Merchandise is big business again for the major music companies.
According to its financial filings, Universal Music Group generated €363 million ($429m) from ‘Merch and Other’ in 2021, up 45.4% year-on-year.
That bounce reflected a flattering YoY comparison versus the pandemic lockdown-hit 2020, but also reflected Universal’s heavy investment into the merch sector over the past few years.
One of UMG’s biggest investments on that score came in January 2019, when it spent an undisclosed sum buying L.A-based Epic Rights, and integrating it into former rival Bravado as a subsidiary brand.
Subsequent to that deal, one co-founder of Epic Rights, music merch pioneer, Dell Furano, sadly passed away last year, aged 71, after a battle with cancer.
But the legacy of Epic Rights looks certain to continue to live on within Bravado, not least through a significant new executive move at the company.
Veteran industry executive and Furano’s fellow Epic Rights co-founder, Jesper Poulsen has this week been named General Manager of Bravado, and as such joins the merch firm’s management team.
Los Angeles-based Poulsen will oversee day-to-day operations of both Bravado and Epic Rights, and reports to Bravado’s President, Matt Young.
UMG says that Poulsen will “maintain the individual brand identities of both Epic Rights and Bravado, supervising the expert teams of both divisions”.
Poulsen will “play an integral role in continuing to develop Bravado’s global merchandise strategy in the ever-changing landscape of the music and fashion industries”, adds UMG.
Discussing Poulsen’s appointment, Matt Young commented: “As we continue to execute our global brand strategy, aligning the power of Epic Rights more closely with Bravado exponentially enhances the reach, capabilities, and depth of how we service our artists and their fans around the world.
“Jesper has a wealth of experience and his leadership across the Bravado ecosystem will only supercharge our capabilities.”
“Aligning the power of Epic Rights more closely with Bravado exponentially enhances the reach, capabilities, and depth of how we service our artists and their fans around the world.”
Matt Young, Bravado
Poulsen said: “I want to thank Richelle Parham and UMG’s leadership team, Matt Young, and, of course, the team at Epic Rights, for this opportunity.
“Having been mentored by Dell Furano, I’m proud to continue to evolve what we started almost 10 years ago with Kym Furano and Phil Cussen.
“It’s an honor to work with so many incredible artists and their teams to reach their fans all over the world. It’s an exciting time to be in the artist services business and look forward to what’s ahead.”
“Having been mentored by Dell Furano, I’m proud to continue to evolve what we started almost 10 years ago with Kym Furano and Phil Cussen.”
Jesper Poulsen, Bravado / Epic rights
Poulsen’s career in artist brand development, consumer products and fan experiences started at Signatures Network, where he supported the company’s growing wholesale business and digital strategy.
In 2008, through acquisition, he joined Live Nation Merchandise where he held the position of Brand Manager, helping oversee relationships such as KISS, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin, and ZZ Top.
In 2014, Poulsen, together with Dell Furano, Kym Furano and Phil Cussen launched merchandise and branding company, Epic Rights.
Bravado acquired Epic Rights in 2019 with a roster that includes KISS, AC/DC, Def Leppard, David Bowie, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan and the Woodstock Festival among others.
Matt Young took over as President of Bravado in Q4 last year, having previously spent 13 years at Warner Music Group / WEA.Music Business Worldwide