Monthly Archives: June 2011

Poster Process – The Black Keys

DKNG‘s new poster for The Black Keys is pretty amazing. I love seeing this process video. I will never know this much about Adobe products. This print is an 18″ x 24″ screenprint, has an edition of 275, and costs $40.
Pick one up from DKNG here.

Poster Process – The Black Keys from DKNG Studios on Vimeo.

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Paul Hallows – Trojan Horse Poster

Really liking this new poster by Paul Hallows aka Him Hallows. Love the comic book strip feel of it and the colors. I like A poster that tells a little story and makes you think more than just the usual visually appealing image.

Not sure where you can pick up one of these but Paul’s store is located here.

Nate Duval

I’ve been following Nate Duval‘s work for quite some time now. I’ve always loved his simple yet intricate line work and of course his Tumblr where he shows most of his process of the making of his posters.

Here’s a recent post for his Okkervil River Poster in DC.

You Can’t Download a T-shirt: What bands are doing to keep fans buying merch

In an age where fans are less likely to pay for music, artists have to work harder and get more creative to get fans to spend cash on their musical output. A good record isn’t enough anymore, so both labels and musicians have turned to new concepts (namely bundling), as well as offering other exclusive merch items to get fans to buy their records. The writing is on the wall: Bit Stream culture practically demands that bands have to offer more in order to keep fans interested and sated.

From the more practical (Less Than Jake glassware and Fall Out Boy children’s clothes) to the slightly ridiculous (Unearth beer bongs and the Black Dahlia Murder-endorsed Ouija boards), the variety of merchandise artists are offering to fans has expanded. For some bands, this expansion is a necessity. “I think that as the profits get smaller and smaller on music you have to be creative to sort of keep the income stream, streaming in,” says Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie Fiorello. “Merch sales start to diminish because of the fact that you’ve been around for a really long time and there’s definitely a ceiling of typical merch that someone can own.” For someone that has been a fan of a band for any significant amount of time, there are only so many t-shirts one can own. In response to hitting this ceiling, Less Than Jake have expanded over the years to do a lot of collectible merchandise like toys and records. Fiorello says they’ve found it’s easier for fans to have a shelf full of toys as opposed to a closet full of band t-shirts.

The Black Dahlia Murder pre-order package that includes a Ouija board.

As the fanbase of veteran bands grow older, a demand for different types of merchandise emerges. A fan with a career and family isn’t going to want the same neon t-shirt favored by a 15-year-old still in school. Mark Beemer from Shirts From A Cure has been able to bridge that generational divide by offering screen prints of certain bands’ iconography. “I think that the buying public for what used to be hardcore has grown up,” says Beemer. “They still have that collecting vein in them, but they want something they can pull off in an adult house or adult apartment. A nice hand-screened poster with elegant artwork is so much better than a snapshot of Fugazi from 10 years ago.”

While more veteran bands are expanding the products they offer in order to keep fans interested, newer artists are having to offer audiences more just to get them engaged in the first place. In the pre-order for their latest release from Fueled By Ramen, Good For Me, the Swellers offered the standard album, or fans could choose to pre-order the album, a t-shirt, a carabiner and a one-of-a-kind drawing from the band. “Everybody kind of agreed [that] we needed something outside of the box, something really weird.” says bassist Anto Boros. After throwing out some ideas, the band settled on the one-of-a-kind artwork suggested by Boros. (“We all agreed that it was super, super-weird but it was just original and kind of cool.”) After tweeting images of some of the drawings they were making (more than 300 of them were done in total), Boros says the number of bundles sold that day increased, and that the drawings made a significant difference in the sales. “You have the option of just getting the record, but you might be more inclined to purchase it if you have a neat, unique gift to come along with it.”

While in some cases, it’s a necessity for bands to get more creative with their merchandise in order to keep income flowing, sometimes atypical swag isn‘t always the best avenue to draw people in. “For us, like to be honest, we don’t find it works very well,” says Hopeless Records director of marketing Ian Harrison. “It depends on the product and the band, of course. A lot of times for our pre-orders the more normal type stuff, simple stuff, seems to do a little better than the custom stuff.” Hopeless has issued lunch boxes from the Wonder Years and All Time Low vinyl action figures. While Harrison says they label had assumed things like the action figures would sell well based on the popularity of the band, the impracticality of them is what made them less appealing to fans.

While it would seem bands are getting creative out of a feeling of necessity, in some cases, it’s just as much out of a personal desire to create something different or new. “There‘s definitely a trend of making it [unusual merch items] but I don‘t know if it‘s necessarily a trend because the fans are demanding it.” says Karim Peter, who works in artist relations with Indie Merchandising. “I think the new thing is with everyone‘s record is that they have to have a box set with something in it or a crazy package item.” Peter says he does think bundling unusual merch in order to sell a record is a better option than on its own, as it gives people more of an incentive to buy an album when they might not have in the first place.

For any brazen young road warriors getting ready to run out and start printing up some bizarre merch of their own, there are some important things to take into consideration. The first is being realistic about how much of a particular item can be sold. “For all the crazy things, it’s got to be limited edition,” says Peter.  “If there‘s a million of them, it doesn’t add that urgency to go ahead and get it now, so you end up sitting on it forever.” By limiting an item’s availability, it also increases the desirability it has for fans.

