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Monday, April 07, 2008 

Self-Funding Your Career

This informative article is reposted from...

Madalyn's Note: Self-funding is the DIY (do-it-yourself) way to go these days. I think this article will give you some good ideas. In the GoGirls Music Store we sell a Word Document template that will help you fundraise. Click here for details on that. And give me your comments on this subject. I'd love to hear from you!


Atlanta-based soul artist, Melissa Young, has received critical acclaim for her debut album, "Just Up the Road" self-released on SugaShack Music. Blending sweet Southern Soul with a touch of Funk & R&B grooves, the disk was hailed a "hidden gem of 2007" by Billboard magazine, which stated that Young's "spirited, raspy vocals command attention from the first cut on this sure-footed debut."

In 1999 after earning an undergrad degree from Howard University and an MFA from New York University’s Film school, Young decided to devote herself to music, supplying background vocals to several artists including Reggae singer Ky-mani Marley, son of the legendary Bob Marley, during his European tour.

Determined to focus on her own music, the artist successfully raised enough capital to record her debut release. Here Melissa tells AtlasPlugged how she managed to put it all together.

AP: Why did you decide to seek independent funding?
MY: Because I was determined to put out my music in the form that my heart told me to. At first I was financing everything out of my pocket but after recording I knew that I had to seek outside funding for mixing the album, mastering, and pressing my first 1,000 CDs.

AP: How much did you raise and how did you determine how much you would need?
MY: I raised approximately $75,000. I knew how much I needed because I did my research in advance. I listened to projects of different mixers and mastering houses, got referrals and price quotes from them and from several CD duplication houses.

I already had a business plan ready, it was the first thing that I put together even before the conception of the project. (I borrowed a program that formats business plans from a friend and continuously updated a budget to include with the plan).

AP: Where did you look for investors?
MY: I went to private investors - people that knew who enjoyed my music and wanted to see the music have a larger life. In the end the money came from people that simply believed in me as a person and as an artist.

AP: How did you approach potential investors – did you have professionals help you?
MY: I did not have any professionals help me get investors. I solicited anybody that I thought might be in a position to make an investment for the amount that I needed. You would be surprised at the type of people that will end up investing in music and entertainment.

And I asked people that I knew to ask people that they thought might make that type of an investment. For example one investor was a friend of a friend that I worked with. She forwarded my music to him and he came back and asked her if I needed an investor.

AP: What arrangements did you make with your investors?
MY: Both investors receive sale points on the CD at retail, that's what worked best for both of them. And we signed a contract. No business deals should ever be informal, even if it is dealing with the creative side of things.

AP: What Advice Can You Give Other Artists?
MY: First put the time and the effort into your music so that it is the best that it can be at that time. Go for quality on everything. Instead of waiting on money to show up for a fancy studio with a big name, I recorded in my home studio. I invested in a good mic, a good system to record on. I paid a good engineer and the rest was history. Don't skimp on the engineer!!! Once you have a good project, believe in it and lean on it.

Don't ever ask someone to invest in you or your music if you are not willing to invest anything or sacrifice anything. Afterall it's your dream not the investor's. You have to make it come true!

Melissa Young
SugaShack Music

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

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