16. Kickstarter

With the album recorded and about to embark on its long painstaking journey towards being mixed, the time had come to try and figure out just how I would be able to deliver the final product.

I wanted the final package to be a beautiful piece of art across a variety of different formats and complement what had become my biggest musical challenge to date. However, to do this I’d need a budget and after spending all of my earnings over the last year or so on getting over to Ireland to record it in the first place, I knew I’d need a quick financial injection from somewhere to keep things moving. That somewhere became 'Kickstarter;' a crowd funding platform to help independent artists, inventors, designers, film makers and more.

I’d like to think I’d have eventually raised the money myself whatever happened, but there’s no denying it would have taken me a very long time to do single-handedly.

As a songwriter, first and foremost, the last thing I wanted to happen was for the release of this album to be potentially held back by another year or so, by which point my heart would have inevitably moved on to new material.

I’d never done a crowd-funding campaign before and was initially quite scared and nervous about pulling it off. I simply didn’t have the kind of numbers (in terms following) to feel confident in raising thousands of pounds for one of my projects so it was hard to really know where to start. At the same time, I didn’t want to set the target too low and put limitations on what I could produce but I did have to draw a line somewhere.

After weighing up the costs of music videos, promotion, mastering, artwork and the pressing of both CDs and vinyl, not to mention Kickstarter’s cut, I came up with a grand total of around £4500.

I had read somewhere that only three percent of a following are generally happy to part with money to fund a music project so in my case, with only two thousand people at best, the likelihood of falling short was pretty high and almost not worth exploring. That said, because of the carefully planned rewards on offer, there was plenty of scope for the campaign to go either way so I figured I’d take my chances. I didn't exactly have much to lose.

It was an overly ambitious target but I knew this would be the bare minimum I’d need in order to help things move along quickly. By this point, I’d already sold a lot of my own home-studio equipment as well as one of my favourite guitars so I was running out of options in ways to raise further cash.

I spent a few days constructing my kickstarter page, making sure I had included as many details about the project as possible. The rewards that donors would receive were also carefully thought about though in the end, they did pose a few challenges of their own logistically.

The hardest part about constructing the kickstarter page was to make sure I had enough samples and content about the songs, rewards and project in the first place in order to help convince people that this was a cause worth backing. I used a few unmixed samples from the recent recording sessions, cut together a home-made video and typed out a detailed synopsis and plan before publishing it to my little online world.

With a month’s window, I nervously posed the question about whether people would be willing to chip in and get on board with my new work and debut album.

The response during the first few days was really encouraging and heart warming though I knew it would all be meaningless if the target wasn’t hit. It’s all or nothing with Kickstarter.

The following few days slowed down a lot which put me in a mild state of anxiety before showing a few signs up picking up again after the release of my second single ‘One in a Million.’

Incredibly, and much to my surprise, with just over a week gone the target was hit.

I had actually just finished playing another set of hits from the 50’s and 60’s at a care home when an email from kickstarter came through to notify me of the big news. I was absolutely bowled away by how many people actually gave a shit about what I was trying to do.

All those meaningless pub gigs playing to no-one suddenly felt like they’d paid off in some weird way as people from all over the place chipped in.

Then, something even more extraordinary happened. In the following two to three weeks, the budget kept topping up and eventually hit £7500. It suddenly meant, I would be less restricted when it came to the final delivery and execution of the project.

It sounds like an absurd amount of money, and for me personally, it was, but once all incoming costs were considered for what I was trying to achieve, it was important to follow a strict budget and not get carried away. There are always unforeseen costs that can easily escalate out of control if you’re not careful.

The kickstarter campaign gave me the cushion and final injection I needed to make my project come to life and get across the line.

I was overwhelmed by the campaign’s reaction and will always be grateful that I was given the opportunity to present the album both sonically and visually to the standard I felt it deserved.

For example, the mastering of the album could have been done on the cheap however because of the luxury kickstarter gave me, I was able to acquire the services of one of the best engineers in the world, known for his work with bands like The Killers and U2. After, spending so long buried in the production of the record, I didn’t want to cut corners at the last hurdle if I didn’t have to.

Visually, I wanted the album to have a more artistic and painterly feel to it and worked closely with a freelance artist called ‘Maria Tilt’ who helped bring the whole thing to life. Her work gave the entire project a visual cohesion and was used for every single release, various pieces of merchandise not to mention the final album cover. I also called upon another graphic designer to help format the text within the album booklet as well as deliver the ‘WW Kickstart Mural’ - an image that was created from the names of everyone who had donated to the cause.

Admittedly, the kickstarter experience did become a huge full-time administrative job and I learnt a hell of a lot from the process should I ever need or want to do it again. It’s no surprise that the more rewards you have on offer, the more of a logistical nightmare it can be to fulfil, especially single-handedly.

Katie, who for years had undertaken the role of chief organiser and administrator would have been in her element but alas, she was no longer in the picture now. Instead, I took the reigns as seriously and professionally as I could but I knew I was pretty dysfunctional in comparison.

My bedroom turned into a strange packaging factory crammed full of various merchandise deliveries, rolls of tape and empty boxes - a good analogy for the state of my mind. Still, with all said and done, it was a small price to pay to get my baby over the line.

Ultimately, I just know, that I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to create a debut album of this standard independently and be able to put it out to people who actually care about my music.

If you donated and you’re reading this - thank you thank you thank you.

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