The Profitable Musician Show | Gail Taylor | Kickstarter For Musicians

 

Success in music isn’t just about hitting the right notes; it’s about turning life’s curveballs into melodies. In this episode, Gail Taylor reveals how to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign for musicians. She shares her firsthand experience utilizing Kickstarter and shows how it is a game-changing platform for musicians. Learn how challenges can become opportunities and personal connections can be stepping stones to success. Gail also shares sneak peeks at her upcoming book, Curveballs, which has her testimony of overcoming life’s unexpected challenges and the power of resilience. Tune in now and make your musical dreams a reality!

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Mastering Kickstarter: How Musicians Can Fund Their Projects And Hit Their Goals With Gail Taylor

I’m excited to be here with my friend, Gail Taylor. She’s a returning guest on the show, and we’re going to talk about a few different things than we did last time. Last time, we talked a lot about getting a business plan together. She has a finance background but she has gone fully into the artistic side. She’s explored a lot of cool income streams that we’re going to talk about, including Kickstarter, but before we get into that, Gail, why don’t you give us a recap if they didn’t read our previous episode? What’s your background? How did you get into music? What made you decide to move more fully into music and speaking in your 60s?

Bree, thanks for having me back. I’m honored to be here. This is cool. What happened was at the age of 58, I decided to take piano lessons. I was a financial advisor for 25 years, and I loved it. I liked my career. At the age of 58, I decided to take piano lessons. I had no music background. I’m learning scales. I’m starting from scratch. I fell in love with it. Music started flooding back into my life, and it was amazing. After two years of piano lessons, and I was in grade three at that point, I thought, “I’m loving this so much. I’m already financially independent. I’m going to retire a little sooner than I had planned and study music full-time.”

At 61, I sold my practice and started studying music full-time, and because of the online world we’re in, I got to study with Berklee. It was amazing. You don’t have to audition. You just have to pay, and you get these amazing programs. I was studying with Berklee, a couple of universities locally here that I took courses with, and private teachers. I had bass guitar lessons, ear training, and songwriting. I was taking it all. After two more years, I thought, “I’m going to reinvent myself as a musician.”

When I shared that story with people, I kept getting over and over again, “That is so inspiring. I’m going to do some dream I had put on the back burner.” I was hearing this from people I knew. I was hearing it from strangers. I was hearing it so much that I thought, “I’m coming out of retirement, starting a business, Gail Taylor Music, and becoming a keynote speaker.” I have spoken for 20 to 30 years in finance, “I’m going to become an inspirational keynote speaker and help folks become their best selves. I’m going to use my music and personal stories.” My subjects are empowering women, addiction, and leveling up. That’s how the journey started, and that’s how I got here.

That is so cool. It’s brave to start a whole new thing, not just starting a new career. I have a lot of people in my community who have done music on the side or did music when they were younger. They put it aside for their kids or their career, and then when they retire, they go back to it, but you started from full-on scratch at age 58. That is incredible, brave, and inspiring to people who may have had a dream but thought, “I didn’t learn when I was a kid. It will be too hard. I won’t be able to do it. It won’t come naturally.” Hats off to you.

Thank you so much.

Once you got going with your music career, speaking, and all that stuff, what were you looking to do? Were you wanting to help inspire other musicians as well? Your talks were inspiring women, but it seems like what you also had a heart to do was to get other people to do what you did, which is go out there on a limb and follow your dream.

Leveling up fits in that category because that’s one of the things that I found with musicians. I’ve written a song. My catalog has about thirteen songs. They have lyric videos, and they’re all inspirational songs, but I found that a lot of folks in the music industry thought that if they hit the age 30, then that was it. They had to leave the industry altogether if they hadn’t made it and start something that they didn’t enjoy. My speeches are designed to say, “Stay in the industry that you love and pivot into how you approach that even from an income standpoint.” You and I talked a little bit before about all the different ways that you can generate income from music, and there are so many of them.

Stay in the industry that you love and just pivot into how you approach that. Share on X

People don’t realize how many there are, but they also might not have the strength to do it. I’m happy that you’re out there giving them that little shove or push. I know that you even are writing a book about this. Does that stem out of the talks that you’ve done? What made you want to put it in book form?

It is an accompaniment to go with the speech. This is the second book I’m going to pen. I wrote a book on finance. I used to teach at the University of Alberta for the Faculty of Extension. I taught Introduction to the Financial Markets, and I couldn’t find a textbook that I liked that worked for my course, so I wrote one. This was published in the early 2000s. This is my second time at this.

