Sign up here
to get the latest updates and news from Independent
Records. We'll let you in on any new services or features
that IR has coming down the road that can help you
get your music out there.
Guerilla Music Financing
Money Raising Basics: 18 Ways to Finance Your Next Musical Project
We've all heard the expression "It takes money to make money." And sometimes it does. We've also heard horror stories about the complications of bank loans, business plans, lawyers and meddling investors. And
it's those negative mental associations that keep many musicians
from ever taking a stab at a big project--whether it be committing
to a record release, buying a new PA and lighting system, producing
a music video or starting a small record label. I can hear you now:
"Man, I'm never going to be able to get a bank loan. And I wouldn't
trust a power-hungry investor with my career. Why bother?" Well,
I say, "Don't let those perceived obstacles stop you from getting
what you want out of music!"
For now let's
forget about bank loans and high finance and start thinking about
more creative, street-level methods of raising money. Let's call
it Guerrilla Music Financing. And the first rule to note is that--unlike
the tried-and-true road to investment capital, where a large lump
sum of money comes from one almighty source--we guerrillas have
to think in terms of combining a number of smaller money-raising
streams into one sizable river of capital. What follows is a list
of 18 specific actions you can take right now to get the cash flow
moving toward your musical project:
- Make a commitment
to yourself right now that you will find a way to raise the money.
A wise man once said, "Whether you think you can or can't do something,
you're right." Confidence and optimism will take you a long way
toward your monetary goals. Know that you can find a way to raise
the money and let your passion drive you toward making it happen.
- Set up a
Musical Project Fund bank account. Doing so will add more commitment
to your intentions--plus it will earn interest while you work
your money plan.
- Set aside
a percentage of your "day gig" salary. If you have a regular income
from another source, take $20 a week (or more) off the top. Self-financing
takes a bit of discipline and sacrifice on your part, but it's
well worth it, knowing that you'll be in debt to no one when you
reach your goal.
- Earn extra
cash from other music-related activities. Don't limit yourself
to your current financial situation. Is there a product or service
you can make or perform to bring in more money? What about music
lessons, studio session work, repairing equipment, publicity,
computer-related services, booking bands, etc? Open your mind
to potential money-making streams you're not pursuing as much
as you could be right now.
- Rent equipment
you already own to others. Why let that PA system gather dust
when it could be generating revenue? Pin up fliers and run classified
ads announcing what you have to offer. And then put that extra
cash into your Musical Project Fund.
- Sell off
old equipment you don't use. Everyone has an amp, mixer, 4-track
or some musical gadget they would be better off selling for cash
than keeping. Look hard enough and you'll probably find something
you can part with.
- Credit cards.
The interest will kill you if you take years to pay off the charges,
but many bands and small record labels have used this method to
finance their early efforts. If you have good credit, it certainly
is another option.
- Set aside
money from paid band jobs. This is perhaps one of the best ways
a musical act can go about raising money. If you gig regularly
and don't need all these funds to survive, you can build up quite
a stash--possibly up to a few thousand dollars or more--in a couple
- Promote one
or two live shows as fund-raising gigs for your next album. Not-for-profit
organizations use this method all the time. Why not you? Plus,
you may be surprised to find that your fans will support your
project (with their dollars) if you simply ask them to.
- Sell your
own CDs, cassettes and/or records. Even if it's only a primitive,
two-song demo, get some kind of recorded product out and sell
it to raise money for your project. If you play out or get any
radio airplay at all, you're wasting a valuable revenue-producing
opportunity by not having a recording available for sale.
- Sell T-shirts,
caps, posters, stickers and other merchandise. Having music fans
watching your band at a club is the perfect environment in which
to market your paraphernalia. If they can't take the band members
themsvelves home, the next best thing is a cool memento your admirers
can purchase and take with them.
- Family members
and friends. Many businesses have been started from these personal
loans, but so have many feuds. Be careful in this area, but don't
overlook it, either. Make sure everything is in writing: how much
money, when repayment is expected, who has artistic control, etc.
- Grants. If
your project is of historical significance or has a cultural impact,
you may be eligible for the many grants offered each year by government,
schools and corporations. Check the library for grant sources.
credit. If you have a good relationship with a particular music
store or production facility, they may extend a delayed payment
plan to you based solely on your word and reputation.
Instead of Coke, Pepsi or Budweiser sponsoring you, why not the
local recording studio? You promote their business to your fans,
they give you free stuff in exchange. It can't hurt to investigate
this often-overlooked idea.
The ancient art of trading goods and services works perfectly
for Guerrilla Music Financing. This may be one of your most powerful
approaches to getting what you want on a limited budget. Make
a list of all you have to offer a studio or store owner and then,
most importantly, see what his or her needs are and how you can
find a way to satisfy them--without spending your hard-earned
- Build your
own equipment. If that new PA or high-tech studio rental is out
of the question, why not just make it yourself--for a lot less
money? Check around for local craftsmen, or look through music
magazines for mail order, do-it-yourself kits.
- Set weekly
and monthly money-raising goals. The only way you're ever going
to raise that capital for your musical project is to make the
commitment and stay on track. Therefore, break down your overall
money goal into bite-size chunks that you can achieve each and
every week--or at least every month. By raising, saving and/or
trading a couple hundred dollars here, a few hundred there, a
single individual can quite possibly accumulate $2,000 to $5,000
dollars in about six months. Multiply those figures by the four
members in an average band (or partners in a company) are you're
starting to look at some serious investment capital--all without
going through the hassles of traditional bank/investment financing.
You heard it here first: Guerrilla Music Financing can work for you--if you let it.