Middle of Nowhere Sessions (A Kickstarter Story)

If you can’t move your bar to the music, move the music to your bar…

Reggie Mace and Beth Rahn of Mace Mead Works have been doing that for a little less than a year now.

images Mace Mead Works is a bar in Dayton, Washington, a small farming community about halfway between Walla Walla, Washington and Cour d’Laine, Idaho. If you think there’s nothing at that point on the map, you can be forgiven. It’s pretty middle of nowhere.

Which is why they call their Kickstarter project the “Middle of Nowhere Sessions.”

Here’s the thing. In an attempt to bring in more customers to a bar that belongs in a city but is situated in a town where everything is within walking distance, Reggie and Beth have brought in musical acts from all over the Pacific Northwest. The bands have brought customers, some of whom come back. They want to expand on this model, specifically by

• Building a stage in their back room for better events
• Adding acoustic tile
• Buying sound equipment to record the concerts
• General publicity and word-getting-outness

It’s a good idea, but with 5 days to go they’re at just over 50% of their goal. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that might be:

The Good

  • Excellent video quality. Beth and Reggie put together a high quality video with a fun, conversational description and appeal. They added interesting, dynamic captions and apparently shot most of it in one take. It’s compelling and informative, though it does run a little long to hold the interest of casual potential backers.
  • Audience focused and unique backer rewards. They were really thinking about who would back their project and why they might contribute. Check them out on the site. We’re not dealing with your generic signed photos and “Ask me about” buttons. They’re providing trips, unique vinyl albums and other goodies intelligently targeted for folks who are audiophiles, lovers of the local area, or both.
  • Large existing audience. This is less of something they did right than a serious downloadfactor in their favor. By virtue of being a bar that hosts concerts and makes contacts in the regional music community, Beth and Reggie have a huge mailing list consisting of exactly the sort of people who might back their project. Not exactly something you can mimic for an existing project, but a factor to keep in mind while planning your next campaign.

The Bad

  • Very niche. Maybe even very, very niche. This project appeals to the very small – if passionate – community of folks who love local music and will go out of their way to hear it played live. Worse (for successful funding purposes), they’re also in a small geographic niche. To really get value from this campaign, a backer would need to live within an hour’s drive of Mace Mead Works. I visit that town several times per year, and I’m here to tell you that there is almost nothing within an hour’s drive of that bar.
  • Unspecific Finances. Kickstarter is still kind of new, but it’s been demonstrated that backers like to know what their funding is going towards. In the video and on the site, they describe in general terms what they need, but it wouldn’t hurt to post a breakdown update describing just where the budget is going. Even their asking price: $11,111.11 suggests their goal is fundamentally arbitrary. This might turn some prospective backers off.

The Ugly

The bad news for the Middle of Nowhere Sessions is that local project funding is an as-of-yet unproven model for Kickstarter. As I touched on when talking about niches, any project that benefits people within a limited geographic area is less likely to be backed by people who don’t live in that area. This isn’t their fault….but it is definitely a challenge they will have to deal with. It’s possible that this alone is responsible for the disappointing funding as of this writing.

image-345692-full Reggie and Beth tell me they have some high-end backers waiting for the last moments to make their pledges, and that they have some events planned for this week to bring in more small donations. We’ll find out by the end of this week.

If you like music, and small businesses, and cool people with cool ideas, follow this link and donate.


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