gigmit: Thanks for your time. So first of all: could you please explain the idea and visions of Pledge Music exactly?
Malcolm Dunbar: PledgeMusic was launched in 2009 and we have just celebrated our 8th birthday, which I think is several life-times in this industry! It all began with an initial idea by Benji Rogers, an ex-musician from New York and myself, with a 25 year+ background in A&R .The initial idea and vision was to provide a crowd-funding platform for musicians. Today, roll forward several years and we have evolved into far more than that, running Pre Orders with Label/Distributors, Catalogue /Box set campaigns with artists and labels, books and DVD’s. Everything related to music. All the time, helping artists and bands to build their fan-base offer a best in class direct route to the fan and develop a lasting career and building a music community of ‘pledgers’, that now numbers in excess of three million and rising.
gigmit: What are the daily challenges of such a platform like this one?
Malcolm Dunbar: From my day-to-day point of view, it is ‘feeding the beast’….connecting with artists, managers and rights-owners from all areas of the industry in bringing campaigns to PledgeMusic. We are currently launching in excess of 1200 new campaigns per annum. More strategically, it is about embedding PledgeMusic even further into the whole musical eco-system and becoming a fully integrated part of the release process right across the board and from start to finish.
gigmit: Which benefits do you have in comparison to other fan funding sites like ‘Kickstarter’?
Malcolm Dunbar: PledgeMusic is a pure music site, working with bands from emerging to superstar. All our staff come from a music business / artist background and when you connect with the PledgeMusic community, you are talking to 100% music fans. Regarding our crowdfunding part, we never display monetary figures it’s always displayed as a %. We felt that displaying a figure was not necessary the fan wants to engage, purchase and help the artist make a record and is not concerned about how much the artist is generating in monetary terms.
In addition, we have support services the artist can call upon, from campaign managers to drive their campaigns daily, to customer service, manufacturing and fulfilment and marketing support.
gigmit: Can you tell something about the process of working out a campaign?
Malcolm Dunbar: Each campaign is unique and that is why if you are doing a campaign with PledgeMusic, you will be having a conversation with one of our campaign managers. The products, offers and experiences are discussed and fully worked out together with reference to a range of criteria – existing social media profile and other fan indices, general career history to date, gig activity and many other factors - not least of which is our campaign managers’ extensive experience of what works in a campaign and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. That way it really helps in making our campaigns much more successful in terms of driving revenue and sales.
gigmit: What would you recommend artists who want to start a campaign? And do you select or can anybody start a crowdfunding campaign?
Malcolm Dunbar: In truth, almost anyone can start a PledgeMusic campaign. We don’t ‘select’ as such, but obviously we have a wealth of experience and data through which intelligent decisions can be made as regards what type of campaign, what (monetary) level of campaign and what offers etc. will work best with your own fans. That applies to both crowdfunding campaigns and pre order campaigns
gigmit: Does Pledge participate in the marketing of these campaigns?
Malcolm Dunbar: Creative control is 100% with the artist, but we constantly provide input from the initial work in building the campaign to running it and then post-campaign. We even offer help with fulfilment and customer service and support follow-up. In addition, we offer marketing of the campaign via Facebook Ads and news-letters weekly to our huge user base .I would describe it as ‘cradle to conclusion’ and in many cases beyond. For example; we are very proud of the number of acts using PledgeMusic and going onto sign to a labels/distributors etc.
gigmit: So what are your biggest success stories?
Malcolm Dunbar: I’d like to think that there are too many to mention, given the thousands of projects that we have done since day one. If we were to look at the recent past however, we have helped to launch new and very successful albums by Passenger, Robbie Williams, Erasure, Interpol, Pixies, The Libertines, Bring Me The Horizon, Marillion, OMD, Ginger Wildheart and just a few weeks ago in the UK, Gary Numan – whose new album ‘Savages’ entered the UK chart at #2, his highest position for over 30 years. But it’s not just high-profile big name artists, we are very proud of our work and consider it an equal success with new and developing acts, the names of the future. In this I would cite, Telegram, grime-artist Elf-Kid, The Lottery Winners (now signed to Seymour Stein’s Sire label) and countless others.
gigmit: What could be a secret of a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Malcolm Dunbar: The common thread running through successful campaigns is ‘engagement’. The more the artist gives to their fans in the journey of a PledgeMusic campaign, the more they get back….and I don’t just mean the money!