Indie Music Bus Interview | Steve Bishop | Jesus Jones for ROCCR.COM
Walter here! So at the end of July 2019 I was doing my morning work on Twitter for Indie Music Bus. I had been watching the Tweets about the PledgeMusic mess all week and chanced upon a Tweet by Blake Morgan @TheBlakeMorgan which ultimately led to the discovery of Recognition, Opportunity, Community, Credibility and Reputation (ROCCR)! From the tweets that followed, I became very interested to learn more about the platform and so we requested an interview. They agreed and shortly after receiving the answers, Indie Music Bus signed up for a partnership with ROCCR. We believe in what they are working towards and want to help it grow. We believe our followers will want to learn more about a crowdfunding platform that plans to do things the way they should have been done in the first place! With Openness and Honesty! More details about our partnership once we have all the information! And now on to the interview! ~ Walter Hargrave (Owner)
Below is our interview by Candice Anne Marshall
IMB – Hello Steve (et al)! Welcome to Indie Music Bus! Let’s begin with getting some background on all of you. What is your connection to music and Indie Music Bus?
Iain – I’m the keyboard player for Jesus Jones, and manage the band, too. I’ve worked in the industry all my life – I managed the Mail Order department for the ROugh Trade shops, I’ve been a DJ on XFM and NME Radio, as well as a club DJ, broadcaster, producer, and voiceover artist.
Steve -For Keith and I, music and the arts are about enjoyment and passion. Keith has got a link to Wolf Alice too through other work. We met Indie Music Bus via Twitter talking about issues on crowdfunding and our different approach to protect artists and fans.
IMB – Let’s talk about ROCCR. It is my understanding that it stands for: Recognition, Opportunity, Community, Credibility and Reputation. In the music/film/art communities, this stands for some pretty big things! Can you tell us how this was conceived?
Steve -A totally unconnected meeting, Keith outlined the problem to me that he and Iain had been discussing from the issues around the industry and raising funds and clarity needed. My other business is in events ticketing and registrations which gets the funds directly for the artists and that initial discussion around how we work with the events and the values sparked some thoughts. I went away, sat down and mapped out with a friend the issues and needs of bands and artists to see if we could do something to improve the situation for artists and fans alike – the answer was yes! What we came up with that day were the values and needs. Looking at them all, still without a name after a full day of brainstorming and research on the issues and the values and needs, we realized they spelled something and ROCCR was born!
Iain – It was great to have something happen organically, that was the best thing about ROOCR. There wasn’t a grand plan or a big idea – it was just a sense of justice, really. Let’s do something right, let’s protect people, and do that while giving them the chance to raise funds for projects without having to worry about losing their funds. That sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Well, it is – and once you start with common sense, it’s surprisingly easy to turn that into something concrete. We sat down, discussed how we could work together, got a basic company structure together, a framework – and ROCCR happened so quickly.
IMB – When I head to the website: roccr.com, it says ‘Coming summer 2019’… is there a launch date?
Steve – Imminently! – we’re virtually there for the site for an initial launch with some testing being done as we speak. We’re approaching this differently to other sites so we’re building in the initial routes through for launch and talking to a variety of projects to launch on the site with. As soon as we have that, we’ll be live in the coming couple of weeks.
IMB – With the idea of ROCCR in mind, can you give us a breakdown as to how, exactly, it will help musicians/artists/filmmakers?
Steve – We’re being open and honest about costs firstly. A sign-up fee of £99 for the project to get set up and vetted. That’s it for the projects so it’s cost-effective. We’re asking the donors to pay the other costs to run the platform and cover the processing fees etc on top of their donation. That way 100% of the donations go to the project. The funds raised will be held in an account in the projects name so it can not be touched by anyone so we can’t run off with the money raised. We think that’s fair and transparent to everyone, fans and artists. We’re also opening it to the ‘arts’ world so fashion, books, artists, music, film and TV are just some of the projects we’ve been talking to already so goes wider than music.
Iain – Yes – That honesty was absolutely key to setting up ROCCR. We wanted to lay everything out, so people could see what we wanted to do – and crucially, how we were going to cost that out. I can recall going to Pledge’s offices in London, and it was just AMAZING. It was like a record company from the late-80’s, in a snazzy part of town, gold discs on the walls, a conference room – it was very swanky. At first, I was quite impressed – but then later, it left a bad taste in my mouth. It felt like they’d done all of that, off the backs of the hard work of others. We wanted to avoid being a company that were chasing that sort of visible proof of success.
