For more information visit: http://www.pledgemusic.com/site/faq
By Brenda Camberos
Benji Rogers is PledgeMusic’s CEO, and the mastermind behind the concept which encompasses an innovative way of funding artists, helping charities, and giving fans a new way of obtaining music and connecting directly with their favorite artists. The innovative interactive platform allows music fans to interact with their favorite artists, receive exclusive treats and actually be part of the creative process.
“The concept was rather than have a crowd funding platform that has the artist saying ‘please give me money, I’ll make an album and deliver it’. PledgeMusic encourages you to be a part of the release of the record; from day one you get access to a special part of the site. On that part of the site you have rough mixes, live tracks, unreleased demos, interviews and video blogs that allow you to see things as they’re happening in the studio. Part of the profit from the campaign goes to the charity of the artist’s choice,” explains Rogers.
Sounds too good to be true, but it’s reality in the making! Launched in 2009 PledgeMusic is a direct to fan platform specializing in fundraising, digital marketing, and the creating of direct to fan releases with part of the profits going to the artist’s charity of choice. The company offers independent artist tools for achieving releases, tours and other goals. The entrepreneur knew his venture would work from the get go because as he puts it: “everybody wins.”
“The artist wins because they have a way to get their music directly to their fans, the fans win because they are getting their music directly from the artist and they’re getting rewards as the campaign is running. The charity wins because someone shows up with a check and says hey, here’s some money for you,” says PledgeMusic’s CEO.
Joint venture with charity was something extremely important for Rogers. In 2004 he worked refugees in the Middle East and that experience affected him greatly as a musician and as a person. While developing PledgeMusic his goal was to come up with a way to combine all the things he had a passion for. That’s how he became the demo for his own site, www.pledgemusic.com
“I pictured myself as an artist doing it. We ended up launching the site with my own band as a demo to make sure it all worked. I ended up giving 35 percent of the profits to Amnesty International,” recalls Rogers who incidentally came up with the concept while in his mom’s spare room on an air mattress.
.What Rogers and his cronies found out early on was that if you have a charity attached fans will send more money because they want to see you do well and there’s a good cause behind it. While working with their many artists the PledgeMusic crew strives to push the importance of giving to charity while finding something that suits each group accordingly.
“As an artist, my favorite shows to play were always charity shows. It is the best when a bunch of people get together for a cause that’s something bigger than their fans, mailing list and their CD. For us it meant something because it was something bigger than ourselves,” says Rogers candidly. ‘Musicians on Call’ in New York, for example, is an organization that we’ve been strongly supporting. If a patient is too sick to leave the hospital or the house they organize the musicians to play at the hospital for them.”
“PledgeMusic offers musicians a way of reaching their musical goals while giving something back. It allows them to go that extra step,” says Rogers with excitement.
The way it works is like this, artist sign up organically on the website and gets a reply within four hours regardless of location; PledgeMusic has offices set up across the globe and they are willing to work with signed and unsigned artists alike. They also have A & R teams that go out and find artist that are going to work. Following that they go through a screening process that goes though making sure all the basics are covered.
We ask them to make sure they got their Facebook all updated, their email is correct, your twitter is good and you’ve got all that is required to run a campaign successfully; then we launch it,” explains the London Based musician who has been recording and touring since 1999.
Anyone can sign up, but this site is exceptionally different from other sites that are in the similar vein like as Kickstarter and Sellaband. For one, PledgeMusic has a steady success rate. Rogers secured this by recruiting some of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the music industry.
“They [his team] have all worked ad music labels, publishing companies, they’ve been managers, and more; these are music people who’ve seen it all happen and have lived it. That was really key for us,” says the musician turned entrepreneur. “[Others] usually have a very high failure rate,” clarifies Rogers. “That’s because campaigns were being launched that just, weren’t going to work! We really wanted it create a series of best practices in order to ensure a high success rate.”
PledgeMusic’s success is very visible; they have helped launch 5 top forty albums in the UK and twenty-nine of their artists have been sent to successful labels, publishing companies etc. The Lumineers are a perfect example of what can be achieved under the company’s wing. The American folk band from Denver, Colorado recently scored a Bing commercial which has generated tremendous exposure and their self-titled debut (2012) commercial is now reaching number 45 on the Billboard 200 chart. Their popularity has continued to build in 2012 with sold-out shows.
“We’ve also worked on campaigns with Rachael Yamagata, Rhett Miller, Ben Folds Five, The Libertines, The Subways, Gang of Four, etc.,” says Rogers proudly. “It’s been an amazing few years!”
One thing the music guru does caution artists to do is to have an open mind, focus on the goal at hand and take it one step at a time. Many times bands/artists have the perception that they have aim big straight from the beginning. That is a huge misconception.
“The problem is that a lot of times the artists aren’t ready for that and their efforts end in failure,” Rogers admits. “What we try and do is get them to the next level. We certainly have artists that are hitting the top ten, but what’s really important is to find each individual artist and get them to next meaningful level for them. That’s where we’ve gotten some great successes.”
PledgeMusic’s success is based on knowing how the music industry functions and finding the right channels to get their artists where they need to go.
“We are music people, we love music and what’s great about dong this is that we’re able to champion what we love and that’s the other beautiful thing about it,” says Rogers with genuine enthusiasm.
As a musician, a fan and a business man Roger’s has achieved the launch of a successful platform that allows everyone to become a part of something worthwhile. PledgeMusic gives back to the music community, promotes and supports benevolent causes, and gives fans a direct connection to their favorite artists/music.
“This whole thing [PledgeMusic] was designed to create a new way to get music to you guys [the fans]. So rather than saying the album is done, now come buy it. What we’re saying is come along for the ride as its happening. When you finally get it in your hands you can recall the making of it and know you went through the whole process, you were part of it.”