Sonicly learned from PledgeMusic’s mistakes to launch a music crowdfunding platform that works

Sonicly is launching as the first direct-to-fan platform since the messy demise of PledgeMusic to offer musicians the toolkit and financial safety needed to succeed at crowdfunding.

Sonicly was built specifically for music creators with a full understanding of the successes and failures of the PledgeMusic crowdfunding platform which went bankrupt in 2019 owing artists and fans as much as $3 million.

Importantly to the thousands who went unpaid when Pledge Music went under, all funds flow directly from the fan to the artist via Square and are not held by Sonicly.

“We were able to steer clear of the rocks that they hit.”

Determined to build a better music crowdfunding platform as well as not to repeat PledgeMusic’s mistakes, the founders of Sonicly took the smart but certain-to-be controversial step of bringing aboard PledgeMusic co-founder Benji Rogers as a consultant.

In an effort to try to help artists, Rogers became the reluctant public face of the failing company even though he’d left PledgeMusic months before. Rightly or wrongly, many blamed Rogers for how the final months of PledgeMusic played out.

But prior to its bankruptcy, few would deny that Rogers and PledgeMusic had helped to build a crowdfunding platform that actually worked for musicians.

That’s the expertise that Sonicly has tried to tap into.

“We wanted to learn from what went wrong, and by engaging with their team, we were able to steer clear of the rocks that they hit,” Andrew Eisele, the Co-Founder & CEO of Sonicly told Hypebot. That included building a financial back end that leverages Stripe to make sure that artist’s funds “are literally not ever in possession of Sonicly or other third parties.”

Features and Cost

From what I can remember about PledgeMusic, it looks easier to set up a campaign on Sonicly even though there is a lot of room for customization.

Among other benefits, that means that artists can choose to do more one-off and targeted crowdfunding campaigns. “For those who don’t want to do a more structured and content-heavy, subscription-based project, doing multiple smaller campaigns, more often might be a better fit,” said Eisele. “Especially since putting all your eggs in a single basket can feel like an onerous task to those who don’t constantly want to promote, and who want to be more creative.”

There’s also an option for ‘Unconditional support.’ Artists can get paid even if they don’t achieve their fundraising goals.

Sonicly’s platform fee is just 5% due at payout and Stripe receives its usual 3-5% credit card processing fees.

Why Sonicly? Why Now?

With the loss of income from the sale of physical goods and live performances canceled by the ongoing pandemic, now would seem a perfect time for a music crowdfunding comeback.

But in truth music crowdfunding never really went away.

After the shockwaves caused by PledgeMusic subsided, some musicians used general-purpose crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to fundraise while others turned to Patreon and similar fan-subscription platforms.

What’s been missing has been a site built specifically for musicians and music fans. In addition to being a sales platform, PledgeMusic was a community eager to support new music. That was the secret sauce that really made it work for artists.

Sonicly is poised to do the same and better, without repeating PledgeMusic’s mistakes.

MORE: Is it time for a music crowdfunding comeback?

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