Following two very successful rounds of the Emerging Artists Fund, Help Musicians UK and PledgeMusic are once again combining forces in search of up-and-coming musicians who have the talent and drive to build a long-term career. With several artists already exceeding their campaign goals, interest in the scheme is on the rise and competition is higher than ever.
Paul Barton heads PledgeMusic UK and is the man responsible for building this exciting new partnership with our Talent Programme Manager, Tim Foxon. We caught up with Paul outside his busy schedule to learn more about PledgeMusic, his thoughts on the way the industry is evolving and the importance of nurturing the next generation of musicians and artists.
Help Musicians UK: Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, we’re really excited to hear your thoughts on the Emerging Artists Fund. PledgeMusic has come a long way since its conception in 2009. For those unfamiliar, can you tell us a bit more about what the company does and the role it plays for artists looking for their possible big break?
Paul Barton: Sure, PledgeMusic is a Music Company that helps artists sell unique products to their fans. We do this via our Pre-Order service, Crowd Funding service and other special artist driven experiences. We very much facilitate the Direct To Fan experience for all walks of the industry. Having now 6 years behind us as a company we are now in a great position to help emerging artists looking for that break. We can help in a few different ways, be it working with them via one of our services, to generate funds or drive album sales introducing them to our community (now over 1 million) and also help with intro’s to management, labels and publishers.
Help Musicians UK: ‘Direct-to-fan’ platforms seem to be flavour of the month. As the music industry evolves digitally, what role do these outlets play for determining the success and visibility of unsigned/up-and-coming musicians?
Paul Barton: I think companies like PledgeMusic have a big role to play and also are in a very strong position to help unsigned and up and coming musicians. The early days of an artists career, as well as obviously honing their craft as song writers and live performers, should be all about building and maintaining their fan base. Data collection tools are important, good fan engagement via social media and also in person is important and then at the right time a well run Direct To Fan Crowd Funding or Pre-Order comes into play as fans are willing to pay for music and for good, exciting experiences. PledgeMusic’s community is very interested in learning about new music and new artists, so I believe we have a responsibility to emerging artists to try and create new fans and data for them to use by highlighting them to our community.
Help Musicians UK: As an emerging musician looking for financial backing, there are a lot of online funding platforms to choose from, how does PledgeMusic differ from the main players?
Paul Barton: One thing to remember is that PledgeMusic is purely music based, we only do and will only do music based products and campaigns, so there is no danger of being lost amongst jelly fish tanks or beer coolers that can charge your phone at the same time, which are on offer via other funding sites! We’ll market you to our community, we will work every day with you on your campaign making sure you’re selling the right items, your communicating with the fans enough and correctly.
Help Musicians UK: It’s great to see how passionate PledgeMusic are in supporting artists across all genres. Why is it important for you to work in partnership with organisations like Help Musicians UK’?
Paul Barton: It’s important on a number of fronts. Firstly, we share Help Musicians UK thoughts that there is a need and a responsibility for organisations such as the both of ours to focus on and create an option for emerging artists to receive a level of financial backing. It is true that labels are signing less acts at the very embryonic stages of their career, it does happen, but more and more it’s rare, so sharing that view and vision from the start showed us at PledgeMusic why it was important for us to work with Help Musicians UK. Secondly, Help Musicians UK do so much good work throughout the industry that any support we could offer to bring the idea of the Emerging Artists Fund to fruition was something we felt was very important. I think it is of the upmost importance that industry organisations and companies continue to and/or begin to work together more and more to support all walks of artists and musicians at all different stages of their careers.
Help Musicians UK: Do you have any tips for potential hopefuls applying for the Emerging Artists Fund?
Paul Barton: Be organised, which isn’t always a phrase that goes hand in hand with musicians and artists! But the more organised you are with your submission, the easier it is for us to review your submission clearly. Also, be realistic from the start. Realistic with the target amount of the PledgeMusic campaign you would want to run and what you would use the additional funding for. Last thing, make sure you have your best music available to listen to. By best music I don’t just mean the tracks you think are the best... if there is a track that you know that fans love, but you might not be that keen on it for whatever reason, make sure we hear that track! It could make all the difference, as a massive part of the approval process is about how good the music is.
If you’re an emerging artist approaching a tipping point in your career and without any major financial backing then you can apply for the PledgeMusic and Help Musicians UK Emerging Artists Fund.
Applications for the third and final round of 2015 close Monday 30 November. To apply and for more information visit our dedicated page.