Pledgemusic has easily become one of my favorite fan funding companies in the space. The platform they provide for artists and fans to connect is incredible, and allows musicians and music lovers to interact and support each other without it feeling cheesy or gimmicky like some other fan funding platforms out there.
Pledgemusic’s CEO Benji Rogers has a great head on his shoulders (read this incredible interview with him), and the company recently decided to start its own “record label” and “sign” their first artist, The Damnwells.
The reasons I put “record label” and “sign” in quotes is because I’m not so sure that they’ve done either of those things, despite what others have been claiming.
Over at hypebot, Kyle Bylin (@kbylin) writes:
“…the band will retain all rights, ownership, and publishing. In turn, Pledgemusic Recordings will provide the group with the guidance and expertise that they may have traditionally looked to a label for.”
Traditionally, that sounds a lot like a management/marketing/PR hybrid-type company to me, not record label. Most big record labels are basically banks that give loans to artists to record music, in exchange for some kind of equity like part of their publishing rights. Pledgemusic approaches that aspect of the business similarly with their funding projects, but the underlying motivations to fund an artist on Pledgemusic are much different than the motivations of a traditional record label giving an artist an advance.
Some people expressed similar thoughts in the comments section on the hypebot post, including Benji himself who provided some further insight on the matter:
“It means that Pledgemusic are paying for the marketing and promotion of the record and have set up distribution, time lined a release schedule and are doing all that we need to to make sure that this amazing album gets heard by the most amount of people that it possibly can. We have set up the deal so that both parties can make a living from the recordings and in keeping with PledgeMusic’s overall philosophy, to insure that all parties involved can win.”
This is an interesting position that Pledgemusic is placing itself in the music industry. They have already proven that their model works for 77% artists that try to fund a project, which is a very impressive number. Now, they are offerring some of those artists additional services like management, marketing, and promotion. Yet, they do not take any rights away from the artist.
Do you think a company operating with this kind of business model can survive in today’s music industry? It definitely won’t be an easy task, that’s for sure, but I commend Benji for trying something new and different, because that’s what today’s music industry is about – experimenting and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.