It seemed like such a great idea and for a while it was, but at some point the pigs started walking on their hind legs.
Using Animal Farm as a metaphor for the collapse of PledgeMusic might not be a perfect way to explain what happened for countless reasons, notwithstanding the perfect allegory that the book already is, but there are parallels. That is, if you unfussily consider the farm to be the big bad music biz and the musicians to be the exploited animals. And as many execs might have been musicians before, I naively thought that we were all in this together and that Pledge and the artists were from the same stock and we were going to take over the farm and run it in a way that encouraged the arts for the arts own sake. Ok, so the connection is precarious on lots of levels, sorry, and of course not everyone is exploited (although some have been called animals) and not all mistreat their wards but in the case of this one organization with its vision of the future, the expectation, then the disappointment of PledgeMusic’s collapse is crushing. It certainly revitalized the idea that we are not in control. Finally we had a system that worked for musicians and fans until the system failed seemingly to greed (back to square one). The disillusionment and failure of this revolution was disconcerting.
Such disappointments have become known as ‘first world problems’ but still, this collapse is hard to take. It may in fact have been almost impossible to destroy something so perfect, but give humans power, give them money and watch them destroy themselves and everything around them, somehow forgetting the actual people that put them in their position and in this case they didn’t have to do much, just supplying the platform then sitting back and watching the money roll in. How could you complicate such a simple idea. You were a trust, a philanthropic society, a bridge between lovers of music, a connection between the creators and the appreciators. There are of course other platforms that seem to work and we need to trust them for next time, otherwise the bad guys have won.
In the world of Noctorum, a labour of love that places me and my oldest friend in a studio for months, exploring the puzzle of songs, just the idea that out there someone that I’ve never met would be prepared to not only support and invest in our musical project but in the event of it all falling apart, would contribute again to its recovery, is both heartening and unexpected.
The actual story of what happened with video and text can be found at the link below which leads to a GoFundMe campaign that attempts to get us back on track financially without compromising our music but also by delivering something worthy of donation. Namely a digital EP consisting of a download of two unreleased tracks from The Afterlife album sessions and two cover versions, one from cult innovators The Sound and the other from the beginnings of future major musical heroes in an early disguise as Buffalo Springfield. Add to this a conceptual drawing of a mermaid’s skeleton, photoshopped into an imagined fossil as cover art, a booklet with lyrics and credits and the possibility to download the cover as a poster, then you have – The Afterdeath EP.
Making music without costs is almost impossible but with good people sacrificing their time and resources, generosity and effort and with the emergence of the internet we can do it. This of course means we cannot in this case hold the physical in our hands despite our desire to do so. The idea of the tactile might be a thing of the past for some but we are not marrying holograms yet. The Afterlife was released on vinyl and CD, there were illustrated handwritten lyrics from songs past (not quite on parchment, written with a quill). There were internet concerts and live appearances at the end of people’s beds if they wished although they mainly occurred in the living room. There were magnets and autographs, older records resurrected and signed and all this to finance what would be Noctorum’s fourth album.
Not receiving all the money donated due to PledgeMusic’s demise led to us making a big decision, cancel the project in full swing or see it through – we decided the latter, finishing the album, mastering it and with our dedicated label’s support manufacturing it and posting it out to all the pledgers, honouring the support and good faith whilst putting ourselves into debt. One might take this moment to say that at least we had the opportunity to do this to ourselves. A lot of artists couldn’t even finish their project and certainly couldn’t afford to mail out the result because the money simply wasn’t there to do so. So we consider ourselves lucky.
We are two weeks into our GoFundMe campaign and we have raised about a third of the money we lost, in return we offer more of our music, more of our ideas as we gratefully continue the uncertain arc of creative pursuit as we resist George Orwell’s dystopian future of doom.
Marty, Dare, Olivia and Stephen