Late payments continue to plague artists using PledgeMusic more than 100 days after the music crowdfunder promised to fix the problem, blaming rapid growth and "externally imposed transfer of the company’s payment processing systems."
Multiple artists have reached out to Hypebot in recent weeks saying that a month or more had passed since they'd completed their PledgeMusic crowdfunding campaigns, but money collected from their fans had not been released.
Neo-folk-world-rock ensemble HuDost exceeded their goal when their Pledgemusic campaign ended on August 27th. According to the standard PledgeMusic contract, "75% of goal, minus PM commission and any charity funds” was due then.
Those several thousand dollars meant a lot to the band and their ability to finish their record with producer and mixer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy, Beyonce, Beck, Alicia Keys, Melissa Etheridge, Kings of Leon and more).
Almost a month later, PledgeMusic had not released their funds.
Another artist shared their own experience, which began when they completed their PledgeMusic campaign in the second week of August, raising almost $8000. "I still haven’t been released funds they collected on my behalf," said the artist speaking on condition of anonymity. "In the meantime I have had to put recording and mixing costs on a high interest credit card until this is resolved. So far that has resulted in over a hundred dollars in interest and credit card processing fees. "
Both artists were told only that their payments were "backlogged," with no date when it would be paid.
"When I first reached out, my campaign manager told me they were experiencing a payment backlog and didn’t have an ETA as to when it would be fixed. I asked for an ETA and was told they couldn’t get me one until after a financial meeting at the end of the week," said the second artist. "They then gave me a payment date that came and went without any release of funds. I reached out via email twice with no response. I tried calling the phone numbers that were posted publicly online but they were dead ends with no live operator."
More Than Missing Money
HuDost's Moksha Sommer says that PledgeMusic's lack of attention began right after their campaign launched:
"When we first had phone conversations with Pledge, they promised things regarding ‘coaching’ throughout, social media sharing of our campaign, featuring of our campaign, etc. that they did not do during the campaign until we voiced frustration about their not living up to the promises that had been made... They did very little for this. We worked incredibly hard through the campaign and every penny that came in was because of our outreach.
"Our main contact, who was supposed to be coaching us through the campaign, was consistently rude.... Doing a campaign and the amount of learning and work involved is no small thing for artists. If Pledge is receiving 15% of the artist’s earnings they should at least be polite and aide the process. She simply refused to refer us to anyone else in the company to ask for further assistance....
"(But) Once the money issues started post campaign she now tells us that that’s not her department and that she has to be in contact with ‘upper management’ about that."
After persistently contacting the company for more than 4 weeks, HuDost finally received a payment last week. It was for 75% of their original goal, "but not of what we made, as we exceeded the goal," minus the 15% fee. "It was still a one month delay and we had to pester repeatedly," says Sommer.
Other artists that contact Hypebot have not yet been been. Almost $8000 is still owed to the other artist quoted in this story, as of September 26th, six weeks that campaign ended:
"I think part of the reason more artists aren’t publicly calling out PledgeMusic for these issues is that they are afraid of what their fans will think. There are people who pledged large amounts of money to this project and I know they would be angry if they knew what was going on. I feel terrible that their money is tied up in limbo and I feel partially responsible for having chosen to work with PledgeMusic."