At the intersection of music, technology and e-commerce, there’s a revolutionary platform making artist merchandising and licensing easy and low-cost so that musicians can focus on what they do best: entertaining and engaging with their fans.
MOD Inc. (which stands for Merch On Demand) empowers independent artists and bands to effortlessly create their own merchandise stores with multiple products in minutes.
The idea for MOD popped up in founder Joseph Pinho’s head at the start of the pandemic. At the time, Spotify Song Plaques (customized acrylic music covers similar to what you see on Spotify when you play a song) had become a huge trend thanks to TikTok.
“I saw an opportunity to launch a better version of the product, one that offered any song to be searched and purchased.” Pinho explains, “However, I realized that all song plaques sold online infringed on the musical artists’s copyright and didn’t directly support them.”
Pinho wanted to do things the right way, so he reached out to major labels like Sony, Universal, Warner, etc., to obtain the official licensing and was met with roadblock after roadblock. Those obstacles inspired the framework for a new kind of marketplace where artists could create, upload and sell their official merchandise with their own profit margin and price and with no upfront costs or requirement to invest in inventory. It also includes a unique fan art licensing system that allows fans to license their designs directly to music artists for merchandising purposes. Today, this marketplace has become an ecosystem that benefits everyone and connects musicians with their fans.
A graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor in Business Management and a major in Entrepreneurship and Strategy, Pinho is no stranger to entrepreneurial drive and startup ventures. As he rebranded MOD and sought to expand his team, Pinho recognized that he needed guidance for recruiting new talent and a place to bring that new talent together to further his vision. So he turned to Spark Centre, a tech and innovation accelerator in Oshawa, Ontario.
“Spark Centre connected us with specific University programs that would help us hire potential student interns.” Pinho says, “It also provided us with co-working and meeting spaces for our team, has introduced us to other startups and partners in the music industry like the Oshawa Music Awards and Convergence Festival and has given us opportunities to showcase our business to its network.”
Anyone in the music industry understands the importance of networking and showcasing your business, including Pinho. Not long after joining Spark Centre, MOD launched its BETA and made its first reveal at the Canadian Music Week festival, where it became a popular stop for more than a hundred independent music artists, bands, managers and top industry professionals.
“Their eyes would grow wide every time we explained what you could do with our system and the pain points it eliminated for artists selling merch.” Pinho says, “Many of the music artists and bands currently on our platform had met us at the conference.”
To say that MOD has been hitting high notes would be an understatement. Not only has the startup signed a partnership agreement with Shiller.io, a live-streaming app for music artists co-founded by Snoop Dog, but it also presented in the Startup Showcase at North America’s largest tech conference, Collision, with plans to showcase at more music industry conferences around the world.
Pinho’s work with MOD isn’t near completion, however. Recently, he pitched for funding at the Venture Capital World Summit and Spark Angels and has been focused on creating “the fastest and easiest platform for creating merch stores, listings and exclusive drops for artists at all levels.”
“We’ve taken on a new software development company, 321DataPro, to take our product development to a new level.” Pinho adds, “With our new development team, we’ll launch a dramatically revamped and improved look and functionality of our website and merch-on-demand system. We’ll also be working with some emerging and up-and-coming artists for their tour merchandise before the end of the year. We’re striving to be the best merchandise partner for independent music artists at all levels.”