I hired an entertainment lawyer when I got into the business and started figuring out where I was going to go. He was the one who recommended, “You should write a book to use as credibility to help share your stories with people who aren’t going to hear you speak.” That was where the idea came from. From there, it continued to grow. I did the Kickstarter project but I’m still in the middle of it. This is going to be after the fact but I’ve hit 100% of my target, and now I’m going on to hit 1,000%.

We will talk about the Kickstarter in a second because I want to dive deep into that. Having written a book myself too, you’re right about the credibility. It’s also something to put on your merch table when you’re there at an event, and you’re speaking. People can take it home or give it to somebody who can’t be there. My book is up there on the shelf.

I wanted to bring this up as another income stream for musicians because I have several people in my community who have written books about different aspects of their career either on the inspirational side or something that they have great experience in like songwriting or even making money as an independent artist. I know some people who have written books on that. You may think that you don’t have anything to give as an author. What do you say to that, Gail? What made you think, “I’ve got something to say as an author.”

I’m guessing the majority of your audience has something to say as an author. You brought forward questioning yourself, “Do I have something to say? Can I write a book?” There are a lot of little online courses and opportunities out there. You can say, “How do I write my first book?” You learn, “How do I write my first song?” It’s the same thing.

One of the courses that I took at Berklee School of Music was music business. In the music business part, they said, “Here’s where your income streams come from.” If I can remember, there were 24 of them, and writing was one of them. Write a book with your stories. Talk about what inspired your song. The way that I’m going to do it is each chapter is going to have a personal story, something that was challenging in my life, and the tools that I learned how to use through personal growth. It will have a little QR code to a song that I wrote that was inspired by that story.

For the audiences, when you’re trying to decide what out of all those different options of revenue, “Which direction should I go?” find the one you like and that you’re passionate about. If you like being on stage and speaking, then do the keynote concert or speaking. You can do the writing, the Kickstarter, the royalties, and the merchandise. There are so many of them.

When you're trying to decide what, out of all those different options of revenue, should you go, find the one you like and the one that you're passionate about. Share on X

I love the idea of the song and the QR code. That’s almost like an expanded liner notes into a book. Everyone here can identify with liner notes. A lot of times, we want to say so much about the songs that we have written but we feel like we can’t afford to make a big booklet that goes with our album, especially if we feel like nobody is buying the album because they’re all listening to streaming. Maybe instead, what they do is buy the book, use the QR code, go to our website, and listen to our music that way. I love that idea.

When I started listening to music in the ’70s and the ’80s, we did albums, and there were 3 or 4-page booklets in those albums. The liner notes were quite extensive and an exciting part of the music journey.

It’s like getting a book with your album. That’s a great way to go. Let’s talk about the Kickstarter. You’re doing the Kickstarter specifically to help pay for you writing the book. Is that how it came together?

The way that Kickstarter works is that the intent is to pick a project, and then you set yourself up on the Kickstarter site to fund the project. I had to pick a project. My project was to raise the funds to write my book and to go on the speaking circuit for one year. It was very similar. There was another musician. Amanda was her name. She did a keynote and ended up with over $1 million. The way she worded it was, “I would like to raise the funds to write my album and to go on tour for a year.”

The Profitable Musician Show | Gail Taylor | Kickstarter For Musicians

Kickstarter For Musicians: The way that Kickstarter works is to pick a project, and then you set yourself up on the Kickstarter site to fund the project.

 

I modeled it, “I’ll write my book and go on the speaking circuit for a year.” Once you get your project up and designed, then you raise the funds and offer rewards. They’re giving you pledges and rewards. You can pledge as little as $10 on mine. The reward is you’re pre-ordering the digital copy of my book. You could pledge $2,500, and it’s $1,000 off the price for one of my keynote speeches for a conference.

That’s interesting. You’re pre-selling your appearances on your speaking tour.

That’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re booking up yourself for the next year, the next eighteen months, or whatever timeframe that you’re doing it. My merch is inspirational pendants that I use to say, “If you’re in your head and having negative thoughts, rub your pendant and get out of your head.” That’s one of the rewards. If you do $35, you get a pendant. It’s me bringing my business to light through Kickstarter.

Why did you choose Kickstarter? One of the things that scares musicians about Kickstarter is that if you don’t make your goal, you lose your funds. Why did you decide to take that risk?

