Indie Non-Profit CASH Music Is Shutting Down — What Happened?

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Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit: Elena Kuchko

Twelve years after its founding, Portland-based indie non-profit CASH Music (the Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders) has officially shut down.

CASH Music higher-ups announced their non-profit’s permanent closure in a series of social media posts. “It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that CASH Music is shutting down,” the first of these messages reads.

From there, the NPO indicated that its “hosted tools will be coming down on July 10th” – a reference to wide-ranging open-source programs that allow labels and artists to sell and promote music for free. CASH encouraged users to download their data before the date’s arrival.

Lastly, CASH stated, “There will be a longer post-mortem later from the org and likely a few of us as individuals.” However, this post-mortem hadn’t been published – nor had a specific reason been provided for the stunning closure – at the time of this writing.

Even so, evidence suggests that the entity’s shutdown is attributable to long-running fiscal difficulties. In departing his role as executive director in 2017, co-founder Jesse von Doom bluntly relayed: “It’s a bad time to be a small non-profit. I’ve taken on a lot of personal debt to subsidize my work on CASH Music.”

Prior to that, in 2009, CASH Music was denied 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – seemingly as IRS officials subjected certain groups to increased scrutiny and investigation.

Addressing the shutdown on social media, von Doom wrote: “Lots of complicated feelings I’ll share later, but all I’ve got right now: We tried our best try.”

Maggie Vail, CASH’s final executive director, stated: “Hi, this is a hard moment. Thanks so much to all of you that were a part of this. I’m so proud of the work we did.”

“I am also still pissed at the things we weren’t able to do. That second 501c3 denial was a doozy,” Vail noted in a later post.

Throwing Muses vocalist and CASH co-founder Kristin Hersh, for her part, has yet to publicly comment on the group’s demise.

More broadly, artists and fans are offering words of support to CASH Music on social media.

“You guys are true pioneers in this space. Thank you for everything,” tweeted one appreciative individual.

“I’m so sorry to see this. I do hope the pride in what you did outweighs the disappointment and frustration, or at least that it will again when you get through the shutdown process,” said another supporter.