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Townsend hires former PledgeMusic exec Ben James

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) commerce specialist Townsend Music has hired PledgeMusic’s former head of acquisitions, Ben James, as its new business manager.

Townsend, which provides online shopping platforms direct to fans, also operates in the live arena with pop-up shops and the ‘D2C On Tour’ campaign, selling album pre-orders at live shows.

The company’s new business manager started his career at Nude Records, working with Suede, Ultrasound and Lowhold. James later set up his own promotions and artist management business, putting on events with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Jack Savoretti, Lianne La Havas and Manchester Orchestra.

He also held a position in Live Nation’s festival and brand partnerships division, before working with artists including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Orbital, José González, The Wombats and Stone Sour at PledgeMusic, the artist-to-fan marketplace that was wound up earlier this year.

“I look forward to expanding Townsend’s reach around the world and bringing artists, managers and labels that I respect to the table”

“I’m excited to join Townsend at a time when D2C has become all the more important to artists’ careers and labels’ release plans,” says James.

“Having everything under one roof is a big factor for me – it means everything runs smoothly and efficiently. I look forward to expanding Townsend’s reach around the world and bringing artists, managers and labels that I respect to the table.”

Townsend sales director Bruce McKenzie adds: “It’s great to be able to bring Ben to Townsend. He has a lot of experience across a variety of sectors including D2C. His knowledge and insight will be really beneficial to both our team and our clients.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in D2C this year, Townsend works with artist clients including Tom Walker, Kylie, Courteeners, Dido, the Darkness and Camila Cabello.

 


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Report: PledgeMusic funds do not belong to artists

The artists that are owed money by bankrupted direct-to-fan marketplace PledgeMusic are “unlikely” to receive the funds they raised through the platform, a report obtained by Variety has revealed.

PledgeMusic was wound up in August, after suspending operations due to financial difficulties. The company entered liquidation with £7.4 million in debt and under £20,000 in assets.

Following its demise, industry organisations including UK Music, Music Managers’ Forum and the Association of Independent Musicians acted to assess and prevent financial damage to musicians.

However, a document from the official receiver working on the PledgeMusic liquidation has cast further doubt over the likelihood of artists seeing return of the money raised through the site.

“I do not anticipate that I will need to contact you again because there is unlikely to be a payment to creditors in this case,” concludes the report.

“I can’t believe that the artists are left without what is owed to them”

The report also reveals that legal advisors to the PledgeMusic board have indicated that money paid by fans on the platform “were not trust monies”, and that all belongs to PledgeMusic, rather than to the artists.

PledgeMusic co-founder and CEO, Benji Rogers, who returned to the company as an unpaid advisor early this year to try and resurrect it via a partnership or acquisition, told Hypebot the outcome was “devastating for every artist affected”.

“I can’t believe that they are left without what is owed to them. I am so sorry I was not able to do more,” said Rogers.

Enquiries into PledgeMusic’s “failing” are ongoing, states the report, with board members attributing the collapse to “the commission charged being insufficient to meet its expenditure”.

Rogers founded PledgeMusic along with Jayce Varden in 2009. The platform served as a direct-to-fan marketplace for merchandise, tickets, vinyl and CDs. Fans also donated money to cover artists’ recording and release costs via a crowdfunding platform.

 


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PledgeMusic to be wound up amid inquiry calls

Crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic is to be liquidated, as UK Music urges government action to prevent a repeat of the “scandal” that has left hundreds of artists out of pocket.

As reported in the London Gazette and first spotted by Music Technology Policy, a Royal Courts of Justice judge today (31 July) granted an order to wind up the beleaguered company, which has failed to pay artists that raised funds through its platform. The artist-to-fan marketplace suspended operations months ago following financial difficulties.

Following the order, UK Music deputy chief executive Tom Kiehl has called on the government to take action to prevent such a situation occurring again. Kiehl states the winding up of PledgeMusic is “entirely unsatisfactory” for fans and artists.

“Many musicians across the UK relied on crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to deliver payments from patrons, to pay for album recordings and other costs,” writes Kiehl in a letter to business minister Kelly Tolhurst.

“I would like to ask for a meeting to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again”

Following on from UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher’s suggestion in May, Kiehl once again urges a referral to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, “to investigate what went wrong”.

