PledgeMusic was an online direct-to-fan music platform, launched in August 2009. It was started to facilitate musicians looking to pre-sell, market, and distribute projects; such as recordings and concerts. It bore similarities to other artist payment platforms as ArtistShare, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon, RocketHub and Sellaband.

Type of site
Direct-to-fan music platform
Available in
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
Founder(s)Benjie Rogers
IndustryCrowdsourcing for musicians
Registrationviewing – no, selling/buying – yes
LaunchedAugust 2009; 14 years ago (2009-08)
Current statusBankrupt[1]

The company announced it was facing bankruptcy in May 2019, after a year of artists reporting slow payment problems.[1] The company was granted permission to wind up on 19 August 2019.[2]

History edit

Formation edit

PledgeMusic was formed in the UK and registered with Companies House on 1 October 2008.[3]

In the next few years, a number of complementary companies were also formed under the PledgeMusic banner. They were: PledgeMusic Retail Ltd[4] on 18 June 2009; PledgeMusic Recordings Limited[5] on 18 August 2010 (originally named PledgeMusic 2.0 Limited); and PledgeMusic Publishing[6] on 11 November 2010.

Early successes edit

Ginger Wildheart was awarded the 2012 Classic Rock Awards 'Event Of The Year' award for his PledgeMusic campaign.[7]

By 2013, roughly thirty artists that used the site had subsequently signed label recording contracts.[8]

In 2014, PledgeMusic reported a 90% campaign success rate (higher than Kickstarter or Indiegogo), with most artists raising an average 140% of their goal.[9] PledgeMusic and teamed up to produce a documentary about 'super fans' and their role in the future of the music industry. The documentary features footage and interviews from SXSW and interviews with artists such as Nicole Atkins and San Fermin.

Payment issues since 2018 edit

In early 2018, reports emerged of artists not being paid in accordance with their agreements with PledgeMusic.[10][11][12][13][14] Also at that time, PledgeMusic's accounts for 2017 had not been filed with Companies House in the UK and by then were 4 months overdue.[15] On 24 January 2019, PledgeMusic issued a statement via its blog page that claimed the company was having "discussions with several strategic players in the industry who have an interest in the PledgeMusic platform" and that it expects "payments will be brought current within the next 90 days."[16]

On January 29, PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers issued a statement saying he was returning to the company as "a volunteer strategic advisor and observer to the board." While the company was still working to "sort the back payments issue", Rogers claimed that "all funds coming into the company from now on will be managed by an independent third party (to be named soon)."[17]

In February 2019, a company charge was placed on PledgeMusic by Sword, Rowe & Company LLC.[18]

On May 3, a report was published in Digital Music News in which a leaked email was quoted, apparently sent from Robbie Wirdnam, an assistant manager at FRP Advisory LLP, who, according to the email, were due to be appointed as administrators for the winding up of[19] The email was attempting to find potential buyers for all or part of the PledgeMusic business prior to selling off the company's assets.

Administration and liquidation: May to July 2019 edit

Benji Rogers, the company's co-founder, stated in a blog post dated May 8 that efforts to sell the company had failed and that "PledgeMusic will shortly be heading into administration".[1][20] Rogers said that the crowdfunding platform had used money that was pledged for use by musical artists to pay off the company's debts instead.[21] Many artists who were pledged money through the website will most likely not receive the money that was promised to them.[22] John Zorn is among the artists affected, who is owed $197,559, money which was pledged to help him finish his 25-year-long project, The Book Beriah.[23]

On 9 May, Kevin Brennan Labour MP raised the question of musician and consumer protection in light of PledgeMusic's collapse, in Parliament.[24]

By June 5, a number of trade bodies in the United Kingdom, including UK Music, had launched a survey to investigate the impact PledgeMusic's failure would have on the industry.[25]

Sometime between July 13 and July 25, the website became unavailable. The latest archived copy held by was dated July 13.[26]

On July 31, a petition to wind up was heard in the High Court of London.[27][28] The petition was presented by Russell Rieger on behalf of the directors of, who at that time were Russell Rieger, Joshua Sason, Donald Ienner, Daniel Rowe and David Walsh,[29] and was granted on August 19.[2]

Aftermath of insolvency and liquidation edit

PledgeMusic went bankrupt before John Zorn and hundreds of other artists were paid money owed via campaign pledges.[30][31] In November 2019, Failure frontman Ken Andrews alleged PledgeMusic owed them $75,000 from their 2018 album campaign. Andrews further claimed that former CEO Dominic Pandiscia changed the company's policy of ring-fencing artists' money in 2016. Pandiscia denied the claims and mentioned considering legal action against Andrews.[32]

