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image from www.google.com(UPDATE 2) Over the weekend, YouTube added Merch Store, a new feature that can be added to YouTube partner channels to offer direct to fan sale of merchandise, digital downloads, concert tickets and more. Powering the new feature at launch are Topspin for merchandise and concert tickets, Songkick for concerts, and iTunes and Amazon for downloads. 

Musicians, labels and others must be a part of the YouTube partner's program to add a Merch Store. While no other companies were mentioned at launch, I would anticipate that other service providers will be integrated by YouTube in the coming weeks.

UPDATE 1: As we suspected, a YouTube spokesperson has confirmed that other providers should become part of its Merch Store soon: "We're at the early stage of this kickoff. These aren't exclusive partnerships, and we may have more to include in the future."

Direct To Fan?

Interestingly, it appears that while Topspin artists can sell merch via YouTube's Merch Store, all downloads have to be purchased via iTunes or Amazon.  That limitation also means that any of the creative Topspin powered bundles that include a digital download aren't for sale on YouTube.  Perhaps its a concession by YouTube to iTunes and Amazon or perhaps they offer a higher return.  Either way, it's a loss for artists who can't benifit from the higher margin and data collection that direct to fan sales provide.

I'd bet that sales via the planned Google Music download store will be allowed.

UPDATE 2:  Ian Rogers of Topspin says you can sell direct to fan on YouTube. "You can sell downloads via Topspin from your YouTube page, too. Anything you make avail for sale via Topspin can be added to your YouTube Merch Store. "

Here's an early look at the Topspin powered YouTube Merch store for Pamplamoose:

image from farm7.static.flickr.com
If you're in NYC, YouTube is hosting an event on Thursday October 20 @ Noon at the Mercury Lounge, sharing stories with artists who’ve found success on YouTube. The lineup includes Dru Ha and Buckshot from Duck Down Music, Julia Nunes, Karmin, Portugal. the Man and Ryan Leslie. An RSVP is available at the YouTube Creator blog.

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