About Arena Music & Merchandising
Arena Merchandising is an on-demand order fulfillment and warehousing service that prints, embroiders, sews and fulfills apparel and soft good products for select online businesses, fashion brands and the US based creative communities.
Account set up is easy and doesn’t come with monthly fees or minimum order requirements. We produce only what's ordered, making print-on-demand the more economical, conscious, and responsible choice over bulk manufacturing.
Dear Supporters of Music and Art,
I am pleased to present Arena Music & Merchandising - the world’s first and only blockchain secured, streaming music storefront. Arena makes it possible for listeners to stream commercial-free playlists from major label artists and the world's best independent artists without a monthly subscription. We teach bands and labels how to leverage their music as a loss leader to sell merchandise. Combining a free streaming service with in-house apparel manufacturing makes it possible for Arena to pay artists the highest rates in the world for music streams and on-demand merchandise sales.
I first developed an understanding of how broken and flawed the commercial music industry is while working for the New York-based, Caroline Record label. Caroline was the largest independently owned music distribution company in the U.S. at the time. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in an age when music was the centerpiece of daily life. Most of us were completely shaped by the bands we discovered in the music review section of magazines and the listening stations at Tower records. Caroline had it's finger on the pulse of progressive sound throughout the 90's and was the first home to bands like Hole, Primus, Smashing Pumpkins, Chemical Brothers, Bad Brains, Brian Eno, Korn, Misfits and more. After finishing my undergraduate studies and then managerial training at a large financial institution, I passed on legitimate job offers to begin working the morning shift at Caroline's Memphis-based distribution center.
The work was far from glamorous and didn’t provide a single pathway to the creative side of the business, but I found it fascinating nonetheless. I soon understood just how impossible it was for independent artists to get traction in a marketplace where a handful of corporations controlled what was played on radio and what albums were available for purchase on retail shelves. I became obsessed with creating direct channels and pathways that connected consumers with independent artists. Soon after EMI purchased Caroline, I left the company hell-bent on creating my own independent distribution company I called 101 Distribution.
The early years were very trying. We secured our first national vendor account with Transworld Entertainment and deployed an in-store program that made it possible for local artists to secure regional and even national shelf placement. At that time, Transworld owned Sam Goody, Wherehouse Music, FYE, and many other retail store brands that were relevant cornerstones of every shopping mall. Being the first of its kind, the program was an immediate success nationwide. I was far from ready for what happened within the first week of the program's launch. Our small company got destroyed by the flood of artist sign-ups and my inability to manage the demand. After a few additional missteps and several investments in projects that didn't come close to breaking even, we suddenly found ourselves drowning in millions of dollars of debt.
I was fortunate to be raised by two fantastic educators. My father is a Division 1 college basketball coach and my mother a college professor. I should probably credit most of my success to them. I had no clue how I was going to stop the downward spiral, but I knew enough to know that giving up was not an option. I had borrowed money from most everyone one I knew. I had promised high returns and percentages of future revenues. I had sold my vision to thousands of independent artists and labels who bought in because they believed in me. When my partners at the time were pressuring me to file for bankruptcy in an attempt to limit their individual exposure, I became even more resolved. When no one else believed we could survive, I still did; sometimes belief is all it takes.
One Tuesday afternoon I received a call that changed my life forever. There was a new artist from LA that was starting to get traction. A friend of mine was doing some work with the label and thought there might be a fit. He told me he'd see if he could set up a quick introduction. Within the hour, an email came through with the dial in number for a 3 pm conference call. That specific day is permanently burned into my memory, much like the day when I first heard The Cure "Disintegration" or Nine Inch Nails "Pretty Hate Machine". I dialed into the call bridge early without any expectation. The owner of the label was named Jimmy. His brother Mario was on the line too. Introductions were quick and the small talk was short. Jimmy mentioned that they were looking for some retail support for a new client. He believed that if his new artist could get regional traction, he'd have a chance to become a household name nationally. He made it sound like a little show and prove was all they needed to ink a major record deal. I had yet to hear the music and definitely wasn't familiar with the artist, but I recognized the potential in his stage name. When Mario finished explaining the plan, the best I response I could come up with in that moment was simply, “The Game...that's a very marketable brand.”
Weeks later, I was handed the audio masters and artwork files for three mixtape albums that became instant underground classics: “You Know What It Is Vol. 1,” “Ghost Unit,” and “Stop Snitchin Stop Lyin." Each release would go on to sell over 500,000+ copies making it possible for me to become the first choice for independent music distribution for dozens of soon-to-be platinum selling artists across the nation. The Game would go on to become a multi-platinum success on Interscope Records.
The days and relevance of a physical music distributor have come and gone. As technologies and consumer behaviors began to change, buying music to own began taking a back seat to YouTube, torrent sites, and streaming music access. Subscription services soon became the primary focus for major labels and the absolute ire of independent artists. It was clear that I needed to make an aggressive lateral shift to remain relevant and it all started with a simple question: What if we could figure out a way to pay artists a full penny per stream while making the service commercial and subscription free? Not many in the music industry took us seriously at first; that is not the case today.
Arena Music is an endgame strategy. By leveraging free music streaming as a loss leader, we're making it possible for artists and labels to monetize their content in an industry where consumers no longer buy music to own. Powered by an on-demand apparel manufacturing and print service, Arena is able to leverage free music streaming to attract the listeners we convert to merchandise customers, while artists are able to sell an unlimited amount of exclusive merchandise offerings without incurring any upfront expense.
Driving new releases that we market as "buy the t-shirt, get the album free" has allowed artists to generate more per transaction than they could by selling a full album download on iTunes. This has also made it possible for Arena to advance its influence without spending a single dime on marketing or promotion. Logically, artists drive their fans to stream and purchase on Arena because they make more money for streams and product sales than they could from any other platform in existence today.
Arena Music addresses the reason why music subscription services will never work for independent musicians and why they struggle to maintain viable careers in music as a result. From our observation, the world's most popular subscription-based platforms have focused only on how to best position themselves in front of consumers to compete for the same subscription dollar. We’ve done what consumers want, by making sure they can listen to unlimited, uninterrupted music for free. We’ve also done what artists want, by making streaming music more than just a promotional tool. Arena's artists and bands make more money per stream on Arena than they would from streaming the same track on Pandora, Apple Music, and Spotify combined. Arena is the blueprint for navigating today's music economy.
With that said, I am hopeful you will find our experiment in integrity to be both enlightening and encouraging.
We are the new music industry.
Damon Evans, Founder & CEO