Slaying in the Silicon Valley
Sidestep is an app for buying concert merchandise online. Beyoncé invested in the startup with her management company Parkwood Entertainment.
Beyoncé had first partnered with Sidestep during her Formation World Tour. The app sold branded T-shirts and posters while fans waited in line to see Queen Bee. Beyoncé made the investment only after two weeks of partnering with the startup.
What Sidestep does is quite ingenious. No one in music nowadays can survive on the scraps made by streaming music. Rather, musicians stream to get famous, and then get rich by selling merchandise, concert tickets and getting sponsored by major companies.
The best place to sell branded merchandise is outside the concert halls, where fans who are already crazy about the artist gather. The problem is that people are too busy waiting in line for tickets to venture out and buy anything else. This is where Sidestep comes in. Fans can make purchases on their smartphones without having to lose their spot in the line.
When Music and Tech Meet
With Sidestep, music fans can buy merchandise before, after, or even during a show. App users who purchase an item online get a QR code. Then, the buyer only has to go to the dedicated pickup spot, at the concert venue, to show the code and get the merch. It all takes only minutes. People can also have purchases delivered to a home address.
Sidestep is still a tiny startup. However, it has managed to raise $1.7 million in seed funding thanks to big names in the business like Beyoncé, Jared Leto, the Oscar-winning musician–actor, and Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s former manager.
Other than Yoncé, The startup currently sells gear from artists like Guns N’ Roses, Selena Gomez and Fall Out Boy. Sidestep charges a 10% service fee, which the customer pays directly, and provides artists with generous amounts of data regarding who’s buying their merch.
This year alone, Sidestep made $2 million in sales, which is 10 times the amount it made last year.
Sidestep does face some competition in the industry, especially from Merchbar, which is an Amazon-style online store for branded merchandise. Yoshirt, an e-store that allows fans to custom design merch, is also emerging as a major player. Business is thriving thanks to artists hungry to make money selling anything with their name or face on it.
No one is happier about the Beyoncé investment than the CEO of Sidestep, Eric Jones. He excitedly told media about “a tiny scrappy startup doing the biggest tour in the world.”
Celebs in the Silicon Valley
Actors and musicians are no longer relying on Hollywood to make money. Many are eyeing Silicon Valley startups. Notably, artists like Ashton Kutcher, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Bieber have famously invested in Valley startups.
Jessica Alba even went so far as to launch her own tech-related organic personal care business, the Honest Company, which is now looking for a buyer. If Honest Company is bought for the asking price, it could make Alba one of the richest women in the Valley.
Beyoncé, herself, is not new to investing in tech. She is involved with the music streaming company Tidal, which her husband Jay Z partly owns. She has also started a vegan food company, is possibly involved financially with a juice machine maker, and has invested in WTRMLN WTR (which explains the watermelon drinking frenzy she sings about in “Drunk in Love”).