What happened was when I did take that course at Berklee on the business of music, that was one of the things. One of our assignments was to write up a crowdfunding project. I said to the professor, “I want my project to be real. This isn’t just an assignment for this course. At some point in the future, I’m going live.” He read it, gave me some ideas that should be different than what I did, and recommended that I use Kickstarter as opposed to Indiegogo or some of the other platforms.

When I continued to do my work and my research about it, here’s what I found out, and here’s the good thing for your audiences to know about the amount. First of all, you’re going to reach your target by friends, family, and colleagues. When you pick your amount, whether you make it $2,500 or $5,000, and I made mine $10,000, you have to be pretty comfortable with that amount that your friends, family, fans, and colleagues will support you for that end.

You have to market it before it goes live. I hired a consultant for a one-hour session and learned this. If you want the algorithm to pick you up and you want yourself to trend, then you have to pretty much reach your target in the first 24 hours. Whatever your goal is, you’re pre-selling. I was phoning my friends, my family, and everybody that I knew from back in my university and asking them, “Will you pledge? How much?” Before I went live, I knew how much I already had in the camp.

What happened for me was in the first 24 to 48 hours, I got $7,500 of the $10,000. That was enough for the algorithm to pick me up for Kickstarter to look at my project, come back, and say, “This is one of the projects that we love. Congratulations. We have picked you up as a project we love. We will give you all the marketing materials saying that we have given you this designation and also share you across our platform.”

There could be some momentum from strangers. I didn’t get a lot of momentum at that point, and I still continued to work through social media, friends, and family and ended up hitting my target. I’m doing a lot of podcasts, and some of them are being aired before the Kickstarter ends. Fingers crossed that it will hit a higher amount. That’s an important thing for folks to know. If they want to use Kickstarter and hit that target, make sure that they have enough people in their lives who are going to help start them to get the momentum to get the strangers.

That is important because a lot of musicians tend to think that Kickstarter is about reaching new strangers, and it might be eventually, but you have to know that most of your money is going to come from family, friends, and people who know you, your family, and your friends. People who knew me as a kid who are now in their 70s or 80s and have a little extra money that they could throw my way would be the people that I would expect to give, not someone who hasn’t met me yet or someone who follows me on social media. Knowing that you’re supposed to do all that work before you even open the Kickstarter is so important. That is such a great piece of advice that you gave.

You can go on Kickstarter, set it all up, put all your pledging amounts, get your videos going, and make your date to go live 30 days from that so that you still have the material to market with, “Here is my pre-launch.” You would be surprised. Maybe your social media followers aren’t going to contribute but I had folks contributing that I hadn’t talked to in twenty years. If you can show that there are enough folks out there who believe in you and this journey that you’re on, then you’ve got the chance of getting a little bit of momentum.

That is so key. Generally, people want to be on a winning team. They’re not going to be the first person to go out there and say, “I’ll give,” when they don’t see that other people are giving. That’s why you have to get your family and friends on board. When they see that it’s going well, and it’s going to probably materialize into a project, then they’re going to be more willing to give.

I also noticed all the analytics going up across the board. Since I’m doing Kickstarter, more people are listening to my music on Spotify and YouTube and checking out my website. It does create that traffic. I once had somebody say to me, “Crowdfunding is okay if you have a crowd.” You have to have an idea that there are folks out there who believe in you.

The Profitable Musician Show | Gail Taylor | Kickstarter For Musicians

Kickstarter For Musicians: Since doing Kickstarter, more people are listening to my music on Spotify and on YouTube and checking out my website.

 

It’s not gather-a-crowdfunding. Take the crowd you already have and get them to fund it.

You would be surprised at how much people like to step up and help you. Another thing I’ll share with you about Kickstarter is that this is something else that I learned from the homework that I did on how to do it. That’s the video that you open your Kickstarter with. When people go on your Kickstarter, the first thing they do is click on a video of you telling your story, why you’re doing the Kickstarter, and what you’re all about. That video is everything.

Do you put your music in the video? Is it just talking?

It’s mostly talking but I do have music playing in the background.

I had a conversation with an artist once who approached me about their Kickstarter, and I was like, “I appreciate your story but I don’t hear any music in this video. I don’t have any idea what your music is like.” This is someone I didn’t even know. They said, “I am making my Kickstarter to create my music.” I’m like, “We at least have to have some sense of what your music is like for people to invest in you beyond your family and friends that might know you.”

“Here I am, somebody that doesn’t know you. You’re approaching me, and I have no idea what kind of music you make.” I would want to at least feel like it was something that I would want to support. That seemed strange to me. I get what she’s saying, “I’m raising the money to make my album,” but at least put an acoustic recording of yourself, a live recording, or something so people can get a sense.

