Can You Get Strangers to Back Your Band’s Kickstarter Project?

Can You Get Strangers to Back Your Project?

There are some contrasting opinions about this idea.  I’d even say that the majority of artists assume you should have a strategy for capturing the interest of total strangers.  I know I did this with both of my projects to different degrees.  In both cases, I gathered pretty convincing evidence that it’s most likely a misuse of time and energy. But I’m never willing to stop at my experience alone.

I’ve been paying attention to music Kickstarter projects that seem to assume “the stranger” category of backers is a priority target. So far I’ve yet to see evidence of an artist’s project going viral, or even converting a handful of strangers to backers.

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For instance, this awesome rubber band gun Kickstarter was so remarkable that I shared it, along with 1200 other people.  It’s also been covered on major blogs like Boing Boing and TechCrunch along with plenty of other blogs.The fact is, we just don’t see this viral effect happen with music Kickstarters that often, so today I’m asking the question, is it possible to attract strangers to your music Kickstarter project, if so, how?

Greater Alexander Conquered the Stranger Strategy!

Not only did his project succeed at 111% of his goal ($5570), but he claims to have started with “…virtually no following except for friends and a bunch of random youtube likes”. When I talked with him on the phone he told me he estimated that nearly half of his pledges were from total strangers.

The Stranger Strategy seemed unlikely to me prior to our half hour phone conversation. I had to dig deeper.

Here’s What He Did

A few days after our phone conversation, he started this Reddit thread to explain his winning approach. Here are 5 things he tried…

$1 for the entire album (192 kbps digital download)
He knew his Kickstarter was also an opportunity to make new fans, which was important to him since he’s brand new.  By offering his album for $1, the barrier to entry was low enough to convert total strangers into fans.

Instagram Meme Attempts 
He created humorous graphics and released them on Instragram in an attempt to attract the eyeballs of strangers.  This was likely the least effective attempt considering his photo of two sunny side up eggs got a similar number of likes as his Katy Perry meme attempt.

5 open mics per week for a month with an email follow up asking new subscribers to visit his Kickstarter
“Sometimes I would go to 2 open mics in one night, calling ahead to see if I could be put on the list. I had personally already set up an e-mail list through mailchimp and would send new fans the link to the kickstarter when I got home.”

Talking with his coffee shop customers (one random customer pledged $808!)
“It totally surprised me when a pledgor turned out to be a random customer that I only knew from the coffee shop that I work at.” Keep in mind that this was his prive acoustic house concert package.  The reason this is in our 5 Rewards No Band Kickstarter Should Launch Without is because it can be appealing even to a stranger.

Stumbling through his first attempts at using Reddit, and succeeding 
This looks to be his single most effective tactic. “What really got the ball rolling was when other redditors started commenting on the kickstarter after I posted in forums of redditors talking about crowdfunding in general. Here’s the forum on reddit where I posted my kickstarter that started getting unknown people talking: Click here

The Takeway

It’s possible to get pledges from strangers, but you need to be savvy and methodical for it to pay off. Know that the overwhelming majority of your pledges will be from people you’re already connected to. Instead of leading with a stranger strategy, it should only be a priority after you’ve done everything possible to maximize your existing Circle of Influence.

Most importantly, you should never hedge your success on a Stranger Strategy.  Align your goal amount with your existing Circle of Influence first, then put together a Stranger Strategy as a supplement to your goal, not a requirement to hit your goal.

BONUS: You Can’t Manufacture Genuine

I have to add an observation that I think is very important when aiming for an effective Stranger Strategy.  I also think this is important when looking at your overall music career.

Greater Alexander has a magnetically genuine, calming, positive personality that comes across in everything he does.

In other words, most people who stumble on his Kickstarter will be mesmerized with him and his music.  This is such a key element to your success in your KS project and music career, but it’s also the hardest thing to nail down.  If you don’t have the ability to mesmerize strangers, your Stranger Strategy will fall short.

Here’s a quote from Alexander’s Reddit thread that will illustrate my point:


I don’t know how to explain it… but there is something so pure and beautiful about the music I heard on your Kickstarter campaign …. I’m at work right now…and I just welled up with tears because it was so …beautiful… and I don’t get emotional…like…almost ever… but the music and the singing was just so frigging gorgeous!!!!

I gave you $10 and its is probably the best $10 I’ve ever spent…

I seriously cant wait to hear you album….

If you ever come to Ontario Canada (specifically Ottawa, Toronto, or Montreal) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let my band play a show with you… It would be such a beautiful evening of music… and when we make our way to Detroit, we gotta share a stage!

I know the words I’m using here are not doing justice to the emotion your music brought out of me… I just want you to know that it moved me…truly and honestly moved me.  -Steve

I have to agree, viewing his project has a similar effect of meditation or doing affirmations in front of the mirror: “steadily walk the rocky road of life while keeping a smile and a big heart” is the message that comes through loud and clear.

Now assume the Sun Salutation pose and breath in…now breath out…Namaste.

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