Here's why musicals are almost always successful at crowdfunding
Posted on 9 May, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Arguably theatre’s most popular and mainstream forms, dance dramas and musicals, seem to have found the key to succeeding; not just as pieces of art but as forms that the public at large believes in and is willing to invest in.
Yes, we are talking about crowdfunding dance dramas and musicals and trying to see what these projects did in order to ensure success.
Allegiance the Musical
Let’s begin with the ‘big daddy’ of all musicals that was crowdfunded on Indiegogo: George Takei’s Allegiance the Musical. Well, of course, you may wonder why did George Takei take to crowdfunding — he could have funded it himself or better yet, his friends from the industry could have supported his endeavour to get the musical to Broadway! Right? Wrong — on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066; an order that would alter the course of history for thousands of Japanese families in America — thousands of Japanese American families were uprooted and moved to barricaded camps in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. And, this is the story that George wanted to tell. It is his story and that of thousands of others who received nothing but brute justice. Takei wanted art to become activism and that required the support of the public, and the public didn’t disappoint — the campaign raised $447,521, 178% of the target. This musical worked because people donating even $1 knew that they were becoming part of a movement and this feeling of being a community helped the campaign succeed.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has a unique concept — improv that lends itself to the whims and fancies of its audience. This unique musical had already been in action went it to Indiegogo for a crowdfunding campaign that would allow them to plan at West End. Their rewards were pretty straightforward — they put up their tickets along with some other perks such as customised videos as rewards. The strategy worked and the group delivered what they promised — “A West End run will give audiences what THEY want- finally a show which can provide something unique EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK (and some afternoons too).”
This dance drama was being front-lined by Sandip Soparkkar, a name that is well-known to people across the nation. The campaign on Wishberry absolutely used this fact to engage potential backers. The other thing that really helped Hyacinth was that the LGBTQ community came out in full support of the classic tale of love and vengeance. Humsafar Trust, which partnered with Soparkkar, went all out with its promotional drives and it met with positive results: the dance drama was talked about the in the media and it further egged their mission and Hyacinth met its crowdfunding target of Rs. 2 Lakhs.
What Hyacinth achieved was twofold: it got the money and sold out its show, and it created an active community, which was willing to give them additional publicity because they believed in the cause!
Mamma Mia! Again
It’s time to talk about the revival of one of the most popular musicals for a social cause! The USP of Mamma Mia! Again was infusing a well-known story with tracks from an iconic band (ABBA), along with the concept of gender equality. The team partnered with Women on Wheels (run by Azad Foundation and Sakha Consulting Wings Pvt. Ltd.) in order to provide underprivileged women the chance to escape poverty and lead a life of dignity. The creator of the show, Ritu R Chandra, reached out to her network once the crowdfunding campaign was launched on Wishberry. On the other hand, Azad Foundation did the same as well. It worked well, and Ritu’s friends helped her raise Rs. 2 Lakhs (the crowdfunding target was Rs. 5 Lakhs). All the tickets to the shows were sold out. What is interesting to note here is that instead of simply offering tickets to the show, Mamma Mia! Again personalised their rewards — from offering chauffeur-driven rides courtesy Sakha, to dance sessions with the crew.
What works for musicals when it comes to crowdfunding?
It is relatively easier to crowdfund for a musical because of a simple reason — musicals are generally perceived to be better crowd-pullers when it comes to theatre. Apart from this, the other reasons why these specific campaigns worked include:
Nearly all of these campaigns either had a famous name attached to them (case in point being George Takei and Sandip Soparkkar) or they had already established a name for themselves (Showstoppers).
A majority of these musicals (barring Showstoppers) were aligned with either advocacy (equal rights for all in the case of Hyacinth and gender equality when it came to Mamma Mia! Again) or with activism (Allegiance). This enabled them to motivate potential backers to join in for a ‘good cause’.
The golden rules of crowdfunding remain the same whether you are crowdfunding a tragic play or a musical. You have to be smart about it, be willing to tell your story with utmost honesty, and inculcate within yourself the willingness to ask!
Want it? Crowdfund it!