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THE END FOR PLEDGE MUSIC

Crowdfunding site PledgeMusic has been called into liquidation after its owners failed to find a willing buyer after a rather public fall from grace. Hundreds of artists were not paid and some have threatened legal action.

Co-founder and former CEO Benji Rogers, who officially exited the company in early 2017 and was brought back in to try and salvage the business and help find a buyer, announced that the company has now been filed with the court in the U.K. for liquidation. 

In a statement published on Medium, Rogers said: “I would have given anything to have found the company a home, and it breaks my heart that you artists and your fans, who did not deserve to be put in this situation in the first place, have been left without what should rightfully be yours. 

“I will forever wonder if I could have done more in my limited role as a volunteer, and I wish that the company would have been more forthcoming with information. The vacuum created wild speculation and misinformation which ultimately, I believe hurt this process. We will never know.”

There’s still a semblance of hope—the liquidator, aka the Official Receiver, could still find a buyer to make right of the situation and pay back artists “at least some” of what they are owed, Rogers added. 

Reports first started surfacing in June last year of the company failing to pay artists the money they had raised from fans on the platform. The complaints got louder early this year when it was revealed that key personnel had left the London office, which was reportedly in a skeleton state, before the company was called into administration with major debts. 

Trade orgs across the British music business have united to support the artists impacted with the Musicians’ Union launching a survey to scope out the scale of the damage. UK MusicMusic Managers Forum, the Association of Independent Music,Help Musicians UKPRS Foundation and International Showcase Fund partners are backing the effort. In addition, U.K. Music Deputy CEO Tom Kiehl has called on the government to take urgent action to prevent a repeat of the scandal. 

In a letter to Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst, Kiehl wrote: “The winding up of this company represents an entirely unsatisfactory development for the many music fans and creators who have invested so much into projects through this scheme.

“I ask you to again consider the merits of a ministerial referral to the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate what went wrong with this case.  

“I would also like to ask you to consider taking up the case with the Financial Conduct Authority, which holds responsibility for regulating certain types of crowdfunding, to consider the activities of PledgeMusic and whether there have been any regulatory breaches. 

“Furthermore, I would like to ask for a meeting with you to consider further possible Government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again.”

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