Entertainment payment platform PickleJar thrives with artist focus

Since its launch a year ago today, PickleJar’s live entertainment and cashless tip app has helped artists earn over $1.2 million. There are over 2,500 artists and creators on the platform, and every penny earned through fan-funded support and transactions goes straight into their pockets.

PickleJar CEO and Founder Jeff James and President and Founder Christian Barowski are longtime friends and business partners. The premise of PickleJar came about three years ago when the couple were at Nashville’s The Second Fiddle on Lower Broadway listening to live music. When the artist approached with her bucket of Yeti for tips, they told her they didn’t have any cash with them. She then pulled out her Square card reader and they paid $60 for three song requests.

“We both had so many questions,” James tells me. “There were three people on stage. How are they going to split the tip? Where did the money go? Do they remember our songs? Who paid taxes on this? We were going to get a receipt? Christian and I looked at each other and said, “There must be a better way.”

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Barowski took some bar napkins and the pair began brainstorming what they called the “PickleJar Project”. Initially, the application was focused solely on making it easier for artists to collect and track their tips, as well as accept song requests. James and Barowski never thought the idea would work, but after talking to fellow musicians, they realized they had a revolutionary concept.

However, the musicians doubted one thing: whether they would Indeed receive 100% tips?

“The only way I would be willing to do that is if the artist gets 100% of the money and the artist owns 100% of their fans,” says James.

The pair got to work and created tools within the platform through which artists could send messages to all their fans. A non-profit component was also available, so if an artist wanted to donate their performance during a time of crisis, they could easily give their tips and money raised for a non-profit organization or cause of their choice.

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“Suddenly, you have a way to really connect fans with music that drives change in the world and that has become our driving force,” says James. “If we help one person, we’ve been successful and that’s been the impetus for what we’ve been trying to build.”

Since then, the PickleJar artists have raised over $300,000 for charity. The company has also raised over $4 million in external funding, thanks in part to lead investor Anton Rabi.

“PickleJar’s visionary approach to live entertainment technology is more than a business model—it’s a mission,” says Rabi, Spin Master Corp. says co-founder and co-CEO. “I can’t be proud of what the PickleJar team has achieved, especially on a tight deadline.

“We believe our long-term revenue stream diversification is strong, with the potential to significantly increase our member base and profit per transaction,” continues Rabi. “The ‘Artist First’ culture at PickleJar remains a central theme of an executive team that is poised to make real and meaningful changes to the entertainment space for musicians and content creators alike.”

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Country singer-songwriter Sasha McVeigh has witnessed this change first hand. In her first three days of using PickleJar, she raised $1,010. “She turned to Christian and said, ‘Oh my God, that’s my three months’ rent!'” says James. “We did what we set out to do. We have big goals and big ideas, but we helped the artists. Today, we are putting millions of dollars in the pockets of artists.”

According to James, PickleJar has evolved from a cashless tip app for artists to the perfect live entertainment app for fans to connect with and support their favorite artists and venues. PickleJar now offers an artist and venue ticketing platform, artist merchandising, live streaming, and crowdfunding opportunities.

“Most of all, I am proud of how we were able to get the message out to people, and people will listen, understand and love,” says Barowski. “People who think they are better than taking tips are met with resistance. However, once they see that their fans are on a mission with them for a common goal, they tune in.”

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Over the past year, PickleJar’s workforce has grown from seven to 29. The company also plans to acquire office space in Nashville this summer. PickleJar’s founders hope to bring 10,000 artists to the platform over the next year, expand to 31 countries, and embrace Web3. PickleJar is currently available in four different currencies in the US, UK, Canada, France and Germany.

PickleJar received support from the Nashville countryside community from the start and has since been adopted by the urban, hip hop, jazz, DJ and punk rock genres. “It really extends to all genres, especially when you start giving them a tool to express your gratitude,” Barowski says.

“We look at it from all angles to help an artist highlight and preserve the creative value of their entire portfolio of assets throughout their lifetime,” says James. “Ultimately, we may discover the greatest achievement in the history of human creativity since the Renaissance. You take an artist and let him not worry about car payments, rent, or how he will eat this month, and allow him to use this time to focus again on his talent and his craft. I think we’ll be amazed at what we’ll see in the next decade if we can make it happen.”


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