'It's wreaked havoc': Artists speak out amid uncertainty about PledgeMusic

'It's wreaked havoc': Artists speak out amid uncertainty about PledgeMusic

What’s going on at PledgeMusic?

Six weeks after it was put up for sale in order to meet its outstanding obligations, the D2C platform has gone very quiet. Phones are not being answered at the UK office, there have been no more reassuring blog posts and there is speculation about the future of the company.

Music Week understands that staff have left the company this month.

With PledgeMusic’s spokesperson declining to comment on the current situation, it’s been left to the platform’s artists and users to voice their concern about the lack of communication and repayment of funds. 

In January, PledgeMusic said that delays of payments to artists were “unacceptable” and that they would aim to resolve the situation within 90 days.

This week co-founder Benji Rogers confirmed that he remains as a voluntary advisor to “help the artists and fans who have been affected by the current issues at PledgeMusic”. He has stepped down from his role as chief strategy officer at DotBlockchain Media.

Jesus Jones, who went public early with their concerns, have now suggested that the PledgeMusic executives they were dealing with have left the company. The band accused PledgeMusic of “shameful behaviour” and said they have been treated with “contempt”.

“We are still no nearer a resolution, it would seem,” said Jesus Jones in a Twitter post. “And it feels like they're running down the clock. Artists are told to dial back any criticism of Pledge, in order to make it easier to sell.”

Sleeper updated fans with a scornful tweet about Pledgemusic and said they were “not in the mood to dial back criticism”. The band’s album The Modern Age is out on March 22.

Many artists who used the platform have opted to supply fans with music purchases, despite the financial hit and risk in waiting for payment from PledgeMusic.

Gang Of Four were forced to push back the release of their Happy Now album by two months. It will now drop on April 19.

“It’s damaged our plans, it’s the last thing you need,” Gang Of Four founder Andy Gill told Music Week. “There’s still very little information about exactly what happened. It’s wreaked havoc.”

The band have established a new D2C partnership with Townsend Music. Music Glue also offers D2C, while Absolute Label Services can also provide a similar model through its partnerships.

Amanda Palmer successfully crowdfunded her new solo comeback album, There Will Be No Intermission (Cooking Vinyl), via Patreon. 

Gill confirmed that they are still owed money by PledgeMusic.

“I’d heard rumours about things in January and then it became obvious they were correct – it’s an absolute nightmare,” he said. “[PledgeMusic] has gone very quiet. We’ve just told everybody who has bought anything to report it to their credit card company or bank and get the money back." 

Sophie Ellis-Bextor confirmed that she would fulfill PledgeMusic orders for her The Song Diaries album.

“Everybody that did their pre-orders with PledgeMusic will still get everything that they ordered,” she told Music Week. “It’s my project and it’s my risk – que sera, sera.

“What’s happening with Pledge is still not a done deal, I don’t know how the cards will fall with that. The key thing is that the album has been manufactured, everybody will get it.”

It’s probably pretty catastrophic if you were using the PledgeMusic income to fund the project

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Ellis-Bextor has partnered with Cooking Vinyl on the album and had used PledgeMusic for pre-orders, rather than a full crowd-funding campaign.

“I think for some smaller artists, it’s probably pretty catastrophic if you were using the PledgeMusic income just to fund the project,” she said.

A spokesperson for Sarah Darling confirmed that she had honoured all pledges.

Last month the Musicians’ Union urged artists not to use PledgeMusic to fund campaigns, following a meeting with the company.

MU general secretary Horace Trubridge said: “If you are thinking of launching a crowdfunding campaign, you should approach one of the other established crowdfunding platforms until such time as this situation has been resolved.” 

PledgeMusic announced a major management revamp last October, following the departure of CEO Dominic Pandiscia. It partnered with Nashville-based music financing firm Lyric Financial to “help expand its working capital and improve payable processing”.

The company said more than 45,000 projects have been launched on PledgeMusic and $100 million in artist payments distributed since its launch in 2009.

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