“That’s what merch is about: It’s not about something you can buy 10,000 of, it’s about something you can buy a thousand of,” says Fiorello. “If you have something they made 10,000 copies or you can buy something for the same price, something they made 500 of, what are you going to take?”

Less Than Jake’s cheese-shaped 7-inch. Side A: “Cheese” Side B: “We’re Not Gonna’ Take It” (Twister Sister cover)

After determining the quantity of how much of a particular item should be made, it’s important for artists to know what exactly their fans will actually buy. “I think the key to expanding a merch line is realizing who’s out there buying,” says Fiorello. “We know that our fanbase always reacts to something that’s limited. We already know what our fanbase is: Our fanbase are rabid collectors of what we do that’s outside of the norm so we tailor to that and try to do cooler and logically priced items.” Less Than Jake have issued an array of limited releases over the years, from limited vinyl records to vinyl toys. Not surprisingly, some artifacts have found their way to eBay, selling for significantly more than the original prices. These items include more than a dozen vinyl toys, records shaped like cheese and birthday cakes or sold in pie tins, alongside more traditional albums and a variety of other things that have an appeal to Less Than Jake’s collector fan base.

In expanding the presence of their merchandise for Shirts From A Cure, Beemer says it‘s important to realize what each fan base will buy. “As we start to spread out into different audiences: an older audience, or the country audience, or the metal audience, they want other things.” Beemer says his company have also created things like hockey pucks and soccer scarves, that while not suitable for the typical Warped Tour crowd, can sell well when presented to the right audience.

While the world of merch is expanding to new weird and wonderful places, there will always be room for the basic merchandise that bands have come to rely on for income. “Kids will always love t-shirts and there will always be a market [for them],” resigns Beemer. “Until you can download a t-shirt. But kids want more.” It’s up to artists to see what their fans are asking for, and provide it for them in order to keep making an income in these trying times in the music industry.

Taken from Alternative Press.

8 Reasons Why Vinyl Is Cleaner Than the Cloud…

Very interesting article found at Digital Music News about the environmental impact of cd’s, digital music and vinyl.

Think digital is actually good for the environment? Less CDs, plastic, paper inserts, and physical shipping are all positive developments, but digital (and its hyped-up cloud) comes with heavy environmental baggage.  iPads, smartphones, and Beats by Dre headphones all get dumped into landfills eventually, and the cloud is arguably filthy: just a few months ago, Greenpeace gave Apple horrible marks for its space intensive, coal-burning server facilities.

Of course, plastic (in all forms) can be tremendously damaging to the Earth as well.  But the recent retro-boom in vinyl may actually be positive for the environment, at least compared to the alternatives.  In fact, according to a recent argument from Florida-based Alpha Music Manufacturing, there are several reasons why vinyl has a much friendlier footprint.  Here’s the logic:

 Albums are rarely discarded into landfills. Most are kept in a collection due to their increasing value.

Most album manufacturing companies actually shred and re-use the ones that do not sell.  And, discounts are offered to artists that return their unsold 45s for shredding and re-pressing a new 45 with new songs.

The records that are tossed are typically not as damaging as other forms of plastic. Compilations that are actually discarded into landfills have very little environmental impact because vinyl material can be better broken down naturally in comparison to many other plastics.

Once ripped or burned, CDs and DVDs oftentimes hold little value to the owner.  They can quickly be tossed, whereas few music fans rip their vinyl and throw collectibles in the trash.

Damaged CDs are instantly marked for disposal. Tossing a damaged Stones CD requires little consideration, however, tossing a Stones album that may have a scratch or two just isn’t the norm. The album covers, jackets, and other elements appreciate in value even if damaged.


…and, we had a few more to add:

Apple’s iCloud is part of a strategy to sell more devices like iPads and iPhones.  Those devices invariably become obsolete, crash, or irreparably damaged after a few years.  Their value moves to zero, and they are replaced.

Sorry: when’s the last time you heard of a vinyl-pressing sweatshop in China with anti-suicide employee contracts?

 And, anecdotally: Vinyl collectors are more likely to care about the environment, in general.  There aren’t numbers to back this up (yet), but most vinyl collectors are typically educated and more environmentally-aware.  They are usually less likely to hyper-consume, and more likely to support environmental causes and programs.


This Frontier Needs Heroes – The Future album packaging

“Their music ranges from simply arranged, heartbreaking ballads to raucous foot-tappers, complete with rambling electric guitar solos and handclaps… both call to mind vast and often desolate American landscapes.” NPR

This Frontier Needs Heroes sophomore record, The Future was designed by Rivington Design House and shot by Bek Andersen in 3D.  The album comes with a pair of 3D glasses as well.

You can pick up a copy of one of these here.

Space Baby- This Frontier Needs Heroes from olivia wyatt on Vimeo.

20 Best Animated Music Videos by The Design Work

The Design Work has just released their 20 Best Animated Videos list. One of our favorites that we have not yet featured on this site is Ólafur Arnalds. Born in 1986, Ólafur hails from the suburban Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær, just a few kilometres outside of Reykjavík.

View the complete list from The Design Work here.

Ólafur Arnalds / Hægt, kemur ljósið (Slowly, comes the light) from Esteban Diácono on Vimeo.

Ólafur Arnalds – 3055 from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.

let yourself feel. from Esteban Diácono on Vimeo.