A demo or something is not a bad idea. I put two of my songs. You have that one video when you first go on the site that tells you about the project and the story, and that video is for any Kickstarter backers to decide whether they want to look further into this page. As you go down my page, I give a little excerpt from the intro of my book. If you scroll down a little more, there are two of my songs and the video link to listen to my songs on YouTube and watch the video. I’m with you. Putting as much in there so that they can get to see what you’re all about and what your music is all about is important.

Is there anything else that you wanted to share with people about Kickstarter as you were going through it that you learned or that you think musicians need to know?

The biggest thing, and we touched on it already, is that if you want the algorithm to pick you up, the more people that you can get backing you, the better. My challenge is the amount of people. I generated $10,000, and 46 people did that. If you could have 2,000 people give you $10,000, you would have a better chance of the algorithm continuing to show you front and center more often. I’m always saying on these podcasts that are coming out before the Kickstarter is over, “If my story resonates with you, go on my Kickstarter, pledge $10, and pre-order the book.”

The more people I could get to do $10 and pre-order the book, the better chance that I have of the momentum that the site is looking for. That’s what is key. Do your homework. I shared with you everything I did in my homework. I don’t know how much more there is. Make sure that you’re prepared and that you have the time to work with it. I sent out a lot of emails to raise $10,000 and those 46 people. I sent out hundreds of emails to my mailing list once a week. I was posting all the time. I was doing crazy TikToks and rapping about my video.

I saw some of those. I loved it.

It’s a campaign, and it’s going to consume a lot of your time while it’s live. The other thing is that they say 30 days is the perfect amount of time. I did mine for 45, and all I can say is thank God I did it for 45 because it took me the first two weeks to figure out what the heck was going on. The fact that I had 45 days gave me the opportunity to continue to work on getting the momentum.

You don’t stop at 100%. If you look at these projects, there are people who go after $10,000 and get $200,000 or go after $35,000 and get $1 million. That was what I was hoping. I was hoping that I could get the momentum to push me into that $100,000 or $200,000 area with other people who would resonate outside of my family and friends. I’m still optimistic. If you’re reading this, you can probably check and see how I did because it will be over, fingers crossed.

The nice thing is that you do this Kickstarter, and they can get $10 and pre-order your book. When the Kickstarter is over, they can still pre-order your book. Are you able to turn your marketing from Kickstarter to getting people to pre-order your book as it’s coming out in the spring?

There is no doubt of the momentum that I was able to get in the campaign that I’m on. I’ll be sending people to my website. It’s GailTaylorMusic.com. I’ll have a place in my store where I sell my pendants, keynote speeches, and custom songs. That was another one that Berklee brought forward to make money as a musician, and I’ve been doing that too. I found the areas that resonated with me.

I’ve seen several artists put custom songs into their Kickstarter as a high-level reward.

I did too.

It’s fun, especially if they can get a custom song for a big anniversary, a birthday, or something like that.

I dropped $1,000 off my price. It’s a good deal for the Kickstarter folks too.

Let’s pivot. This all comes together. I love that you’re melding all these income streams of the music, the custom songs, the speaking, and the writing. It all fits together so well. As far as the keynote concerts that you do, you’ve got three programs. That’s pretty amazing. When I was doing this type of thing, I had my one signature program that was about my life but then I had ones that went for different holidays. I had a Christmas one and a patriotic one. How hard was it for you to come up with these programs? Sometimes musicians are very intimidated by the idea of coming up with a program versus getting up there and singing some songs.

It was similar to yours when you talked about how you had the core one with the personal stories. There are many differences. I broke the personal stories into three categories. I have a number of different stories. I might share one of them across the board. I might share one of them with this group only. It is about personal stories. For me, because I’m not a live musician, I use my videos and my songs on YouTube or download them onto the computer, and they throw them up on the big screen.

I don’t play live music at the event. I’m not that talented. Starting later in life, I did get pretty good. I’m playing a lot of my songs in the last EP that I did that I recorded in Nashville. I’m playing the keyboards on it but it’s studio. I played them in the studio. In some cases, I had the speed of the song faster than I could play. I would play it at 1 BPM, and then they would speed it up. It’s so creative. I love this world of technology. In my videos, I’m on there live but it’s the lip singer. I’m only pretending to play my guitar.

