Top 20 Kickstarter Tips and Tricks. Part 1: The Video

I recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, Vicki's Wish. We beat our goal, and learned a lot about what works and what doesn't, which I wanted to share here. I didn't want to leave anything out so it'll come at you in 3 separate parts, Part 1: the Video; Part 2: Social Media; Part 3: Self-Promotion.  

The video part of your Kickstarter presentation is the first and sometimes the only thing people will look at. They might not read your bio, they'll scan the page for images, but they might not read your life story in words. 

They will, however, click "Play"...

Here's my list of Top 20 Tips for your Kickstarter video presentation:

  1. Get to the point with a concise video. iMovie/MovieMaker is your friend. Cut it down. Not too short (no shorter than 2min or 2:30) but not too long (10 mins is too long. I never watch KS videos that go that long. Do you?) A 15 or 30 second movie trailer can make you want to watch a movie (I'm not advocating a 30 second KS video, that won't cut it) but a 3 minute KS video should be able to communicate what you need without losing the viewer's attention.
  2. Watch as many KS videos as you can. Take notes of what you like and what you don’t like about each one.  Watch KS videos outside of your genre. Watch many different videos in many different genres and figure out what it is about them that makes YOU want to give money to a project or not.  Note: Don’t just watch super-successful projects’ videos, watching a couple weaker projects’ videos can be beneficial too!
  3. Show your face. Backers want to see your smiling mug.
  4. Be genuine
  5. Be positive! :) but not fake. You’re excited about this project, energized, pumped - communicate that to your viewers!
  6. Write down what you’re going to say, but then do not read it word for word like a script. Hit the main points but keep it conversational. Don’t ramble. Don’t say "um".
  7. Watch your video. Ask for feedback from others before you post it.
  8. If you’re a musician, play your best music asap
  9. Same for artists, show your best artwork as soon as possible. Don’t save your best stuff for the end of your video - a lot of KS videos don’t get played to completion, so get some of your favorite/best work out in the first 30 seconds!
  10. The internet surfing crowd is a visual crowd.  If you’re a non-visual genre project (like music or a novel), find ways to get visual. Show yourself. Clips of live shows. Clips of music videos. Your friends wearing your band’s t-shirt. Album covers you already have out. Drafts of album covers you are thinking about putting on your next album.  Anything and everything related to you and your KS project.
  11. If you have 1 million plays on Youtube or thousands of Facebook friends, show us. Include  a quick screen shots of your plays or Facebook page.  If not, then don’t. Only put up what is impressive.
  12. Market yourself to strangers the way you’d describe your music to someone who’s never heard it. Why would they want to come see your show are the same reasons why would they want to give you money? Someone coming to your show has paid for a ticket to get in, it’s the same.
  13. Put your best foot forward at all times. Don’t put up tracks that aren’t mixed well.  Just as an author wouldn't put up an excerpt of their novel that has grammatical errors. 
  14. Put up lyrics, show off your poetry.
  15. Find as many ways as possible to tap into your current fan base. If you don’t have one yet, get out there and do shows.
  16. It is OK to show off! A bit. If you’re a smug d-bag, of course that won’t work either. Confidence sells. Sit up straight. Speak clearly, and tell strangers your elevator pitch for what your project is about.
  17. Have an elevator pitch for your project. Best you can. As short as you can, as clearly as you can. 30 seconds.  Record yourself saying it and time yourself. Listen. Practice. Repeat.
  18. Now is not the time for modesty. Why are you awesome? Tell us. This is not a job interview. This is not a first date. Your goal is to get the people that see your KS page to give you money.  And to hook them within the first 30 seconds of your video. If your video is weird or off-putting in any way in the first 30 seconds, you’ve lost many of them.
  19. Even if stranger backers start at only giving $1, that is huge! The key is getting strangers ‘on your team’ ASAP.  Once they are, make sure all your backers are following you on facebook and Twitter. Include links and reminders in your backer updates. They’ll get all your updates you send out on KS and social media and they’ll feel closer to you if you write personally and THANK THEM for their contribution. 
  20. There is a very good chance that if you do a good job in establishing a positive relationship with your backers there is a good chance they will RAISE their pledges. They do not have to commit to $1, they can raise it at any time to any price they want. Get them to love you and they will.
More about Social Media and your Kickstarter project in Part 2....

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"If you can't explain it simplyyou don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein

Beijing Punk: What happens when 1.3 billion Chinese discover punk?

Beijing Punk is a music documentary that follows underground punks through Communist China in the year of the Olympics.

It's available on as of today - free. You have to log in because well, they're punks, so they swear a lot (so you have to promise you're an adult/OK with hearing some 4 letter words). But it's in English. 

They're hilarious, serious, and extreme, but these punks are so charismatic, by the end of the film you can't help but love them. 

The film's been banned in China, so that alone speaks volumes to what the Chinese government does not want seen by their population. Which of course makes us want to see it even more.

Let's hope these Chinese bands get their chance to tour internationally soon so their music and voice can be heard.

The whole film on Hulu here:


"You don't have too much freedom, because the government will say "You do this, you don't do this. Don't speak this, you speak this...Nothing. You just speak 'We love China. We love Olympics.'"  --Lei Jun

"Keep on Keepin' On": a Clark Terry Documentary

Clark Terry is a jazz legend, I wanted to share and spread the news for this documentary "Keep on Keepin' On".

