I write classical music, and figuring out what to do online with that can be tough. I've tried a couple different models out, and the one that worked best gave me this: http://kevinclarkcomposer.com/chamber-works/cucumbers-gin-film-violin-and-cocktails/
It's a film adaptation of the piece, basically a music video of a classical recording session, with a brief documentary style interview on the front of it. For anyone who stumbles across it on YouTube they have a chance to understand what's going on. For me, one of the most important parts was that the film be of as high a quality as the performance.
One unexpected tie-in that gave a good boost to the project was the fact that NoteFlight (a web application for musical notation) released a feature that lets you sync up a youtube video with a Noteflight score. This allows people who visit my site to watch a virtuosic violin piece and simultaneously see exactly what he's playing. A lot of people, particularly musicians, thought this was awesome, and the Noteflight blog itself gave the project a decent amount of traffic. Unfortunately, the video plays through the Noteflight interface don't impact viewcount.
So how did we pay for it? Kickstarter. The funding goal was $750, we made $1,150. The film eventually cost around $2,000 all in. with the difference coming out of my bank account. Because of the title I was able to do cocktail recipes as a backer reward, which sold very well at $50, and allowed me to make other creative work that I care about as part of the project.
What I didn't get was enough money to even cover expenses - and that was with the entire film crew working WELL BELOW market rates. It's a creative project, an easy gig for most of the crew, and a fun thing to do with friends on a Saturday with free food and beer, so freelance filmmakers in their twenties generally understand that kind of work. But still, this project did not come anywhere close to paying for itself.
Then why is it a success story?
Because a ton of good things came out of it. New connections with talented artists, a film to highlight my work and the violinist's, new audiences for the work (the staff at Noteflight for a start) and a list of 34 people who've already given money to support my work (including a fair number of complete strangers). It's also given my closest friends and family a taste of what it's like to write checks to make these things happen - that will make it easier the next time around when I'm looking for more money. That's really valuable.
Also, because I successfully managed a kickstarter project I've become a kind of resource to other artists who are thinking about doing similar things. This hasn't led to any revenue yet, but it has led to some great conversations, helping on awesome projects, and again, more connections and potential audience and supporters for my next project.
There are a lot of different smaller lessons in the experience as well, including how to handle film equipment rental houses without insurance, work with an audio and video editor, and what it's like to work with an astonishingly well put-together film crew. I learned a huge amount about the crowdfunding process, and have been reinforced in my view that Kickstarter is simply well out and ahead of everyone else in the field - in terms of UX, dollars pledged, motivation, PR for their projects and building a community, they're just way ahead. (and I say this as someone who did some crowdfunding work at his day job in the arts).
The biggest gain for my work from this project though is just that it's accomplished. Now a piece that existed just on paper exists in a very high quality form all over the internet. It's not the same as a real payday for the work involved, but the non-financial benefits for this project well outweighed the costs.