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Austin Panel on The Pledge Music Crowdfunding Debacle

May 8, 2019 Comments off

You may have read Iain Baker of Jesus Jones story of the band’s encounter with Pledge that we posted here and hear.  You’ve probably heard the news that PledgeMusic is bankrupt as reported in Hypebot:

UK based corporate advisory FRP will be nominated to administer a court directed sale of all assets, which would be used to pay artists, merchant bank Sword, Rowe & Company and other creditors.

Digital Music News reports giving a chronology of the events leading up to what seemed the inevitable fire sale result of “new boss” syndrome:

Now, a leaked e-mail has revealed how bad things truly are for Rogers’ company, and for artists who depended on the platform.

“Please, please, please buy PledgeMusic!  But, don’t worry.  You don’t have to pay back artists.”

Earlier this morning, Digital Music News received an interesting e-mail from an anonymous source.

FRP Advisory LLP, a UK business advisory firm, has been named the proposed administrator of PledgeMusic.com Limited and its subsidiaries (dubbed ‘The Group’).

With a pre-liquidation fire sale set to take place, FRP Assistant Manager Robbie Wirdnam has now sought “expressions of interest in the business and assets of the Group’ – i.e., PledgeMusic.

By way of introduction, I’m part of the corporate finance team at FRP and assisting my colleagues in the restructuring team, as the proposed administrators of PledgeMusic, in the marketing of the Group’s business and assets.  As you have previously looked at the opportunity on a solvent basis, I’m circling back to determine whether you have an interest in the business and assets for sale, ahead of an administration process.” [“Administration” in the UK is sort of like bankruptcy.“]

Wirdnam explains that the British crowdfunding platform faced two ‘pressures’ which ultimately lead to its demise – working capital pressures and a lack of ongoing funding.

This is serious stuff.  There’s potentially millions at stake and thousands of people worldwide who will be harmed, not only the artists but also fans and vendors, producers and songwriters.

UPDATE: As Jem Aswad in Variety notes in “PledgeMusic Nearing Bankruptcy, Although Sale Talks Continue“:

It should be noted that a buyer of PledgeMusic would be taking on the debts owed creditors, which include artists who launched programs with the company and owed money, which is estimated to be as much as $3 million total (here’s a small list of how much certain artists were owed, as of February). As the company has demonstrated in the past, tends to go to the most prominent, or at least the loudest, artists affected.

Hypebot also has a story on the FRP situation “Pledge enters pre-administration as buyer deliberates”:

UK based corporate advisory FRP has been named to contact potential buyers and value the company’s assets in pre-administration; while in parallel, the interested buyer finishes due diligence.

If no buyer steps forward within the week, PledgeMusic will likely enter Administration with FRP as the proposed administrator.

If you’re in Austin, Chris Castle is moderating a panel about Pledge with Jesse Moore and Peter Ruggero, two bankruptcy law experts.  The panel is co-hosted by the Austin Bar Association Entertainment & Sports Law and Bankruptcy sections  and titled “The Pledge Music Crowdfunding Debacle” on May 22.  Here’s the event description:

The panel will review the reported facts on the decline of PledgeMusic.com, a crowdfunding platform directed at independent artists, established artists with significant fan bases and labels.  PledgeMusic has taken in contributions from fans but has not paid out all or a significant portion of those funds to the artists for over a year. Many Texas consumers, artists and vendors have been affected by the company’s collapse.

The panelists will analyze the effects of this collapse on artists, the rights of consumers and vendors and the potential future outcomes if the company does not solve its financial crisis and seeks protection of the insolvency and bankruptcy laws.

As far as we know, this is the only response from the legal community so far.  Chris tells us that it is directed at artists, fans and vendors as well as lawyers.  $5 covers pizza and parking.

Deets are:

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT

Austin Bar Association
816 Congress Avenue, Room # 700
Austin, TX 78701

 

 

The Future of What Podcast: Article 13’s Potential Impact on the Music Industry

May 4, 2019 Comments off

Portia Sabin discusses the European Copyright Directive and the process that got the legislation passed in the European Parliament with Helen Smith of Impala, Crispin Hunt of Ivor Academy and Chris Castle.

20 Questions for New Artists Part 2: Performing Rights Society Affiliation

April 30, 2019 Comments off

[For the next few weeks, we’re going to post updated sections from the article “20 Questions for New Artists” by Chris Castle and Amy Mitchell which has been posted various places.  This doesn’t constitute legal advice, or any intent to form the attorney-client relationship. (If you miss an installment, try searching this blog for “20 Questions for New Artists”.)]

There is a bit of strategy involved with affiliating with a songwriter performing rights society in the United States. PROs license and collect royalties for the performance right in your songs, such as a performance on television or radio or live music venues (including in some cases your own performances of your own songs).  Each writer should affiliate with one of the societies although all members of a band or co-writers on a song don’t need to belong to the same society.  This is why you see some songs with both ASCAP and BMI writers.  We will discuss publishing and affiliating your publishing company with a PRO later.  For now, just realize that your publishing company should be affiliated with the same PRO you are affiliated with as a writer.

