A singer with a vision for a new single is looking for a producer. She asks around, finds a guy who's a friend of a friend and sounds promising. They come to terms, she pays him--only to get ghosted. She's got no track, and now she has to raise money from scratch, doubling the cost of the single.
This story and its like happen regularly to artists, managers, and other music professionals. "A shared scene or network implies trust, but that trust is too often broken, either explicitly or due to misunderstandings," says DeCarlos Garrison, a music business veteran and serial tech entrepreneur. "I've experienced this problem first hand. We knew there was a way to solve it."
The solution is Bandpay, a fully customizable payment platform that allows two parties to establish milestones in a project, assign payments to each milestone, and guarantee that funds are available to complete a transaction. The easy-to-use app (for Android and iOS) also incorporates mediation, helping parties come to an understanding if a project goes sideways, shifts scope, or remains incomplete.
"Artists hear and think a lot about the revenue side of their business," Garrison notes. "There are a lot of tools and apps to help maximize revenue, everything from marketing automation to data analysis. But there are a lot fewer tools available for controlling the cost side of the business equation and preventing unnecessary losses. In this age of lean margins and fast-paced creation, we thought that needed to change."
"We built an app that is as simple as possible, while providing an easy solution to a key problem, how to make sure everyone sticks to their side of the agreement when a service is being provided," adds developer Gleb Teper, who with Garrison co-founded Bandpay.
Garrison and Teper originally bonded over an ambitious plan to create a suite of educational and business tools for musicians and their teams. As they worked on their ideas, they realized something far simpler was desperately needed by artists, producers, and other music professionals: a payment platform tailor made for business arrangements once made on the fly and sealed with a handshake (at best).
Bandpay replaces the handshake or verbal "heck yeah" with a clear, concise roadmap for project completion, as well as complete clarity surrounding the availability of funds. As an artist or manager, you know what's been promised, the timeline, and the ultimate cost of the project. As a creative service provider, you know your collaborator can pay you, what's expected and when. Bandpay is designed not just for work-for-hire-type creative jobs, but for any service that's being provided to an artist, such as social media management or marketing projects, or by an artist, such as influencer deals or branded appearances.
"Artists can get so excited about their music, their dream, that they don't realize that they are making an investment decision. If someone doesn't make good on that investment, they are taking away from your ability to create in the long run," Garrison muses. "This issue really resonates with people in the industry, who really crave the peace of mind of knowing that you will get what you pay for, or that you will be paid in a timely and appropriate matter if you do the work you promise."
In addition to a detailed set of deadline-based milestones both parties agree to and that unlock payment, Bandpay offers tools to help parties work things out when delays, errors, and other misfortunes strike, as they often do in creative work.
"It's all based on the milestones at the end of the day," explains Teper. "If the terms of a milestone aren't met, and both sides aren't satisfied, Bandpay tries to guide them to work together and come up with a solution among themselves. The seller couldn't deliver the product, say, and offers refund. Or some work was done, but not all and everyone agrees on a smaller payment for that milestone. Perhaps work needs to be revised before all agree a milestone has been reached." Should these options not feel adequate, Bandpay refers the dispute to the bank where funds are held for the project, for further mediation and review. "There are ways to pay people quickly, but nothing of this kind, that really embraces the whole process of completing a project. We've filled a big void for musicians and creators," adds Teper.
Garrison and Teper hope this will usher in a new era of reduced friction and increased trust between people making music and undertaking other projects together. "So many transactions go wrong. Widely available payment apps don't protect against this, and we all know instances when things turned out badly," Garrison reflects. "Artists and creative people just can't afford to lose money this way, not to mention friends and connections. They need to be paid. They need to get the product. We want them to have a trusted partner to bridge that gap between hopes and delivered tracks."
Bandpay will be available in app stores mid-March 2020.