In March 2020, the BBC reported that the band CC Smugglers lost £20,000 when PledgeMusic went bankrupt. It also stated the Insolvency Service was still investigating the company's insolvency.[33]

By September 2021, a startup direct-to-fan site, Sonicly, had hired Benji Rogers as a consultant, in an attempt to avoid making similar mistakes as PledgeMusic. Sonicly plans not to hold any funds paid by fans; instead artists will be paid directly via Square.[34]

Business model edit

PledgeMusic considered itself a direct-to-fan platform as opposed to a crowdfunding website. Features that the site claimed distinguished it from similar competitors:[35]

  • Sole focus on raising funds for musicians
  • Not retaining any ownership or rights to any music created through the platform
  • Encourages artists to include contributions to charity
  • Absorbs all transaction processing costs involved in pledging on a project
  • Encourages artists to offer a wide range of incentives and exclusive content to fans
  • No processing of any fund transactions until the fund target reached
  • International, accepting artists, projects and pledges from all over the world
  • Pledger refunds

PledgeMusic had two distinct types of campaigns: direct-to-fan and preorder. In direct-to-fan campaigns, fans were not charged until the project target was reached. If a target was not reached, fans were not charged. In preorder campaigns, fans were charged immediately, and the artist was paid directly upon project completion.[36]

Charity edit

PledgeMusic artists had the option of donating a percentage of their total or post-goal revenue to a charity of their choice. As of 2014, 67% of projects had been linked with a charity.[9] Artists without a cause in mind were able to meet with the company's charity outreach specialist to pair them up with charities.

Critique edit

In 2010, while discussing the Digital Economy Bill Lord Errol, in the UK House of Lords, described PledgeMusic as a "rather clever idea" in the context of developing proportionate legal structures to protect copyright within the creative industry.[37]

In June 2019, Musically reported that Kickstarter decided against launching a similar service due to being unable to find a sustainable business model that would support a high number of lower-volume creators.[38]

Campaigns edit

List of artists that used the site to raise money:

Release/End date Artist Type Project title Label Ref Note
January 2019 OhGr Album Tricks Independent [39]
2018 Failure Album In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind [32] $75,000 allegedly withheld by PledgeMusic
2018 Neil Innes Album Nearly Really Innes Music [40] £23,000 withheld by PledgeMusic
2018 Lucky Chops Album
2018 Bobby Long (musician) Album Sultans Compass Records
2018 John Zorn Album (11 CDs) The Book Beri'ah Tzadik [30] Money withheld by PledgeMusic
October 2016 Sum 41 Album 13 Voices Hopeless Records [41]
- Shayne Ward Album Closer PledgeMusic [42]

Awards edit

PledgeMusic was nominated for:

  • 2010 BT Digital Music Awards in the category "Best Innovation or Gadget".[43]
  • 2011 Music Week Awards in the category "Consumer-Facing Digital Music Service of the Year".[44]
  • 2011 BT Digital Music Awards in the category "Best Innovation or Gadget".[45]
  • SoundCtrl's 2013 Best in Artist Support award.[46]
  • American Association of Independent Music 2013 Annual Libera Awards (The "LIBBYs") 21st Century Award – celebrating the service provider or platform that was most beneficial to Independent labels and artists.[47]

PledgeMusic was noted as one of Billboard's "Five digital startups to watch in 2013".[48]

PledgeMusic won the Grammy Music Technology Lab in 2013.[49]

Co-founders Benji Rogers and Malcolm Dunbar were named to The Hospital Club 100 list in 2013 in the category of Music.[50]

Benji Rogers, founder and ex-president of PledgeMusic, won A&R Worldwide's International Music Industry Awards' Distinguished Digital Executive of the Year, 2014.[citation needed]

