A virtual merch stand in your pocket, Hawkr provides a new way for artists to sell and fans to buy merchandise through its fully automated marketplace platform
Hawkr, the platform digitally transforming the live music merchandising space, has secured £260,000 in a Seed round led by early-stage focused venture capital firm Jenson Funding Partners and other investors. With the investment, Hawkr will advance the development of its platform and data-driven solution with a pipeline of new innovative features, while continuing to build out its partnership network within the music industry.
The process of selling merchandise at live music events has been old fashioned for decades. Artists typically have to forecast sales volumes, order and pay up front for the merchandise, and carry it around from show to show. A merch table is then set up each night and manned by someone hired to be a salesperson or sometimes even the musicians themselves. The practice isn’t sustainable as artists either lose out on sales when product stocks run out midway through a tour or get stuck with leftover inventory that’s difficult to sell following a tour’s completion.
When the pandemic in 2020 put a halt to live music events, the act of fans waiting in long queues in crowded spaces highlighted yet another issue with merchandising. But it presented an opportunity as co-founders Jamie Monson and Les Seddon-Brown used the industry pause to develop and build out the idea for Hawkr before launching in 2021. Hawkr streamlines the process for artists and fans via a digital platform and data-driven solution that makes buying and selling apparel at live music events more accessible, profitable, and sustainable.
The platform is centred around print-on-demand technology and direct-to-consumer sales. Artists can use tools on the platform to create designs, upload the final product to their virtual merch stand, and then set the items live during a show while directing attendees to the platform via in-venue promotion. Fans can browse apparel on their phones, select their size and desired item, and have it sent to Hawkr’s print-on-demand supplier. Once the merchandise is printed, Hawkr handles all fulfilment and logistics, with the item shipped straight to fans’ front doors. Another key advantage of Hawkr is that it collects data on what products fans are purchasing, bringing added value to the artists that utilise the platform.
150 artists are currently on the Hawkr platform, with some touring upwards of 15 shows a month. In one instance, Hawkr handled the merchandise for artist Millie Manders and the Shutup during a festival performance in which she partnered with the local radio station. On average the artist would sell a few hundred pounds worth of merchandise per show, but during this event brought in over £4,500 in sales. Hawkr is also currently partnered with several notable industry organisations and groups, including Marshall Amps, the Featured Artists Coalition, and Brian Eno’s music eco charity Earth/Percent.
Jamie Monson, Co-founder and CEO of Hawkr, says: “When I ran a portfolio of major music festivals for nearly a decade, I got to experience the merchandise world and all the issues that artists and fans go through first hand. It’s a problem that’s needed a solution for a long time, particularly on the sustainability front where it was often the case where I’d be left with countless boxes of items and be left to find ways of getting rid of it. Our marketplace platform helps alleviate all of these pain points and offers a more seamless process for all parties from start to finish. This funding will help us continue to develop our service and expand it to other parts of the world so artists and fans everywhere can enjoy a better experience with merch at live gigs.”
Sarah Barber, CEO of Jenson Funding Partners, adds: “Hawkr isn’t just improving the live music industry with a platform that makes the merchandise buying and selling process easier for all, but doing it in a way that takes sustainability into account. It’s exciting to be investing in a company that values reducing the carbon footprint of tours and live events alongside the profitability and accessibility that is at the heart of the music industry. We look forward to seeing Hawkr’s continued growth as it makes the merchandise experience better for music fans everywhere.”