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Feed The Muse: Kickstarting Philly.

June 17, 2013

JamieLokoffFeedTheMusesmallText and image by Urszula Pruchniewska.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, Milkboy co-owner Jamie Lokoff sits in his Center City bar, sipping a coffee. While music blares and people banter around him, Lokoff perches on a stool and leans forward, his eyes intent. He gets excited when talking about his latest project, Feed The Muse, a crowdsourcing website that helps artists raise funds for projects.

“In the most basic way, it’s for artists to make extra cash,” Lokoff says. “This is not a money-making pursuit for me. This is something that is a good idea.”

FeedTheMuseLogoThe name MilkBoy has long been associated with music in Philadelphia. What started in 1994 as a recording studio for independent artists has since branched out to include the downtown bar/venue and a coffeehouse/venue in Ardmore. Feed The Muse was launched by Milkboy in 2009 in response to recession-related changes in the music industry.

“The artist has to view himself as a business,” Lokoff explains. “I have CDs, I have tours, I have merchandise, I have crowdsourcing. It’s another way to engage the audience.”

Feed The Muse has allowed more than 2,500 artists to fund their projects through donations. MilkBoy takes 5 percent cut to cover operating costs.

On Feed The Muse, artists start a campaign for a project, such as wanting to record their next album. The artist creates a project page and sends out a link to their contacts. Funding comes directly from friends, family and fans, as well as anyone else who stumbles across the page. In exchange for various donations, the donors get specialized experiences or products, such as a limited-release version of a song.

Lokoff thinks artists should promote their page and engage with their fanbase in a membership way, like the NPR model.

“If you like NPR, you support NPR,” Lokoff explains.

Manayunk-based musician Matt Spitko is raising money through the site to fund his first album, The Light. He spent a lot of time creating a video, writing copy and updating his online presence before launching a campaign in mid-April. Within two weeks, he raised more than $2,700 of his $10,000 goal.

“That’s why I dig it,” Spitko explains. “The more I get into it, the more I’m realizing you get what you put into it.”

The site is similar to other crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, which launched in the same month as Feed The Muse. Feed The Muse is different, however, in that artists keep whatever donations come their way, whereas on Kickstarter, artists only get the donated funds if they reach their funding goal.

Also, Feed The Muse is Philly-based and they add a personal touch.

“We’ll hold people’s hand through the process,” says Joanna Leigh Simon, community manager for Feed The Muse. “We’re all available.”

The site can be used by anyone with a viable creative project in mind.

“You see dancers, musicians, muralists, comic book artists and that’s really awesome for us to see,” says Simon. “We wanna see them get their shit done.”

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