For all the talk about how difficult it is for musicians to make a living today, and how there are all sorts of challenges, it's quite interesting to see that other people in other professions are increasingly looking to the growing number of success stories
to see what they can learn. Music manager Emily White recently alerted us to the fact that she's taking some of the lessons learned working with artists like Amanda Palmer, and applying them elsewhere as well. For example, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Anthony Ervin recently began a "comeback" attempt, and needed to find support to go "on tour," competing for the US on the World Cup circuit. Apparently, expenses for such a trip are entirely on the athlete. So Ervin started doing what artists often do: connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy
But what’s more spectacular than the times, places, and races is Anthony’s unusual and creative marketing campaign and his unorthodox methods for connecting with fans and formulating his own brand. It’s something we’ve never really seen before. And as some of the post-Olympic sponsorship money begins to dry out for elite swimmers, it could be a precedent going forward -- a way to generate and self-brand and connect with fans, a way to keep going.
A big part of this was an IndieGoGo campaign
last fall, which raised $12,704, by really reaching out to his fans. And, as with typical crowdfunding campaigns, he's let some of his unique personality come through with the campaign and the possible awards. Since he's well known for dabbling in music as well, he offered to write people their own songs. And, of course, he also has offered up private swimming lessons for big donors as well.
What struck me about this is an entirely new way for swimmers to fund some of the more expensive swim tours out there. By providing creative incentives – like singing a song, or making a phone call – Anthony is literally giving back to the swim community dependent on the amount of support he gets. Also, throughout the Tour, Anthony’s journey is being updated. So not only can you donate, and then receive an autographed postcard, but you can also feel like you’re on the World Cup tour with him. Check out his Tweets, or his website. He’s uploading pictures of him talking to kids in Sweden, traveling around Russia.
It’s almost like Anthony has embraced some of the rock band roots he has and created his own “rock tour” of Europe, partially funded by his very own street team of loyal supporters. What’s amazing about all this is that bands have been doing this for years. Start-ups, films, photographers, long-distance athletes, too. And now, we’re seeing Olympic swimmers take to the Internet, to help fund their travels and excursions and training.
Of course, some may argue that there's nothing "new" here. And, to some extent, that's absolutely true. Lots of people are doing crowdfunding for different things these days. But it's still neat to see that these kinds of ideas are permeating into different areas where they haven't been used before, and that people elsewhere are taking their cue from some of the success stories in the music business. At the very least, it suggests that, perhaps, those embracing these new music business models aren't just on the right path, they're blazing a nice trail for tons of other areas as well.