Through the establishment of authentic partnerships that support the brands’ personality and image, Epic Rights looks to forge new product lines and programs that resonate with the brand’s passionate, loyal fans around the globe.
“Dell truly started the music merchandising industry back in the day and is considered by many to be the godfather of music licensing,” Epic Rights’ Executive Vice President of Global Licensing Lisa Streff proclaims.
That history is demonstrated by the company’s strength in representing classic rock artists. “Our roster goes from pop culture icon John Lennon and rock superstars like KISS, Aerosmith and AC/DC to classic ‘80s bands including Def Leppard, Journey, Styx, Whitesnake and Cinderella,” she adds.
Epic Rights’ first client was rock band KISS, with whom Furano has a long history. “Dell has been working with KISS for over 25 years, so signing with Epic Rights was a very organic extension of that relationship,” explains Streff.
A Phenomenal Year
Inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, KISS also celebrated its 40th anniversary, launched a new worldwide concert tour and headlined the world-renowned annual Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade.
This phenomenal year also included the launch of its inaugural LA KISS Arena Football League season; starring in “4th and Loud,” a new primetime docu-series from AMC which follows the football team’s launch; and the band being featured in major advertising and marketing campaigns for John Varvatos, Google Play and Rock & Brews.
Streff credits the band’s founders and members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley with much of the year’s success. “Both are incredibly savvy marketers and are quick to recognize synergies between product lines and the KISS brand,” she says.
For its part, Epic Rights secured an extensive array of licensing and merchandising partnerships including a unique partnership with Major League Baseball and Liquid Blue which yielded stylish KISS baseball shirts for many of MLB’s most popular teams.
There are also top-tier apparel licensees like Fifth Sun, Junk Food and Signorelli, among others, creating apparel lines for juniors, adults and kids; retro figure lines from Bif Bang Pow! and Figures Toy Co.; domestic housewares from Just Funky; music accessories from Perri’s Leather; stationery products with Advance Graphics and Trends International; and KISS costumes through Costume Galore as well as high end replicas of KISS stage costumes from UD Replicas. Other licensees include Aquarius Entertainment; C & D Visionary; and Surreal Entertainment; and KISS is also featured in an official photo app for the iOS Smartphone from BND Group. These are among the nearly 70 global licensing partnerships for KISS to date.
But Streff is quick to point out that Epic Rights is selective when it comes to choosing the right licensing partners for its clients. “We base our decisions on the quality of the products, the company’s design capability and their relationships at retail,” she explains.
In January, KISS kicked off the international leg of its tour with five shows in Japan before heading to South America. Tour dates in Europe and Australia follow.
“Our strategy was to leverage the events of 2014 to create this perfect storm from which to expand the KISS licensing program internationally,” Streff explains. “We announced new licensing partners and products in conjunction with international tour dates and it is working beautifully, fueling media coverage, giving our partners a little boost and really exciting the fan base.”
Epic Rights is also currently negotiating a raft of new alliances for KISS across Europe, South America and Australia.
In addition, Epic Rights is developing three new licensing programs for the John Lennon brand. The Imagine program, based on John Lennon’s name, likeness and signature, is a classic licensing program for juniors to adults. The I’m A Dreamer program for adults is based on John Lennon’s Bag One Arts portfolio, which includes drawings by John Lennon from rare archival sketches. These whimsical, hilarious drawings encompass the years 1964 through 1980 and evoke a sense of harmony and warmth. And the Real Love program is an infant to toddler program, including apparel, toy, bedding, room décor and more, based on whimsical drawings he created for his son, Sean Lennon.
As Streff explains, “John Lennon’s Imagine, I’m A Dreamer and Real Love programs offer potential licensees the opportunity to incorporate Lennon’s photos and images, as well as his sketches, across a diverse demographic range and broad product categories.”
As one of the few branding and licensing companies to offer social media and e-commerce services, Epic Rights recognizes that both are huge drivers in connecting fans with the artists. At present, AC/DC has nearly 30 million likes on Facebook, John Lennon nearly 16 million and KISS has more than 12.5 million.
“Social media provides unprecedented access to fans and enables us to keep them abreast of new products, promotions and retail launches,” adds Streff.
As the company continues to grow its business globally, Streff says it will look to drill deeper into trending categories for its clients, including consumables, with an emphasis on beverages like wine, beer, spirits and coffee.
Epic Rights also plans to grow its own interest as well.
Streff explains, “We will continue our strong presence in classic rock while exploring partnerships with new and emerging bands.”