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How are music artists flipping merch? Jagwar Twin x CTHDRL set the tone

‘Merch’ sales for music artists have been a way for them to make money to continue to fund their projects and career while keeping in touch with the fans. Recently the merchandise has become a thing solely sought on the internet.

Thanks to COVID, most things internet-based have boomed; facetime and Zoom meetings were the go-to work from home solution, delivery services pushed hard for our dollars in clever ads, and besides Amazon, if you had a solid e-commerce platform you made some money short of a billion, or two.

music artists and merchandise
Happy Face merchandise by Jagwar Twin, via CTHDRL

Jagwar Twin recently released his song Happy Face in a unique collaboration with digital agency CTHDRL, a high design digital agency engaging with culture, and providing a connected, engineered experience.

Working with music artists on the concept and design of their campaigns, CTHDRL helps fans get from the music to the ‘merch’ in a seamless experience.

Co-founder Josh Hubberman says, “Fans want to connect with artists on a richer level than just music. Engineered digital experiences have the unique ability to immerse fans inside of the story which can create a more intimate connection with art.”

The “Happy Face” campaign was an interactive smile-triggered activation you could access from your phone or computer. A countdown activated by your smile into your camera ushered you through the experience. 

Happy Face merchandise Jagwar TWIN and CTHDRL
Happy Face merchandise by Jagwar Twin, via CTHDRL

At the end of the countdown, fans could unlock and listen to the Happy face track by Jagwar just by holding a smile.

If your smile faded the song would stop but if you’re able to cheese for a minute or two, and you made it through the whole song, then you would unlock a limited edition merch capsule.

The Happy Face campaign received a generous response leading up to the launch. Josh explains, “On top of this, digital mediums are tailor-made for different kinds of gating which can drive anticipation and ‘FOMO,’ making it the perfect place for limited-run merchandise drops.”

Happy Face digital merchandise
Happy Face merchandise by Jagwar Twin, by CTHDRL

CTHDRL is leveling the playing field, creating a balance between the visual stimulus and organic engagement of the fans, music, and the artist. Playing the hand for the consumers, the Happy face platform directs their attention to the artist’s merchandise.

Considerably, platforms like CTHDRL’s creation are a new order of operation as COVID shifts our cultural prowess to digital engagement and less in-person interactions.

Let’s acknowledge the fact that we haven’t witnessed our favorite artist in concert for about a year now. The digital era has been booming otherwise for music artists who are savvy enough. 

Happy Face merchandise
Happy Face merchandise by Jagwar Twin, via CTHDRL

We watched Travis Scott eat up the market with a McDonald’s restaurant collaboration that offers Chicken McNuggets body pillow, as well as Mickey D’s branded raw denim shorts.

Scott was also featured in the Fortnite game where he held a performance while players navigated the venue and a Godzilla-sized La Flame tore up the stage.

Happy Face Jagwar Twin
Happy Face merchandise by Jagwar Twin, via CTHDRL

Asap TYY and Stalley have also been on the digital wave of selling merchandise. They too have teamed up with dropptv, the shoppable music video platform, to deliver products seen in music videos. The dropptv platform allows for real-time purchasing.

We can see, at least, some of the future with what CTHDRL and others are doing for music artists and fashion retail. As event spaces and retail stores restrict their limits to engage with culture for health reasons, platforms like Happy Face will continue to meld artists with the fans.

Look out for this article on PAGE magazine.