This week on Art of the Kickstart, we have a slightly different type of interview! We spoke with Shawnee Kilgore, a musician whose Kickstarter project gave her the opportunity to work with screenwriter and director Joss Whedon. Tune in to hear more about why Kickstarter is a good fit for musicians, how to prepare to launch an album on Kickstarter and much more!

A Long and Precious Road: Shawnee’s New Full Length Album!

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Why Kickstarter is a good fit for musicians
  • How long it takes to prepare for a music project on Kickstarter
  • How to tell your friends and family about your Kickstarter project in a personal way
  • Why it’s important to be authentic throughout your entire Kickstarter campaign

Links

Shawnee Kilgore and Joss Whedon – Back to Eden (Official Music Video)

Connect with Shawnee Kilgore

Sponsors

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backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full service turnkey product development in crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped start ups raise over 100 million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert, in order to help you take your start up to the next level with crowdfunding.

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by Backer Kit and the Gadget Flow. Backer Kit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyers guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts.

Now, let’s get on with the show. Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined with Shawnee Kilgore. Shawnee, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Thank you for having me, Roy.

Roy Morejon:

Back in March of 2014, which seems ages ago in the universe of crowdfunding, you launched a campaign for an album, A Long and Precious Road. Let’s talk about where it all began for you.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Well, yeah, it was time to make a new album and it just really wasn’t going to happen unless I was able to do that campaign and get that funding. It was kind of the only way to make it happen. That’s what I did.

Roy Morejon:

How did you get introduced to crowdfunding or Kickstarter?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Well, I had a lot of musician friends. I had seen a lot of people do it. I had backed a lot of projects for other people. So, it was a pretty familiar thing at that time. Definitely just a natural, of course, that’s what’s going to happen. But yeah, a lot of friends and musicians gone before me.

Roy Morejon:

What do you think it takes to make an album or a music project a good fit for the Kickstarter community; because typically they’re lower funding raises in terms of bringing that product to market or the album or what have you? Why do you think Kickstarter is such a good fit for musicians

Shawnee Kilgore:

Well, I mean, the all or nothing thing, for sure. I think that’s good for everyone. It’s a really familiar … It’s the one that people are most familiar with and just being able to pitch in a couple bucks or ten bucks for a download. You don’t have to have a really high price point to start and just an easily shareable videos and yeah, it just works really well.

Roy Morejon:

What did you do? Let’s talk about your preparation to launch your Kickstarter campaign. How long did you start preparing and what were some of the things that you did to get the campaign ready and launched in early of March of 2014?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Gosh, how long was it? I mean, several months, for sure. Yeah, I guess, coming up with … Seeing so many people; their videos and how interesting those were, I definitely wanted to come up with a fun idea for that. Actually, I wanted to do my video out in an alley, like [inaudible 00:03:52] and I scouted out alleyways in Austin and planned all that out. Then just got shy and just ended up staying in my studio instead.

That was part of it, and coming up with rewards was a big part of it and writing the story, in a way that would draw people in and make it special. That took awhile as well. Really, just getting the guts up to push that button and launch, it takes a lot of courage to do that, for anyone, I think.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah, it absolutely does. If you were to say there was one factor that helped you get your project funded, and successful, do you think there was one thing that you could point to, or a series of things that happened?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Well, there are definitely things I did well; definitely things I did not do so well that I know better for next time, but I think one thing that really helped me was I made it as personal as possible in my outreach. It wasn’t just the Facebook blasts every day, it was being very careful about how I approached reaching out to people individually, and in a way that wasn’t just, “I’m going to cut and paste this message and just post, ‘Oh, hey. How is your daughter?’ And then launch into the rote thing.”

I really spent the month, really connecting with people. I even made spreadsheets and lists and stuff of if I made a post and someone liked that post, and then I reached out to them later, I wouldn’t want to reach out in a way that was brand new, introducing to the project, because already obviously they’ve seen it already. I was just very careful about how I reached out to people, and just did it as much one on one as possible. I think that was the best thing that I did, for sure.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Tell our audience kind of what happened while your campaign was active. You had a high figure celebrity kind of reach out and back your campaign and fund your campaign. Talk to our audience a little bit about that experience.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Sure. Yeah, it was … I think it was about a week in, maybe, I had about 40-something backers so far, and I got a fairly large donation from Joss Whedon, and that was a name that I knew, but I couldn’t ever remember who he was or what he had done. I was just always being reminded, because my boyfriend is in the game development industry and yeah, so I immediately wrote to him, “Wait, who is that again?”

Yeah, so Joss found … He just found my campaign, it was out of the blue, he was filming Avengers II, I think maybe he was in London at the time, I don’t really know. His reward was a personalized song, written for him, so yeah, it was an interesting few weeks. How is this possible? That this is totally weird. There’s no way it’s him, but it would be so much stranger if it wasn’t.

When the campaign was over I emailed him, as you do, and asked how he wanted to go about writing a song, and yeah, we ended up writing one together. That was Big Giant Me. It went well enough that we thought we should just keep going and see what happened. Well, there you go, wonderful friendship and creative partnership was born.

Roy Morejon:

Do you think that would have happened without … Was he a fan before? Had you ever interacted with him before? Did you … Was this his first campaign that he had ever backed?

