Like property owners from across the spectrum of licensing, many musicians have lent their names or other IP to COVID-related merchandise. In some cases, their products have involved creative twists on their music or look. Key categories include:
- Hand sanitizer. Wu Tang Clan introduced “Protect Ya Hands” hand sanitizer—a riff on their song “Protect Ya Neck”—with JUSU, a skincare company. The all-natural and vegan product is part of a broader assortment called the A Better Tomorrow Collection, which also includes a reusable food bowl and t-shirt. Sales of the line benefit the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa Mission Foundation, and the Ottawa Food Bank; each purchase of a bottle of hand sanitizer results in a donation of another bottle to the Ottawa Mission Foundation and other homeless shelters in Canada.
- Face shields. Devo launched a line of personal protective equipment that includes face masks as well as unique face shields patterned after the well-known “energy dome” helmets that the group started wearing on stage in 1980. Replicas of the famous hats come with a clear plastic shield that is attached with Velcro.
- T-shirts with inspirational COVID messaging. Alice Cooper released branded t-shirts (and masks) with the phrase “Don’t Give Up,” based on his song of the same name, written and recorded to address the pandemic. The song’s video includes 500 or so crowdsourced photos of fans holding up signs inspired by the lyrics, with many others, from the more than 20,000 fan photos submitted, available online.
- Face masks. Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande paired to release four face mask designs featuring stick figure images reminiscent of the cover art of their joint single “Stuck with U.” Proceeds go to the First Responders Children’s Foundation. Meanwhile, many other musicians, from Kiss to Katy Perry, have joined an abundance of licensors across all property types in getting into the mask game.
Musicians represent a group that has been very hard-hit economically by the crisis. Live concerts have become the primary financial driver for most acts and are no longer possible, with a few exceptions, for the foreseeable future. Products such as those described here—like most COVID-related initiatives that have been revealed across licensing to date—are primarily promotional and charitable in nature, rather than directly revenue-generating, and therefore do not help much financially. From a marketing standpoint, however, they can help raise a musician’s profile, keep fans engaged, and perhaps spur tune-in to virtual concerts or drive purchases of new singles and albums. They also enhance the act’s positive image by virtue of fundraising or other charitable components.
Raugust Communications’ monthly e-newsletter goes out tomorrow (Tuesday, June 16, 2020). The Licensing Topic of the Month looks at the anti-racism and social justice developments that have taken place in the licensing business since the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police and the global protests that have followed. The Datapoint research spotlight offers some perspective on the types of influencers involved in licensing. If you do not yet subscribe to this free publication, you can sign up here.