Wed, Aug 10, 2011:Crowdfunding the Classics

Violinist Bibi Pelič is using crowdsourcing to fund her new album

Crowdfunding the Classics

Movie producers, rock bands, and charities have been doing it for a while. Now “crowdfunding” has come to the Prague classics.

Violinist Bibi Pelič hopes to raise the $8,000 cost of recording her new album by collecting donations on the Indiegogo internet website, a new technique called crowdfunding or crowdsourcing. To explain it, she has created an introductory video posted on the website. And she periodically adds new videos as the project progresses.

Friends, fans, family, and others who watch her “Be the Album” video can donate money through the safe internet banking systems offered by the US crowdfunding site. In return, depending on the size of their donation, the contributors receive a gift, or “perk” from Mrs Pelič.

For example, a donation of $10 gets you an advance digital copy of the album before the release date; for $25 you get the same, plus an autographed copy of the final album with a thank-you note. And so on, up to a contribution of $6,000, which gets the donor 100 copies of the album, a free concert, four tickets to the album launch party, and more.

Her previous albums were funded by companies who sponsored the cost, and then received a certain number of CDs to give away as gifts.

The violinist’s “Be the Album” campaign is about halfway through its scheduled 90 days. So Opus Osm checked in with Mrs Pelič for more details.

“In May I read an article about crowdfunding, the possibilities it offers, and just loved the idea,” she says. “I saw it as a way to have people more engaged in the making of a music album. By following the video updates they can follow the process, comment on it, and share ideas.”

So far, she says, it’s been interesting to see people’s reactions, not only to the new selling concept but to her original videos introducing each piece as it’s completed for the album. “I’ve had great feedback regarding my videos,” she says, adding, “Apparently I’m a good actor!”

She admits one of the most difficult parts of the campaign was selecting the perks, which have to start out with a simple gift for the lowest donation, and build up in graduated steps to the largest amount. Most of her preparation was spent on researching and choosing appropriate gifts to meet her audience’s expectations, “and then I just let my imagination run,” she says.

She thinks the ability for each listener to decide their own level of involvement is an attractive feature of this fund-raising method.

Are we likely to see more of it in the classical music world?

“I believe it does have a future for classical musicians,” she says. “It allows you creative freedom in deciding what and how to record.”

But, she cautions, it also demands lots of work and additional skills, such as familiarity with computers and the internet, and the ability to establish and tap into a good networking base. – oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Bibi Pelič

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