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Sony Music to acquire merch company Probity

The Thread Shop, Sony Music’s merchandise division, is to acquire Probity Europe, a leading independent music merchandising company offering worldwide tour, retail, ecommerce and licensing services.

Probity’s roster of artists includes Metallica, Noel Gallagher, Oasis, Paloma Faith, Rage Against the Machine, Robert Plant and Van Morrison.

Following the acquisition, London-based Probity will become a new division of The Thread Shop, with the existing Probity team serving under company founder Mark Stredwick. Stredwick will report to Thread Shop head Howard Lau.

The takeover of Probity is the third merch-related acquisition by Sony Music since last summer, following similar deals with the US-based Araca Group and the UK’s Kontraband last year. The label’s in-house merchandising business is now home to the likes of the Beatles, Camila Cabello, Jimi Hendrix, Maluma, Led Zeppelin, Lil Nas X, Pink and Rosalia.

“Probity is an established independent leader in the European merch market”

“We are delighted to fully cement the organic relationship we had already developed with Howard and Sony Thread Shop,” comments Stredwick.

“The deal with Sony allows our growing roster to tap into more opportunities globally and benefit from innovative and creatively driven merchandising programs that The Thread Shop deliver with such passion.”

Adds Lau: “We are very pleased to be further enhancing the reach and competitive capabilities of The Thread Shop around the world with the welcome additions of Mark Stredwick and the Probity team.

“Probity is an established independent leader in the European merch market, representing some of the world’s most iconic music artists. Together we can offer our artist clients and the music community an even more robust set of merchandising opportunities to complement their music revenues, branding and marketing.”

 


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Represent acquires concert merch platform Sidestep

Celebrity merch marketplace Represent has acquired Sidestep, a digital platform dedicated to selling concert merchandise.

Sidestep allows artists to sell products to fans across its website and mobile app, expanding the sales window for sellers and eliminating queuing for buyers.

Artists including Adele, Guns N’ Roses, Selena Gomez and Fall Out Boy have used Sidestep to sell concert merch in the past. Beyoncé is also a fan of the company, investing US$150,000 in Sidestep in 2016.

The integration with Represent, which is owned by personalised apparel company CustomInk, will enable artists to design, market and distribute custom-made merchandise through the platform.

Both Sidestep and Represent, each founded in 2014, have been involved in fan merchandise since their inception. CustomInk acquired Represent in early 2016, in a deal believed to be in excess of $100 million. The apparel company hopes to boost sales further through the Sidestep addition.

“Using Sidestep, artists can ensure higher sales and happier fans by offering easy advance and on-site orders for their fans”

“When you’re at a concert, the last thing you want to be is stuck in line and missing the music,” says Represent’s chief operating officer, Daniel Rosenberg. “Using Sidestep, artists can ensure higher sales and happier fans by offering easy advance and on-site orders for their fans.”

Through the integration with Represent, “artists get access to a full-service solution that helps fans buy new merchandise throughout the year, from viral social media-driven campaigns to tour pre-orders and evergreen fan gear.” adds Rosenberg.

“When we first launched Sidestep, our goal was to super-serve artists in the music industry by bridging the gap between technology and merchandising,” says Sidestep founder and chief executive Eric Jones, who takes on the role of head of music at Represent following the acquisition.

“Our ultimate vision was to extend each concert experience to fans around the world. With this new partnership, we’re in [the] position to fulfill that original goal and vision.”

The music merchandising sector has been booming in recent years, with merch sales totalling nearly $3.5 billion in 2018. Sony Music recently expanded its own merchandise offering, acquiring the music merch branch of US theatre and entertainment merchandising company the Araca Group.

 


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Sony’s Thread Shop to acquire Araca merch division

The Thread Shop, Sony Music’s merchandise unit, is to acquire the music merch division of the Araca Group, a US theatrical production and entertainment merchandising company.

Araca’s music merch roster includes artists such as Led Zeppelin, Pink, Shania Twain, Dua Lipa, Sugarland and Zayn Malik. The purchase of Araca, headquartered in LA and with offices in New York, Las Vegas, London and Sydney, significantly grows Sony Music’s in-house merchandising business, and several Araca team members have joined Thread Shop to work on the companies’ new integrated roster.

Richard Story, president of Sony Music Entertainment’s commercial music group, comments: “As artists continue to seek out merchandising opportunities to complement their music revenues, branding and marketing, Sony Music is significantly expanding its presence in this growing area of the business under the leadership of [Thread Shop SVP, strategy] Howard Lau.

“The acquisition of the Araca Group’s music merchandise division will further strengthen the Thread Shop’s artist roster and infrastructure and the competitive capabilities we offer to the music community.”

“Artists continue to seek out merchandising opportunities to complement their music revenues, branding and marketing”

Sony’s major-label rivals Universal and Warner also have their own merchandise divisions, in the form of Bravado/Epic Rights and EMP Merchandising, respectively.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity this acquisition provides for our music merchandise division,” says Michael Rego, CEO of the Araca Group, commenting on the Sony deal. “The team at the Thread Shop is artist-focused, passionate and well positioned to build upon the merchandising programs [sic] that Araca has created for our music clients.”

Sales of music merchandise were were worth nearly US$3.5 billion in 2018, IQ revealed last month, with more artists seeking to grow their merchandise offerings to offset limited revenues from music streaming.

The agreement with Araca comes as Sony seeks to also increase its presence in live, announcing on the same day the acquisition of a majority stake in UK promoter Senbla.

 


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