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How ZinePak Is Giving CDs a Second Life

How do you stop the Internet from destroying an industry? You get creative.
Brittany Hodak (left) and Kim Kaupe (right) co-founded ZinePak as a way to get people enthused about bands again. In the process, they've been selling some serious CDs.

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With physical album sales on the decline in favor of online streaming and digital downloading, the music industry's reliance on CD sales has taken a hit, leaving many wondering how to keep the fire going for offline purchases. Enter ZinePak.

The brainchild of Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe, ZinePak--named for zinepaks (short for magazine packages)--offers limited-edition releases that include, in addition to the basic CD, a glossy booklet filled with exclusive photos and interviews. The packages also contain an array of other goodies that include posters and temporary tattoos.

“I saw it as a really engaging way to combat the decline of physical sales,” says Hodak, 30. “Kind of like a throwback to when people used to genuinely enjoy buying vinyl records.”

The idea for New York City-based ZinePak came about as a collaboration of Hodak’s and Kaupe’s strengths. Hodak had experience working in the music industry; Kaupe’s background is in publishing. Hodak even had the advantage of an existing relationship with Walmart, giving the duo the perfect launch pad to start their business. By offering limited-edition, exclusive content, they hoped to entice superfans to go out and buy physical albums as opposed to just downloading them.

“Ourselves, we’re fans, too,” says Kaupe, 28. “We really understand that passion and that excitement. We made sure there’s a lot more to a ZinePak than just the music.”

So far, the strategy seems to be working. Since the company’s founding in 2011, Hodak and Kaupe have produced album packages for such big-name artists as Johnny Cash and Katy Perry. They’ve also worked with American Idol and the Academy of Country Music, or ACM, to release compilation CDs. In 2013, the company reeled in $3 million in sales and projects growth this year.

Lisa Lee, ACM's senior vice president of creative and content production, called the decision to work with ZinePak a "no-brainer. It's great for the fans, because it's an actual, tangible thing that you can collect," she says.

ACM has been a ZinePak partner since Hodak and Kaupe started out, and Lee says she's always been impressed by the pair's creativity and execution.

"It's so hard to come up with new ideas, and what's amazing about Brittany and Kim is that they don't just come up with ideas; they actually make those ideas happen," she adds.

Still, CDs are a dying breed, no matter how many fan mags you pair with them. To stay ahead of the game, ZinePak recently launched an app that debuted with the 2014 ACM Awards. The app adds a variety of digital bonus elements to the brand's core offerings. 

“Users can watch exclusive videos and get bonus photo content,” Hodak says. “It’s old school meets new school.”

The duo hopes to capitalize on ZinePak’s growing popularity by expanding into new genres: It plans to start releasing DVD and video game packages by the end of this year. The two have also branched out within the music industry into concert ticketing, having produced souvenir passport packages for last fall’s Mumford & Sons tour.

“We love music; our home is in music," Hodak says. "But we want to bridge the gap into movies and into video games and into live events."

Get to Know ZinePak




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