What’s stopping you?

sita_ad_160x600“What’s stopping ME from selling ‘Sita’ DVDs and merch?” I usually get this question from slightly shocked artists and filmmakers after Sita Sings the Blues talks. I’m not stopping them, and the law isn’t stopping them. Yet for some reason, they don’t go out and sell Sita merch once they know this. Why?

I can guess the answer, of course:
expensive
big hassle
DVDs & merch already exist & are available
insufficient incentive to compete
have other, more important things to do

When one artist-filmmaker I know well asked the question, I boldly answered, “nothing – but you won’t.” I know she won’t because she has enough trouble merchandising and promoting her own work; and she’s a good artist, so I know she’ll remain more devoted to her own work than to mine.

That said, a few people (other than me and my Endorsed distributors) are selling Sita merch. One such is Drakar, who also distributed Sita on youtube and elsewhere online. He recently created a small CafePress online shop.

He didn’t ask for my permission or Endorsement*, but states, “This shop is not run by Nina but I will be giving her a significant portion of any profits I might make here (…if and when).” I actually prefer that to negotiating an Endorsement for small-scale projects, because it requires no lawyers or signed contracts. For small amounts of money, who wants to waste any of it on transaction costs?

*Full disclosure: he did email me for some design artwork he couldn’t find online, which I supplied, so the store wasn’t a complete surprise.

In general, I would much prefer you bought Sita merch from the Sita Merch Empire than from a CafePress store. Reasons include: I know the Merch Empire merch is high quality, I personally designed and like all the products there, and a much higher % of the money goes to me. CafePress merch tends to be overpriced for the quality, and CafePress takes almost all the profits unless the seller sets prices absurdly high.sita_ad_120x240

That said, Drakar’s store offers Sita merch that doesn’t exist at the Merch Empire. If I offered mugs, mousepads and stickers, he wouldn’t have needed to make a Cafe Press store in the first place. If he actually sells any, it will demonstrate there is demand for such products. Then I can offer the same or similar products at my store. Drakar is essentially providing free market research, as are any other “competitors.” If any of them do exceptionally well, I’ll know what merch I should be selling.

This is why old-school economists say competition is good for businesses. It is. Too bad there’s so little real competition in our supposedly “free market democracy”.

What’s stopping you from selling ‘Sita’ merch? Not me, and not the law. Yet almost no one’s doing it. Why? What really is stopping you?

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Coming soon: Charms/Pendants

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Since we’re running low on pins at the Merch Empire, I ordered another batch. But this time I got some pendant/charms in the mix.
Continue reading Coming soon: Charms/Pendants

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Weezer gets it right

Content is Free, Containers are not; the commerce in mass art is all in the packaging. Hats off to band Weezer for devising the most brilliant CD packaging ever:

It would be even better without the copy restrictions on the content, but they seem to comprehend that those are irrelevant to making money. It’s all in the packaging, people.

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New Merch at the Merch Empire!

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Finally, the new Laxmi and Lexi T-shirts are here! In both men’s/unisex, and wymmyn’s “girly tee” styles. Also new: prints for just $15 (unsigned)!

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Sita Sings the Blues Free Distribution Report #1

http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/SitaReport1/SitaReport1.html

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This is a rather tardy “first-quarter” report about the Free Distribution of Sita Sings the Blues. It was hastily written July 31 for a conference the next day. Please read about our business model. As of this posting (August 5, 2009) numbers remain approximate and incomplete. The store has actually grossed $34,883.00 to date, but some of those sales are for QuestionCopyright.org merchandise; sales of QCO’s “standard edition” Sita DVD are split between me and QCO, and so aren’t fully reflected in this report. In other words, store income is reported conservatively, some numbers should be higher but Karl Fogel is busy right now so these will have to do. Also, I failed to include income from indie cinemas like Central Cinema in Seattle. Those probably add $3,000 to $5,000. Even the conservative numbers in the report reveal an important truth: I am making money with my “Free” content.

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Sponsor-A-Shirt!

Sponsor a Shirt or other Sita Merch:

“Where’s the ‘Lexi’ shirt?” “I want kids’ sizes!” “I want a shirt with the male ‘Shadow Puppet #1’!” “Can we have other colors please?”

Our shirts are silk screen printed, yielding much higher quality products than “on-demand” shirts. But that quality comes at a cost. Unlike on-demand shirts, we must pay for shirts in advance, investing in color separations, screens, films, inks, and blank shirts, and committing to a minimum run of 36 pieces.

However YOU, dear reader, can SPONSOR-A-SHIRT! Want us to offer “Ravana” in kids’ sizes? A donation of $400 to questioncopyright.org will allow it to exist in up to 3 kid’s sizes OF YOUR CHOICE. Want “Lexi” to go into production? A $500 donation makes it happen in your choice of one style (Men’s, Women’s, Camisole, or Kids’), color, and up to 3 sizes….

When the product becomes available, its product page at the Sita Sings the Blues Merchandise Empire will say “This shirt sponsored by _________________,” with a link. You can sponsor a shirt in your name, or on behalf of a friend, loved one or organization. You’ll know exactly how your donation is being invested, making our organization more sustainable. It’s not going to consumables like food or rent – it’s starting a new revenue stream…

Read the rest here.

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Pins!!!

UPDATE June 15, 2009: These are now available at the Sita Sings the Blues Merchandise Empire!

My first ever cloisonne pins! Just out of the box from China! If I had a better camera and lights I’d have better pix, but even these reveal some of the wondrous-ness of these metal-and-resin mass-produced wonders!

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Coming soon to the Sita Sings the Blues Merchandise Empire.

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SITA SINGS THE BLUES MERCHANDISE EMPIRE

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THE STORE IS LIVE AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Finally you can buy DVDs and T-Shirts. Hooray!

Re: Shirt Designs: We are taking pre-orders until Wednesday June 10, after which shirts go immediately into production. Shirts ordered before June 10 will ship June 17. To make sure the design you want comes into existence, please order it NOW.

BUY! BUY! BUY!

Love,

–Nina

P.S. Feel free to copy any of these standard-sized web ads here.

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The store, she is taking forever

Now the problem is the payment authorization service is delaying…and we can’t take orders until that’s set up…so we wait and wait. And then right when we think we’re done, some new technical glitch presents itself. It’s driving me crazy. I’m really hoping it can go live by Monday…

But we are getting closer. Click on the eentsy image below for a sneak peek screenshot of the store-in-progress.

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Rishi shirt design

UPDATE: per suggestion, same design in off-center position on shirt:

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Hopefully this wraps up my “Phase I” shirt designing spree. I just need to know whether y’all prefer the Rishi (or is it Valmiki himself?) just standing there, or playing the violin. And whether you’d buy, or at least desire, either one.

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These puppies are 4 color, so they’re middle-expensive. I’m not certain, but I’m estimating 1-color shirts to be about $20, 3-color $25, 6-color $30, and totally fancy-pants with multiple colors and metallic/foil inks (like the phonograph) maybe $35. That’s my educated guess.

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Ravana shirt design

Ravana, by request. It’s a 3-color design (green, white, and metallic gold), neither super-cheap nor super-pricey. Thoughts?

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“Lexi” shirts

UPDATE: “Lexi” jump cycle (requested by Mike C):

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Pick your favorite “Lexi” T-shirt design, I’m only gonna produce one.

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(chosen design will be available in both men’s and women’s shirt styles, images below to show design on black and on white)

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Monkey Music

Would you buy this shirt?

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I’d wear this

Would you?

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