ZinePak specializes in creating custom packages for pop-culture superfans. Since the company’s inception in 2011, superstars including Katy Perry, KISS, Taylor Swift, George Strait, Mumford & Sons, and dozens of other performers have turned to ZinePak for help elevating their entertainment offerings.
ZinePak was founded by Brittany Hodak, whose career began in the music industry, and Kim Kaupe, whose background is in publishing. Although both industries experienced double-digit sales declines for almost a decade prior to ZinePak’s launch, the cofounders saw a need in the marketplace for compelling, physical products for entertainment fans and set out to create a company to create them.
ZinePak’s namesake configuration, which pairs a CD with a small-format magazine and collectible merchandise items, launched in Walmart stores nationwide in early 2011. Since then, fans have spent more than $25 million buying 3 million ZinePaks at Walmart.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on how your love of writing was a big part of the reason that you started ZinePak?
Brittany: Absolutely! When I was 17 years old, I began working at a radio station in Arkansas…as the station’s mascot. Luckily, I was soon given other, slightly more glamorous responsibilities, one of which included blogging about artists for the station’s website. I loved writing and I loved music, so it was the perfect job—especially since meeting rock stars was literally part of my job. From there I helped several bands craft their bios and press kits while I was in college, then took a marketing job at a record company in New York. I thought there was a hole in the marketplace for a configuration that really paired music with artist discovery. That insight led to the idea for ZinePak. Our mission is to help get fans closer to the artists they love with exclusive content that they can’t find anywhere else.
BusinessInterviews.com: How does the ZinePak process work?
Brittany: We partner up with artists or brands that want us to help tell their stories to fans. Whether we’re helping a musician launch a new album or helping a brand introduce a new product, everything starts with the content. We create 100% of the content in each ZinePak in-house, so our team spends a lot of time making sure each product is totally suited to the fans we’re creating it for.
BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on reaching $1 million in revenue in less than a year. How did you manage to gain such an impressive amount of traction so quickly?
Brittany: Thank you! A big part of our early success came from finding the right partners. Walmart agreed to be our distribution partner right from the start, and our first three content partners, Razor & Tie, the Academy of Country Music, and Interscope Records, are still some of our very best partners today, four years later. Another important partner to us early on was American Express. Since we’re self-funded, we’re always thinking about our cash flow and figuring out how best to manage projects. Because charge cards don’t have preset spending limits (unlike credit cards), AmEx allowed us to grow quickly and take on more projects.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the art of creating memorable, lasting connections between your clients and their superfans?
Brittany: We believe in giving fans a tangible, physical experience. Instagram and Twitter are awesome ways for artists to share things with their fans, but it’s a fleeting kind of sharing. We’re all about the old-school, collectible memorabilia buzz that comes from something like buying an LP, or getting the set list from the stage after your favorite artist’s show. Every one of our ZinePaks starts with exclusive interviews and photos and builds from there. We pack in as much great content and fun merchandise as we can to make every package collectible, whether it’s for fans of Florida Georgia Line or Katy Perry. We create packages that we hope fans will keep forever as a record of the artists they love most.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Brittany: I’m very excited about the integration of digital and mobile content into physical items. It’s easy for augmented reality to go to a cheesy place, and obviously TONS of companies were doing QR Codes badly over the past two years, but when done correctly, augmented reality has the potential to greatly enhance consumer experiences. We launched an app called ZinePak All Access to deliver mobile and digital content to fans from the pages of physical ZinePaks, and it’s been a really great way to help fan/artist connections go beyond the printed page.
BusinessInterviews.com: After achieving such an impressive amount of success and recognition so rapidly, how do you plan to keep the momentum going?
Brittany: One of the great things about ZinePak is that we’re in the superfan business, and there is no shortage of superfans, practically everywhere you look! We’re excited about expanding the expertise we’ve gained in the music space to other “superfan verticals,” like sports, video games, and movies. At the same time we’re growing into new areas, we’re also expended our capabilities in our original home, the music industry. Although we started out creating ZinePaks solely to help artists launch their new albums, now we make fun products for everything from fan clubs to meet-and-greets to commemorative ticketing. We’re very fortunate to be in such a fun industry where fans are always looking for new ways to engage with the artists they love most.
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