IMB – It was mentioned on Twitter that ROCCR was created as a result of the failure of PledgeMusic. What can you tell us about that?
Iain – The collapse of Pledge was just such a shock, for me. At first, I was just so angry – I’d lost thousands, and I wanted my money. But gradually, that changed. I spoke to others who’d lost more than I had – and that was a wake-up call, absolutely. I quickly realized it wasn’t about me, it was about everyone else who’d lost not just money, but their power – their voice. I really wanted to stand up for those people who weren’t as fortunate as me and my band. We were lucky, we could carry on, despite the financial hardship. We still had enough profile, to muddle through. But there were bands and artists out there who were going to be pushed under, by this. That was just heartbreaking. After 30 years in the business, you realize it’s bigger than you are. And you realize that for you to succeed, the industry itself has to be healthy, and have a constant stream of ideas, and talent, coming through. Without that , everything loses momentum. So, it was time for someone to stand up, and represent artists – to give them their voice back. At first, I thought it was just sharing information about Pledge on Twitter, and working with industry bodies. But eventually, that path led me into discussions that helped to form ROCCR. My hope now is that the site will mean artists can get their voices back, again, and can do so in a position of safety and security.
Steve – The frustrations of the issues surrounding the ‘lost money’ in the campaigns run by PledgeMusic was the initial problem. Jesus Jones’ fans lost a lot of money that PledgeMusic had effectively ‘stolen’ as Iain mentioned – it should’ve been there for the project but it wasn’t, they’d spent it. It was those discussions that then led to Keith discussing the issue with me in that separate meeting. From that the basic questions of how did it happen, what were the issues, what went wrong, what would need to happen to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I looked at it all, came back to Iain and Keith and the idea was formed just a week or two later which took ROCCR from an idea to becoming the business we’re building now.
IMB – You had mentioned in correspondence on twitter with IMB and myself that Jesus Jones is also involved in the conception of ROCCR. What role does he play?
Iain – I’m the keyboard player for the band, I’ve been there since we started, in 1988. In 2010, after leaving my radio career to focus on family, I began managing the band too. That gave me a deeper insight into not just the logistics of management, but of the music industry as a whole.
It certainly helped with ROCCR. I’m able to see a business perspective – but I can’t ever lose sight of what it feels like to work as an artist as well – and that’s been invaluable.
IMB – What does integrity in the music/film/art industries mean to you?
Iain – Doing something because you know that you have to do it. The best art is always created by those who don’t know how to sell it, who don’t know if it’ll sell, or who don’t even care if it sells. Sometimes that art does go on to achieve huge commercial success – and sometimes it doesn’t. But it doesn’t make any difference – it was created in the same way. Integrity means doing things with your heart and soul. Not for your wallet, or your bank manager, but so you can stand there, look at what you’ve done, and know that you’re satisfied with what you’ve created.
And integrity in the arts means honesty, too. It means being able to stand in front of someone, and say – this is who I am. It’s about being honest with money – to realize what things cost, to realize what things are worth – and to know what you’re worth, as well.
Steve – Being honest and open – working with others how we want to be treated and promoting that community that is there wanting more and to get closer to the arts. By being transparent on the costs and keeping the money separate from anything else, it means we can be honest and open to everyone involved.
IMB – Have you had personal experiences in the music industry that have affected you in a positive and/or negative way you can share with us?
Iain – Well, the music business has always been something with its positives, and negatives too. I’ve seen both – from wonderful supportive A&R men, to record company bosses who’ve never actually heard what you do, and yet still have the power to decide which way your career goes. There was always a bit of a high-wire act – a balance between creativity and market forces. That’s why crowdfunding gives artists such power – it returns that financial power back to them.
IMB – How long did the idea and execution of ROCCR take from first conception to this moment in time?
