By Phil Hood

Why do some crowdfunding campaigns go bonkers, while other seemingly worthwhile endeavors fizzle out? Just like making music, there’s no “secret sauce” that can guarantee a hit. But there are some similarities and guidelines that can be gleaned from successful projects that can help steer your project to success.

Wave finger triggers

Wave trigers sounds through motion via Bluetooth

Wave is a wearable MIDI controller to control sounds, effects and send commands with the motion of your hand. It was designed by a team at Genki Instruments in Iceland, and last week it raised $46,093 US dollars on Indiegogo. It’s been so successful that it exceeded its goal by 54 percent with 23 days still left to go in its fundraising period.

I got to wondering about what kind of musical instrument startup does best on crowdfunding sites. Who fails, who succeeds, and how does it all come about?

Drums using sensors to make any surface (including air) a drum are popular with crowdfunding sites. And for some reason most of them are European startups. Two years ago, the German artist Lizzy successfully crowdfunded her request for funds to build wearable drum outfits so she could dance while drumming, and while recording an album.


Last year Freedrums, an air drumming system that works with sensors on a pair of sticks and your shoes (somewhat similar to Aerodrums), raised an astounding $622,000 on Kickstarter to finish the design and manufacturing of its drums.

Spolum drum

Unusual drums also attract money. The Spolum drum is a unique tongue drum invented by Alexander Jerechinsky of Prague, Czech Republic. At first glance it looks a lot like many other tank drums. But Spolum has a twist. It has ten LEDs that are set up to help you learn what notes to hit. And a series of magnets inside the drum can be positioned to retune it. Those two features led a few thousand someones to send him a total of $324,000, more than 18 times what he was trying to raise.

And, then there’s the small charitable music campaigns. The band Atlas On Strike raised $723 for a new cymbal after their gear was robbed (some drummers get a whole set for that price!).

There have been lots of campaigns to raise funds for recording, for supporting new compositions in performance, for buying gear, for taking lessons, and everything else you can think of. It helps if you are already well-known. Benny Greb raised more than $100,000 for his recent DVD project. Other artists struggle to get friends to kick in $5K for a real recording session.

Three Rules For Your Crowdfunding Project
Why a product fails to gain traction is not always clear. But looking at dozens of products that succeeded as well as failed presents a few ideas.

First, your idea matters. Big moonshot ideas seem to appeal to the crowdfunding audience. Incremental improvements to snare drums and drum pedals may be worthy projects, but they don’t seem to appeal to the online audience like radical ideas do. Concrete solutions to everyday problems matter too, but it helps if the audience for your solution is large. If people can take pity on you because your gear was robbed you can raise a little dough. But if you just want money for a product that has no guarantee of being great — like your next album — it will likely be a struggle.

Second, your execution matters. If you’ve built a good prototype you’re already way ahead of the person who just has an idea.

Third, marketing your Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign is an art in and of itself. Lots of experts and even consultants can explain the process to you.

Read Drum! publisher Phil Hood’s Behind The Scenes blog each week at