Interview with independent musician


Interview with Sietske Roscam Abbing – independent musician.

Sietske successfully crowdfunded the recording and production of her album on Crowdfunding model: donation. Amount raised: 6500 euro. Funders: 83.

What resources do you usually approach to finance your music?

I know there are public funds for arts and music in The Netherlands, however I have not applied for them yet. From what I know, you could try to get some subsidies, for example, to cover traveling costs to concerts or tours. I know you can apply for subsidies to tour abroad if you have at least 5 concerts there, but I did not do that yet.

What made you decide to crowdfund and why did you choose Voordekunst?

I knew that there were people around me who wanted to support me and crowdfunding looked like an organized way to do it, rather than approaching them individually. People would also come to my performances and say “I want to buy your album” and showed interest in helping me with my music. I did not have a second album as I could not afford it. So I thought it would be a good idea to say “Hey, I am going to make the album and you can buy it in advance”, and then I already know there’s 40 people, let’s say, who want to buy it.

I did not do much research on different platforms. I just saw 3 other names coming by from other people who did something similar. With Voordekunst I had the reference of other colleagues. It’s THE Dutch art crowdfunding platform and there is much promotion about it in Amsterdam. So it’s the well know, credible platform in the region. They also have partnerships with established cultural funds, but you need to approach them yourself for support. For example, I wrote to AFKA ( Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst) about my campaign and they also awarded a small grant for me.

How was your experience with the crowdfunding process? What were the biggest challenges?

When I think back, I just dived into it to see what happens. I did know a few people who would support me but I did not think in advance on how to reach people. So it was hard to estimate my chance of success.

How has crowdfunding changed your perception about getting financed? Did it bring any added value?

Yes, for sure. It made my album somehow seem a bigger thing. It encouraged me to really go for it and make it as good as possible. I also noticed that the people around me – my band – were also more excited, as they saw that people were commenting on my posts and “liking” them, so overall this expectations were good for our energy.

How would you describe the experience with the crowd?

For me, crowdfunding made the project more important. I wanted people to know that I am doing something and crowdfunding is the way to connect people to what you’re doing. You cannot make something in secret…what’s it about then? You need to create and tell the story.

To reach the funders, I have been emailing and using Facebook. What I should have done differently is organize the reach-out better. In the end I had 83 supporters. Half of the people were family and friends, but I was also surprised about the number of people I did not know. People in my network also shared and forwarded my campaign, that was helpful too. Overall, I mostly received small donations but also one big donation from someone I had not known previously.

What were the difficulties you encountered? Did any aspects of crowdfunding make you feel uncomfortable? 

I found it hard to find a way to reach out to people other than “Hey, I am doing something, could you support me?”. That was a big challenge. I was doing the campaign for a short time – a little more than a month – but I was writing almost daily. I knew that this could be annoying for others, so I thought hard about how to involve people in the campaign without talking about it all the time.
I also think I spent 3 hours every day managing it, but I don’t think I was too practical, I did not have a good plan in place. I also had the recording itself to arrange. But I definitely learned a lot about how to be more efficient about it next time.

How did you feel about the crowdfunding platform: did the possibilities (for sharing, for uploading, for engagement with the public) fit your needs?

Voordekunst had information on how to approach things, they also had the “Voordekunst Academy” – a step by step plan with what would be the best approach, which was very nice. However I would definitely be more prepared with a plan on how to address people – have a mailing list, what I can do to promote it, etc. Now I did everything along the way, but it proved to be effective in the end.

The platform is good for telling people what you’re doing, but what you miss there is the interaction part. So you need to connect the campaign with Facebook.

How many people you know are also crowdfunding?

In the past three months, there were maybe 4 campaigns of people I know.

Would you crowdfund again?

Yes, I think it is a great way to create something. I learned a lot on the way.
In the future, I would like to organize a workshop and a concert with another group of musicians or a musician. I would use crowdfunding again to involve people, because they would get a live experience rather than a product. I am still thinking about that.

For me, crowdfunding is a way to finance yourself when you start. If there is a strong crowd there to support you, then yes, why not try it several times. However you need to find a way to get funding to make money in a business-kind-of-way and crowdfunding isn’t really for that. Public funds are also there to help you get started. Nevertheless, I am also very green in the world of music, I just finished my second year of being an independent musician, recently graduated. But I would try not to rely too much on any kind of external funding. Public funds cannot maintain all art initiatives in Amsterdam. Public funds are also a form of crowdfunding – people paying taxes, but not always aware that their money also goes to art. Less so in the recent years, though.