JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

I’m in the March Classical Singer magazine talking about CD fundraising!

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So I received my March edition of Classical Singer magazine, and there I was – interviewed in the “Tech-Savvy Singer” article about singers using Kickstarter to fundraise!

As many of my facebook friends will know, I decided to turn to fundraising to help with my most recent CD project, “Voices of Spring”.  Since my first two albums were Christmas CD’s, I wasn’t too worried about making back the money I spent producing them.  The first CD in 2006 did not have a huge budget, and I made a profit that very first year.  The second CD in 2009 involved much more time and money, but sales were still good enough to essentially make back the money by the second year.

But I’ll be honest – I was worried about how much money I could make on a very niche CD – Viennese and American operetta.  As the expense of the project got larger and larger, I had the idea to ask for sponsorship.  I took the approach that many orchestras and theatres use – people get their names listed in exchange for giving money to the project (along with a few other rewards).  One random Friday night in the late summer of 2010, I wrote up a letter, and came up with a plan.  Then I threw it out there in to the universe (mostly via Facebook and email) and waited to see what came back.  Happily, the request was met by donations right away, and they continued to come in as I approached my deadline.

I also got the idea from a singer acquaintance to try a website called Kickstarter to seek out funding.  (And because of that, I got interviewed for Classical Singer!)  I wasn’t totally thrilled with Kickstarter’s platform – you have to make ALL of your goal or you get nothing.  My project was already recorded and I was paying lots of money to get it through the production process, so I didn’t care if I only got a small percentage of my goal – anything was going to help.  As a result, I did not push the Kickstarter aspect of my fundraising.  I stuck mostly to Facebook and email, which proved VERY successful – and I knew that I’d get those donations no matter what.  In the end, I made over 90% in sponsorship to cover my CD project expenses.  (There is an error in the Classical Singer magazine – my Kickstarter goal was $1000, but my overall project goal was much higher, and I fundraised more than the $900 listed in the article.)  Some people were able to give larger sums of money, and I was SO grateful for their generosity, BUT, I was also immensely thankful for every single $25 donation I received as well!  I was not only happy to have the money to use to pay off most of my project, but was emotionally touched by the generosity of my friends and family who stepped in to help me out.

I noticed that I had quite a different approach in my fundraising from the other singer that was interviewed in the article.  She was very targeted in asking people for money, and asked people specifically.  Honestly, I felt really weird to be asking people for money, so I kept it very general.  I put it out there and let people decide for themselves.  I never wanted anyone to feel like they were being guilted into giving me a donation.  I let people know about it, then moved on.  And it worked!  🙂

CD sales were okay for 2010 and into the first part of 2011, but I got no where near making back the amount that I spent on the project.  So the fundraising was absolutely the way to go!  We’re in a new world economy – one that is not essentially kind to performing artists.  That’s why so many of us must charge forward and find new ways to make things happen!  I like to think that in some small way, that’s exactly what I’m doing!

Jennifer Graf's "Voices of Spring" CD.

Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

One thought on “I’m in the March Classical Singer magazine talking about CD fundraising!

  1. I checked out Kickstarter and wasn’t impressed with the percentage taken out, or the need to raise everything, or get nothing. I suppose it provides incentive, but sometimes goals aren’t met, or deadlines need to be stretched out.

    I read your article- excellent!

    I ultimately think the best bet is to use a donation button on your blog or website through PayPal. Congrats of the CD!


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