Sony Music Entertainment has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with BandMerch, the merchandising division of promoter AEG Live, to expand and develop Sony’s merchandising programs in the North American retail market in conjunction with the Thread Shop, Sony’s merchandising arm. Mathew Vlasic remains as VP for Thread Shop. The joint venture will be announced later today at the MAGIC merchandising show in Las Vegas.

Through the partnership, SME and BandMerch will build and expand The Thread Shop, which Sony Music created for artists on the company's roster. Together, SME, The Thread Shop and BandMerch will produce and distribute merch for Sony artists and music that utilizes the name, likeness, images, graphics and logos of a selection of Sony Music's superstars as well as cult favorites and new emerging talents. Product categories including t-shirts, fashion tops, hoodies, hats, jewelry, accessories and more will be developed by BandMerch for sale in the retail market with potential live event merchandising on the horizon. Music-related merch has built a stronghold at the retail level in the past few years, finding its place alongside such powerful licensed products as Disney and Marvel. Bravado -- the merchandising division of UMG -- and other merchandisers have forged deals with retailers like Kohl’s, Hot Topic, Walmart, and others that put merch in front of thousands of music fans well beyond the concert arena. Merchandising at the retail level is a significant revenue stream for artists, with virtually no artists' costs associated to royalties and advances received.

"We take pride in our ability to build lasting lifestyle entertainment brands and are thrilled at the opportunities that our new partnership with Sony Music, one of the largest music companies in the world, creates," said Joseph Bongiovi, president of BandMerch, in a statement.  “As Sony Music continues to aggressively produce new properties across all genres of music, we look forward to working with them to produce innovative product lines that combine imaginative design, quality merchandise and cutting edge technology to further expand and connect their artists and fans.”

"Over the last two years, The Thread Shop has grown organically, earning the trust of artists and managers interested in extending their brands while providing music fans unique access to the iconography and memorabilia of the greatest artists in music. Our new strategic alliance with BandMerch will bring the business to the next level, allowing us to continue to create top quality merchandise on the behalf of our artists while broadening our reach and connecting to new fans around the world,"  said Mathew Vlasic.