PledgeMusic collapse: CC Smugglers fight to recoup £20k losses

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CC Smugglers performingImage source, CC Smugglers
Image caption,
PledgeMusic gave bands such as CC Smugglers direct access to fans and their money

The founder of a band that was left £20,000 out-of-pocket after the collapse of a crowdfunding website said he was fighting to repay the debt.

CC Smugglers were due to receive the money but PledgeMusic stopped trading and the band called it a day.

Richie Prynne, founder of the Bedford jazz and blues band, said his father had used pension funds to give the band an advance, expecting it to be repaid.

Mr Prynne said he was now selling back catalogue tracks to repay that advance.

Fans of the sextet had donated to PledgeMusic in the hope it would help them produce an album.

Image caption,
Richie Prynne's father Tony loaned the band money to make the album

PledgeMusic was set up a decade ago to help acts bypass the traditional record label model by accessing funding direct from fans, but it collapsed in July 2019 owing £7.5m.

Mr Prynne said their crowdfunding total had reached £20,000 and they had started playing bigger venues and festivals - including Glastonbury, Latitude and the Cambridge Folk Festival.

Instead of waiting for the money from PledgeMusic, the band took an advance from Mr Prynne's father Tony, fully expecting to repay it.

"We invested the £20,000 which came from my dad's pension," said Mr Prynne.

Image caption,
CC Smugglers have played the Glastonbury Festival and Latitude in Suffolk

Using the money, the band released a record that went to number one in the jazz and blues chart.

Since the PledgeMusic collapse and the disintegration of his band, Mr Prynne said he had recouped about £14,000 through selling the band's back catalogue.

"I am determined to get my dad's pension back," he said.

"My career is totally in limbo, but the one thing I have is the music. We have produced a live album we recorded and two other slightly different albums.

"If I can sell a thousand copies of the albums [in a three-disc bundle] I can get the money back."

Image caption,
Richie Prynne believes the crowdfunding model can be a good thing for artists to make their music and involve their fans

The Musicians' Union general secretary Horace Trubridge said his "heart goes out" to the CC Smugglers.

"We would love to rid this industry of people who take risks with the money of musicians," he said.

The Official Receiver said its investigation into PledgeMusic was ongoing.

Before its collapse PledgeMusic issued a statement, which said: "We deeply regret that recently we have not lived up to the high standards to which PledgeMusic has always held itself."

This story was broadcast at 19:30 GMT on Monday 23 March on Inside Out East on BBC One and is available on the iPlayer.

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