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Pairing Music with Tangible Products

I released my most recent album called “Tea for Tyrants” under the following three guidelines: 1) Music is free 2) Music is everywhere and 3) Music needs context. The price tag of free makes it unrealistic to expect strangers will pay to consume my music through standard channels - iTunes, bandcamp, etc.  Similarly, the ubiquity of music reduces the likelihood that my music will attract large audiences at live events to generate significant revenue. 

So what is a musician looking to generate revenue to do?  

During my brainstorm surrounding how to release the album - I realized that “free” and “everywhere” are mainly true of digital products with unlimited distribution. Physical products, on the other hand, cannot be file shared or downloaded since materials, labor, and packaging are involved. These factors contribute to the cost associated with the product whether it is coffee, toilet paper or green tea. The packaging aspect is particularly important as a means to deliver context and convey a story about the product being consumed. Seems obvious in retrospect - but many musicians view the musical creation itself as the end product instead of one component of a larger experience provided to consumers.   

This discovery led me to transfer what initially was an album into a business selling loose leaf green tea that also helps musicians by distributing their music. Selling tea (or a similar commoditized product) instead of music circumvents the problems mentioned earlier since:

  1. Tea is not free but has a fixed price
  2. Quality tea is not available everywhere 
  3. Each package of tea can be branded to match a specific musician

Traditional merchandising (t-shirts, buttons, posters) provides a similar outlet but requires the consumer to be an existing fan. Merchandising is an appealing product primarily to the existing audience of a musician. Conversely, adding music to a separate product like tea can attract consumers interested the beverage but not familiar with the musician. In this scenario, the potential for both revenue and new fan acquisition exists.  

Andy Angelos is an entrepreneur and musician launching Tea for Tyrants to help fans discover new music through green tea. He also runs an online marketing firm in Chicago providing community managers for brands. 

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Andy, this is really interesting. I love the fact that you went further than I was expecting. Rather than just marketing an album within a loose tea product, you've created a business selling tea that has music involved.

I was wondering whether this flip of emphasis could become problematic because it turns from using tea to market music to using music to market tea. You obviously need a level of passion and expertise about the tea in order to make a business out of selling it - and then your market becomes tea drinkers. People who want to buy the tea, which is the tangible product at the centre of your business. They are not necessarily the people who are best suited to the music that comes with the tea (but it seems as though, from your Kickstarter, you're marketing this to music fans rather than tea drinkers anyway?:

"Adding music to a separate product like tea can attract consumers interested the beverage but not familiar with the musician"

I think this is a great concept, but not sure it is a great idea to nail yourself to one product. Perhaps if you matched tangible products to the artist themselves. One band might lend itself to tea, while another one might be better suited to something else. The traditional merchandising works BECAUSE the artist comes first - the artist is the brand and then people buy the stuff because it's branded with the artist. Whereas what you suggest here is that you take a product (tea) and brand the artist with that. The customer wants tea. It might work as a little marketing gimmick but I'd be very wary about creating a business model around it. It's two completely separate markets.

I'll be interested to see how it goes! All the best with it. Love the pictures on the Kickstarter by the way. Looks beautiful.

February 11 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Another great idea found on kickstarter.
These kind of projects will eventually lead us into a future where music is free and musicians make money using a freemium model similar tot he one used in games right now.
Creating other products that are related to the music you are giving for free is a good start.

February 12 | Unregistered CommenterPuiu

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