can have that career in music, you’re going to have to be the artist and you’re going to have to be the marketer. It may seem like that’s intimidating. It’s not. Leah comes from no marketing background. She’s a stay at home mom still is, but she had no marketing background. And you’ve heard, you can listen to previous episodes to hear more about her story, but she’s learned, she’s learned the principles, she applies the principles, but she takes her fans seriously. She takes the culture seriously. She takes these genres seriously, but she takes the principles that govern marketing and communications and branding and sales very, very seriously. And that’s the kind of stuff that we cover in her SuperFan System Elite program, which I encourage you, again, you can go to callsma.com if you’d like to learn more. Help us to help you learn more about your project, what your goals are and see if there isn’t a great fit. But we’re going to talk more about this and they’re going to get into a lot of the Q & A because Leah put questions out there, she said at the outset, and a whole bunch of questions came in about the details of this. So by the time we’re done with this series on crowdfunding, ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to feel like you went through a marketing seminar and how to release an album.
49:23 Leah: I thought long and hard about what to share in these episodes and I decided to not hold back at all. I’m not holding anything back. I’m talking to you listening right now as though you are one of my Elite students and I’m just going to share everything that I can that makes sense in a podcast format. We’re not doing over the shoulder tutorials, but those sorts of things are in our SuperFan System Elite training, again a little more on the advanced marketing side. That’s where you’ve got to go to get results like these. And we have students doing some amazing things like that. And just so you know, all three episodes here, I want you to know that you can get a freebie crowdfunding, kind of little starter guide if you’re interested in doing that for yourself. Just go to savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding and it’s a little guide just showing you some comparisons between different platforms, even though you know that’s not what’s gonna make you successful. I still know you have the questions. So I put that together for you and just some initial things to help you think through your own campaign. And by the way you can think of this even if you’re not doing campaign, you’re doing an album launch, a lot of the same things apply. So go ahead and get that. It’s in the show notes, but you can also just type this in your browser. So savvymusicianacademy.com/crowdfunding.
50:49 CJ: Awesome. So, we’re going to get into this even more in the next episode. She’s going to tell us about her experience with the vinyl. And again, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not all streaming, people are buying very real music just like they used to even young folks. So there’s plenty of hope for the music industry, which means there’s plenty of hope for you and we will see you next time.