From early Nirvana through Mudhoney and on to Fleet Foxes and The Postal Service, indie label Sup Pop has been putting out interesting and often fabulous music for decades. But just like the rest of the recorded music industry, they're having trouble these days getting people to pay for it.
To combat the problem, the venerable indie label is considering flipping the basic music sales proposition on its head. "Although Sub Pop is primarily known for its many fine artists and their really very fine recordings (also grunge), we're not at all opposed to expanding into the fine world of t-shirts, hats, beer cozies, and key chains," says Sub Pop general manager, Megan Jasper. "We used to give many of these tchotchke items away for free in an effort to entice people to pay for the music, but we're considering flipping our strategy so that people pay for the toy and receive the music for free."
Indie bands have already been experimenting with the concept of bundling downloads with a physical item, but this would be the first time that a substantial label made the shift.
Selling "A Thing Associated With The Music"
Jeff Kleinsmith, Sub Pop's longtime art director already has a few unusual ideas for bringing Jasper's sales strategy to market. "Regardless of age, there's always going to be people who prefer to touch and make stuff that's like, physical," says Kleinsmith. "CDs may end up being little books. We've talked about this at work, where you might spend the time to do a cool package, it just doesn't have a disc in it. And instead of a disc, you've got a little piece of paper that says 'go here for your download.' So you're getting everything about it except for that plastic disc, you know. I would love to see that."
But Kleinsmtih's creative juices are just getting warmed up, "That could be a magazine, it could be a shirt, it could be a sticker on a banana, it could be anything, really, that has that download. It could be a poster, a thing associated with this music."