Iain – I’ve got to be honest – really, really fast. I think that’s because it was a direct, and definite reaction to something that had gone wrong with an otherwise good idea. Crowdfunding was great – Pledge had been good in the past – and then it collapsed. So, we thought “Right – what did they do wrong? Let’s NOT do that” And once we’d decided to try and do things right, it was an incredibly quick process. A couple of months later, after meetings, calls, emails, and ideas being bounced back and forth – all three of us realized we’d got something (hopefully!) very worthwhile. We had that course of action, then brought the tech platform on board, and the payment systems to back it up. As soon as all of that was in place, we could start looking for projects.
Steve – Literally all quickly as Iain said, less than 8 weeks! And we’re virtually there with the technology platform and payment systems so are looking now for the first batch of projects to put live on the site as we launch in the coming weeks.
IMB – Have you had musicians expressing interest in ROCCR?
Iain -Yes, we’ve had plenty of interest so far – it’s been great. We were deliberately broad – in terms of what sort of projects we wanted to attract – when we launched. We just said – “if you got an arts project, let’s talk” Lots of people have – children’s books, bands, sculptors, fashion designers, tattoo artists, people in the theatre. It’s been a wide range of people and ideas – but that’s what we always wanted. We never wanted to have boundaries. The arts doesn’t have boundaries – it’s only limited by people’s imaginations. So, we’d like to try and reflect that, as much as it’s possible for us to do. So, if you’re out there thinking – “well, maybe they wouldn’t want me” – how do you know? Just get in touch – let’s talk.
IMB – I noticed that there are several ‘goal’ areas that applicants to the program can campaign for:
1. Creating projects for raising.
2. Supporting projects with funds.
3. Partnering with ROCCR.
Can you please provide a breakdown of what each of these things mean?
-1 – Project owners, people who want to raise funds for their arts projects be it a sculpture, a student, a band new or upcoming or even existing artist,
2 – Fans and people who want to get closer to the arts and support them by donating funds in exchange for ‘experiences money can’t usually buy’
3 – Partners are those in the industry that can bring skills and support, lighting, writing, photography, recording studios etc – we want to create a community of support for the arts and are looking for those as much as the projects to help ensure that people can create and deliver a powerful experience.
IMB: What do you believe is the biggest challenge for you guys getting ROCCR totally off the ground and do you have all the help you need to solve it?
The biggest challenges for us at the moment are
- Awareness, getting word out to the arts and music world that there’s a new way to get help. We’re poised for a launch and want to get a good batch of projects live when we hit the button. We need more people like you helping to spread the word.
- Support – from the industry for partners so we can link people who can help to those who need it to create great projects from social media, recording studios, equipment, experience…
We know there are great funds out there too that will support projects so getting them involved or in the loop would help especially for the bigger budget projects.
Finally, the last part will be getting word out for the fans to help support the projects and get those things money doesn’t usually buy! That will grow when we get a great selection of projects out there for sure but we all want to make this work.
So no, we don’t have the full toolkit but the community so far has been great. We want to create something big and meaningful that will help fans get closer, so it’s a journey, we are on the first step. We feel we’re taking quite a big first step and are close to launch but anyone who’s interested, please get in touch.
IMB – I have personally worked with many indie artists both in music and film for a very long time now. They have all become jaded as to the ‘help’ that is supposedly available to them to have the freedom to create their projects….how is ROCCR going to be the game changer in all that for them?
Iain: Anyone who’s looked at crowdfunding, or knows people who’ve crowdfunded projects, knows that it’s a great idea. There’s no point trying to find a new way of crowdfunding – the idea is actually OK. But – and it’s a big but – the rules certainly did need changing . After the collapse of Pledge, we saw a huge number of small artists who lost everything. They’d started projects thinking they’d be safe – they weren’t. So, we’re doing our best to change the rules – to make sure that people have the safety and security they deserve. There’s definitely a place out there, for a company that offers that peace of mind, alongside all of the usual benefits of raising funds for projects. There’s a place for a company that won’t touch the money – that won’t run away with the funds! Artists work hard to create projects, and they work hard to give themselves visibility, profile, and a voice. ROCCR is there to make sure that none of those things are stolen away. We’re here to set everything out, from the start, so artists – and their fans – know where they stand.
IMB – Is there a cost to becoming a partner with ROCCR?
Steve – Yes, £99 for the first year, that’s it! They’ll get a profile on the site, a logo, information and they’ll be promoted in what we do. Plus, of course, there’s use of the logo as a preferred partner to ROCCR.
IMB – What are the major benefits in partnering with ROCCR?
