How to Be a Kickstarter Sensation


Finding the money for arts projects has always been tricky, and never more so than now. Luckily, the internet is chock full of helpful solutions. Maybe you want to make the world’s largest pretzel or a documentary on skateboarding street gangs or a mural in your community garden. You could have a bake sale or try to auction off your possessions on Craigslist, and there’s the “donate to my PayPal” approach. But then there are slightly more sophisticated options, like Kickstarter, a website that uses the idea of crowd-sourced funding to get money to cash-strapped artists everywhere. Last week, Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan almost broke the site, reaching their goal of $10,000 in only 4 days. We talked to them to find out how to be a Kickstarter sensation, in five easy steps.

1. Make a Funny, Interesting Video

You see, Kait and Brian make up the dynamic musical-writing team Kerrigan-Lowdermilk. They’ve had their stuff sung by everyone from high school seniors to Miss America contestants. But they don’t have an album yet — hence the need for Kickstarter green. Most videos up on the site are pretty straightforward: “Look at this cool potential thing! Give us money please!” Brian and Kait spliced together footage of people singing their songs, adding some wisecracking in between pleas. Explains Lowdermilk: “We just sat down on my couch, talked into my MacBook and simply told the world, ‘Look world, we’re going to make a kick-ass album, and you need to get on board with that.'”

2. Build on Your Fan Base

Though Kerrigan-Lowdermilk got an enormous amount of donations quickly, they were mostly small contributions from all over the internet, fans who had seen their songs performed or maybe only a smattering of YouTube videos. “No one made a contribution over $1000,” Kait wrote us. “The majority of people have contributed between $35 and $100. These are just people who really believe in the album. ” It might be corny, but it’s true: every little donation counts. Making Lowdermilk-Kerrigan sort of like Obama, right? Right?

3. Crank that Social Media

“People don’t know our shows because we were on Broadway. They know them because we’re on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter — though of course, like everyone else, we don’t really know what Twitter is,” Lowdermilk said. However annoying a blanket Facebook message might seem, it’s worth it to get attention to the project.

4. Keep it Short

Kickstarter videos can often be pretty long and snooze-worthy. It’s good to get right to the point, and not recount your whole history and artistic sensibility.

Brian: “And always remembering that brevity is…”

Kait:The soul of wit.”

Brian: I was going to say short.”

5. Don’t Forget to Ask for Money

“The most important thing is to ask. That took us forever to figure out,” Brian said. It’s weird, but true: sometimes you get to the end of a Kickstarter video and there hasn’t been any mention of money. Honesty and charm go a long way. But when I asked the pair what they most attribute their success to, the were a little more evasive.

Kait: “Whiskey”

Brian: “Sweater Vests”