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Sub Pop’s Considering Selling Band Merch and Giving the Music Away For Free

​Sub Pop art director Jeff Kleinsmith talked earlier this week about ideas the label is kicking around about selling physical products (like concert posters and T-shirts) that come with digital downloads of albums as a new way of giving fans a physical item to go along with their digital purchase, beyond the common practice of including a download code along with vinyl sales. Today, Sub Pop’s general manager, Megan Jasper, sent a statement with more on the ideas that are swirling around the label’s offices.

“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,” Jaspers says. “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.”

It’s certainly an interesting idea. Like Kleinsmith and I discussed earlier this week, album art has been a source of inspiration and entertainment from day one, and digital downloading is cannibalizing the visual and physical experience of the purchase, if folks purchase the album at all. A companion booklet or poster could help get a few more people in the habit of paying for music, or at least the limited-edition sweatband.