PledgeMusic didn’t find a last-minute buyer and has confirmed its intentions to enter bankruptcy.

Bad news for anyone involved with PledgeMusic.

Earlier this week, Digital Music News leaked a pre-liquidation fire-sale offer floated to prospective buyers.  That offer almost guaranteed that artists wouldn’t be paid their pledges, though a last-minute buyer didn’t emerge.

Now, there’s an even slimmer chance that PledgeMusic will pay artists or refund backers.

On Wednesday, platform cofounder Benji Rogers delivered the bad news.  PledgeMusic is officially entering bankruptcy.

“I went back into PledgeMusic just over three months ago as a volunteer to try and help the board and team turn around and sell the company, but I am sad to report that this effort has not met with success and that PledgeMusic will shortly be heading into administration,” Rogers offered in a statement.

“I cannot begin to appreciate how all of you affected artists are feeling about this and I am deeply sorry for what you have been through.”

‘Administration’ is the term for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom, where PledgeMusic is based.

In the farewell apology, Rogers held out the possibility that artists would finally receive their payments.  But that’s a promise that’s been offered too many times in the past.

Perhaps most tellingly, it appears that Rogers removed a section promising that artists would be paid back as part of the bankruptcy process.

Billboard reports that this was initially part of the statement (bold added by DMN):

“The company will go into administration at some point this week or early next which means that any funds received for the assets of Pledge will be distributed to all of the creditors involved.  This will include all of the artists who are owed money.”

But that section is no longer part of the published statement on Medium.  The promise may have been removed by attorneys involved in the pre-bankruptcy process.

Instead, a more vague — but exceedingly apologetic — passage remained (bold added by DMN):

“I ask all of the fans to please understand the awful and near impossible situation that this has put the artists that you love and supported in, and as such I ask you to bear with them as they do their best to make any obligations to you right.  I am also sorry for all of the labels, fulfillment companies and other vendors affected.”

Rogers also removed as section promising information for artists to register with the appointed creditor.  Instead, Rogers merely tells artists to download their content from the site.

The bad news leaves more questions than answers.

PledgeMusic operates by channeling fan contributions to artists, a crowdfunding concept designed to empower creativity by eliminating middlemen.  Unfortunately, PledgeMusic emerged as the worst middleman possible, hoarding funds to keep a sinking operation afloat.

Artists often started projects as bids increased, only to be rudely surprised that PledgeMusic was essentially stealing the cash.

“I feel for all the PledgeMusic team members who did their very best to resolve these issues and have been badly let down while enduring broken promises and physical threats that they did not deserve,” Rogers offered.  “There have been no good outcomes here and I cannot bear that something that I created to benefit artists and fans has caused so much pain to so many people.”

Whether criminal penalties will result is unclear, though civil lawsuits will become complicated by the bankruptcy protection process.  In short: anyone hoping to get paid by Pledge should expect to wait in line — though in reality, artists are extremely unlikely to receive anything.

Here’s the full statement from Rogers:

PledgeMusic Update

To all of those affected by the situation at PledgeMusic, I wanted to share an update to my last posts.

I went back into PledgeMusic just over three months ago as a volunteer to try and help the board and team turn around and sell the company, but I am sad to report that this effort has not met with success and that PledgeMusic will shortly be heading into administration.

I cannot begin to appreciate how all of you affected artists are feeling about this and I am deeply sorry for what you have been through.

I ask all of the fans to please understand the awful and near impossible situation that this has put the artists that you love and supported in, and as such I ask you to bear with them as they do their best to make any obligations to you right.

I am also sorry for all of the labels, fulfillment companies and other vendors affected.

I feel for all the PledgeMusic team members who did their very best to resolve these issues and have been badly let down while enduring broken promises and physical threats that they did not deserve.

There have been no good outcomes here and I cannot bear that something that I created to benefit artists and fans has caused so much pain to so many people.

I was CEO of PledgeMusic twice, and even though I left for the last time in 2017, I still always felt connected to the company and to the mission. I wanted to be a part of the efforts to get things back on track but it is obvious now that too much damage had already been done.

I have seen recent media articles criticizing the business model of crowdfunding and I feel that these are unfair. A failure in execution does not mean that the model is fundamentally flawed. I still believe that there is a great future for fan-funded projects in this industry and I hope that someone builds a new version of, or resurrects what we started. I would gladly help in this effort.

I would have given anything to have been able to fix Pledge. I thank my former team at DotBC and my current team at Lark42 for giving me the time to work on this and I thank all of you artists, managers, lawyers, labels and investors for bearing with my less than satisfactory answers to your absolutely valid questions.

If you are an artist that Pledge worked with please make sure that you download your data from the platform here.

If you are a fan please make sure that you download your past releases archive from here.

Once again, I am truly sorry that it has come to this.

Benj