Bravado is the leading global provider of consumer, lifestyle and branding services to recording artists and entertainment brands around the world. Part of Universal Music Group, the leader in music-based entertainment, Bravado represents artists in more than 40 countries and provides services including sales, licensing, branding, marketing and eCommerce. Their extensive global distribution network gives artists and brands the opportunity to create deeper connections with their fans through apparel, consumer packaged goods and unique experiences.
Open until January 2022, ‘Queen- The Greatest’ was recently opened in London to celebrate the band’s historic five decades of music. This pop-up store is designed to take you on a visual journey through one of the world’s most iconic bands' contributions to music, culture, and fashion. The shop features limited edition music releases, new product drops and exciting fashion collaborations, with each month of its three-month stint having a different theme: Music, Art & Design and Magic. The store takes visitors on a journey over 2 floors, from 70s thrift store (Freddie and Roger had a stall in Kensington Market), 80s iconic live performances and tours, 90s record store, 00s DVD homage through to 2010s tech concepts.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Keith Taperell, VP of Sales & Retail at Bravado about the new London Carnaby Street Queen pop-up store which celebrates the band's five decades. Our host Peter Brooker and Keith talk about the collaborative steps involved in opening a retail space with a band, what his daily work schedule looks like, the legacy of Carnaby, what Queen fans can expect when they visit, the possibility of taking the concept to other countries, the health of the music industry right now, and the latest exclusive Queen brand collaborations.
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Hello and welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I'm talking to Keith tapper al the vice president for retail and sales at bravado at Universal Music Group. And Keith, well, an amazing guest just got off the blower to Keith and he's going to talk all about the Queen pop up store down at Carnaby Street have been down there myself, it's an amazing space to two levels, you can go through and walk the five decade story of Queen. And I'm just going to bring Keith in now. And he's gonna talk all about what the process is like setting up a store like that, and what you can expect from your experience going into this pop up his key. Yeah, we opened the doors on September 28. To much fanfare, and we'll open until first week of January. So it's there to celebrate a moment in time, it's there to celebrate five decades of Queen as a band. Wow. Well, I had the pleasure of going down on opening day. Place is a wonderful space as well as you can get some limited edition vinyls and some merchandise, but you can also explore some archived videos, maybe you can just talk about the stepping stones, how did you get something like this off the ground. It's very much done as a collaborative effort with the band. I mean, we don't do anything in isolation where we are there to represent them. And we're there to make sure that we honour their heritage and their legacy. So we want to make sure they're an integral part of this. They have, you know, complete overseeing everything that we do there. So we first have the conversations about wanting to do something like this. I mean, we did a prior one in 2018 with a launch for the Bohemian Rhapsody film. So we are based off of the success of that we really wanted to look at this five decades of the band. And there's lots of other activity going on, of course from from music and events. But we wanted to have that kind of physical space, that space where we could showcase where fans can come they could be immersed in the world of Queen, and then we can offer them something as a kind of, yeah, a piece to take home and keep us at work, whether that's limited edition vinyl, which was an amazing success or collaborations with other brands as well. And how has the limited edition vinyl gone for you as an incentive or as a? Because this was exclusive for people to come in store and get in store? Is that correct? Well, yes. And what we did do, because obviously, with the current climate, we know that there's a lot of people that wouldn't be able to travel to the store, where they're actually able to or not feeling confident. So so we didn't want to make it exclusive, we wanted it to be as inclusive as possible. So we actually have a kind of micro site on the Queen online store for the pop up. So when we did a limited edition of vinyl, we had 1000 units in total. But 500 were made available on the online store and 500 at the physical store. And it's the kind of best way that we looked at how we could offer that to make sure that as many people as possible would would have a chance of purchasing. And does everybody in the band have a say how does it work? I mean, obviously, they will have a sabre is there one person that's kind of the spokesperson or the spearhead and the other is kind of just go Yep, looks good to me Go for it. They they work still work as a band together and collaborate very well. So everything that we do, goes through Queen management. And then from there, they take it to both Brian main worker Taylor, so they both get to give feedback on it collectively. And then we work on their feedback and take it forward. This has been a huge success for you guys. I know the Rolling Stones one is still going if I'm correct. And the Rolling Stones store is always set as a kind of boutique flagship and a set as a permanent store. So that opened in September 2019. The Queen wine is as we say, it's a pop. It's a moment in time to celebrate. You know this this this year there five decades of quick, but could it not be extended? I mean, due to the success you think that it could run on? Everything's possible. Never discount anything. You know how things change in this industry how things move forward? I never would want provider to stand still and queen are still with all of their legacy, a performing band. They're still bringing out new music both Brian and Roger with solo music. No one wants to kind of stop so there's always Yeah, opportunities to explore. There's nothing in there at the moment, but who knows what might come up in the future. And keep I'm curious to know what a day in the life is like for you, because there's so many different other bands and talent on the client list. I mean, you can't just be focused on Queen, I imagine that you have to spread yourself over all of the other talent on the portfolio writes, we have an embarrassment of riches at bravado, helped by the fact that we're owned by Universal Music Group. So we are the brand and merchandising division of universal. It doesn't mean that just because an artist is a universal artists that they are