Queen Bey’s business acumen has previously seen her invest in fields outside her core industry of music. Take, for instance; she has invested in WTRMLN WTR a beverage company making drinks out of watermelons. There are reports she is linked to Juicero, a juicing machine maker. She also has a stake in Tidal. The latest investment in her portfolio is a tech startup Sidestep.
Beyoncé like other artists like Ashton Kutcher, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Bieber are investing in not just Hollywood ventures but in Silicon Valley startups.
Sidestep is a startup that enables fans to buy concert merchandise but not have to queue to pick the items at the show. It allows you (the fan) to make an order for the merchandise before, during, or after the concert from the Sidestep mobile app. By simply flashing a QR code at designated pickup spot, you get your merchandise in a matter of seconds and skip the usually long line of fans queuing to buy. Alternatively, you can have the merchandise delivered to your home after the concert.
How Beyoncé came in
Sidestep began by selling T-shirts and posters for Beyoncé during her Formation World Tour. Two weeks into it, the success of the company picked Beyoncé and (her management company) Parkwood Entertainment’s interest. Long story short, Beyoncé and Parkwood are said to have invested as much as $150,000 into the startup.
Sidestep CEO Eric Jones told TechCrunch they “wanted Beyoncé’s tour to be very focused on tech” and the idea of “a tiny scrappy startup doing the biggest tour in the world.”
Artists’ revenues from streaming royalties are so small that one cannot make a decent living out of them. To make real money, artists must add alternative sources of revenues. The highest of which are from selling concert tickets and merchandise. However, you first need streaming services to put your name out there and become famous.
Monetizing concerts other than the tickets sales becomes tricky because of the long queue fans have to go through to buy merchandise. Hence you find some fans giving up on buying the merchandise because of the lines and instead just go to the concert. That is where Sidestep steps in to address the queuing problem.
Fans who make their order via Sidestep never have to queue. Other than Queen Bey’s gear, Sidestep also sells merchandise from Fall Out Boy, Guns N’ Roses, Selena Gomez and Weezer. The startup is also beneficial to the artists regarding data mining on the demographics of the people buying their merchandise.
However, as much as Sidestep enables fans to skip the line, it charges 10% on top of the cost of the merchandise. So it really boils down to the question, is a fan willing to pay an extra 10% just to skip the line?
In addition to the seed funding from Beyoncé and Parkwood, Sidestep has raised a total of $1.7 million from another list of investors that include Cross Culture Ventures, Troy Carter (former Lady Gaga manager), and actor Jared Leto.
Who is Sidestep going up in competition against?
As you can imagine, the artist merchandise business is a lucrative business and other players have already thought up of the idea Sidestep is rolling out. The startup will have to go head-to-head with others like Yoshirt, which allows fans to design their custom merchandise with the artists/bands logos and pictures. It will also be competing against Merchbar, an online mall like Amazon that allows fans shop artists’ merchandise.