Signatures Network is poised for new opportunities and growth after recent acquisition by Live Nation Signatures Network, the music merchandising company acquired by Live Nation in November 2007 for $79 million, is rockin&ap

April 6, 2018

7 Min Read

Signatures Network is poised for new opportunities and growth after recent acquisition by Live Nation

Signatures Network, the music merchandising company acquired by Live Nation in November 2007 for $79 million, is rockin' and rolling with growth plans driven by a harmonious blend of new artists, innovative licensing and merchandising programs, aggressive retail placement, Web site development and international expansion. i1_456.jpg

In fact, the company could triple its sales of retail merchandise worldwide over the next five years, according to Dell Furano, chief executive officer, Signatures Network, who is responsible for licensing and merchandising worldwide. In 2006, Signatures Network ranked 70th among the exclusive Top 100 Licensors, published by License! Global, reporting $180 million in retail sales of licensed merchandise.

Furano, the 30-year veteran, who prior to starting Signatures Network was the founding chief executive officer of Sony Signatures, Sony Entertainment's merchandise, licensing and consumer products division, has experienced the evolution in the music industry and what he refers to as a classic paradigm shift.

For decades, Furano explains, the music business was driven by recordings and relationships with the record companies. But now, it's the live concerts and events that are the engine that drives the business and that will continue even more so in the future, Furano says.

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The acquisition of Signatures Network by Live Nation reflects this strategic shift and it has created the largest licensing, merchandising and live music companies in the world.

"Live Nation, which had developed close relationships with the artists as a concert promoter wanted to expand its relationships beyond that," explains Furano, "and become a partner with the artists' brand franchise."

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The attitude among celebrities and artists toward the music business has changed dramatically, resulting in licensing and merchandising becoming the key component in building brand awareness and notoriety and not simply being viewed as a nice add-on business.

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The key distinction in today's music business is that Signatures Network can build an artist's franchise in more areas and cross-promote music in what is basically a one-stop merchandising package. The company has the ability and resources to promote tours, manage "official" Web sites, create digital archives and style guides, provide on-site merchandising and establish retail distribution and licensing deals worldwide.

Furano claims that classic artists are becoming more like sport franchises with the ability to offer a broad line of merchandise.

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Among the more notable names in the Signatures Network portfolio that boasts more than 150 artists are: Madonna, Kiss, the Beatles, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Ozzie Osborne, U2 and Barbra Streisand.

Signatures Network is developing several innovative retail licensing and merchandising programs that reflect the changing dynamics of the music business and will drive growth through 2009. They include:

• Beatles and Bloomingdale's. This exclusive designer assortment of men's apparel and accessories, which is inspired by the Beatles 'Love' by Cirque du Soleil, a co-production with Apple Corps. Ltd., will be featured in specially designed shops beginning in October. Designers include Marc by Marc Jacobs, Katharine Hamnett, Psycho Bunny, John Varvatos for Converse, Hickey, Trunk and Theory.

"The Beatles historic influence on music, fashion and culture is as strong today as it ever was," says Steve Glasenk, vice president of licensing for Signatures Network. "This collection takes the product to an entirely new level of design and sophistication."

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The collection will include suits, velvet jackets, cold weather gear and cufflinks with some items using the Beatles album cover designs and song titles for "Hey Jude" and "All You Need is Love."

• John Lennon art. Yoko Ono's art publishing company, Bag One Arts, and Signatures Network will launch a licensing program based on the drawings of John Lennon. The program will consist of two brands: "I am a Dreamer" for infants, toddlers and children, and "This is My Story" for adults.

"John Lennon continues to inspire people around the world with his music, his spirit and his fine art. Our goal is to translate his art into thoughtful products that capture his unique view of the world, so that he continues to touch people as they go about their everyday lives," says Glasenk.

Says Lynne Clifford, director of Bag One Arts, "The 'I am a Dreamer' program is very close to Yoko's heart because the drawings represent a very special time when John and Sean would spend hours together sketching. She wishes to wrap a new generation of children in love, peace and joy and inspire their imaginations."

Lennon's archival sketches have never been licensed before, according to Glasenk, and the lifestyle collection will include textiles, furniture, bedding, lighting, tableware and apparel.

• 40th Anniversary of Woodstock. Signatures Network is developing an extensive licensing and promotional campaign to celebrate the historical rock-and-roll concert event in upstate New York that defined a generation. There will be an exclusive retail partner, according to Glasenk, that will be announced in the near future.

"In keeping with the true spirit of the sixties and its mantra of peace, love and harmony, Signatures Network will develop a Woodstock lifestyle brand that will embrace the sixties' spirit and energy. Working closely with top designers and retailers, Signatures will create fashion, accessories, home décor that reflect the Woodstock era ideals," says Glasenk.

• Legendary rock art. Signatures Network has created a new licensing program based on the new artwork of legendary rock artists Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelly, known for their eclectic paintings of the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Co., The Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller Band, Journey and many others.

"For decades Alton Kelley & Stanley Mouse created the artwork that has been the visual to the music of countless great bands," says Glasenk. "Signatures Network is going to bring that classic art to a new audience through new formats and new products."

• Ben & Jerry's. Signatures Network, the licensing agent for Bag One Arts, which holds the rights to John Lennon's artwork, in conjunction with The Lennon Estate, partnered with Ben & Jerry's to promote world peace. The promotion, featured a new flavor of ice cream appropriately named "Imagine Whirled Peace" with Lennon's peace messages printed on the inside of the container.

In addition, Signatures Network recently finalized an agreement with Virgin Megastores that will establish a permanent Beatles merchandising display table featuring apparel, accessories and other novelty products.

Furano is bullish about the future particularly because of the popularity of live concerts, which even in a sluggish economy, has not experienced a decline in attendance. He said that Billy Joel's two concerts celebrating the final year of Shea Stadium grossed close to $1 million. He also cited the ongoing popularity of Kiss, which just completed a sold-out summer tour of Europe.

Furano believes there is endless opportunities for brand extensions and new products beyond apparel and the traditional black t-shirts, which he said have never waned in popularity and have become a rite of passage for kids and teens. He said there is still a strong interest in motorcycle helmets, guitar cases, flip-flops and sandals. And in the future he believes there is brand licensing potential in rock band accessories, food and beverage including coffee, juice and soda, casino gaming products such as slot machines and chips, home decor and domestics, toys and sporting goods.

The licensing and merchandising for Signatures Network is unlimited because the artists crossover so many age groups. "The target market is 10 to 70 years old," Furano said, "and the baby boomers are now bringing their grandchildren to the live events."

That's exactly why Signatures Network can create a diverse portfolio of products that reflects its broad assortment of more than 150 artists with such merchandise as a Kiss pachinko game in Japan and an Imagine Whirled Peace Ice Cream for Bag One Arts and Ben & Jerry's.

Like so many of today's licensing executives, Furano also believes in international growth, which he says is driven by the enormous popularity of Western entertainment.

So it's understandable why Live Nation acquired Signatures Network and the inherent synergies it created. It's understandable that Signatures Network has a yet untapped licensing and merchandising potential worldwide based on its diverse portfolio of artists. And it's also understandable why Furano is so bullish about the growth potential of Signatures Network over the next several years.

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