The U.S. government is mulling radical changes to the current music-licensing framework, a cobweb of anachronistic regulations. Perhaps a better analogy still would be a noose, because this inequitable licensing regime is in many ways strangling music itself. It's depriving musicians of the financial oxygen they need to sustain their craft.
Enter Pizicato, a startup that hopes to tap the generosity of ordinary listeners to provide some much-needed financial succor to musicians. Its digital donation platform, which quietly went live a few days back, allows fans to circumvent middlemen — record labels, publishers, digital streaming services, and what have you — to directly support the artists they love most.
Donating is fairly easy so long as both you and your favorite musician or band have the appropriate Pizicato accounts. All you need to do is log in using either your Facebook account or email address, select the artist/band, choose any amount in excess of $4, and donate using PayPal. To better express your appreciation for the donee's work, you can craft a short and sweet personal message (140 characters or less) to accompany the donation.
In the event that your favorite artist is not on Pizicato, you can either request them to sign up using their official Facebook Artist/Band page, or send the amount you want to donate directly to the site. In the latter case, the Pizicato folks will try and deliver the funds to the artist, failing which they will refund the original amount within 30 days.
Remember what we told you about fans being able to cut out the middlemen with Pizicato? Well, that is not entirely true, for the site does keep as much as 18 percent of each donation for itself and PayPal. The good news, however, is that the 82 percent that does go to the artist is tax-free to them.
"Music is such a personal, visceral experience and some of it resonates so deeply that I'd like to personally say thank you to the artists and share how they've impacted my life. We believe Pizicato is a new way to make a difference,"Jeff Storm, co-founder of Pizicato, is quoted as saying in a press release announcing the service's launch.
Why this matters: Let's face it, the trials and tribulations of artists will endure regardless of any reforms or fan generosity, as will the huge leverage music fans have come to possess in the wake of the digital music revolution. But it's about damn time that fans — the biggest beneficiaries of the post-Napster era — properly thanked musicians for their labor of love. Pizicato gives them that opportunity.
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