Sure, I know all the words to “If It Makes You Happy” and “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, but who doesn’t? I’ve never been what you would call a “devoted” Sheryl Crow fan. So, you might find it odd to discover that “Feels Like Home”, her most recent album, is on constant rotation in my CD player. This is thanks to a little product called ‘ZinePak; it turned me into a Sheryl Crow fanatic! ‘ZinePak is, in short, “elevated entertainment”. It’s a publication about ¼ the size of a traditional magazine, but full of unique, customized goodness. My sample came in the form of a CD, compilation of vignettes and a pouch of native wildflower seeds. I had lyrics, song meanings and recording stories all at my disposal. I learned about Sheryl’s upbringing along with her current lifestyle and favorite leisurely activities. As I flipped through page after page of gorgeous photos and lovely words, I realized that I was having a very heightened fan experience. ‘ZinePak is unlike any other entertainment product on the market. It has featured some incredible artists in the past (Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, etc.) and looks to add to that client list in the future. Founders Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe have made their mark in the entertainment industry by giving ‘ZinePak buyers a truly unique experience with their favorite artists. Our interview with the two young entrepreneurs gave us a more in depth view of the ‘ZinePak brand.
Brittany: Coming from different backgrounds is definitely an asset. My background is in the music industry, and Kim’s is in magazine publishing. Those two disciplines gave us a great foundation for starting the company. Our team is comprised of people with expertise in marketing, writing, promotions, and project management. It’s always an asset to have a diverse team, because each person brings different experiences and ideas to the table.
How do you decide which artists will be featured in upcoming ‘ZinePaks?
Kim: Artists will usually approach us when they start to plan an upcoming album. Working with the artist, their record label, and their management, we put together a dynamic, interactive experience for fans.
How many people on your team are involved in compiling one ‘ZinePak, and what is the process like?
Brittany: It varies from project to project, but our core team is about ten people. That includes everything from writing and editing to designing and project management. We’re so lucky to have such a talented team of creative people. Everyone at ‘ZinePak is an entertainment super-fan, so creating products for other super-fans is really exciting.
Did you have any idea that your creation would reach the level of success that it has?
Kim: We always hoped that others would see the value, and want, a better experience when it came to consuming entertainment however we had no idea we would gain this much success so quickly. We are so thankful that we get to work with amazing partners and clients. While we always dream big, hitting major milestones such as over a million dollars in revenue or having more than 2 million ‘ZinePaks in circulation at Walmart is thrilling, overwhelming, and humbling all at once.
What kind of feedback do you get from the artists themselves?
Brittany: Working with the artists is fantastic, because everyone has a different style. One common thread is that every artist wants the package to be amazing for their fans. So, sometimes that means doing seven or eight rounds of revisions to get an insert item or a story just right. We love being part of all of the love and effort that goes into crafting each release for fans.
Do you anticipate changing the signature “look” of the product, or has it become a staple?
Kim: The name of our company and the name of our product is one in the same. Our “traditional” ‘ZinePak configuration of a small format magazine paired with music and limited edition merchandise will remain the same in terms of size and features. However, we are starting to create a plethora different projects now for fan clubs, tours, and live events that will all be completely different in terms of style, shape, and size of “traditional” ‘ZinePaks but will still deliver the same engaging, exclusive content that ‘ZinePak is known for.
For those who aren’t familiar with ‘ZinePak, who are some of the artists that have been featured?
Brittany: We’ve worked with dozens of amazing artists spanning several genres, including Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, George Strait, KISS, Mary J. Blige, and many more.
Who are some of the artists that you dream to work with for upcoming features?
Kim: Brittany and I each have our favorites that we would love to do a project with one day. For me, it is Jimmy Buffett and for Brittany it is Garth Brooks. It is our goal each year to try to do a project with each of them!
What does ‘ZinePak do for consumers that other products, like the CD for example, don’t?
Brittany: Every ‘ZinePak includes a custom magazine and exclusive merchandise. They’re designed to help fans get closer to artists, so it’s a multi-sensory experience. Rather than just listening to the CDs, fans can read the stories behind them and hold the ‘ZinePak (and insert items) in their hands.
Do you hope that the ‘ZinePak will ultimately replace the CD?
Kim: It is our firm belief that people will always want something limited edition, exclusive, and collectible that cannot be downloaded or read off the computer. We plan on putting out amazing curated content and creating an immersive experience for fans to get up close to their favorite artists and bands. Connecting with your favorite artist beyond their music is a way of the future and we plan on being a big part of it.
Photos and feature image courtesy of ‘ZinePak.