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WQXR Features

A Guide to Crowdfunding Web sites

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Crowdfunding is an online fundraising technique where individuals or organizations can raise money for anything from political campaigns to startup companies and creative projects. Over the last 15 years, crowdfunding has become a viable funding mechanism for many independent musical projects, such as compositions and recordings. Here are a few of the most popular crowd funding sites aimed at arts groups:

Site name: Kickstarter

Founded in: 2009

How it works: Artists set a fundraising goal; if this goal is met, the donors' credit cards are charged for their donation amount. If the goal is not met, no one is charged.

What sets it apart: Donors receive rewards for their contributions once the projects are ready, such as an early or limited-edition copy of what is being made.

Famous musical case studies: Brooklyn Rider used KickStarter for its recent album "Seven Steps," and Kronos Quartet used it for its "Kronos: Under 30 Project" a commissioning project to support the work of new composers.


Site name: ArtistShare

Founded in: 2003 

How it works: Artists using ArtistShare fund their projects with the "fan-funding" model, which allows fans to donate directly to the project, track the recording process, and usually gain access to extra material from the artists. 

What sets it apart: ArtistShare is documented as being the first crowdfunding Web site specifically for music. The “fan-funding” model was initially inspired and launched in 2003 in response to the increasing threat of digital piracy. 

Famous musical case studies: The jazz composer Maria Schneider has turned to ArtistShare for several recordings, including an upcoming project with soprano Dawn Upshaw, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.


Site name: United States Artists (USA) Projects

How it works: The general public can browse, learn about different artists and projects, and make tax-deductible donations to support them. Donors can give as little or as much as they want to. Many artists choose to offer thank-you gifts for various donation levels.

What sets it apart: The goal of USA Projects is not only to fund artists’ projects, but to help support them in other ways as well by providing educational resources, project development and personal support throughout the process. USA Projects is open primarily to artists who have been recognized for the quality of their work by having received a grant, fellowship, award or residency.  


Site name: Artspire

Founded in: 2011

How it works: A program of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), artists must apply to receive funding from Artspire. Organizations that apply must have a minimum budget of $15,000, and must be incorporated, or in the process of incorporating, as a nonprofit on the state level.

What sets it apart: Artspire uses NYFA’s 501(c)(3) status to allow people to make donations that are tax-deductible. This gives artists access to funding opportunities from foundations or corporate funders, which are usually restricted to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.


Site name: Creative Capital

Founded in: 1999

How it works: Creative Capital chooses its artists from across all disciplines through an application process. Working in long-term partnership with artists, Creative Capital provides funding and services over the course of each project, often working with artists from three to five years.

What sets it apart: Creative Capital uses a seven-year grant-making cycle, funding individual disciplines in different years and including a follow-up year to help artists through the production and premiere processes.

Famous musical case studies: Meredith Monk received a Creative Capital grant for her vocal piece Eclipse Variations.