This article is transcribed from Sportswear International's Summer 2012 Issue, featuring an interview with Sportiqe Apparel co-founder Jason Franklin. Interview conducted by Christopher Blomquist.
With A Little Help From My Friends
Jason Franklin is a co-founder of Sportiqe, a six year old Tempe, Arizona based apparel brand that is dedicated to making licensed fan merchandise as fashion forward as possible. Here, he discusses his company's work in the music sector and why today's acts absolutely must market themselves via t-shirts, hoods, hats, etc.
How long has Sportiqe been involved with creating licensed apparel product for musical artists and how many have you worked with thus far?
We have worked with over 20 artists. We started Sportiqe in 2006 and Dave Matthews Band was one of our first clients. We got The Dave Matthews Band, then we got O.A.R., then we got a guy named Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, The Fray, Celine Dion, Toby Keith…Just a few small names!
How much does it cost the fan to buy the product?
It depends on the artist and the venue. But our tees are anywhere from $30 to $40, even $45 in some cases, and hoods or thermals go from $50 to, in some cases, the $110-$120 range.
Why is the sale of this merchandise so important to artists nowadays compared to the past?
The record sales business has really fluctuated over the past several years. However, the merchandise has been a steady sort of income for these artists. So there has really been a big focus now on the merchandise side because that has been a steady revenue income for them.
We have been getting more and more creative with working with artists in terms of how to figure out a way to sell their merchandise outside of the concert venue. What we have done recently with O.A.R., which is very popular with the high school and college market, is that we have partnered with them and the NBA (National Basketball Association) in putting together a collection of some of their popular song titles like "This Town" and "I Feel Home" and we have incorporated the NBA logos in them and we have started selling those at specialty boutiques, department stores and also at NBA arenas across the country. So they now make a royalty off of that. They don't have to play the concert, they just get a check from us, which they like very much.
How much money can a music act expect to make from sales of concert merchandise?
It varies. They would have to be the ones to answer that because there are a lot of hands in the cookie jar when they sell at venues. But I'll let you do the math. If they are playing a venue of 30,000 or 40,000 people and they are selling a T-shirt for $35 or $40, they are doing OK.
What percentage of Sportiqe's business is music-related today?
The music side of our business accounts for about 10%. It's a niche part of our business that has really been consistently growing. The majority is with destination site so NBA arenas, NHL (National Hockey League) arenas, college bookstores and we do a ton of product for corporations.
How long do your music-related licensing agreements generally last? Is it for the life of a specific live tour or longer?
It depends. Each one is different. When we put together a collection for a tour it just goes for that tour and then we sit down at the end of the tour. But with the success we've had with our artists, they come back.
Jason has been reading Sportswear International since he was a little kid. Jason found it kind of crazy that in this issue he was reading about himself. Be sure to follow Sportiqe Apparel on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest t-shirt designs being released for the artists, teams and brands we work with.