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UK industry unites to assess impact of Pledge collapse

By | Published on Wednesday 5 June 2019


An assortment of UK music industry trade bodies and charities have come together in a bid to support artists impacted by the collapse of pre-order and fan-funding platform PledgeMusic. The initiative is launching with a survey designed to assess the scale of that impact.

Pledge co-founder Benji Rogers announced last month that the company was heading into administration after attempts to sell the business had failed. Rogers left the company in 2017 but returned as a part-time consultant on a voluntary basis once the scale of the firm’s financial problems became clear.

Artists who had used Pledge to raise money for projects started to complain about late payments last year. Then in October the company admitted to having financial problems that had resulted in artists being paid late, but it said that changes in the business should overcome the issues.

However, they did not and complaints of late payment continued, until Pledge finally suspended operations in February, saying that it hoped a buyer could be found that would allow all artist monies caught up in the mess to be handed over. That also did not happen, meaning artists owed money from the company are now unlikely to ever be paid.

Some artists owed cash by Pledge are immediately out of pocket because they have already produced whatever products their fans had ‘pledged’ money to receive, and will not now be able to recoup those costs from the pledged funds. Others artists have fans who have paid money and been promised as yet unproduced products, meaning the artist has to work out how to make good on the commitment they previously made to said fans.

It’s not entirely clear how many artists are in this position or how much money the average act is owed, though it’s thought that, in total, up to $3 million of unpaid artist monies are potentially tied up in the collapse of the Pledge business.

UK trade bodies UK Music, MMF, AIM, FAC, MPG, BPI, Musicians’ Union and the Ivors Academy – alongside music industry charities Help Musicians UK, Music Support, the PRS Foundation and the PRS Members’ Fund – are now working together to assess the impact of Pledge’s collapse, in order to consider how affected artists may be supported. And that all begins with a survey, which is online here.

The various trade bodies and charities said in a statement this morning: “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”.

“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”, they go on. “Individually, each of our organisations have 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”.

That survey is supported by Pledge users Jesus Jones, who have been particularly vocal about the company’s problems and collapse. They added: “As a band who’ve been affected by the collapse of PledgeMusic, it’s really gratifying to see a strong industry-wide response taking place. 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”.

UK Music has already called on the Competition And Markets Authority to investigate the collapse of Pledge, which had bases in both the UK and the US. Meanwhile AIM recently published lengthy guidelines for those affected by the company’s bankruptcy.

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