Pledge of AllegianceIssue: Section:
“So basically there is no reason now for any artist to say that they can't afford to record, rehearse, make records or tour.”
I have played music all over the place since I can remember. I have been a roadie, a bartender, a camera man and now I seem to be running a music company. It's hard to imagine how all of those dots connect but they seem to. I began with the piano, but it's a tough instrument to take to the beach on a summer vacation and get girls with, so this moved me to the guitar. I learned "Sweet Child Of Mine," and all the other obligatory covers and then got to focussing on my singing. I have had two incredible singing coaches, Charlie Sorrento and Jim Dawson and I toured up until march last year pretty much for the nine previous years. This led to seven albums, several different band incarnations and allot of travel. I had the idea for Pledge on an air mattress in my Mum's spare room at around 4am before I was due to fly to Amsterdam to play a gig, where as luck would have it I met Jann, one of the founders of what would become Pledge Music. I built a simple idea of what it could look like in iweb and then set loosely about making it a reality. We founded the company in March of last year and the site launched it's Alpha project, which was my E.P., at the end of July.
what is pledge?
Pledge is a Direct to fan platform, from which artists can "Involve Their Fans, Keep 100% Of Their Rights, Fund Their Music & Raise Money For Charity. It's a transparent way to reach out to those amazing and rare people who would and will do anything for you as an artist if you will just offer them a way to do so.
for the artist?
So basically there is no reason now for any artist to say that they can't afford to record, rehearse, make records or tour. The future belongs to those musicians who choose to own their destiny outright and who now have an alternative to placing it into the hands of anybody else. Pledge is a transparent way for you to run your musical career whilst giving amazing value for money, and an incredible ride for the fans. Pledge means that you don't have to sacrifice what you want to do because of the price and though it may take a little longer you can build a future alongside your fans.
is pledge more for the little broke band than the established artists?
It’s for both. We are working with both and as a company we spend allot of time talking to people at every level. From the signed to the unsigned, the successful to the starting out they can't really loose if they choose to work the system to it's potential. To the smaller acts my message is this: If you have 1000 fans, you don't need 50 grand you need 1000 more fans. Plain and simple. If there were 50 people at your last show you need to get 50 more new people to the next one. So you may need a few thousand dollars to get things mixed, fix the truck, do some demos or make some CD's. I've done it all and so i know it can be done. I made my last EP using the system (pledge), and it was an incredible experience. For the larger bands, who have been on labels or who have not we offer them a way to re-engage with their fan bases, give away less to third parties and to control their business. We don't take rights and so we don't preclude any deals that may be in place or desired. We place all the tools into the hands of the artists at any level to be able to drive their careers.
what’s in it for the fan?
This does depend on the band and what they offer. Ideally the artist takes the fan on a journey using the updates section of the page where the fan gets exclusive access to 'Pledgers Only' music, videos, photos and words. The fan gets the music first if the artist lets them and then the fans also get to share what the band is up to with their friends. The fans also get to know that they are a part of something that would not have been made had it not been for them and if the artists choose to give to a charity as well, even better. Ideally in cases like the "Damnwells" the fans received 52 updates from the band, from rough mixes to videos, blogs to photos and all before the record has even hit their ears. It's great to watch the campaigns evolve especially when the artist goes all out as a few of them really have.
how does Pledge differ from fan fund organizations?
Pledge is different from other "fan funding" or "crowd sourcing" companies because that’s not really what it does. I consider us a music company first and an option for any artist who wants to reward their fans with the best experience possible. "Fan funding," "Direct To Consumer" "Selling Units" and "Moving Volume" are all words and phrases that I want Pledge to have nothing to do with. Our artists can offer their fans participation and inclusion, a great experience and exclusive access, and the fan has the option to Pledge in at what ever level they choose to.
and the charity aspect?
Charity is ultimately personal and should always be specific to the artist. It is optional as well. We ask all of our Artists why they have chosen the charity and then we reach out to those charities to let them know what the bands are doing.
The three principles that I founded this company on were Artists, Fans and Charity. It was not an add on. It is at the core of what we do.
how does pledge profit?
Pledge takes a 15% comission on what ever comes into the site. There are no hidden fees and artists can track their finances in real time through their admin section and payment schedule. We do not charge the fans anything until the goal amount set by the artist is reached and so we take time and personal care to make sure that the campaigns have the best possible chance at achieving success.
and the million dollar question, how’s business?
Not including bands that haven't finished their campaigns yet we're at around 80%.
Happy indeed with that!
Catch Benji Rogers aka Marwood before he goes back into hiding.
Rockwood Music Hall March 12th, 10pm