Kiehl also asks the minster to consider taking up the case with the Financial Conduct Authority, a body responsible for regulating crowdfunding activities, to investigate any possible regulatory breaches.

“Furthermore, I would like to ask for a meeting with you to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again,” concludes Kiehl.

Industry organisations including Music Managers’ Forum (MMF), PRS Foundation, the Musicians’ Union and the Association of Independent Musicians’ (AIM) last month set up a survey to assess the damage PledgeMusic’s demise caused for artists.

 


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PledgeMusic demise prompts industry support for artists

A group of industry organisations has launched an impact assessment survey to determine the severity and breadth of financial damage to artists affected by the demise of crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic.

Reports have circulated for close to a year that PledgeMusic was failing to pay artists who raised funds through its platform. Following the platform’s collapse, many artists remain deeply out of pocket.

The UK’s Musicians’ Union is hosting the survey, which closes on Tuesday 25 June, and is to be completed by individuals and businesses alike.

The survey is promoted collaboratively by UK Music, who last month called on competition watchdogs to investigate the beleaguered PledgeMusic, Music Managers’ Forum (MMF), the Association of Independent Musicians (AIM), PRS Foundation and International Showcase Fund partners including the Music Producers Guild (MPG) and Music Support.

The group hopes that information provided through the survey will illuminate the scale of the fallout from PledgeMusic’s collapse and help the industry to ensure artists and businesses receive the support they require.

In a joint statement, the industry bodies behind the survey wrote:

“As organisations who want to see the music industry thrive, we are deeply disappointed that PledgeMusic has announced its bankruptcy leaving artists and fans out of pocket and with little communication or advice on how to deal with campaign disruption.

“We are deeply disappointed that PledgeMusic has announced its bankruptcy leaving artists and fans out of pocket and with little communication or advice on how to deal with campaign disruption”

“The failure of PledgeMusic to appropriately ring-fence artist and fan money has the potential to damage artists’ careers and their relationships with fans and fellow creators if they can’t deliver on stalled campaigns.

“Individually, each of our organisations has been working hard to support our members during this difficult time. However, in order to consider collective action we have launched an industry-wide survey to assess the impact of the PledgeMusic closure.”

The survey has received artist support from UK band Jesus Jones, who used PledgeMusic to fund the release of their album Voyages, and has spearheaded the artists community’s reaction to the platform’s collapse.

“It’s really gratifying to see a strong industry-wide response taking place,” comment the band.

“As artists, as fans, as people who’ve come to realise the potential strength of crowdfunding, it’s vital that we all stand together, and rebuild confidence – and also seek to ensure that Pledge are held accountable for betraying such a vital bond of trust.”

The survey can be completed here.

 


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UK Music urges watchdog to investigate PledgeMusic

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher has called on small business and consumer minister Kelly Tolhurst to refer PledgeMusic to watchdogs at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Dugher’s intervention comes after one of the firm’s co-founders, Benji Rodgers, warned that the music crowdfunding website was on the brink of bankruptcy. Rodgers had previously hoped to keep the direct-to-fan marketplace afloat by securing a partnership or acquisition deal.

The disclosure affects many artists who fear they will not receive the money that they are owed by PledgeMusic if it goes into administration. In January, it was revealed that the company was behind on payments to multiple artists, with debts amounting to thousands of dollars.

Dugher called on the consumer minister to investigate the firm’s failure and refer the case to the UK competition authority CMA.

His demand comes as the Musicians’ Union urged musicians owed money through the platform to contact them.

“Creators who used PledgeMusic’s services are likely to lose money”

“Many musicians across the UK relied on crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to deliver payments from patrons, to pay for album recordings and costs,” says Dugher.

“These artists were already enduring long delays in receiving payments. As a consequence, creators who used PledgeMusic’s services are likely to lose money, if it goes into administration without resolving its outstanding debts.”

Crowdfunding platforms such as PledgeMusic, states Dugher, are an important way for emerging artists to raise capital to support album recording costs, music video costs and other capital expenditures.

“This is often a crucial step for them to progress through the music talent pipeline. Musicians should be able to trust crowdfunding platforms to fulfil their obligation of delivering money pledged by fans and supporters,” adds Dugher.

“I would therefore ask that you refer PledgeMusic to the CMA to ensure that this matter is properly investigated.”

 


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