Soulblendr Takes Music Merchandising To a Unique Place

Soulblendr may not be a household name yet but chief music officer Charley Hoeffer is working around the clock to blend this generation’s Do-It-Yourself lifestyle with his e-commerce business model. Soulblendr is a new kind of social commerce site where bands and artisan designers can collaborate, create, and sell unique fan merchandise. We got the chance to speak with the man himself.

Sinister Girlz: What was the inspiration behind Soulblendr?

Charley Hoeffer: The idea of bringing bands and designers together to co-create, collaborate and actually succeed as (creative and business) partners in the shared expression of art just seemed to sit at the center of this generation’s “DIY” meme/lifestyle.  To then invite fans to be a voice, a living focus group, your tastemakers, and then ultimately, your best marketing partners also seemed to be a very real bonding agent for all three legs of the stool.

Bands (and eventually any entertainer, sports figure, cult hero to cult brands) now get to work with inspired artisan designers to openly collaborate, iterate and create merchandise that they’ve/we’ve always dreamt of having, easily, safely, with control, and all legally protected. The ideas are only limited to a global audience of designers/designs and fans that would love to work with musicians, artists, entertainers, cult brands of any kind.  All of this is empowered through the invention of a seamless, easy to use, legally binding IP licensing eco-system.  Sounds more businessy than it is but it’s some serious technology that enables people to easily and legally create together.

We are trying to capture a huge confluence of trends around self-expression self-empowerment, DIY, Craft, social media and the social graph in general. Soulblendr is an amalgamation of these trends that way goes beyond the first movers that captured the craft movement, product customization, and DIY.  We love etsy, Threadless, Zazzle, Cafe Press but they are hitting a ceiling of perceived value.  By opening the creative and manufacturing process with legal IP, to a global pool of passionate artists and designers will push and expand all of those models well past their current evolution, benefitting all of them, energizing fans, consumers, and entertainers of all kinds.

The concept path starts with self-expression leading to shared expression evolving to shared creation leading to crowdsourcing merchandise across any passionate fan base of any genre whether in music, entertainment, cult categories, almost any brand any community.  This is much more than music or entertainment, it’s an entirely new way of looking at consumer based manufacturing – The first peer to peer to peer marketplace of its kind focused on democratizing the creative and manufacturing process where everyone can play

Sinister Girlz: How hands on are you on the day to day goings on?

Charley Hoeffer: All day every day, but we are only just getting started as of July 1 with our true beta release.  We are a nimble and lean start-up team….what we need are more killer designers, great music thought leaders, amazing fashion tastemakers, merch geniuses, and great technologists to jump in.  Something we are proud of saying is that every single person that we have approached to help or contribute has done so.  Many have done so freely, others we have as part time or contract employees, still others do so at well below market rate simply because they are inspired and want to see the idea flourish.  That’s why I do it, and am paying myself very little to almost nothing to do this 7 days a week and often late into the night…It’s worth every penny, literally

Sinister Girlz: Would you say that social media/networking has enhanced Soulblendr’s career objectives or was it part of the business model all along?

Charley Hoeffer: Well it was designed with social media at the very center of the experience.  Instead of having a facebook button, we’re fully integrated into facebook as a means of capturing the entire creative process, live fan feedback when a band posts a cool merch idea to their fan page for fan feedback all the way to having a fully integrated facebook storefront directly on your bands fan page to sell the merch.  We’re also working on some amazing QR code technology that allows the band to take the “best of” merch with them on the road and Soulblendr fulfills orders directly through the site with a wave of your mobile phone at the venue.  A band only carries one of every piece of merch while they can fulfill hundreds in real-time.  Keep that quiet, that’s coming down the road…

Sinister Girlz: How different is Soulblendr from sites like Cafepress?

Charley Hoeffer: As suggested above Soulblendr is a natural and advanced evolution of all of those sites.  We’ve learned a lot over the past few years about the core methodology, logic and process of the craft, DIY, and crowdsourcing models that each contain.  We feel that by adding a seamless IP licensing ecosystem and flow, some complimenting business logic, and some very cool social integration, that we have created a wide competitive separation, yet a complimentary technology that they can now integrate to improve upon and advance their existing user experiences and business models.

Sinister Girlz: How can a band/artist partner up with Soulblendr?

Charley Hoeffer: Simply jump in register and start creating, it’s free, and so is the merch…!

Sinister Girlz: Can fans create merchandize of their favorite bands and have it customized and manufactured thru the site or does the merch have to be submitted by the band/artist themselves?

Charley Hoeffer: Currently all merch comes from the band/designer collaboration, iteration, creative process but not for long

Sinister Girlz: How soon from the prototypes being approved can the artist merchandize be manufactured?

Charley Hoeffer: Instantly, when a band and designer post to facebook and the fans love it then the band and designer see a winner and go right to production based on fan feedback. One band “Iration” out here in CA made some brach cruiser bike bells and in a couple hours over 100 fans wanted to buy it.  As of this week we’ve just released the final step of the beta which now provides every band with a fully integrated facebook storefront for their soulblendr merch – so that after they create, post to facebook, test an idea, then find a winner, then we give them a fully integrated merch store right into the left nav bar of their facebook fan page – for free!

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