working with bravado, and in the same way we also work with, with music artists, and also non music in the entertainment side. So a day in the life. You know, when you ask people that question, and they say, Yeah, my No day is the same. I'm going to be polite, but I'm going to call that, you know, that was the work that I do. Literally, no day is the same, you kind of wake up and you guys are, you know, open a laptop in the home office or go into the office and you think you're going to work on this artist with this project or with this retailer, wherever it might be. And you could have three, four or five different emails or phone calls during the day and your your world is turned upside down. It's always turned upside down in a very positive very interesting way. But yeah, it's definitely keeps you on your toes. And you do you know, we represent a lot of artists, and they're all equally as important. We have priorities, we have focuses, but we need to make sure that you know, we're there to represent the whole roster that we have. And Keith, I imagine growing up you must have been a fan of most of the talent on the books. I mean, you got the likes of patch up boys. They were the first band I ever saw live at Wembley Arena, you have like, The Beach Boys and Queen? Do you ever get starstruck when you kind of have to get on the phone and talk things and talk shop with these guys? I'd love to say I was I was important. I get to speak to the artists. But we have a good team in London and also in three sites in the US of brand managers. And it's their role to be the conduit between bravado, the artists, management and the artist. So yeah, they're the guys that do, I don't get starstruck because I don't get to meet them. And maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I can be impartial and I can focus on what I need to do. And when you're in London, at Have you noticed on Carnaby Street, that this is like the hive in terms of where you want to be Carnaby Street has to be like the hotspot, the nerve centre for bands, music, fashion, creativity, you happy that this is a place where you're at? Yeah, I mean, we, I mean, we work really well with a sharp spray of animals. And we've obviously worked with them in the past, we work with them on the Rolling Stone stone, we work with them on the Queen store. Kind of be has such a history, in legacy with music and fashion is kind of the first place that we look at, but the store has to be right, you know, we need to make sure that we have a space that honours the project that we're doing. So with the queen store, it's over two floors, we've themed it. So there's five shopping shops within a store, each one representing a decade of Queen. So that, you know, we were providing something that was of interest, we're not just opening up a white space and putting some products in there and hoping people buy it. These days, you need to try much, much harder. So it's experiential. So Canada has been great for that. And you know, it's great to see the footfall come back as we progress throughout the year. I saw it in January, I was there this afternoon briefly as well. And it's so different. And you get to hear international voices as well. So it's not just UK tourists, and that's really positive sign. I was also in Camden afterwards. And again, that's a place that we've done some things in the past as well. And that's another place in London that has made amazing history with music. So, you know, we look at all of these options, but it really has to be the space that is right for us in order to for us to kind of represent the artists that we're working on. We definitely look at, you know, what's the direction? What's the strategy? What's the activity that we're looking to do? And then take that first before that we kind of look at that in any distribution, like an anniversary or something. Yeah, I mean, there's so much rich history for a lot of artists that we do. And there's so many moments that you know, the fans can probably tell us better about and then we can ourselves and we want to make sure that we're doing the due diligence for those so we know when they're coming up and when it is a momentous occasion. Should, such as queens, you know, five decades? What do we want to do for that? So we definitely look at it that way, and then ask after we've got that kind of big picture that we want to aim for. What's the hook? What's the story? What's the interest? You know? What, what, what about this a people are going to really kind of enjoy and love and you know, want to experience, then we'll drill it down to the detail, then we'll look at the location, and then we'll look at, you know, how much trading space do we need for this? What's the product mix? How often do we flow products in because we want people to be able to come back and, you know, with the queen store, we didn't just deliver everything on day one, and then leave the doors open for the whole time, we've dropped different products and you know, other elements memorabilia into that store, throughout, so that, again, we're trying to surprise and excite people when they come in, if they've come in once, or if they've come in 10 times, the hope is they'll see something new and different. Yeah, that's interesting. And I'd certainly got that vibe, when I came in the store that it was a story that you're walking through. So it wasn't like you say just a space that you can just hang a load of merch on, you do take the journey much like you do when you go into a store and you have to kind of go around and cash points at the end, you get all the necessary stuff. And it tells you what you need to know, along the journey. Complete I mean, we worked with we worked with a design agency in Amsterdam with probably the best name in the industry called the thirsty fisherman. And we worked on the concept with those guys. And we definitely looked at looked at it through the lens on the eyes of the consumer, what what do they want to get, we wanted to make sure that there was a journey in that store. And so you start from there to kind of focus there at the front of the store. And that can highlight you products. So you know that that does that excite and surprise when you walk in, then you have a 70s area 80s Area 90s era then when you go downstairs, you go to the naughties and the 10s. And you should even though it's one store, in every city, separate section of those you should you should get a different feeling. There should be a different product mix. There's there's different kind of store design that we've done. So we want people to walk the whole space. We didn't want to make it like an Ikea where you force people to space and you have to go not that there's anything wrong with the guys at IKEA doing. But we want your people to use it and explore and we want you to put you know, fun elements like downstairs, we have a pinball machine. It's the world's first prototype coming out