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Bravado launches charitable face mask range

Universal Music Group-owned merchandising company Bravado has launched a range of face masks to raise money for charity partners including MusiCares and Help Musicians UK.

As reported by IQ earlier this week, face masks are becoming must-have merchandise for music fans, with bands including My Chemical Romance and Korn added branded face coverings to their merch offerings.

Now, UMG’s merchandising arm, Bravado, has unveiled its own range of reusable, washable cloth face masks. Available on the new We’ve Got You Covered e-commerce site, Bravado’s masks feature designs for artists including the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Blackpink, Billie Eilish and the Weeknd.

Starting today (24 April), fans can purchase Bravado’s face masks for US$15. All net proceeds – no less than $8 per product sold – go towards charities supporting the music industry through the coronavirus crisis.

“This initiative will continue to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work from everyone here at Bravado and UMG along with our artists across the globe”

“I’m humbled and grateful to work with artists and partners who are passionate and driven to deliver a program that supports those that need it most during this unprecedented time,” comments Bravado CEO, Mat Vlasic.

“This initiative will continue to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work from everyone here at Bravado and UMG along with our artists across the globe.”

All UMG employees have been offered free face masks through the We’ve Got You Covered programme.

The company will also contribute 50,000 masks to those serving communities across the US including workers in food banks, school lunch programmes, homeless shelters and other community service providers.

 


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Universal reports merchandise boom in 2019

Universal Music Group (UMG) has revealed that its revenues from merchandise sales nearly doubled in the first nine months of 2019, boosted by strong demand and a healthy global touring market.

According to UMG parent Vivendi’s third-quarter (Q3) 2019 financial results, merchandising and other related revenues increased by a whopping 82.4% year on a constant-currency basis compared to the first nine months of 2018, “thanks to increased touring activity and growth in retail and D2C (direct-to-consumer) revenues.”

In total, UMG grew turnover 17.5% in the nine months ending September 2019, to over €5 billion (€1.8bn in Q3). France-based Vivendi is currently in the process of selling a 10% stake in UMG to China’s Tencent for €30bn – as well as, potentially, “other partners”, according to its latest financials, “some of whom have already expressed an interest in investing at a similar price level”.

The growth of the music merchandising sector has accelerated in recent years, with merch sales totalling nearly US$3.5 billion in 2018 (though the impact of Brexit is cause for concern in Europe).

Universal’s merchandising division is Bravado, which earlier this year expanded its footprint by acquiring rival operation Epic Rights. Its major-label rivals are also increasingly making inroads into the merchandise space, with Warner Music last year acquiring EMP Merchandising and Sony Music investing in the Araca Group and Kontraband.

Merch grew “thanks to increased touring activity and growth in retail and D2C revenues”

Elsewhere in the Vivendi group, Vivendi Village – the business unit that includes its live entertainment and ticketing activities – grew revenues more than 50%, to €108 million, in the January–September period, bolstered by a strong festival summer and growth for See Tickets in North America.

“Live activities, which include Olympia Production (France), U Live (Great Britain) and venues in France and Africa, recorded very strong revenue growth at €56 million, a strong increase (x2.4),” reads the Q3 financial report. “Vivendi Village now produces 12 festivals that experienced a significant increase in attendance this past summer, especially Garorock in France and Sundown in the United Kingdom.”

Vivendi’s other festivals include Les Déferlantes Brive Festival in France, the UK’s Love Supreme, Poptopia in the US and Universal Music Festival in Spain.

“Ticketing activities are now all grouped under the same See Tickets brand,” continues the report. “Ticketing revenues amounted to €48 million, an increase of 19.5% compared to the first nine months of 2018 (+8.5% at constant currency and perimeter), due in particular to the robust growth of the activities in the Unites States, where revenues doubled in one year.”

In total, Vivendi turned over €4bn (+7.2%) in Q3 2019 and €11.3bn (+6.9%) across the year to date.

 


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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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Bravado acquires Dell Furano’s Epic Rights

Universal-owned branding/merchandising company Bravado has acquired US rival Epic Rights, founded by music merch pioneer Dell Furano, for an undisclosed sum.

Epic Rights’ clients include David Bowie, Kiss, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Kevin Hart, Madonna, Celine Dion, Britney Spears and Woodstock Festival, among others.

Furano – who, alongside legendary promoter Bill Graham founded Winterland Productions, one of the first music merchandising companies, in the 1970s, before serving as CEO of Sony Signatures, Live Nation Merchandise and, finally, Epic Rights – will continue to lead the company and build merchandising opportunities for its roster.

“I look forward to expanding Epic’s roster and artist services in this next chapter”

“As the industry’s preeminent brand management company, we are constantly looking for ways to evolve our company while providing fans around the world with an ever-growing array of products and experiences,” says Mat Vlasic, CEO of Bravado. “I’m excited to work with Dell, a true icon in our industry, and expand the Bravado portfolio.”

“I have great respect for Mat and his teams at Bravado and Universal Music – they have taken product development, marketing and global distribution to an entirely new level,” adds Furano. “I’m very proud of all that we’ve achieved at Epic Rights, and look forward to expanding Epic’s roster and artist services in this next chapter.”

Bravado represents artists in more than 40 countries, providing services including sales, licensing, branding, marketing and ecommerce to clients including Justin Bieber, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Adele, the 1975 and Sam Smith.

 


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Exhibition control: Trends in touring expos

After a scheduled detour in 2016 (spurred in part by the runaway success of the Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism) to focus solely on music expos, normal service is resumed this year, with IQ quizzing the innovators behind some of the world’s leading family, film, sports and – yes – music exhibitions for our annual health check of the global market for touring expos.

Our latest examination of the sector comes as blockbuster shows such as Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, Star Wars Identities and Harry Potter: The Exhibition continue to pull huge audiences worldwide… and as rival producers plan to emulate their success with new exhibitions drawing on hitherto untapped IP, such as recently announced events based on HBO’s Game of Thrones and ITV’s Downton Abbey. But what does it take to be successful in a sector where shows run for months, not hours – and how are those on the front line making sure their exhibitions stand out amid a swell in both demand and supply?

Participation prize
A large part of the boom in the popularity of touring expos is down to the shows becoming increasingly more immersive, suggests Sophie Desbiens of Canada’s X3 Productions, with technological innovation rapidly obliterating the stereotype of museum exhibitions as reserved affairs attended by people standing in silence and looking politely at the collections.

“People want and expect highly immersive and innovative entertainment experiences”

Montreal-based X3 focuses on major, blockbuster-style exhibitions – specifically those licensed from Lucasfilm/ Disney – which Desbiens says appeal to a “broader audience than traditional exhibits”. The result, then, is that the “visiting public is changing”, with exhibitions such as X3’s Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology and Star Wars Identities “starting to interest people who wouldn’t normally go to a museum” by building interactivity into their design.

“Technology now delivers interactive experiences, so the days of exhibitions being mainly about artefacts and inanimate objects are no longer the main offering,” agrees Geoff Jones, CEO of Australian live entertainment giant TEG. “People want and expect highly immersive and innovative entertainment experiences, which also opens up new, younger audiences who might not have previously been seen dead in an exhibition.”

 



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