Shawnee Kilgore:

It was one of the first, yeah. No, he certainly had never heard of me before. He was … Just kind of went on a Kickstarter binge, I think, for awhile, while he was filming the movie. Yeah, first introduction and just he … I know, in particular, he said that one of … I was holding up cards like Bob Dillon in the alley and one of them said, “Learning how to ask for help.” That really moved him.Roy Morejon:
Yeah, that’s the true nature of crowdfunding, right? I mean, you can only take friends and family support for so long and it’s time to put that idea out there, that project, that album, that idea and try and see if it resonates with the audience of the crowdfunding community, that’s global. That’s great that you took the risk and took the chance and were rewarded appropriately for it.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Yeah, it worked wonderfully. I feel extremely lucky.

Roy Morejon:

After your campaign ended and you moved into production, what did that process look like?

Shawnee Kilgore:

We wrote our first single. Well, it wasn’t a single at the time, it was just a song, but we both really liked it. Ended up, in August of 2014, we put that song out on iTunes and put it out in the world and had a Buzz Feed article and kind of introduced people to this idea of us as co-writers. That was all done via email, we actually wouldn’t … We didn’t talk on the phone until the single was already out and then we didn’t meet for another year after that.

Almost all of the writing that we did was just via email. It was more comfortable that way, for us, for sure. We decided to do six songs and went to LA in January of last year and recorded at Ocean Studios in Burbank. Got a bunch of LA musicians together who were awesome and we just made this thing in five days there and brought it back and did some additional recording and mixing and all of that, back in Congress studios in Austin.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Yeah, that album came out in October of last year, and we also made a music video for the title track from the EP “Back to Eden,” which was a super incredible experience. I would like everyone in the world to see Joss’s music video debut, because it’s just stunning.

Roy Morejon:

We will certainly include it in the post when it goes live. Shawnee, tell me what’s the number one thing that you learned throughout the whole process of launching a Kickstarter campaign that you would tell to our audience, that’s potentially looking to Kickstart their album?

Shawnee Kilgore:

What would I say? Be as authentic as possible, I suppose. I mean, that’s definitely, my video … I wasn’t showered, my cat was in the background wearing her cone of shame, licking herself, but it was so me. At the time, however silly it seemed and how I felt like I should have been more brave and gone out and done the big production, I just really spoke in the truest voice that I had.

I don’t know what else to say.

Roy Morejon:

Be true and have a good story, right?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Yeah, and just be willing to ask. I know it’s a big thing that I’m still learning, for sure, but just set your sights on what you want to make happen and know that what you want to make happen is going to be a good thing for the world. It’s okay for you to ask for help for that, because that’s what you should be doing.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Sound advice there, Shawnee. All right, well this gets us into our launch round, where I’m going to rapid fire a few questions at you. Are you good to go?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Okay, sure.

Roy Morejon:

All right, first one, what inspired you to be a musician?

Shawnee Kilgore:

I was in love with the lead singer from the Australian rock band Silver Chair. I was 14 and they were 16 and I wanted to marry him. I didn’t care about anything else in life, it was really unhealthy. I needed to get famous or else he would never know who I was. There happened to be a guitar at my house. That was the completely non altruistic beginning to my music career.

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. If you could meet with any musician throughout history, who would it be?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Throughout history, oh golly, that’s a tough one. I’m thinking of a lot of people that exist right now that I would just like to hang out with, but I’ve already met two of my heroes, who are Ani DiFranco and Josh Ritter, but if I could really hang out, that would be wonderful too. The Beatles would be pretty great. Warren Zevon would be pretty great. Iggy Pop, I’d love to hang out with Iggy Pop.

Roy Morejon:

All right, let’s say you get to hang out with Iggy Pop, what would have been your first question

Shawnee Kilgore:

For Iggy Pop? Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe what his favorite game was as a child or something like that. I don’t think it would be music related. I think I would talk to him about magic and childhood, maybe.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. Any book you would recommend to our listeners?

Shawnee Kilgore:

Having to do with music, or just any book? Any book in general? I think my favorite book of all time is the Tao of Pooh. I would recommend that for anyone, it’s extremely sweet and fun and yeah, it gets you in a lot of good zen Winnie the Pooh wisdom there.

Roy Morejon:

Nice. Last question in the launch round, Shawnee. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Shawnee Kilgore:

I think it looks a lot like what it looks like now. I feel like it’s really working for people. That’s a good question and I don’t know.

Roy Morejon:

It is an unknown, it’s so young, right? But hopefully it continues to be bright for entrepreneurs and musicians alike.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Yeah, absolutely.

Roy Morejon:

Well, Shawnee, this wraps up our podcast, you’ve been awesome. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should go buy your albums.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Oh, sure. Well, www.shawneekilgore.com is my website. I would love for you to watch the video Back to Eden. I also have a Patreon page where I have been writing a song a week, or two songs a week, for the last three and a half years. I just celebrated the 100th week of posting those songs onto Patrion, so for a dollar a song, a dollar a week, you can have access to everything I ever write, and there’s some pretty … I just posted a song a couple of weeks ago from a house show that I did in Houston and it’s kind of about cannibalism and crazy stuff. But it was a tribute to them and it was really wonderful, and they loved it. That’s a good place to find me as well. Instagram.com, we also have a photographer and I love posting photos on there. I would love for everyone to hear Joss’s debut folk record, it’s super special, so I’m really proud of him and of us, for what we accomplished there.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Shawnee, thank you so much for being on the show. Audience, thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for all of the show notes, the transcript, links to everything we talked about, including videos, and of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors: The Gadget Flow and Backer Kit.

Shawnee, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Shawnee Kilgore:

Thank you, Roy.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart. It’s a show about building a business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit ArtofTheKickstart.com and tell us all about it. There, you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course, if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at ArtofTheKickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on EnventysPartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you again next week.