September 28, 2012 · Success Stories

Where Are They Now: Dropping Beats in the Congo


The video you see above is the fruit of an Indiegogo campaign run earlier this year by Pierce Freelon and Stephen Levitin (a.k.a. Apple Juice Kid) called, “Carolina to the Congo: A Beat Making Lab Experiment.” Their goal was to raise $5000 to set up a beat making lab in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo — where they, along with the nonprofit Yole!Africa, would bring together 16 Congolese youth to teach them the art of making beats.

Not only did they hit and exceed their goal (raising $5211 in total), but they were also able to quickly take the funds they raised on Indiegogo to make their project a success on the ground in the Congo.

I got the opportunity to speak with Pierce and Stephen about their project. Check out our interview below — they have some great advice for Indiegogo campaigners:

Andrew: Why did you decide to use Indiegogo?

Pierce and Stephen: Several reasons. The sleek feel of the platform. The ease with which we were able to corral and deposit funds as well as embed links into our websites and social networks. We liked using youtube as the hub for our video so we could drive traffic to our channel, and contextualize the campaign around the other things we’re involved in. And because we needed community support, and Indiegogo feels like a community platform.

Andrew: What was your crowdfunding experience like?

Pierce and Stephen: Amazing. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers, fans, mentors, students – we got support from such a diverse and unexpected group of contributors. It was very humbling and fun.

Andrew: What were some non-monetary benefits of your campaign?

Pierce and Stephen: The fact that the community rallied in support of the idea of a Beat Making Lab. This was the launchpad, the unveiling of the Beat Making Lab and how many folks were introduced to the work we were doing. An amazing t-shirt designer came out of the blue and offered to design a great logo for the campaign. Our students rallied in support and created an album to help fund our trip. There are so many examples of folks going out of their way to help us make a difference. That was the most beneficial element of the campaign.

Andrew: Anything else exciting happen during the campaign process?

Pierce and Stephen: We did throw a big concert/fundraiser, which was amazing. Lord Jamar of the Hip Hop group Brand Nubian was a keynote speaker, Blitz the Ambassador of Ghana performed and the night ended with a Beat Battle by our UNC Beat Making Lab students. That was probably the highlight of the campaign for me.

Andrew: What advice would you give to potential crowdfunders?

Pierce and Stephen: Take the campaign to the streets! The online portal is only a beginning. If you don’t pound the pavement and start making real, in person appeals, it will be very difficult to reach your goal.

Andrew: What’s your next project?

Pierce and Stephen: More Beat Making Labs. We have inquiries about building Beat Making Labs from international non-profits in Senegal, Brazil, Kenya and Panama and locally from North Carolina to New York (and San Francisco). We’re developing an open source Beat Making software so anyone, anywhere who wants to make beats will be able to.

Do you have an Indiegogo campaign story that you’d like to share with us? Email us at! Interested in starting a campaign? Find out more and get started here