You Can Invest in Neil Young's Company, PonoMusic, for as Little as $5,000
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This past April, Neil Young's digital music service PonoMusic raised over $6.2 million on Kickstarter, making it one of the crowdfunding site's biggest campaigns ever.
Now, Young has turned to the investment platform Crowdfunder to drum up more money for his company, which is slated to launch a site selling both high-resolution music downloads and a device to play them on later this year. This time around, however, instead of accepting donations and/or offering backers rewards (including VIP listening parties and autograph inscriptions from a host of his rock star friends), Young is offering up equity in his company.
For as little as $5,000 accredited investors can own a small stake in PonoMusic, which is valuing itself at $50 million. According to the Crowdfunder, the platform will group all small investors into a "Special Purpose Fund" and represent them all as a single entity.
Originally, the campaign's funding goal was $2.5 million, but when it blew past that figure the goal was raised to $4 million. It's possible we'll see that number go up again before the campaign ends on September 1st: As of 12 p.m. ET today, PonoMusic had raised 69 percent of its new funding goal, collecting over $2.7 million.
While at $5,000, the minimum investment appears doable for many people, there's a catch; in order to invest on the Crowdfunder platform, you must be an accredited investor -- i.e. your income must have exceeded $200,000 in each of the two most recent years (if you're combining income with your spouse's, that number jumps to $300,000) OR your net worth – excluding the value of your primary residence – must exceed $1 million.
Crowdfunder is a good option for companies who want to raise money while avoiding the backlash faced by many Kickstarter projects that are acquired, Crowdfunder's CEO Chance Bartnet argued in a blog post. "Had the $2.4 million that Oculus raised to launch the company been investment via an equity crowdfunding site like Crowdfunder.com, then it’s estimated that those backers would have gotten a 200x return on their investment," he wrote.
PonoMusic is slated to launch in October when its player (which is expected to retail at $399) goes on sale.
"We're going to be able to play records back just like the artists made them — with absolutely no magic sauce, no DRM, no encoding, decoding, none of the things that screw with the sound and make it an intellectual property," Young told Rolling Stone in March.