Samphire Festival

How Samphire became the fastest ever funded festival on Crowdfunder

Music journalist Flora Blathwayt and D.J Josh Beauchamp wanted to create a brand new festival in the Somerset woodlands, complete with stunning coastal views. 

With two stages and over 30 acts featuring everything from folk to fun, the focus is on escaping the digital world and getting back to basics.

The big idea

Launch a less financially risky festival by getting people to buy discounted tickets upfront.

What happened

Project Owner Flora Blathwayt explained why they decided to crowdfund their festival: “We’ve seen a lot of festivals struggle financially over their first couple of years so we wanted to opt for this less risky strategy. 

"By crowdfunding money from the general public it enabled us to create a community of backers invested in making it happen, but also crucially know how much money we had to play with to put it on.”

They decided to use Crowdfunder, because in Flora’s words: “We heard they have really friendly and helpful customer service, it’s not just get your project up and then you’re on your own.”

There seems to be a movement towards smaller, boutique festivals; a 2014 YouGov survey on festivals revealed 35% of people thought music festivals have become too expensive and 28% thought they are now too corporate. 

Samphire Festival has a 1,000-person capacity and offers a family-friendly atmosphere which makes it a totally different kettle of fish from Glastonbury et al.

And, it worked! In just 3 weeks they reached their target of £20,000. 

It gets even better. By the time the campaign was over they’d raised a total of £42,855 from 336 backers in just 56 days!

The pledge rewards

Pledges ranged from £30 to £3,000 offering something for every budget. 

The rewards were hugely innovative and perfectly catered to their audience. For £30 you could get a laminated A2 picture of your face on one of the loos. If your face matches, you get to skip the queue -- inspired! 

You could also get tickets to the festival, luxury tents (complete with 13.5 tog duvets!) and the opportunity to become a main stage sponsor.

In the press

The campaign benefited from both local and national press. 

The Independent featured the campaign in their article on how crowdfunded music festivals offer an alternative to corporate ones. 

It was also covered as a local interest story in both the Somerset County Gazette and West Somerset Today. Samphire Festival was also written about on Crowdfund Insider because of its title as the fastest ever successfully funded festival on Crowdfunder.

What's next?

The organisers now get to put on the festival of their dreams! 

This will include securing acts, though BBC Introducing talent Violet Skies and melody-driven rock band Hunter & The Bear have already signed up. 

As well as music there will be workshops and games and plenty of local, tasty grub. 

Tips to project owners

"Most important is getting early pledges, main thing we found was the response when you actually called people. It was a lot more effective than email which people can ignore or forget about. 

"I also made a spreadsheet of all those who've pledged and all those who say they will pledge. Then you can gently remind those that need a nudge," Flora said.

"I also added an extra column whereby I say to people who have pledged to get one extra person to do so. If everyone does that you double your total! 

"Video is absolutely vital for getting people engaged. Contacting local press at significant milestones. Try and host a closing party however small because apparently we got a real surge in pledges!"

• View Flora and Josh's project to learn more about Samphire Festival