It's emotional, but a must-see.

KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON is the inspiring story of a jazz legend and one of his last students. The legend is 91-year-old Clark Terry, a man who played in the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands and mentored the likes of Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. His student is 24-year-old Justin Kauflin, a blind piano prodigy who struggles with stage fright but has a dream of following in his mentor's footsteps. 

When Justin is invited to compete in a prestigious jazz competition and Clark's health takes a turn for the worse, the film builds to an emotional climax, chronicling every heart-warming practice session and heart-breaking hospital visit. The result is an intimate portrait of two lives in music and of a teacher who continues to inspire even as he fights for his own survival. As Quincy Jones testifies: "He's one of god's gifts to this planet."

For more information on...

'Keep On Keepin' On' documentary:   Kickstarter page     Tumblr

Clark Terry:  Website    Wikipedia


“Clark Terry is the epitome of jazz trumpet, of jazz, and of human kindness. His playing is impeccable and original, scintillating, humorous, and brimming with pluckish wit and late-night pungence. His style is virtuosic and deeply intelligent. It cannot be identified by decade or era or style (as it is timeless and definitive of American Jazz and the profoundest aspirations of the jazzman): to be one of a kind, to endure, to inspire, to be truthful, to be accurate, to swing. He has inspired thousands of younger musicians and nourished us with his interest, his knowledge, and his love. His contributions go far beyond the bandstand and he will always be an indelible part of our lives, inseparable from our identity as musicians and people. We all love him deeply. And forever.”
—Wynton Marsalis

Elton John & the Muppets - 1977 - Crocodile Rock

Trip down memory lane. Elton John + the Muppets = music & television history.  Cee Lo Green was funny but has nothing on the original! 

"La la la la laaa"

This week in music history: August 15-21

August 15
1922 - Lukas Foss, [Fuchs], composer, born in Berlin, Germany
1939 - "The Wizard of Oz" premiered in Hollywood, CA. Judy Garland became famous for the movie's song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
1964 - MCA, [Adam Yauch], rock vocalist (Beastie Boys) born in NYC
1965 - The Beatles set a record for having the largest single crowd at a concert at Shea Stadium in New York. Attendance was 56,000.
1969 - The Woodstock Music and Art Fair began in Bethel, NY at Max Yasgur’s Dairy Farm. The 3-day concert featured 24 bands and drew over 400,000 people.
1991 - Paul Simon played a free concert at New York's Central Park in front of an estimated 750,000 people.

August 16
1876 - Wagner’s 3rd Ring Cycle opera "Siegfried" premiered at Bayreuth
1962 - Ringo Starr was picked to replace Pete Best as the drummer for the Beatles. Best had been with the group for about 2 1/2 years.
1974 - The Ramones played their first concert at New York's CBGB
1977 - Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 in Memphis, TN of coronary arrhythmia.
2003 - A U.S. postage stamp featuring Henry Mancini was unveiled. The design showed Mancini conducting while titles of his works scroll past on a screen behind him.
2005 - At her home outside London, Madonna suffered several broken bones in a horse riding accident. She was treated and released after cracking three ribs and breaking her collarbone and hand.

August 17
1838 - 138 singing teachers traveled to Boston, MA, to attend the first music convention.
1969 - After 3 days, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in New York came to an end.
1973 - Paul Williams (Temptations) was found dead by police. It was ruled a suicide.
1986 - 42 people were beaten or stabbed at a Run D.M.C. concert in Long Beach, CA.
1998 - Carlos Santana received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

August 18
1777 - Giuseppe Scarlotti, composer, died at 54
1876 - Wagner’s 4th and final Ring Cycle opera, "Götterdämmerung", premiered at Bayreuth
1969 - Donald E Wahlberg Jr (New Kids on the Block), born in Dorchester, MA

Mourners overcome by heat and emotion wailed to view
Presley's body at his Memphis estate
August 18
1750 - Antonio Salieri, composer, born in Italy
1956 - Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" reaches #1
1962 - Ringo Starr made his first appearance as a Beatle at a Cavern Club show.
1962 - Peter, Paul & Mary's "If I Had A Hammer" was released.
1977 - Funeral services for Elvis Presley were held at Graceland.

August 19
1881 - Georges Enesco, [or Enescu], composer, born in Romania
1964 - The 1st American tour by the Beatles began in San Francisco, CA. The tour would cover 26 cities.
1967 - Beatles' "All You Need is Love," single goes #1
2008 - Lady Gaga's album "The Fame" released.

August 20
1882 - Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" debuted in Moscow.
1967 - The New York Times reported about a noise reduction system for album and tape recording developed by technicians R. and D.W. Dolby. Elektra Record's subsidiary, Checkmate Records became the first label to use the new Dolby process in its recordings.
1973 - The Rolling Stones released "Angie."

August 21
1893 - Juliette Marie Olga Lili Boulanger, composer, born in France
1904 - [William] Count Basie, born in Red Bank, NJ
1923 - In Kalamazoo, Michigan, an ordinance was passed forbidding dancers from gazing into the eyes of their partner.
1938 - The classic song "Ain't Misbehavin'" was recorded by Fats Waller.
1980 - Linda Rondstadt made her debut on Broadway. The production was Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance."
1992 - Sting and Trudi Styler married.