This is encouraging to musicians. Many people come to me and say, “I can’t play live. I don’t play an instrument well enough to accompany myself.” A lot of times, they’re too embarrassed to use tracks. I don’t have a problem with using tracks. If you’ve got a good system and good-sounding tracks, there’s nothing wrong with that but you’re even one step beyond that. You’re not even singing live. You’ve created these videos that are interactive for the audience. They’re seeing you up there, and then they’re seeing you live as you speak. I love that you’ve combined that and found a way around any limitations that you have.

The other thing too as a speaker is that you have to be careful because there are a lot of gigs that you can book that aren’t conducive to live music. They don’t have the wherewithal. Especially if it’s a big group, when they pull you up on stage, you have 45 minutes. There’s no setting up, tearing down, and hooking into a mixer. You’re getting up there, doing your speech, and getting down. To use the big screen and to share your music that way does work when you’re speaking. I can get them all up dancing. I can get them out of their comfort zone. I can get that dopamine happening without being able to do the live musician thing.

That’s smart. I did a conference center in Wisconsin. I was flying. I didn’t bring any instruments. They didn’t have a keyboard. I was going to use tracks but then they didn’t even have a speaker. I had to hook it into this tiny little thing that hooked to their computer system that was in the main speakers. It’s whatever the hotel has. You’re working around people who are not thinking like musicians. They don’t realize that you might need a microphone that’s not a mic that’s there for the speaker only because that’s not going to sound very good when you sing. Having ways to work around that is smart, and it makes you very mobile.

It allows you to go for that income stream even if you’re not a live musician. We know that touring is important for live musicians because there are no sales of CDs and albums. They pretty much have to sell their merch and get their fans from touring. If you’re not a touring musician, you could go on the speaking circuit if you have the gift of the gab. I always say that songwriting ended up being my superpower. The reason is that I talk so much, and songs are stories turned into lyrics.

The Profitable Musician Show | Gail Taylor | Kickstarter For Musicians

Kickstarter For Musicians: Touring is important right now for live musicians because there’s no sales of CDs.

 

I don’t even know that you have to have the gift of the gab. You have to be able to tell a story in a compelling way. All of you already do that through songwriting. You need to learn a different way of telling that story.

That’s a perfect analogy. I spoke in the finance world for 30 years. I’m going from the storyteller to the songwriter. For them to go from the songwriter to the storyteller is the same thing in reverse.

This has been so inspiring, Gail. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom about Kickstarter and writing a book. Is there any last thing you want to say, especially to those who may be late in their career and not quite sure if they could make the music thing happen?

Go for the components of it that you like and that you’re passionate about. If you’re enjoying it, then it’s the journey. To me, it’s the journey that matters. I say, “We’re here now. Here’s where we want to be.” We all know that’s the gap. What’s in between? There’s a gap. What do you have to do to get to your goal? That gap is the journey, and that’s the part you have to enjoy.

The gap between where we are and where we want to be is the journey, and that’s the part you have to enjoy. Share on X

Let them know how they can get your book because I know your book will also be super inspiring to them.

GailTaylorMusic.com is my website, and you will be able to pre-order it. As soon as the Kickstarter closes, the store will have the pre-order option there.

What’s the title of your book?

Curve Balls.

I love that title.

Life is going to throw curve balls at you. That’s the reality of living. You get curve balls and it’s not the curve balls that matter. It’s how you handle them. It’s how you deal with them. That’s the part that is going to set you apart from the other folks.

If they would like to follow you on social media and see your fun reels and TikToks, which I’ve been enjoying, how can they follow you?

Everywhere. It’s @GailTaylorMusic on Instagram, @GailTaylorMusic on Facebook, and @GailTaylorMusic on TikTok. I’m on LinkedIn too. If you folks are on LinkedIn, you can find me there.

She’s everywhere. Thank you so much, Gail, for all of your wisdom and for sharing your excitement about becoming a musician with all of our audiences.

Bree, thank you for letting me be here. I’m honored. I said that at the beginning. I’m happy that I was able to share this time with you.

 

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About Gail Taylor

The Profitable Musician Show | Gail Taylor | Kickstarter For MusiciansGail Taylor is a Canadian songwriter, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and passionate advocate for the power of music to inspire change. Her catalog of 13 published songs draws from her life experiences and imparts invaluable messages, taking center stage in her speaking engagements.

For the past 35 years, Gail has stood on stages and spoke about finance and socially responsible investing. Her journey began in the business world, where she honed her skills and expertise. In the late 70’s, she embarked on a parallel journey, one dedicated to personal betterment and the art of setting and achieving goals. She is currently penning her second book – Curve Balls – personal stories and tools to inspire folks to take action in designing their own lives.