A Kippa-Ring business is helping connect Australian musicians with the world.
Ian Kikkert has owned Screenprint Dynamics for about four years and towards the end of last year began to think about diversifying to combine his knowledge of merchandise with his passion for music.
He and son Levi regularly play saxophone on the market circuit – including at the Redcliffe Markets – and have built a loyal following, as well as strong connections with other musicians, so creating something to help other artists seemed a natural fit.
“We had already been working with Dan (Nebe) from Rockin 4 The Homeless and thinking about his connections with the music industry and my business capability – could we create something to help the music industry?
“Late last year we started the first steps of building the business…then came COVID,” Ian says.
“It was a chance, with everyone starting to do live streaming, to diversify our merchandising business.”
Ian says with COVID-19 restrictions shutting down live gigs, it was important to devise other ways musicians could create an income.
“We are empowering bands – with bands not touring, merchandise becomes very important,” he says.
“Touring was propping up CD sales. Bands are businesses and they need revenue streams.”
So, Ian and Dan set about solidifying their original plans to create a full-service offering to allow artists to take their music to a bigger audience.
“We have pooled everything together under a one-stop shop for independent artists to get them to the next level.
“It’s done here, and managed in Moreton Bay, but reaching internationally.”
When MerchWorx officially launches in October, artists will be able to tap into professional recording and production facilities, video capability and distribution to radio stations in North America, Europe and Australia, as well as merchandise such as t-shirts, stage props, stickers, fliers, and USB sticks.
“We were thinking along the lines of `what do you need with recording?’,” Ian says
“If you want to get it to radio, you need it professionally recorded. If you need a music video, you partner with specialist people, the same with distribution. We can do all that - it’s digital marketing for the music industry.”
Ian’s keen to empower bands to take control of their own destiny, rather than being at the mercy of third parties.
“A lot of bands sign a deal with a third party to produce their merchandise. That company will take money from the customer and then give the money to the band once a month.
“With us, all sales go directly, immediately to the band. We don’t have a third party,” he says.
“The band pays for the merchandise up front and we store it and send it.
“It’s about empowering bands with control, not ripping bands off. There are always cheaper ways of doing things, but we provide the service.”
Next in store for MerchWorx will be the launch of a YouTube channel, planned for late October.
The channel will provide an outlet for recordings from MerchWorx gallery sessions, where four or five local acts each record a 20-30 minute set in a venue jointly hired for the day to reduce costs.
Ian says the sets will then be rolled out one a week on the YouTube channel before the process begins again. Bands taking part will also get all the broadcast quality assets as part of the process.
For Ian, the motivation behind his big plans is simple: “Music brings humanity together”.
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