Nov 4, 2015 | By Benedict

When one thinks about band merchandise, T-shirts and posters are the key products that come to mind. However, throughout recent history, artists have occasionally produced other, more unusual objects for fans to purchase. In the early 1960s, The Beatles’ official merchandise company sold badges to their adoring fans for the princely sum of six pence each, with sweatshirts costing thirty shillings apiece. When Beatlemania really erupted, a huge number of companies started producing plastic Beatles guitars, drums, belts and more, with or without legal permission.

Today, 3D printing could represent the next mode of artist merchandising, with fans as dedicated as ever to supporting their favourite bands with physical keepsakes—even as physical music sales continue to decline. One company which clearly believes in the potential of 3D printed merchandise is 3D licensing and distribution platform Source3, which has announced a partnership with independent music distributor CD Baby. The collaboration opens up the possibility for artists to produce short runs of 3D printed merchandise, without the upfront investment typically required for such a campaign. The partnership represents CD Baby’s latest effort to provide a greater number of revenue opportunities for its large roster of independent artists.

Source3 is a large-scale New York based distribution platform, founded by former Google and 3D Systems employees. The company announced its platform for managing and simplifying rights and distribution of 3D content in November 2014. Source3 was responsible for the creation of RightsFlow, a music industry licensing technology acquired by Youtube in 2011. Last September, Source3 raised $4 million in series seed funding for its licensing and distributing 3D printable content platform. Most recently, they produced this impressive 3D cover art for the fifth instalment of the Street Fighter series of video games.

CD Baby, Source3’s new partner, is the world’s largest digital distributor of independent music. They offer a range of artist services such as sync licensing, a Facebook music store, web hosting and publishing administration. The company distributes upwards of five million tracks to music retailers including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Apple Music, and Spotify.

With the new business link in place, CD Baby’s 400,000+ artists will be able to produce a range of customised, on-demand 3D printed merchandise using the Source3 licensing platform. Their ndependent artists will be able to order small quantities of 3D printed products with minimal upfront investment.

“By working with Source3, we can explore unique customizable merchandise for our artist roster. That’s a dream for artists and fans alike.” explained Tracy Maddux, CEO of CD Baby. Despite Maddux's confidence, the project may or may not prove successful. Whilst the prospect of 3D printed merchandise is an interesting one, one could easily question the commitment of fans to buying novelty items made by independent artists. Whilst Justin Bieber would have no problem selling a 3D printed Justin Bieber clock, and whilst Rihanna could certainly shift a huge number of 3D printed Rihanna dolls, will CD Baby's independent artists attract the same level of material devotion as do global pop-stars on major labels?

The important point being made by the two companies is that is doesn't really matter how few orders gets placed for a given 3D printed product. Whilst CD Baby's independent artists may not register the kind of merchandise sales recorded during 1960s Beatlemania, the option of limited run orders means that artists run little risk of failure. Even if a singer or band is unable sell many copies of, for example, a 3D printed set of figurines, they won't blow their budget trying, since Source3 can allow very small quantities of 3D items to be printed. We're sure that at least a handful of independent artists will benefit from this new 3D printing allegiance, and we can't wait to see what they come up with.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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