When it comes to emerging music and fashion, the web can be a crowded place. Free subscription site 1band 1brand launched at South by Southwest last March, with the goal of calming the info-flood in a unique way — by showcasing handpicked bands and brands on a weekly basis.
The matching of bands and brands is taken literally here — each week, a new band offers a sample of their music, available for a name-your-price download. Meanwhile the site’s featured brands provide limited-time discounts. The following week, it’s on to the next emerging band/brand combination. Between the deals and the highly refined sense of curation, we had to learn more, so we sat down with Brady Sadler, the site’s co-founder.
The High Low: We really like how 1band 1brand serves as an accessible form of Web curation. Besides trying to extract the best from the Internet clutter, what was your inspiration to start the site?
Brady Sadler: The inspiration came from a variety of different places. First and foremost, we’re fans of great music and fashion. Yet, as much as we like to discover new artists and designers, we don’t have enough time to seek them out — especially given the cluttered marketplace you referenced. We launched 1band 1brand to make the discovery more efficient, the experience more entertaining, and the content easier to share.
HL: While it does seem natural for fashion and music to be paired up, what made you decide to jointly feature the two on the site?
BS: Music and fashion have always gone hand in hand, but we saw a new opportunity to cross-promote emerging bands/brands by leveraging the direct relationship with consumers that technology now enables.
In the past, most brands were only interested in bands with mainstream success, but now that’s changing. Today if a band has 20,000 “Likes” on Facebook, they have access to a valuable audience. Not to mention the interactions and transactions happening on the road when a band is actively touring.
Fortunately, these collaborations work both ways. Brands now have similar relationships with their “fans” and various distribution channels they can tap into. Additionally, most have creative design, marketing, and financial resources that can be deployed to help a band. It’s truly a win-win proposition.
HL: How do you find your bands? And your brands? Do they tend to come to you, or the other way around?
BS: We spend time researching bands and brands so our subscribers don’t have to, and we have months of cool features currently lined up.
Now that the site has been live for a few months and is gaining some buzz, we’re also receiving a number of emails from bands, brands, and users with suggestions.
Just like in any industry, networking is important, too. Once you make a few key connections, you’re never more than one or two degrees away from someone else you might want to work with.
HL: What makes the bands and brands with whom you’d want to work qualify as something you’d feature on the site?
BS: We search for a diverse set of genres and styles for the bands and brands. The most important criteria are that they have a sophisticated online presence and clearly demonstrate a commitment to fan/customer interactions online. They also have to sell online and be willing to offer up music downloads or a clothing discount for our community. Last but not least, they must be “emerging,” which is another way of saying they are not well-known by the majority of consumers.
HL: Speaking of the consumers, how does your audience generally interact with the site? For instance, do they skew toward paying more attention to either the fashion or the music aspect, or is it fairly evenly split?
BS: So far the user interaction is split evenly between music and fashion. However, during certain weeks it’s clear that one is driving more activity than the other. This is because of [the band's or brand's] existing audience or their creative approach to spreading the word about the partnership.
HL: And of course, we have to ask — how is 1band 1brand monetized?
BS: We receive a percentage of the revenue from music downloads plus a commission on sales generated by brands. There are a number of obvious advertising options to consider, but we’re taking our time and being careful not to take away from the simple and clean experience that our users love.
We’re also consulting for a number of brands that are looking for creative ways to align with emerging artists.
HL: At this point, it’s a fairly young venture. Where do you see it going next?
BS: First and foremost, we want to continue building the community by signing up as many new people as we can and delivering the best bands and brands that are out there.
We’re also beginning to facilitate band and brand collaborations that will result in exclusive products, live events, and more. A number of retailers and publishers have expressed interest in partnering as well, so we’ll continue to explore new and different ways to deliver this content.
It’s an exciting time to be working in these industries because everyone is being forced to think beyond traditional sales channels. We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do by creatively aligning emerging bands and brands, so stay tuned!