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PledgeMusic seeking partnership or acquisition

Direct-to-fan marketplace PledgeMusic has announced it is in talks with “several interested parties” regarding a potential partnership or acquisition. The company admitted to owing significant sums of money to multiple artists last week.

The PledgeMusic board and management released a statement today, announcing discussions with parties wanting to enter into a partnership with PledgeMusic, or acquire the company.

“These conversations , if successful, would lead to a transaction which would allow us to meet all of our outstanding obligations. As a result, we are hopeful that, as long as the company is given some breathing space to operate, a solution to these current problems will be found,” reads the statement.

The company is also in “advanced discussions with an independent third-party company” that will take control of “all artist funds going forward.”

PledgeMusic co-founder, Benji Rogers, has returned to the company as a volunteer strategic advisor and observer to the board of directors.

“For a lot of you patience must be wearing very thin, but we can only reiterate that we are fully focused on making this situation right”

“Benji will assist and advise the new management and finance team on the inherited and existing issues, as well as with the forward planning for the company,” says the PledgeMusic board.

Rogers comments: “I am convinced that they [PledgeMusic management team and board] are committed to fixing the artists payments situation as their first priority. I have seen first hand how tirelessly the team, management and board have been working to right the ship and that is why I have agreed to help where I can.”

PledgeMusic owes thousands to artists who have raised funds through its platform, a situation the company has called “unacceptable”.

The PledgeMusic team states that its priority is to settle all remaining back payments owed to artists and asks for “patience”:

“We know that for a lot of you this must be wearing very thin, but we can only reiterate that we are fully focused on making this situation right.”

The full statement can be read here.

 


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Direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic owes artists $1,000s

The artist-to-fan marketplace PledgeMusic is behind on payments to multiple artists who have raised funds through its platform, prompting criticism from the music community.

Reports started to circulate that PledgeMusic was failing to pay musicians on time in June last year. Multiple prominent artists are now owed large sums of money from the company.

In September, chief executive Dominic Pandiscia stepped down from his position and the company reshuffled the senior management team, pointing to new investors.

Music industry pundit Bob Lefsetz brought attention to the issues this week, writing that American rock band Fastball “can’t get paid”. PledgeMusic reportedly owes the band US$20,000.

Over 25 artists and agents responded to the letter, citing similar grievances.

PledgeMusic issued a statement stating it is “committed to serving artist and fan communities”.

“We deeply regret that recently we have not lived up to the high standards to which PledgeMusic has always held itself”

“We deeply regret that recently we have not lived up to the high standards to which PledgeMusic has always held itself. We acknowledge that many artists have and continue to experience payment delays. These delays to artists are unacceptable – not only to them but to us.”

The company states that it expects to bring payments up-to-date within the next 90 days.

PledgeMusic cofounder Benji Rogers, who left the company in 2016, apologises to artists and fans: “To the artists, their teams, managers, labels and fans, and to all who have been negatively affected by the issues at PledgeMusic, I am truly sorry.”

PledgeMusic was founded in 2009 by Benji Rogers and Jayce Varden. The platform aimed to connect fans directly with artists, facilitating the sale of tickets, vinyl, CDs and merchandise without the need for a middleman.

Fans also contributed towards recording costs through a crowdfunding service and received regular updates on artists’ progress.

 


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Funding first steps

2016 marks the tenth anniversary of PRS Foundation’s International Showcase Fund, which supports UK acts taking their first steps into overseas markets. Run in partnership with the Department of International Trade, Arts Council England, the Musicians’ Union and Pledge Music, this initiative offers advice to export-ready artists and grants that contribute to the costs of attending industry showcases across the world.

The findings in a recent evaluation (the International Showcase Fund Impact Report) speak volumes: In 2013–16, every £1 invested by the fund generated an additional £8.90; every act’s live audience and social media footprint doubled; and perhaps most importantly, 89% of the supported artists returned with tangible outcomes and realised the goals they set when applying.

Good news all round, then? Well, yes and no. Beyond the success stories and statistics, the number of artists we’re supporting is limited when compared with the increasing demands and financial pressures that emerging artists face. In 2015–16, applications increased by 67% and we could only support ⅓ of those who applied. In contrast, many of our colleague funders overseas strive to help all acts that have been invited to showcase at an international event.

If music is one of our greatest exports, then working together to nurture artists through those tricky first steps has never been more important

How then can we help more of the UK’s music talent to take advantage of this career defining opportunity? Firstly, we’re intensifying our focus on pooling resources with public and private sector partners, ensuring that they reflect the changing dynamics of our industry – direct-to-fan platform Pledge Music is the latest partner to join the fund.

Secondly, we’re increasing the range of artists supported because the UK industry thrives from its unique diversity.
With the rise of black British music overseas, 23% of acts funded in 2016 were of BAME (black, Asian and minority-ethnic) background. Our report also highlights the impact our fund had on grime collective The Square, which has catalysed individual careers for ElfKid, Novelist and more.

Finally, post-Brexit, we need to ensure that world-class music created by UK artists continues to flow across European and international borders. In this context, we welcome Wales Arts International as our first UK partner and we hope to identify other ways for UK nations to present an open and united front in less certain times for UK trade. If music is one of our greatest exports, then working together to nurture artists through those tricky first steps has never been more important.

 


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