See also edit

References edit



  1. ^ a b c "Crowdfunding Site PledgeMusic Was an Antidote to Music Biz Middlemen—Until It Cheated Artists Out of Millions". Pitchfork. 7 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "PLEDGEMUSIC.COM LIMITED – Filing history (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  3. ^ " Filing History". Retrieved 2021-04-21.
  4. ^ "PLEDGEMUSIC RETAIL LTD – Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  5. ^ "PLEDGEMUSIC RECORDINGS LIMITED – Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  6. ^ "PLEDGEMUSIC PUBLISHING LTD – Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  7. ^ Award-winning Ginger Wildheart Pledge campaign 'testament to commercial viability of D2F'. Music Week. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  8. ^ "sevensixtytwo". sevensixtytwo. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13. Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  9. ^ a b "PledgeMusic Looks To Change The Future Of The Album Release". Digital Music News. 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2014-06-01.
  10. ^ "PledgeMusic, Once a Crowdfunding Haven for Artists, Now Owes Them Thousands of Dollars". Billboard. 24 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  11. ^ "'This is becoming the Fyre Fest of crowdfunding': Anger grows as PledgeMusic owns up to late payments". Music Business Worldwide. 2019-01-24. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  12. ^ "Music Crowdfunding Site PledgeMusic Falls Under Fire for Late Payments, Issues Statement". Pitchfork. 24 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  13. ^ Danny Vaughn Official, Don't Use Pledge!, retrieved 2019-01-27
  14. ^ Aswad, Jem (2019-02-22). "Here's How Much Money 10 Artists Are Owed by PledgeMusic". Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  15. ^ "PLEDGEMUSIC.COM LIMITED – Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  16. ^ "PledgeMusic Statement About Payments Backlog". PledgeMusic. 24 January 2019. Archived from the original on 31 January 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  17. ^ Wakefield, Jane (30 January 2019). "The day the music died?". BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Charge". Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  19. ^ "Game Over for PledgeMusic — Leaked E-mail Reveals Pre-Liquidation Fire Sale Set to Begin". Digital Music News. 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2019-05-04.
  20. ^ Rogers, Benji (2019-05-08). "PledgeMusic Update". Medium. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  21. ^ "PledgeMusic Could Face Criminal Investigation Over Crowdfunding Fraud". Digital Music News. 2019-05-10. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  22. ^ "PledgeMusic Cofounder Benji Rogers Quietly Steps Aside at AMLC". Digital Music News. 2019-05-14. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  23. ^ "As A Crowdfunding Platform Implodes, A Legendary Composer Rebounds". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  24. ^ "Written questions and answers – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  25. ^ "Trade bodies to assess impact of PledgeMusic 'campaign disruption'".
  26. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2019-07-13. Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  27. ^ "PLEDGEMUSIC.COM LIMITED". Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  28. ^ " information for customers and creditors". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  29. ^ "PLEDGEMUSIC.COM LIMITED – Officers (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2019-07-27.
  30. ^ a b Chinen, Nate (14 May 2019). "As A Crowdfunding Platform Implodes, A Legendary Composer Rebounds". NPR. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  31. ^ "John Zorn attempts to recoup losses from Pledge Music bankruptcy – The Wire". The Wire Magazine – Adventures In Modern Music.
  32. ^ a b Childers, Chad. "Failure Frontman Raises Allegations Against Ex-Pledge Music CEO". Loudwire. Retrieved 2020-02-04.
  33. ^ "PledgeMusic collapse: CC Smugglers fight to recoup £20k losses". BBC News. 2020-03-24. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  34. ^ "Sonicly learned from PledgeMusic's mistakes to launch a music crowdfunding platform that works". Hypebot. 2021-09-14. Retrieved 2021-12-07.
  35. ^ "FAQ". PledgeMusic. Archived from the original on 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2013-05-29.
  36. ^ "PledgeMusic FAQ". Archived from the original on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
  37. ^ [1] Archived May 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Dredge, Stuart (June 17, 2019). "Kickstarter's Drip follow-up has been canned before launch". Music Ally.
  39. ^ Stutz, Colin (8 February 2019). "PledgeMusic's Failed Promise Leaves Artists in Limbo and the Future of Music Crowdfunding in Jeopardy (9 February 2019)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  40. ^ "Neil Innes: Nearly Really". Retrieved 30 Dec 2019.
  41. ^ "Sum 41 to release comeback album". Alternative Press. 9 July 2015.
  42. ^ "Shayne Ward announces new album for February 2015". Digital Spy. 19 September 2014.
  43. ^ (Press Release) BT news releases Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  44. ^ Williams, Paul. (2011-04-18) Awards nominations announced. Music Week. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  45. ^ "2011 BT Digital Music Awards". Archived from the original on September 2, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  46. ^ (Press Release) Thanks to SoundCtrl for Nominating Us for a 2013 FlashFWD Award! Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. PledgeMusic (2013-04-16). Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  47. ^ American Association of Independent Music — Blog — A2IM LIBBY Awards Final Nominees Announced Archived 2013-04-27 at the Wayback Machine. A2IM (2013-04-24). Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  48. ^ Five Digital Startups to Watch in 2013 | Billboard Archived 2012-12-19 at the Wayback Machine. (2012-12-14). Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  49. ^ (Press Release) Wins Grammy Music Technology Lab Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. PledgeMusic (2013-02-27). Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  50. ^ "The Hospital Club 100 list 2013 | Culture professionals network | Guardian Professional". 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2014-06-01.