All the societies have a creative staff. The decision to affiliate with a particular society should be made after the artist/writer has taken some meetings with the performing rights society and decided if there’s more love coming from one than another.

Most of the time we like to wait until the music is fairly well formed and the band has gelled into a working unit before approaching the societies unless there’s a reason to move more quickly, such as getting a film or TV license, or substantial radio/webcasting play. In more experienced bands, the writers will already have an affiliation, so it is a good idea to know this in advance for purposes of servicing the creative staff with new music, competing for slots on compilations and festival shows, etc.

The major U.S. performing rights societies are the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (http://www.ascap.com/), Broadcast Music, Inc. (http://www.bmi.com/), the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (http://www.sesac.com/) and Global Music Rights (http://www.globalmusicrights.com).

There are, of course, payment differences among the societies.  For detailed background on PRO payments (and many other subjects) we recommend the book Music, Money and Success by Jeff and Todd Brabec available in paperback.

Copyright 2019 Chris Castle and Amy Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

@rachelrwithers: Amazon Owes Wikipedia Big-Time — Artist Rights Watch

March 12, 2019 Comments off

Amazon gave $1 million to Wikipedia–and gets way more out of the deal than the charity.

via @rachelrwithers: Amazon Owes Wikipedia Big-Time — Artist Rights Watch

@crispinhunt: Critics of Article 13 are Weaving a Narrative with No Relationship to Fact — Artist Rights Watch

March 7, 2019 Comments off

[An excellent post by songwriter and BASCA chair Crispin Hunt on the remarkable disinformation campaign being waged by legacy tech companies against safe harbor reform in Europe.] A recent article by Rhett Jones, which appeared in Gizmodo, perfectly encapsulated the feverish disinformation campaign around Article 13 being undertaken by US tech companies and their minions. […]

via @crispinhunt: Critics of Article 13 are Weaving a Narrative with No Relationship to Fact — Artist Rights Watch

@richardjburgess: The So-Called ‘Local Radio Freedom Act’ Is Actually an Anti-Creator, Anti-Property-Rights Bill — Artist Rights Watch

March 7, 2019 Comments off

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and its army of highly paid lobbyists are asking Members of Congress to cosponsor a bill that they have the nerve to call the Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA). In past Congresses, many lawmakers have been deceived into cosponsoring this legislation, being told that it is a non-controversial sense-of-Congress resolution aimed at protecting local radio stations. In fact, it is an anti-creator, anti-property-rights bill.

via @richardjburgess: The So-Called ‘Local Radio Freedom Act’ Is Actually an Anti-Creator, Anti-Property-Rights Bill — Artist Rights Watch

The MTP Podcast: Revenue? What Revenue? Don’t be fooled on royalty audits vs. financial audits

February 8, 2019 Comments off

 

BLANCHE
Whoever you are…I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
From A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

From Highlights of Managing Change under the Music Modernization Act’s Mechanical Licensing Collective (footnotes omitted.  A version of this article appears as How Will the Music Modernization Act’s Mechanical Licensing Collective Work? in 34 Entertainment Law & Finance 1 (No. 9, Dec. 2018.)

Audits: Only the MLC may audit the blanket licensees.  Only copyright owners may audit the MLC. However, audits must be conducted by certified public accountants and those auditors are obligated to look for overpayments—which probably violates a CPA’s duty of loyalty. As Warner Music Group’s Ron Wilcox testified to the CRJs, “Because royalty audits require exten- sive technical and industry-specific expertise, in WMG’s experience a CPA certification is not generally a requirement for con- ducting such audits. To my knowledge, some of the most experienced and knowledgeable royalty auditors in the music industry are not CPAs.”

It is also important to note that the collective may only audit once a year for the prior three years. Given that there will be bil- lions of transactions subject to audit (and eventually trillions in a three year period), it is unlikely that CPAs will be conducting census level audits. Projections and lump sum payments are likely, and lump sum payments tend to be distributed in the old- school method of market share distributions.

Is Self Auditing Hazardous to Your Health? musictechpolicy.com/2014/06/01/is-s…to-your-health/

Songwriter Liberty and Audit Rights Under Section 115: Music Licensing Study Filing musictechpolicy.com/2014/06/10/song…g-study-filing/

Attestation Agreements AICPA

Generally Accepted Auditing Standards AICPA

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

How to Fix The Music Modernization Act’s Flawed “Audit” Clause musictech.solutions/2018/03/12/how-…d-audit-clause/

Five Things Congress Could Do for Music Creators That Wouldn’t Cost the Taxpayer a Dime Part 3: Create an Audit Right for Songwriters artistrightswatch.com/2018/12/29/pos…r-songwriters/

Guest Post by Keith Bernstein: Holy GAAP! Publishers Not Getting the Upside musictechpolicy.com/2016/02/22/gues…ing-the-upside/

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