Bandtwango co-founders John Alexander and Carl Allocco have their sights on being disrupters in a changing music industry landscape. They are currently funding campaigns on their platform for artists utilizing their fan bases. Whether it’s for an EP, a full-length CD, video or other need, the platform helps the artist move forward. The company also assists with tour support, radio promotion, and publicity.
Allocco recounts when he first starting thinking about creating this new platform, “I knew an artist who raised money and made a CD, but then it was like, ‘What now?’ Since money is a starting point, we decided to help artists do the most with that money to get to the next phase of their career.” Alexander adds, “Our main emphasis is to develop artists in a non-traditional way and empower them. It’s kind of showing them that they can be their own CEOs, that this is their business, and this is their careers.”
MusicRow: John, Why did you and Carl decide to create the new company, Bandtwango?
John Alexander: With the relationships I’ve developed over the years, it was a way for us to open doors for the artists. That can mean introducing them to tastemakers, getting their songs on playlists, or introducing them to a video director and getting their videos placed. We are country music–centric and that’s what differentiates us from the other crowdfunding platforms. They’re kind of a listing services [platform]. We’re not that. We’re going to work with you on your career from day one.
What are some of your successful campaigns?
Alexander: We beta tested with an act called Hadley Park. They funded an EP and we were able to help them get on a playlist with John Marks at Spotify. They had gotten on SiriusXM with a song called “Another Bottle of Wine” and spent 13 weeks there. We’re still helping them. We also put them on a show in New York with Danielle Bradbery and RaeLynn. For Jeneve Rose Mitchell, we fully funded her campaign and she recorded an album. Now we’re in negotiations with Dollywood about a residency for her in 2018. We got her on a show in New York opening for Scotty McCreery and we’re going to do some media for her. We introduced Christina Taylor to a video director and to CMT, who has been playing her video.
Every artist has a different story and different needs. We go out there and try to find the right fit for the artist and educate them and then give them opportunity.
What advice do you give those artists?
Alexander: Basically the advice that we’re giving them, first and foremost, is that this is your life and this is your career. You have to understand that this career is in your hands– so take it seriously. If you’re looking to ask your fans to partner with you and to help you fund your next project or video, you need to engage with those fans every day. Everything’s a relationship in this town and in this industry. If we can help you open a door, you have to solidify that relationship. Use the things that Bandtwango can do for you and then expand upon it.
What about a brand new artist without much of a following?
Alexander: If they don’t have much of a fan base yet, like only several hundred followers, we do a starter-campaign called Ignite. Let’s get a website set up for you, take some photos, and look to only raise $1,000 or less. Let’s try to help you build that fan base and show you what to do, and how to get promoted on YouTube and other platforms. Then you can start attracting fans. Three months down the road, perhaps you can fund a single or a couple of songs and get you in the studio.
Tell me about the different divisions of Bandtwango, like Special Projects and Bandtwango Presents?
Alexander: Special Projects is for an artist who wants to raise money for a cause, like a natural disaster or someone with a medical emergency. For example, in the show we did on Long Island, Todd O’Neill opened up for Rascal Flatts. We were donating money to Long Island Cares. In return for that, we were able to get Todd O’Neill on that show. O’Neill was the Nash Next Winner and a Big Machine artist.
Bandtwango Presents, through our relationship in New York with a radio group, we are able to present their concerts for them. We are sponsoring a summer concert series. We are then able to grow our brand, get people attracted to Bandtwango and give our acts the opportunity to open up for others.
How do you decide what incentives an artist should offer and how do you set the goal amount?
Alexander: The formula for how much money an artist should raise is always based upon their social media following. For every ‘like’ or ‘follower’ that an artist has, it typically averages out to be a dollar they’ll get in a campaign. We want incentives that are true to that artist. Examples include, if an artist is into house concerts or if there are special things like personal paintings, Skype calls, etc.
What are some of the different opportunities artists use crowdfunding to achieve?
Alexander: Radio promotion, video promotion, publicity… Artists need publicists once they get up and running and a lot of them can’t afford it. Those are a couple of things and some artists want to be able to go on tour. Everybody has their own needs and wants.
John, you’ve been in the music business more than 30 years. How will you define success with this venture?
Alexander: If I’m going to leave a legacy in this town, it’s really going to be the ability to help artists and take them to the next level. Although I’m hoping we can take an artist across the finish line with Bandtwango, even if I don’t and get an artist half way across the finish line and then tag someone else to take them the rest of the way, then I will feel like mission accomplished.
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