Swervedriver “ripped off” by PledgeMusic, can’t fulfill remaining orders
PledgeMusic’s financial meltdown has affected tons of musicians, from Filter to John Zorn, and the latest we’ve heard about is Swervedriver, who funded this year’s very good Future Ruins through the crowdfunding site. “We’re disappointed to announce that after shipping out 70% of our album orders, we’re now in the unfortunate position of no longer being able to fulfill remaining orders to the gracious people who generously participated in our PledgeMusic campaign. We’re as dismayed as you with this announcement,” wrote frontman Adam Franklin in a letter to everyone who contributed to their Future Ruins PledgeMusic campaign. “After it became clear that PledgeMusic had illegally, and with no plan for restitution, swindled us out of approximately two-thirds of the funding from you that allowed us to record our new album Future Ruins, we endeavored to, at the very least, ensure everyone receives their copy of the vinyl or CD to go along with the Christmas Day download, even if you might not have received all the extra items you pledged for. What we’ve delivered so far has been at the personal expense of the band and regrettably, it’s now reached the point where we simply can’t shoulder this cost any longer.”
Franklin says they were able to pay for the recording, mixing, mastering and design of the album, but that the money from Pledgemusic then “slowed to a drip,” and they had to buy the pressed copies of the CDs and vinyl, as well as the mailing costs, out of pocket. “We and a number of other artists still intend to prosecute those who were culpable,” Adam continues. You can read his whole letter below.
No news is good news except when it’s bad news and there’s no easy way of dressing up bad news.
We’re disappointed to announce that after shipping out 70% of our album orders, we’re now in the unfortunate position of no longer being able to fulfill remaining orders to the gracious people who generously participated in our PledgeMusic campaign. We’re as dismayed as you with this announcement.
After it became clear that PledgeMusic had illegally, and with no plan for restitution, swindled us out of approximately two-thirds of the funding from you that allowed us to record our new album Future Ruins, we endeavored to, at the very least, ensure everyone receives their copy of the vinyl or CD to go along with the Christmas Day download, even if you might not have received all the extra items you pledged for. What we’ve delivered so far has been at the personal expense of the band and regrettably, it’s now reached the point where we simply can’t shoulder this cost any longer.
Problems started occurring when the amount of money PledgeMusic ‘allowed us to have’ slowed to a drip until it was finally no more. After initially being able to pay for the making of the record – recording studios and engineers, the mixing and mastering studios and engineers, all aspects of the album sleeve design as well as the three Jazzmaster guitars that were pledged for – we needed the rest of what was due to us in order to buy the pressed-up vinyl and CD stock from our label, cover postage and packing costs as well as paying for the manufacturing of the other items that were purchased such as the effects pedals, vinyl slip-mats, posters, etc. There was also the issue of employing a fulfillment company to efficiently box everything up and mail it out to you. As a result, it has fallen upon our management office in LA to send out copies of the album as much as possible.
As mentioned earlier, according to our PledgeMusic “artist dashboard” page – which is still up even though everyone appears to have left the building – we have apparently fulfilled 70% of album orders. It’s my understanding that this percentage of orders were all to US addresses. On March 26th when posting an update announcing all copies were being signed and mailed out, I was under the impression we had purchased the full amount from the label. With hindsight, it’s probably just as well that we didn’t purchase the full amount all at once because now, with international shipping costs being excessively high, we simply can’t afford to purchase/mail out anymore. We still owe the record label for the stock we bought from them. Like you, we’re at a loss on many levels.
We were paying for this out of tour profits and, even before taking into consideration the amount we are still owed by the thieves at Pledgemusic, the band members’ individual losses are now as high as the highest pledgers for the album, which is the three of you who purchased the guitars we used on the album. We have those guitars in the UK and we need to figure out what to do with them and will contact you guys individually about that.
So we’ve all been ripped off here. The band has had money stolen from them that was raised by their fan base, while the fan base has had their money embezzled by a bunch of crooks and this has caused an immense strain. To put things into perspective, none of us has had as much money stolen from them as the $200K John Zorn has had stolen from him by PledgeMusic, but although our losses weren’t as high as his, they are still high enough. We had hoped that we could at least get everyone the physical music but have been in a period of stasis trying to sort out how to make that happen and consequently we haven’t made an official announcement since March because we were still hoping to figure out a way to be able to sort this out. Fruitlessly, in the end. It’s difficult to overemphasize how disappointed we are with this outcome.
All we can really offer you is more music. Please download the tracks on our 2019 Record Store Day 12” vinyl single Think I’m Gonna Feel Better / Reflections ahead of it going on general release next week. The irony was not lost on us when we received an email from Benji Rogers at PledgeMusic that started: “Hi all, Sorry for the Radio Silence”, and so you shall also be receiving an exclusive instrumental version of the last track on Future Ruins, Radio Silent, for you to play loud with the windows open and chant your own anti-Pledge mantra over the top to.
We can only apologize once more that you became involved in this scam and rather than holding on any longer trying to figure out a solution it’s time we cut our losses and move on. It’s been energy-sapping to receive messages every week asking “where is my album?” and in the end, all we can say is that your album was stolen. We and a number of other artists still intend to prosecute those who were culpable, but that’s a separate issue. We actually enjoyed doing this Pledge campaign at first – we got a great response and it proved to be an excellent way to make an album, in theory. This time last year I fully expected us to be getting down to the business of sorting out all the pledges before the album’s release in January. I’m sorry this turned into such a bullshit situation.
Please remember that it is Pledgemusic who has done this, not Kickstarter or anyone else. We have received messages where people have mistakenly blamed other crowdfunding organizations but it was Pledgemusic who have broken the trust on what has until now been a sound business model. So much for that solemn vow.