Once Upon a Time
The name Modern Material was derived in late 2004 / early 2005 when founder, Annie Weihrauch, was dubbing VHS tapes of late night television performances and mailing them to music fans in Europe. She had an idea to convert the tapes into digital files and host them on a web site but there was no where on the Internet that she knew of to share large enough video files before YouTube existed. YouTube was only founded 3 weeks before Modern Material was founded in Columbus, Ohio in March 2005. Annie wasn't looking to start a tech business but in the 90's she spent much of her free time curating skits and peformances from Saturday Night Live and mixing hours onto a single tape. Only two copies of the tape existed and she forgot who she loaned hers to.
The Evolution of Technology
Annie's street team work for several artists began to evolve the website into a destination for discovering new music before Pandora existed. She started promoting the website on MySpace and learning about the Evolution of Technology. Then one afternoon while sitting in her corporate cubicle at Bath & Body Works where she designed packaging for store shelves, Annie's co-workers were laughing hysterically. She walked over and saw them watching a video of a guy in an Orange Crush t-shirt. She looked closer and saw the name of the person who uploaded The Evolution of Dance.
Judson Laipply was her co-worker from Domino's Pizza in the 90's. The guy who hung out with a guy who she had a crush on. The Evolution of Dance Guy went to the Prom with Annie, her now husband and their friend from Domino's. They DJ'd dances, parties and hung out in the computer lab. Annie had lost touch with Judson for nearly 8 years when she called him up after seeing The Evolution of Dance to find out what all the hype was about. A few weeks later she stopped by Jud's house in Cleveland to catch up. And what could be more fitting than the world's first Viral Video Star pulling off a dusty old VHS tape from his shelf. Her missing copy.
The Digital Age
It was late 2007 and she knew something big was happening. Random people were becoming famous for no reason. Artists were no longer able to sell music and Annie and her IT husband were one of the first to steal it from Napster, creating a database with more than 10,000 songs. She felt like a kid in the Candy Store when she realized if there was nobody to make candy, what fun would the world be? It became her mission to help aspiring artists not steal from them.
The Web Store
A few years into her career at Bath & Body Works, she realized that selling units could result in millions of dollars per month whereas a client marketing / web design business would never drive sales. In 2007 Annie and her husband invested $5,000 into building a web store before Etsy existed. Several artists started promoting Modern Material on tour and she built a cross-promotional strategy, licensing more than 40 songs to give away as a gift with purchase online.
The economy crashed in 2008, hardly a year to risk it all on a dream. Thankful to have a great day job designing accessories, Annie settled into her role working with manufacturers in China to design and develop thousands of products a year for dozens of the biggest retailers in the US.
The Marketing Strategy
One of the artists that Annie was promoting was a band that was friends with her co-worker. She met Tyler and Josh in a showroom full of Campus Couture t-shirts while they were eating pizza during a lunch break from a photo shoot. Annie just had a weird feeling that they were going to be rock stars some day. A few months later Twenty One Pilots sold out The Newport and everyone was stunned.
Soon after, Annie's fashion line, Rock & Royalty, was getting global attention. Producers of Rihanna's Styled to Rock and Project Runway wanted Annie to be a contestant but she didn't know how to actually sew her designs, she taught factory workers in China how to sew thousands of units of her designs.
The Merchandising Strategy
After leaving Madonna's concert in 2012, angry that she couldn't spend her money on anything she actually wanted, Annie and her colleagues realized there was a multi-billion dollar merchandising gap in the music industry. So what was the deal with tour merch?
After moving to Los Angeles in 2014 to begin developing her clothing line, Annie began meeting several influential people in the music industry. Every time she asked the question about why merch was just expensive cheap t-shirts, more and more people started seeing a business opportunity too. However, the industry is protected by layers of red tape and 360 deals that prevent any outside source from doing business with an artist's tour merchandise.
In 2018 Annie began to reformulate the business model to support indie music through a cross-promotional marketing strategy instead of designing merchandise specifically for fans.
With Amazon claiming business from the team's retail store clients and the Trade War with China taking another hit to design, product development, sourcing, merchandising and retail distribution jobs in the US, Modern Material decided to build a collaboration among the entire global supply chain needed to materialize a design into a physical product for consumers to purchase.
The Future of Modern Material
Welcome to Modern Material. If you are a digital content creator please apply for a store listing of your song or video. If you are a retail please contact us for access to our services and wholesale store.