Sara Bannerman and the Networked Communications Governance Lab recently conducted a survey of Kickstarter users who campaigned successfully in English using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise money for their Canadian music projects.
We were able to invite 103 of the 112 Kickstarter users who fit this description, and 12 responded to our survey. Users who completed the survey received a $20 iTunes gift card.
Here’s what we found:
The amount of time committed to and invested in projects varied greatly, but much more time was spent in the execution of the project than in the administration of the campaign. The given times include time spent by all those involved in the creation and facilitation of the project, not solely the primary respondent. Each bar represents one campaign.
Some artists reported spending years writing, while others spent comparatively little time on the project altogether:
Money and Profit
The projects raised various amounts of money, but all surveyed artists met their “target” amount. Most projects were regarded as profit generating, however a good portion were considered non-profit.
Outside of Kickstarter, the projects were largely funded by the artists personal incomes.
The amount of money raised was mostly used for production costs. However, about half of the respondents were able to claim some profits for themselves.
We asked the participants what other money they had applied for, specifically if they had applied for a FACTOR grant. The artists were split evenly between those who had applied for a factor grant and those who had not.
With regards to Kickstarter’s fees, most artists felt the website charged a reasonable amount.
Music Production through Kickstarter: genre and music releases
All of our participants thought of their project as “indie” in one sense or another. This was either because their music was not on a major label or was part of the indie genre.
We asked artists where they were likely to release their music. Most indicated that they will releasing their projects with online music retailers, and personal websites/events. Almost all were not offering a free release.
The Experience of Kickstarter
Close to all of the artists had some sort of experience with musical projects. However, most respondents believed that Kickstarter furthered their knowledge of the music production process. Respondents were asked to rate their understanding of crowdfunding scale at the outset of their experience. They were then asked about previous experience with musical projects, on the same scale.
The following results concern a perceived change in support networks. Most participants felt that Kickstarter had helped them in gaining new fans and supporters.
If new fans were gained:
If new supporters of their project were gained:
The artists were also asked about how Kickstarter helped them gain credibility for their work or opened doors for future success. Most indicated that their Kickstarter campaign had helped them to produce more successful projects. However, a large number of respondents also indicated that Kickstarter was a neutral factor in convincing people to work with the artists or impressing people.
If telling people about the Kickstarter campaign opened doors:
If the campaign helped convince people to work with the artist:
If the fact of the campaign impressed people:
Demographics: Employment and Income
Respondents were asked to describe their present employment status. About half were employed outside of their Kickstarter/music endeavours.
They were also asked about current income, independent of funds raised through Kickstarter and found that more than half made under $35, 000 a year.
Age and Education
Respondents were asked their age, largely skewing younger:
And their level of education:
Our survey helped researchers gain a sense of how and why Canadian artists are engaging with Kickstarter. They mostly viewed their experience in a positive light, however, they remained cautious in assuming that Kickstarter would supply them a full wage/income. This research will be extended to theorize the relationship between crowdsourcing incomes, artists and the economy of making music.