Artists, designers and fans can now come together and share in a collaborative social and business process by creating and selling merchandise.
Soulblendr is an online website that creates a new social marketplace. It creates a commerce platform where musicians and talent of any kind can instantly engage
with fans and independent designers by customizing and creating band branded merchandise on demand.
“It creates a closed environment, where you can create custom merch (merchandise) with bands that you love,” Charley Hoefer, founder and chief music officer of Soulblendr told The Lantern.
Soulblendr believes that the future of merch and eventually all “authentic consumer goods” is at the intersection of independent design and consumer crowd sourcing. A kind of manufacturing ecosystem where any brand can work with
independent designers and passionate consumers to create, evangelize and sell great merchandise. Stuff that you, your fans, and any hip consumer will really resonate with, according to a press release.
“It is no risk to either party,” said Sasha Jordan, a Soulblendr designer from Los Angeles, Calif. “It is a nice combination of supply and demand.”
Jordan had a vintage 1964 Schwinn bicycle that she wanted to ‘deck out.’ She was not happy with the original bell that was on the bike, so she decided to design her own.
Soulblendr found Jordan off of an Internet website called etsy.com that allows her to sell custom jewelry and bike accessories. They asked her to join Soulblendr and
create bike bells for a band that was already a part of their website.
“I just had a gut feeling to put Sasha with the band Iration,” Hoefer said.
“Iration is a hip reggae band from Santa Barbara, Calif. that promotes their fans to not drink and drive. The band encourages people to ride their bikes to concerts,”
Hoefer said. “So it was only smart to put the two together. To have the band’s fans be able to buy bike bells that have their logo on it is just really cool.”
“It (Soulblendr) gets you out there to different places and gets you shown to a whole new audience, that you would usually never have,” Jordan said. “Soulblendr works
really well with my product.”
The website has a blend of social tools and shared community features that helps everyone to succeed with a DIY merchandise strategy.
“We are passionate about creativity and people being successful as artists, independent designers and business people,” Hoefer said.
The website has products that are hand made to higher volume custom designs. The website just came about in July and has 24 bands and 44 designers.
“The site is really cool for bands, because you wouldn’t have to put up any money for merch,” said Kelly Kefauver, a saxophonist in a local Columbus band called the
Usually for example when you get tees, stickers or CDs made, you have to buy them first and resell them to fans, and pray to the gods of rock n’ roll that you get a fraction of your money back. That means you can get embroidered skullcaps, or
custom iPhone cases, or limited edition posters available to sell, and if no one buys them, it doesn’t matter, Kefauver said.
“Really the only drawback is the price of merch. The fan has to pay for the materials, the labor, the band royalty and the legal. The bands also don’t possess the merch,
so they can’t sell it at shows or give it away to gushing fans that already paid their cover,” Kefauver said.
“How many of those items designers and bands will actually be able to sell will definitely be based on the passion of the fans and the looseness of their pocketbooks,” Kefauver said.
“Basically, it’s a great idea for creating uncommon merch, and it’s nice that it takes the pressure off bands to design, create, buy, and promote items,” Kefauver said.
Soulbendr.com has a video tutorial on how to get started and more about the process.
“It is a super fun, creative place with cool labels and very young hip artists,” Hoefer said. “We are wanting to explore, find more great student designers and get in front
of major university’s to put the word out. In the next 6 months we want to have 100 to 150 bands.”