Music industry veteran Dominic Pandiscia has been named chief executive officer of PledgeMusic, the online platform that allows artists to sell music, merchandise and experiences directly to fans. Founder Benji Rogers will transition to a role as chief strategy officer and will retain a board seat.
Pandiscia’s decades of experience will help the six-and-a-half-year-old startup. He was the president of Capitol Music Group’s independent services division, Caroline, from 2013 to September. Before that, Pandiscia helped create EMI Label Services and held sales and marketing positions within EMI since 1989.
When on the record label side of the business, Pandiscia thought PledgeMusic was little more than a nice addition to an album’s marketing plan. But after talking to Rogers and the PledgeMusic team, he says he came to better appreciate the value it has to the industry. “It’s a bullet-proof business model around what we can deliver to artists and labels through the platform,” Pandiscia tells Billboard.
Messaging has always been a sticking point for PledgeMusic. It has always been put into the same category Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms that don’t have the same approach to connecting fans and artists. Where crowdfunding platforms raise money for artists, PledgeMusic has always emphasized its ability to invite fans into the creative process and provide a greater level of access. Pandiscia “is someone who could tell the story with the gravitas of having years in the industry,” says Rogers.
The industry could use another platform. Last year U.S. recorded music revenues rose a slight 0.1 percent. But as streaming has grown into a significant revenue segment, the monetization of consumers’ love of streaming hasn’t kept up with fast-increasing streaming activity. Until monetization improves, artists and labels may need to other places to reach fans.
Compared to download purchases or music subscriptions, direct-to-fan commerce is a different kind of numbers game. With two recent acquisitions, NoiseTrade and Set.fm, PledgeMusic grew to three million fans served by over 50,000 artists. Those are small numbers by conventional standards. But PledgeMusic targets high-spending super fans that are willing to purchase not just CDs and downloads but signed merchandise and experiences like a Skype call with an artist. Three years ago, a Nielsen study put the average PledgeMusic users’ annual music spending at $1,000 compared to $68 per year for all other music consumers.
Moving PledgeMusic forward means building relationships to record labels and expanding beyond its core genres of alternative and hip hop. Pandiscia is optimistic. ”This is a platform that speaks to all consumers and all businesses.”