Crowdfunding Your Comedy Tour
In 2012, I created my first crowdfunding campaign for a comedy tour via Kickstarter. The project was funded and the tour was a great success. I took Grady Ray and JC Ratliff out of the road for their first real tour. We did 11 shows in 11 straight days and covered nearly 300o miles in the meantime.
Some of the old guard (veteran comics) weren’t so supportive. In fact, one equated it to begging or panhandling. I was not bothered by the criticism. At home I had a family to feed. I knew that if I were still working at Verizon Wireless and a fellow comic was about to take a group of young comics on the road, I would be supportive of this. In fact, in the past, I have. Even now I support these campaigns when I see them. Whether it be comics touring, or comics with a dire emergency, I have donated.
In the creative economy, crowdfunding is baffling to those that refuse to evolve. We live in an era where new amazing products/projects no longer have to wait for angel investors or corporate donors. They simply have to get the word out to like-minded people about their idea and begin accepting donations.
A great recent example of a crowdfunding project allowing something awesome to be created/revived is the MST3K project on Kickstarter. Series creator Joel Hodgson started the campaign and it reached it’s initial goal in less than a week. Obviously, not many of us have the recognitioin MST3K does. The important thing to note is that the consumers are now directly funding creative ideas and projects that THEY are interested in seeing happen. The consumer has direct input.
Should you do it?
Short answer, probably not. First off though, are you ready to go on a tour? If this is your first tour you may not be ready to crowfund.
Otherwise you might want to bring someone more experienced at touring with you. This will add legitimacy with your tour and your campaign should you choose to launch one.
Just remember, you don’t start a crowdfunding campaign without the blessing of every person on the tour. No one wants their name used in a solicitation without their permission.
What site should I use for my campaign?
It is a little intimidating looking at crowdfunding sites and trying to pick the one that best fits for crowdfunding your comedy tour. Some require not-for-profit status to use. Others hide their fees and gouge you in the end. For the most part though, they are all about the same. They have to make money, but they all face similar costs to do so.
Here are my top four choices for crowdfunding sites
I chose Fundly for my recent Quit Your Day Job Comedy Tour for a few reasons. It was the easiest to set up and had the most convenient social media integration features. You can choose whether a facebook post or tweet goes out each time someone contributes or when you make updates. This is not unique to Fundly, but I do find it easier to use than some of the other platforms. Fundly uses WePay to pay you so you do have to take a moment to set that up. I already had a WePay account so it was very easy for me.
Fundly is a flexible funding site. This means even if you don’t meet your project goal, you still get the money collected minus fees.
Cost to use Fundly: 4.9% platform fee, plus 3% credit card processing fee.
I like the type of project that are on IndieGoGo. It quickly became a resource for artists when it came on the scene in 2008. The interface is good and the amount of people that browse through campaigns on the site is much better than Fundly. Doesn’t matter, the UI on Fundly is still superior in it’s ease of use. That makes all the difference to me. An honestly, you aren’t going to get many randos adding funds to your comedy tour’s indie go-go campaign. Indie Go-Go is a flexible funding site.
IndieGoGo Costs: Free to sign up, 4% fee to funds if the project reaches its goal, 9% fee to funds if it does not, plus 3% credit card processing fee
Kickstarter is the king of crowdfunding. Or, at least, it USED to be king. Kickstarter came AFTER Indie Go-Go. They attempted to set themselves apart by not approving all campaigns. I used Kickstarter original Quit Your Day Job Comedy Tour back in 2012. The project was successfully funded. Downside of Kickstarter is, it’s all or nothing. You can’t be partially funded. You don’t make your goal, you don’t get shit.
Kickstarter Costs: Free to sign up, 5% fee to funds raised, plus Amazon Payments processing fees.
I avoid this one like the plague now. It’s the biggest, baddest and full of the most dumb shit of any of the funding platforms. We have all seen the amount of people asking for help with their rent, court costs, friend’s bail and other such shit. I personally wouldn’t want my campaign to be mentally associated with non-project campaigns. There is nothing at all wrong with people asking for financial help. However, that has become the PRIMARY thing that you see people post GoFundMe projects for. The saddest are the ones that are really fucking poorly written with a sob story that are 4 days from the end of the campaign with like $35 raised. Ugh. Stop bumming me out GoFundMe….
Still that being said, plenty of people use GoFundMe with success. It has quickly risen to the site with the most browsing traffic of all of them.
GoFundMe Costs: Free to sign up. 7.9% + $0.30 per donation, or 9.25% total fee for non-profit projects.
Other Things to Consider BEFORE launching a crowdfunding campaign
- Unless you have not-for-profit status or an incorporated business for your comedy, the income is required to be reported on the filed taxes for the person that puts the campaign online.
- Crowdfunding fails more often than it succeeds. Your campaign is only as strong as your Triple F’s (Friends-Family-Fans). If this group is behind you and believes in you, your campaign will succeed.
- Crowdfunding takes work. You have to communicate with people and ASK them to donate. Don’t be passive, because unless you have an amazing group of friends, family and fans, you will fail.
- You can’t do this all the time! This is something I have only dared to do a few times over the course of three years. As with anything, you cannot lean too much on crowdfunding.
Thanks for reading, please, if you felt this or any other article I have written is beneficial to you in comedy, donate to my upcoming Quit Your Day Job Comedy Tour Fund. Thanks!