Like many music fans, Jeff Storm loves the selection he gets from streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora.
Unlike most of them, he feels guilty that the artists he loves are getting streamed out of royalties.
“These artists are getting rooked,” Storm, a 55-year-old web developer in Carlsbad, tells the Reader. “It’s what I call ‘digital devaluation.’ Once something gets digitized, people don’t value it.”
Storm and his partner, Jeano Erforth, are hoping to change things with Pizicato, a website that allows a music fan to donate money directly to their favorite band or musician without the artist getting dinged with taxes.
“I consider it sharing the love,” Storm says. “I’d love to send money to all the people who’ve made the soundtrack of my life.”
Yeah, Storm could simply buy their records, but that isn’t a fair deal. “A band on a record label usually only gets 13 percent of the money from the sale,” he laments.
Although crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter helped restore Storm’s faith in humanity, those services are meant to fund future work. Pizicato is designed to thank musicians for what they’ve already done.
Storm and Erforth started working on Pizicato back in December 2013, but the website officially debuted in mid-February. About 150 artists and 100 fans have signed up so far, but Storm admits the website still isn’t where he wants it to be.
“We’re trying to get an Android app going,” he says. “Once that happens, each band will get a QR code they can put on all their posters and albums that will allow fans to donate from their phones.”
In return for helping musicians get donations, Pizicato gets 18 percent of every donated dollar. Storm says 82 cents of every dollar donated is a better deal than the 13 percent a band gets from a CD sale.
“For every donation, a certain amount goes to PayPal, and there is an upfront fee when you first open an account in a band’s name,” Storm says. “Pizicato covers those fees — not the musicians.”
One local band that sees Pizicato as an idea whose time has come is Leave the Universe, an alternative pop-rock band based in City Heights that has toured the Southwest and is getting played on 91X.
“I like that Pizicato is open-ended, with no strings attached,” drummer Cameron Phillips tells the Reader. “It’s a great way to tell a struggling band, ‘Hey, I want to help you,’ and I think the fans will get something knowing that they are helping the band sustain itself.”
No one has donated money to the band yet, but Phillips believes that will change once the QR code is available.
“That’s going to be great to have at a merchandise booth — like having a tip jar,” Phillips said.