Financial problems at a music-focused crowdfunding platform has forced Portland psych-pop veterans the Dandy Warhols to cancel an album release campaign, leaving fans to try to recoup a total of $50,000 from the company.
Last fall, to celebrate the release of its 10th album, Why You So Crazy, the band launched a campaign with PledgeMusic, an 8-year-old website that allows musicians to fund projects in a similar way to Kickstarter and GoFundMe. The band offered fans the chance to pre-order the album along with several gift "bundles," which included everything from limited-edition patches and guitar straps to customized voicemail messages and private concerts.
Keyboardist Zia McCabe says the idea came from their manager, who'd run several successful campaigns through the site for other clients.
The campaign was supposed to go through March. But in January, it came to the band's attention that PledgeMusic was in monetary free fall.
Lats month, an article in Billboard reported the company was late paying out money to numerous artists, and that many were feeling "plundered and unsure of what recourse to take."
On Feb. 15, the Dandys posted a message on their website, saying they'd been informed that PledgeMusic did not have the money pledged to them and encouraging fans to contact their credit card companies to get refunded—or, in lieu of that, PledgeMusic's lawyer.
"They totally pulled a Fyre Fest, as far as I can tell," McCabe says.
According to Variety, PledgeMusic's troubles began last June but have recently "snowballed." "The company is in triage mode," the magazine reported, with many other artists, including L7, Fastball and American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, owed several thousand dollars.
In January, the company issued a statement acknowledging its financial issues and announcing plans were being made to bring its payments up-to-date within 90 days.
But McCabe says they've given up on ever getting paid what they're owed in order to get the merchandise out. The band recently sent emails to the 700 donors apologizing for the situation and giving information on how to get refunded.
"I sat through everybody's emails yesterdays and answered any questions, and got choked up over and over about how sweet our fans are and how understanding they were," McCabe says.
She adds that the group is currently brainstorming ways to make it up to their audience, potentially by creating their own pledging platform or offering exclusive downloads to those who gave to the aborted campaign.
PledgeMusic did not return a request for comment.