There’s a Steve Martin quote that has been running through my mind the past couple of days, and it’s particularly applicable when it comes to Language Room, an Austin band who sought $10,000 to buy a RV so they could tour without “killing each other,” to quote the band itself. Steve Martin was talking about the art of comedy, and he said that it’s not the idea, it’s the commitment to the idea that matters.
It’s really true. Every now and then we’ll have someone ask how they can protect themselves from someone else stealing their idea, and the answer is that you can’t, but it’s irrelevant. It’s rarely the idea itself that matters, it’s the execution of it, the devotion to it, the myopic commitment to its realization. People have been institutionalized for less, but it’s often what it takes.
Which brings us back to Language Room. Over the course of their project, the band posted 25 project updates, the vast majority being exclusive to their backers. They have embraced the backer-only functionality more than any other project currently running, and it’s seemed to work well for them, especially as many of their updates are informal and spontaneous. You really get a feel for their lives as both musicians and people, and you can feel their story developing in front of you, from the claustrophobia of the road to a video of their mom playing an impromptu piano recital.
There’s a Flickerstick quality to their story. (And +5 music nerd points if you got the reference.) And as you read our Q&A with the band below, you’ll be quickly struck by the same thing that nicely surprised us: they started out as total skeptics that Kickstarter would ever work for them. They just didn’t see how it could possibly happen. Ten large later, they have a different story to share. Here it is:
Tell us about your project.
I’m in a band here in Austin and all we’ve ever wanted to do is tour extensively and work our butts off to become a self-sustaining band. To this point we’ve never been able to stay out on the road longer than a couple weeks because four guys in a 4-Runner will kill each other if contained longer than that. We needed an RV. A friend of mine forwarded me a link to Kickstarter and I checked out the FAQ thinking, “What’s the catch?” I saw no catch and only amazing, goal-oriented people working to connect with those who wanted to help others. It was amazing. After my project idea was approved I was honestly still very skeptical but willing to try anything because that is what you do in an indie band, anything and everything. Well, it worked! I never would have thought we would have raised $10,000 on pledges in just over 3 weeks but we did and everyone who found the site for the first time raved about it to us. Great idea!
How did you decide on your rewards?
I looked at a couple other projects and the rewards they were offering and decided to try a few that pertained to our goal (the RV/copy of our album), a few funny ones (a rap by our drummer) and a few only we could offer (writing a song). I tried to keep it pretty simple but made sure people would feel it might be worth going to the next level of support for the higher incentive.
How many of your backers do you know personally?
I would guess about 1/2, give or take a couple. This number might actually be high though. It feels like there is a Kickstarter community that surfs the site looking for good causes to support. One guy in San Diego pledged $1000 to send us over our goal so that we would go out and play for him and his son. No idea who he is but we’re best friends now! :)
How are you going to be updating people as you go along?
I’m going to keep posting updates on our Kickstarter profile as long as I can. It’s so easy to do that it was fun for me. I usually do all the updating on all our sites for video, pics and things and it’s a pain dealing with formats and things but these guys got it down.
Have you learned/discovered anything from the experience?
I’ve learned that we really can do anything if we set our minds to it. I know it sounds cliche but if someone would have told me we would raise over $10,000 in less than four weeks I would have laughed but we did it. It has been so great to find such a wonderful community of people who are honestly and whole-heartedly working towards their goals and a surrounding community who want to help and be a part of those goals. I can’t wait to support another project myself now just to give back a little.
What was unanticipated about the experience?
The ease of use of the web site. It literally felt like everything I needed to get this goal reached and to contact my backers was right there at my fingertips. From charts to formatted emails I could customize for each level of backing to email notifications of new backers, comments and correspondence. It was just so well set up and easy to use.
What, if anything, would you change about your project?
I might have made each incentive level independent of the ones below it instead of including everything beneath each of the higher ones. It’s just a bit daunting now to combine them all and figure out what to send who, etc. That’s it.