Sub Pop Records Considers New Distribution Methods

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Plummeting record sales have been plaguing the music industry for years; with the internet and peer-to-peer file sharing, it’s become easier than ever to find music online and just take it—hassle-free, cost-free and guilt-free. Labels have to work extra hard to make purchases appeal to customers. Independent giant Sub Pop is considering making a digital download the companion to any band merchandise that fans may want to buy.

Seattle Weekly reports that Sub Pop is kicking around the idea of selling physical merchandise, or tchotchke items like T-shirts, beer cozies, posters, etc. accompanied with a free digital download of albums. “Regardless of age, there’s always going to be people who prefer to touch and make stuff that’s like, physical. CDs may end up being little books,” said Sub Pop art director Jeff Kleinsmith. “We’ve talked about this at work, where you might spend the time to do a cool package, it just doesn’t have a disc in it. And instead of a disc, you’ve got a little piece of paper that says ‘go here for your download.’”

Rising vinyl sales (and the practice of including digital downloads with vinyl LPs) reinforces the idea of having something physical to connect with the music. “Although Sub Pop is primarily known for its many fine artists and their really very fine recordings (also grunge), we’re not at all opposed to expanding into the fine world of t-shirts, hats, beer cozies, and key chains,” said Sub Pop general manager Megan Jasper. “We used to give many of these tchotchke items away for free in an effort to entice people to pay for the music, but we’re considering flipping our strategy so that people pay for the toy and receive the music for free. Just a thought.”

Although the idea is being pondered, it hasn’t been put into action just yet.