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Sebacious On Panties

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Okay, this is a serious topic about how musicians are going to earn a decent living while the music industry is in a period of “transition.” On the one hand, everything old is new again as playing live returns to its place as the most reliable revenue source (not that B.B. King and Bobby Rush ever thought otherwise), but merchandising is an important source also.

    musicians are forging more merchandising deals and dabbling with new promotions like the sale of expensive VIP passes to concerts.

    The growing market for music-related merchandise — from logo-laden dolls to calendars to underwear — is boosting income for some performers, industry watchers say.

    “The reality is that while record sales are diminishing, bands are still touring and selling lots of merchandise,” said Felix Sebacious, president of Blue Grape, a rock merchandiser.

    Even in better days, many artists earned more money from touring, ticket sales and merchandising than from album sales, since record labels often recouped recording and promotional costs from royalties.

    Last year, retail sales of music-generated licensed properties totaled $2.3 billion, generating about $119 million in royalties, up 1.7 percent from $117 million in 2001, according to the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association.

    ….One hot new trend, according to Furano, is the sale of premium or VIP concert tickets through artist Web sites. Furano said the strategy has worked well for Kiss, which reserved 200 seats a show on their current tour from promoter Clear Channel Communications Inc. to sell on their Web site.

    Kiss offered 20 seats from the front three rows, which normally are priced at $125, for $1,000 each. For the extra cost, fans meet the band backstage, get an autograph and have their picture taken with the veteran rockers famed for their kabuki-style make-up, on-stage pyrotechnics and devoted fans.

    The offer has been popular. One Kiss fan from Atlanta wrote on the fan Web site that she planned her wedding around the backstage pass, turning up with the groom just after the ceremony for his-and-her autographs and “a one-of-a-kind wedding picture to share with everyone.”

    “Kiss was our first one and now we’re talking with other artists. We’re also doing a ticketing program for Sammy Hagar and Mana,” Furano said.

    He said artists with planned tours next year, including Rod Stewart, Sting, Gloria Estefan and Reba McEntire, will likely offer similar ticketing programs.

    ….New attention is also going to female-friendly rock clothing designs.

    “For years you went to a concert and could only get extra-large black shirts. Now, we offer little shirts, shirts with spaghetti straps and panties,” said Sebacious. [Reuters]

I’m sorry, but if you can listen to a man named Felix Sebacious talk about “shirts with spaghetti straps and panties” without cracking up, you’re a better man than I, Charlie Brown.

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