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Co-Founder Benji Rogers Returns as Advisor to PledgeMusic Amid Accusations of Missed Payments by Musicians

Benji Rogers is returning on a voluntary basis to the direct-to-fan platform he co-founded in 2009, PledgeMusic. His return comes at a fraught time for the company, which has been hit by numerous accusations from musicians and their management who say PledgeMusic owes them thousands of dollars.

PledgeMusic is a popular direct-to-fan platform that allows musicians to pre-sell items, from personal concerts to merchandise, records, and more. The money collected from fans is supposed to be paid out to the musicians once campaign goals are reached. However, last year Variety reported that several major artists were accusing PledgeMusic of being behind on payments. Then, a couple weeks ago, industry insider Bob Leftsetz, through his popular music industry newsletter, shared a story from the band Fastball who say PledgeMusic owes them $20,000. After that story came out, many other artists emerged with similar stories.

Amid this financial trouble, Rogers announced in a series of blog post that he will take some time away from his current music blockchain project to volunteer time at PledgeMusic as an unremunerated strategic advisor and board observer.

“I would like to pick up from where I left off in my previous post,” he wrote. “I have agreed, on a short-term basis, to return to PledgeMusic as a volunteer strategic advisor and observer to the board. I will remain as full time CSO to Dot Blockchain Media and I am grateful to my amazing DotBC team for their understanding and patience.

“I have been in discussions with the management team and board of Pledge over the last few days and I am convinced that they are committed to fixing the artists payments situation as their first priority. I have seen first hand how tirelessly the team, management and board have been working to right the ship and that is why I have agreed to help where I can.

“The first priority for the company is to sort the back payments issue as every penny that is owed to artists needs to get to them in the fastest possible time. A more detailed plan will be shared with the community shortly. Secondly all funds coming into the company from now on will be managed by an independent third party (to be named soon) so as to ensure that all campaigns that launch going forward, will be paid upon their campaign milestones being reached. The specifics of this will be detailed in the aforementioned forthcoming announcement.

“Thirdly I will work with the team to ensure that there is a go forward plan that includes and listens to the incredible community of artists and fans that we created. Once we are through our first two priorities we will work on the third.”

A few days before Rogers announced return, PledgeMusic said in a blog post that "we acknowledge that many artists have and continue to experience payment delays. These delays to artists are unacceptable--not only to them but to us." It went on to say that unpaid artists should receive their money within 90 days. After their story was shared by Lefsetz, Fastball said they did receive a cheque from PledgeMusic for about half the total money owed them.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.