First-ever Music Merch Market coming to Musiikki Cafe

The first edition of the Musiikki pop-up Music Merch Market is set for Saturday, Spet. 30, 2023, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Supplied image.

A new event coming to Musiikkii Cafe this September aims to provide local musicians and bands with an accessible no-cost space to sell their merchandise and show off their music to Kingston consumers. Launching Saturday, Sep. 30, 2023, the Musiikki pop-up Music Merch Market will allow local bands, musicians, and other artists to come together and sell their merchandise in a relaxed setting, away from the hustle and bustle of live concerts and other events.

According to James Mulvale, a local musician who performs as part of a solo project called FASTFAST, the idea for the market was born out of connections forged during this year’s Spring Reverb festival.

“[Spring Reverb] was such a good networking thing, with all the panels, shows, free events, and mixers. It was such a nice thing to have all the musicians together,” he remarked.

Because Spring Reverb happens just once a year, Mulvale said he was looking for more opportunities to bring local performers together, outside of the confines of a festival or live show: “[I thought], how could we get all these artists together, just for an event that’s not a gig? Then I thought, what about a market?”

At that point, Mulvale started working with the staff at Musiikkii to create an event that would provide local musicians and other artists a venue to sell their music and merchandise without having to pay rent or direct a percentage of their profits to market organizers.

“It’s not a for-profit thing, I just want to network again and get talking to people. People forget about each other… You need to keep reinforcing these relationships; Spring Reverb inspired me totally to do this,” Mulvale said.

For most musicians in Kingston, the only opportunity they have to sell their merchandise is at their own concerts or other live gigs, when most in attendance would rather spend money on food and drink or other expenses. The costs to set up an online sales platform can be quite prohibitive for up-and-coming musicians, and the demand isn’t always there. According to Mulvale, the market will give artists an opportunity to showcase the wide array of materials they have for sale, while also allowing fans to interact directly with the performers, in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

The back courtyard at Musiikki Café during HomeGrown Music Festival 2023. Photo by Virginia Maria Photography.

Mulvale noted, “Most of the time, you go to a gig, you watch a band, you might buy a t-shirt and say hi, [but then] everyone’s drinking and having fun. It’s not an actual setting where you can go in and actually talk to the artists; everyone’s always buzzed after a show and the artists are probably full of adrenaline. This event is to be more chilled. We’ve got all afternoon if you want to come and see whoever it is that’s going to be there… You can come and talk to them and get an autograph, and buy a t-shirt or some vinyl.”

According to Mulvale, the event on September 30, will serve as a trial run for the Music Merch Market. Depending on how things go, organizers will look for opportunities to hold similar events in the future.

“Fingers crossed [we can do more events]. We’ll see if this one works first, it’s more of a test to see who’s interested. We’ve got a few people signed up already but the place isn’t that big, so we can’t really have everybody there [the first time],” he said.

As for which musicians will be taking part in the first edition of the Music Merch Market, Mulvale mentioned Tiny Horse, The Wilderness, and The Winter in Canada have all signed up. Kingston Live will also have a table at the market, as will visual artists Joanne Gervais and Liam Mills Creations. While space at Musiikki is limited, artists who would like to take part in the market are encouraged to contact Mulavle at [email protected].

The Musiikki pop-up Music Merch Market will take place on Saturday, Sep. 30, 2023, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 73 Brock Street. Depending on the whether, the event will either happen outside in the courtyard patio at Musiikki, or upstairs in the performance space. The event is free for both the musicians taking part and members of the public. Those interested in buying some merchandise at the market are encouraged to bring cash with them, however, most vendors should have a cashless option as well.

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