Kickstarting a Big Blue
April 4, 2015
There is a misunderstanding that still rears its not very good-looking head from time to time in the harp world. This is the idea that harp makers can act as artist managers. We can’t – not very well, anyway – because we’re not managers: we make and sell harps. Clever manufacturer sponsorship should be more about carving out directions that artists can develop, continue and continue to benefit from independently. As part of this, Harpblog also tries to keep its ear to the ground and publicise other useful opportunities.
Crowdfunding’s been hot for longer than this, but we first heard about it in 2010, when Keziah Thomas used the Kickstarter platform to fund a new commission. The 2012 Dutch Harp Festival used a similar principle to fund their Real Men Play The Harp concert, and there have been many other examples. There are many crowdfunding platforms to choose from – Kickstarter, IndieGogo, RocketHub, 8-Bit Funding, Community Funded, etc – and a handy Crowdfunding Bible you can download for free here.
Crowdfunding is interesting for creative artists because it is best applied to one-off, individual projects. It is realistic and practical, requiring you to offer incentives for people to sponsor you. Another key aspect is something intrinsic to the survival of any art form: good communication of why you love what you’re doing.
Lara Somogyi recently used Kickstarter to buy a blue harp, and create an internet video album showcasing the instrument.
“I was overwhelmed by the final response”, she says. “Kickstarter provide a lot of advice about how to design an effective campaign. You need to be persistent and focused in expressing your passion – if people see that you really care about something, you have good reason to do so, and that you’re prepared to work hard to make it happen, then they respond to that. I did a lot of networking, particularly through social media, with people who had similar interests and who I therefore hoped might want to read about my project. It’s also important to share other people’s projects, so that they’ll spread the word about yours in turn.”
Lara’s budget was based on the price of an older second-hand blue harp. We were so impressed by her funding campaign that we made her the best offer we could on a new ex-display model instead. Her Big Blue Sessions are now in full swing. They explore voices for the blue harp in pop music, which the instrument generates entirely independently – no other instruments, no backing tracks. Everything is done by the harp itself, and the sound processing connected to it, such as loop pedals.
Follow the Sessions on Lara’s YouTube channel.