Ever failed to buy a limited-edition tour shirt due to the line at the merch table, only to regret your decision on the way home? After all, lines are temporary, but T-shirt glory is forever. TheHub.fm (currently in beta) should reduce the likelihood of that scenario playing out in the future, helping bands put more money in their pockets, and more fans to leave shows with smiles on their faces.
TheHub.fm’s initial launch at SXSW2013 will allow bands to set up a virtual store for selling merchandise and music at shows. The next stage happens in May, when fans will be able to use the app to browse merchandise and make purchases on their phones from anywhere in the venue (yes, you still have to be at the show, or at least standing outside). They’ll be able to pick up the items after the show, or have them shipped to their home.
This sounds like a great solution for fans who don’t want to worry about merchandise being out of stock or having to carry around their loot during the show. Bands can also lighten their loads since they can schlep fewer boxes into the venue without worrying about missing sales.
“TheHub.fm is a really easy means for bands to administrate, sell and stay engaged with their fan bases,” says company founder and CEO Jonathan Block. It’s primarily for selling physical “merch” like T-shirts, records, and the like, but bands can also use TheHub.fm to sell exclusive digital downloads (only for people who were at the shows), communications directly from the band, and various levels of VIP access.
It’s not all about sales — some of it is about data — helping bands and their people understand fans and their spending habits.
“Bands engage audiences with smarter technology that simplifies administration, collects their fan data, and empowers them to sustain a happier, more loyal fan base,” says Block.
The app will use “geo-fencing” technology and QR codes to let you know if TheHub.fm is available at the particular show you’re at. Also, look for on-ticket notifications and venue signage to know when it’s in effect. Of course, bands will probably let you know if they’re using it, too, although instead of “Hey, we have our new album on sale in the back,” they can simply tell you to use the app to buy their wares.
Bands are the primary pushers of this thing, and fans the users, but music venues, retail stores, and restaurants will also be able to use it to sell stuff (bars that sell T-shirts: this means you).
TheHub.fm will officially launch in early June; interested parties can enter their email addresses in order to use it later.