Mash-up marketing

Loop and Huffer’s music-and-fashion mash-up

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Huffer’s latest t-shirt is an album—although Loop would claim its latest album is a t-shirt

Most of us are are aware of the ongoing efforts of record labels to entice us to shell out for music. This is commonly the domain of the ‘special’ or ‘deluxe’ edition packages—a bonus DVD here, a B-sides CD there.

With the advent of digital downloads, the very concept of buying an album has atrophied, resulting in a type of retail attention-deficit syndrome as long-players are eschewed for the quick fix of singles. (Note to the young ’uns: album [al-buhm], n., multiple recordings issued together as a collection.)

In that respect, hats off to the ongoing innovation that Loop brings to the table. The label has now partnered with three other clever Kiwi companies to deliver a creative way of addressing dwindling album sales: the latest release by Yes King (the brainchild of production duo Mark Rae of Rae & Christian and Rhys Adams of Rockers Hi-Fi) comes in the form of a digital download. That in itself is nothing new, but the delivery platform is. To download this album you’ll need a special code, and that can only be found on the tag of an exclusive range of Huffer t-shirts. Downloads are handled by Huffer and lauded music software developer Serato (see ‘Scratch’n tunes’) bring retail outlets across New Zealand, Australia, the US, Japan and the UK into the mix, potentially reaching a far greater market than traditional outlets deliver.

So what do you get? A typically high-quality Huffer T and the Yes King Rock This World album consisting of 15 tracks of Jamaican dancehall/R&B/hip-hop mash-ups using a variety of vocalists and MCs (including Studio One legend Dawn Penn on the title track). The album starts off at a furious pace with the track ‘Champion Sound’ and continues with its upbeat agenda throughout. There’s an indefatigable summer vibe to the music, and for neophytes to this style of music it’s worth a look-in just to hear how good the genre sounds in the hands of master craftsmen. (In a nice twist on the typical model, the craftsmen are the only non-Kiwis in the venture.)

As a concept, it happily blurs the distinction between buying a t-shirt and getting a free album, or buying an album and getting a free t-shirt. Either way, it’s a win-win situation  for the consumer, the artists and the producers.

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