I don't often share much about the ugly / unsavoury behind-the-scenes goings-on of the entertainment business, but there are times when I believe it's important to be transparent, especially when fans and artists alike are being deceived / wronged. This is one of those times.
Firstly I want to thank you all so much for your support of my new album (and my previous album) via pledge music. As many of you know, in this ever-changing business the point of a pledge music campaign is to help an artist essentially cover some of the costs of making an album or project via pre-sales and exclusives for an in-the-works project that fans may not otherwise have an opportunity to participate in, and simultaneously offer a more engaging and interactive 'behind the scenes' look at the artist's process.
For me with my new album, this proved to be more counterproductive than anything. Most times I tried to do an update (which was very frequently) there were issues with the pledge site / app, which meant I had to contact them for support and then wait for a response and then wait for an issue to be resolved, and most times an 'in the moment' update turned into a weeks-later modified update, or no update at all. It started to feel very laborious and frustrating as I wanted to engage with you with much more immediacy than I was able but often times my hands were tied. In the end, unbeknownst to you, I had to forego many video updates and fun little bits due to glitches in their platform.
And as you all know, when I did release the album they sent it out incorrectly, with the tracks in alphabetical order instead of in the proper sequence - which you graciously overlooked, but after working for 2 years on an album that was carefully and meticulously sequenced to tell a certain story and to together in a certain way, was incredibly frustrating for me.
In short, I was not able to run the campaign I had wanted to and it left a bad taste. Unfortunately, it appears these non-blog-worthy nuisances were indicative of a bigger problem that has recently come to light.
For those who aren't familiar with how pledge works on the financial side: fans pay for a product thru an artists' pledge page. Pledge then holds onto a large % of that money essentially 'in trust' to give to the artist (less a hefty 15% commission) once the project is complete and the artist has shipped all the orders. 14 days after the artist has shipped everything out, Pledge is to send the artist the funds that they have collected and held on your behalf. In the meantime, the artist incurs costs (including shipping costs, which are not built in and can be quite substantial), knowing that they have this pre-sale money coming to them as soon as their part is done and fans have their products.
Once my project was done I requested payment at the 14-day post campaign mark. I got nothing. I followed up multiple times and was still not paid. I was then told they no longer send payments via paypal (which is how they had in the past) and this concerned me. They still did not send me my (ie YOUR) money. I was eventually told there was a 'backlog' - which made no sense, as their only job is to hold and then release funds on behalf of fans and artists.
In the end, I had to chase, escalate to the co-founder of the company, and eventually threaten them for several months to finally receive your pledge funds, months after they were due. This was stressful and zero fun. I also requested that they refund me the 15% commission to account for the constant glitches and issues throughout the campaign as well as the fact that they did not deliver the funds remotely on time (and wouldn't have at all had I not consistently chased them) and basically didn't keep any of their part of the deal - but they refused.
This week however, I found out that I was one of the 'lucky ones' to receive payment at all. Renowned music industry expert / writer Bob Lefsetz sent out a blog this week about a band who had still not been paid out for their campaign and it made my heart sink:
A nauseating and heartbreaking number of artists and managers replied with their similar stories, which he then forwarded to all of his blog subscribers (myself included).
For me as an artist (and in life), trust and integrity are everything. You guys are amazing and trusted me to deliver at a time when this album was still only in my imagination. You took a leap of faith that it would be worth your early investment and worth the wait - and this means the world to me and enabled me to crack on with it and take the time I needed to get it right. So to have aligned myself with a company that was established to HELP artists, only to find out they are essentially stealing from artists and fans absolutely infuriates me.
I have friends who have current campaigns and have already spent their budgets who may never get their money - so essentially Pledge has stolen the money of the most devoted and amazing fans, and left artists in an impossible and acutely stressful position. Being an artist in any medium is not for the faint of heart. Having to worry about being robbed by the 'artist-friendly' platform that's in place to 'help' is gut wrenching. I put up with a lot of nonsense a lot of the time in this business, but this in particular really makes my blood boil and I cannot be quiet about it.
I would encourage all of you to no longer use PledgeMusic as there is a very good chance your money is going straight into their pockets and never getting to the artists / bands you are trying to support. I would also encourage any of you who have current pledges in with any artists who's projects are ongoing to contact the artist directly and see what can be done (i'd also suggest you contact your credit card company for a refund on the payment, and then liase with the artist directly to find another way to ensure your money is getting to them).
As for me, I have lots more coming up with Honey & Rust and am already working on new music which I can't wait to share with you, but I will never use the PledgeMusic platform again. I would love to keep in touch with all of you via my email list, which you can join here on my site.
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for the amazing support you've shown me via Pledge and in general - connecting with all of you is what makes this worthwhile, and your support and encouragement mean the world.
Lots of love,