We are looking to create a community so by partnering, we’ll refer projects to these partners
IMB – Where do you plan on promoting ROCCR and why?
Steve – Throughout the industry, PR and social media, partners and world of mouth. Keeping it simple, lean and effective. There’s no big budgets here, its about community and we want to create that in our marketing too.
Iain- Yes, Steve’s right – the vital conversations will happen naturally. We’d like to talk to the people who want and need to talk to us. If there’s a need, we’d like to be there to help out.
IMB – How will ROCCR itself be funded?
Steve – From the basic fees we need to charge. We’re set up to be a ‘limited by guarantee’ so not driven by shareholders. Fees charged for partners, the sign up fee (covers that admin), the cost to a donor covers ROCCRS processing and administration and then the card fees so it is totally up front and honest. There are costs to run this and we’re trying to keep them as low as we can. We will look for bigger partners and opportunities to support us in time.
IMB – This next question is for Jesus Jones. On July 30th, 2019, he tweeted: “A tawdry end. They sneaked this out – without letting anyone know. Goodbye @PledgeMusic, you were great, until you lost the plot, and ripped off all of your artists, fans, and supporters. Let’s ensure it doesn’t happen again.” in response to a tweet by Editor Baker (Link: https://twitter.com/jesusjonesband ). That’s a pretty bold statement – who is ‘Let’s’ in the ‘make sure it doesn’t happen again’ statement?
Iain -It’s a reference to ROCCR, of course. I’m very hopeful that in the future, having a site which doesn’t just operate to make huge profit, which isn’t just about the bottom line, which doesn’t take artists money away from them, ensures that we protect and nourish creativity, by being responsible about crowdfunding.
IMB – I know that there are many who are furious with PledgeMusic since going offline on July 25th, 2019.(reference article as retweeted by Jesus Jones: https://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2019/07/). How will ROCCR prevent itself from this sort of occurence in future?
Steve – There’s clearly never any guarantees in business but our structure is fairer and clearer. We’re lean and focusing on what we’re here to do, find projects and bring fans and artists together to benefit everyone.
Iain -Absolutely, be as honest as possible, that’s at the heart of everything we’re trying to do.
IMB – Who in the industry has been the most supportive in getting the message out about ROCCR?
Iain – there’s been a lot of supportive press, and messages. Some of that has come from industry contacts – but to be honest, a lot has come from people just being curious – seeing us, and thinking “What’s that about?” and getting in touch. For all of the bad press social media gets, it’s nice to be reminded that sometimes, it’s about simple, and important connections. Getting people talking to each other.
IMB – Can we expect a ‘roll out’ on social media for ROCCR? Which social media platforms can we expect to find the launch date info on?
Iain – yes, of course – All the usual places. It’s nice to be spreading the word on social media – as that’s the forum that gave birth to ROCCR. It’s where we all met – and where we first had discussions about doing crowdfunding, in a safer, more secure way.
Steve – just search ROCCR or look out for @ROCCRS on all the channels and you’ll find us.
IMB – Do you plan on marketing ROCCR at NAMM or film festivals, etc.?
Good idea if we can get the sponsorship to pay for it. We’re self-funding this at the moment and keeping costs down by not overdoing it with fancy offices so anything like this needs industry to support us to support them. (HINT!)
IMB – Okay, final question: what is the most important factor about ROCCR that you would like the public to know and why?
Iain – your money is safe. We’re absolutely honest about what we do, and why we do it.
Steve – 100% fair – 100% of the money donated goes to the project and is protected and held secure and its linked to the arts, not just music.
Thank you for the interview!
Q&A From Twitter
IMB 9/21/2019: Someplatforms have “all or nothing”, or “flexible-funding” options. The flexible option allows for partial funding in the case that the project doesn’t fully fund. Are you considering this for your platform?
If the project can complete with a lower value then that’s great, it’ll pay out. if it’s a project selling items and those items are delivered (T-shirt’s or albums) then that’s the same, you’ll get the funds so yes, it’s about understanding each project on its own merits
IMB 9/22/2019: What happens if a project fails to fund on ROCCR?
Great question! If the project can’t continue with the lesser amount, customers will get 100% of the money paid for the reward back direct guaranteed . Money is held secure in 3rd party account to ensure safety.
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