next year, so it's not actually for sale, but it's amazing visual piece. And that when people go downstairs it excites and surprises them. As well as the fact they can go downstairs and buy a hand sign Brian make attire as well. You know, things like that, like, you know, true fan memorabilia. And what are the odds of someone going down to the store? Cave and maybe bumping into Roger Taylor, O'Brien me? You never know. You never know. I'm not a betting man. So I can't give you numbers on that. But you never know. Nice. Well, it seems like a model that would work not only in Carnaby Street, but could have a huge international appeal because you have a band like Queen they're not just famous in London, right? So is there a plan or any kind of follow on thoughts to have this as a franchise and open up more stores internationally? Yeah, unsurprisingly, through through the Queen socials and kind of direct feedback from the fans. There's definitely been requests out there to see how we how we can either take this on the road as it were, or what we can do in other cities. I think I'd have to change my job title, if we're going to take it on the road because of the love for the band out there. And there's a fair few cities I'd need to get to. You know, the queen have a great following everywhere. They have an amazing following in Japan, and the guys, they're also doing something for the Japanese market. We obviously have the clean online store as well, so you can access it anywhere you are in the world. Again, I think it comes back to the earlier point, we're open to exploring and seeing what the potential Yes, I mean, it's great that we have this success. We'd love to be able to emulate that. Whether that's same space again, or use it as new experiences wherever they might be. And is there anything in the pipeline that we mentioned Beach Boys early, you can probably sense where my music backgrounds coming from it's rock, it's classic. It's just, you know, a great eclectic mix that you've got in your portfolio. But Paul Weller also stuck out to me and, you know, a huge influence to me and he's Very much a Brit, shall we say, you know, he's definitely. So is there anything? Definitely, we can do. So it's a great thing there is we've got the trilogy. So we've got from the jam to The Style Council to Paul Weller, and obviously, you know, he's also still recording still putting new music out as well. It's one of those ones where there's a lot going on, there's always things going on, but I can't really divulge any details. What I will say is, I know that next year, for a music fan for a live event and activity fan, next year is just going to be amazing. We know already, you know, there's so many events that are being planned throughout the year, especially kind of UK seems to be this kind of half and people have been starved. I mean, yes, events are occurring now. But the kind of amount of events next year is going to be huge. And are you worried about the music industry? At the moment? I mean, I've heard a story, one in three people in the music industry have lost their jobs over the last three or four years with what's going on with retail and pandemic, etc. How kind of close are you to this in terms of how worried you are about? I mean, obviously, you know, it's a concern, and not just in the music industry, but also, you know, in all walks of life, and there's a huge impact on people. I can only kind of talk through what I say provider and what I say Universal Music. And I know both internally for you know, the people that are employed by Universal Music Group, they've been amazing employers, and they've really looked after their staff. And I also know, externally that there's been, you know, projects put in place also to support people that aren't full time on the books of universal as well. So there's definitely an understanding and a need to kind of support and give back where possible. And so people can still go down the flagship store is open until the end of January Did you were looking at January the ninth to spend the last day of trading. So there's still a good four plus weeks left to go. Opportunity's still there we got some amazing stuff in there. We've done an incredible collaboration with champion athletic, obviously, Friday world champion. So there's a there's a there's a real good synergy and it links there. We've got some neck done a great job from a design on the product there. We've just put in some product with a very kind of cool if I could call him up and coming I think he's already there. London jeweller called Johnny Hoxton. And we've done a Q silver pendant and a queen gold ring that you know available to preorder but you can only do that in the store. So there's all these elements and that's something that only came in a week or so ago. So there's there's enough good stuff to get to get there and have a look. Are there any of the archives from champion athletic as you know, from the original stuff that you will know, archives and champion but what we have that's just gone into the stores, we have some handwritten lyrics that we've put up downstairs as a kind of exhibition piece. So for a queen fan to see these lyrics, you know, in physical in the store is amazing opportunity. And very shortly, we'll have another piece of memorabilia that I can't reveal at the moment. But you know, I could say we always were always pushing more out. It's got to be vinyl of Highlander. That's what I'm going to guess like the original print. They had the best or in movie history is Highlander. I don't care what any any we if only we were that lucky, great film. Even though Sean Connery is Portuguese accent leaves something. It's still a great field was obviously a great soundtrack as well. Oh my god. Yeah. I don't know if he was asked to do a Portuguese accent. I think he just said there's no point. Everybody knows. I'm Sean Connery. He Sean Connery can get away with it. Yeah. Listen, if anyone hasn't seen Highlander, I mean that films got to be about 50 years old. That's something for you kids out there. I know we've all the great music you love queen. You'll love Highlander. And you'll be open like Christmas Day Boxing Day in case people are come listening to this and we won't be open Christmas day. You know, we're ready to all have a break on that day. We will we won't be on Christmas Day and New Year's Day but we'll be open all after today's awesome and people can get down and see the wonderful stuff that's going on. down there Keith, thanks so much for taking time out and talking to us about the store and all the other side and please come back on when other projects that you can talk about come to light we're very pleased to thank you very much for having me listening to the menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot Coda uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear style Koto, UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time,