Fan engagement company Wonderful Union can handle just about anything an artist needs to connect with music lovers.
The company began as a digital firm that created unique websites for artists and labels and has burgeoned into providing fan clubs, content creation, merchandise, VIP experiences, ticketing, and more for big name artists, including Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Cher.
“The music business is such a small industry that if you do a good job and you’re honest, managers talk and next thing you know everyone is throwing you all the work,” Wonderful Union co-founder Eddie Meehan told Amplify. “Our services are somewhat a la carte. Going to Backstreet Boys, I do pretty much everything. But you take Nicki (Minaj) and I just do her VIP and her fan club and her website. You take Taylor (Swift) and I run her Taylor Connect and her website. It comes down to what the needs of each artist are and we plug in what we can do.”
In the last few years, Wonderful Union has expanded beyond the States, venturing into Japan, Canada and Europe. Founded in 2007 as ground(ctrl), Wonderful Union has grown from its original home office in Sacramento, California into a worldwide, multi-tiered agency with fully staffed offices in Hamburg, Nashville, Toronto, and Tokyo. Their global reach has made them a go-to fan engagement for artists embarking on world tours.
“It helps a lot to be global. There is variance in every market. There are rules for different ticketing systems like standardized customs for pre-sales. So what is susceptible to that and what certain territories can handle and register we understand,” said Brice Turner, VP of Business Development. “A lot of our business has been referrals. We have larger clients who are going to these territories with us and promoters are happy to find out we are the ones executing on VIPs or doing certain things. I think that adds another layer of trust with the current clients that we have.”
By establishing offices in other markets, Wonderful Union has been able to offer more seamless services for their clients. The company uses local entities that locals trust, have a deeper knowledge of laws and regulations in foreign countries, and clients don’t have to worry about currency exchanges throughout their dealings with Wonderful Union.
“We found through working with local promoters, local venues, and everybody in the territory to fulfill and operate in all the aspects” avoids customs, keeps costs lower, and helps artists deliver to fans with limited hassle, Turner said.
As artists become more dependent on income from touring, the gamut of services that Wonderful Union offers helps to supplement their incomes.
“There are other companies that offer aspects of fan engagement. I don’t know anybody else who can handle all of it,” Turner said. “With our new and old clients, we can come to them with a range of options to look at and different models of how we can run everything under a bunch of different projections. We can sit down and say ‘What is really important to you guys?'”
Though the company was founded by “a bunch of tech guys,” their business grew to include fan clubs with social media engagement and ticketing pre-sales. Wonderful Union sold its first ticketing platform, Queue, to Eventbrite last year and continue to partner with the ticketer in Canada and Europe.
“We have our own ticketing platform that we can sell things on directly or integrate into websites,” said Meehan. “We also having ticketing agreements worldwide with different ticketing platforms, obviously with Ticketmaster we’ll do fan club pre-sale. It comes down to the artist and what the artist needs.”
VIP experiences were one of the later additions to the company’s list of offerings, but its innovative approach to creating lasting memories for fans has garnered attention within the industry. For example, Wonderful Union developed a VIP experience for G-Eazy fans where they could receive the rapper’s exact haircut from his very own barber while enjoying drinks and a meet and greet with the artist.
Wonderful Union also worked with Linkin’ Park (and were scheduled to work on the band’s upcoming tour before the unfortunate passing of lead singer, Chester Bennington) where they built a fan summit. London fans were able to get music lessons from members of Linkin Park before facing off in a battle of the bands. The winner of the battle would go on to play the encore with the band at the city’s O2 Arena.
Through their expansion, Wonderful Union can also scale its offerings according to an artist’s needs in each market. The company can build packages for artists playing arenas, clubs or both, and base its offerings on data collected from various offices.
“We can help be the revenue behind growing artists who are taking chances in new markets. For bands entering amphitheaters and arenas, revenue from our services offsets the risk and helps them get to that point,” said Turner. “The majority of revenue was album sales, but now everybody realizes that the ancillaries all together like merch, VIP, touring, sponsorship opportunities, aren’t going to be the primary individually. But when you bring all those ancillaries together, they can easily surpass the primary. It can replace that plug that you’re missing from the original model of album sales that died ages ago at this point.”
For more information on Wonderful Union, its clients and offerings, head to WonderfulUnion.com.
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