Sony Music’s The Thread Shop acquires UK-based merch company Probity

Van Morrison

Sony Music’s merchandising division The Thread Shop has agreed a deal to buy UK-based independent music merchandising company Probity Europe LTD, which offers tour, retail, e-commerce, ticketing and licensing services worldwide.

Under the agreement, Probity will become a new entrepreneurial division of The Thread Shop and will continue to be led by London-based Probity founder Mark Stredwick, who will report to Howard Lau, Head of The Thread Shop.

Probity’s roster of music artists include the likes of Van Morrison (pictured), Metallica, Noel Gallagher, Oasis, Paloma Faith, Rage Against, The Machine, Robert Plant and more.

Today’s news comes more than a year after The Thread Shop inked a deal to acquire the music merch division of The Araca Group and exactly one year after it signed a deal for the rights to design, develop and distribute exclusive Jimi Hendrix merchandise worldwide.

The Thread Shop also signed a deal in December 2019 to develop new merchandise, licensing, retail and e-commerce opportunities for The Beatles in North America.

In addition to the The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, Sony Music’s in-house merchandising business is home to artists including Camila Cabello, Maluma, Led Zeppelin, Lil Nas X, P!nk and Rosalia.

Fiscal filings from Sony Corp show that Sony Music’s ‘Other’ category of business – which includes merch, but alongside licensing and live music income – generated $383m in the first six months of calendar 2020.

This was down by $37m, or 8.8%, on the $420m the same category generated at Sony in H1 2019.

“Probity is an established independent leader in the European merch market representing some of the world’s most iconic music artists.”

Howard Lau

Howard Lau said: “We are very pleased to be further enhancing the reach and competitive capabilities of The Thread Shop around the world with the welcome additions of Mark Stredwick and the Probity team.

“Probity is an established independent leader in the European merch market representing some of the world’s most iconic music artists.

“Together we can offer our artist clients and the music community an even more robust set of merchandising opportunities to complement their music revenues, branding, and marketing.”

“We are delighted to fully cement the organic relationship we had already developed with Howard and Sony Thread Shop.”

Mark Stredwick

Mark Stredwick added: “We are delighted to fully cement the organic relationship we had already developed with Howard and Sony Thread Shop.

“The deal with Sony allows our growing roster to tap into more opportunities globally and benefit from innovative and creatively driven merchandising programs that Thread Shop deliver with such passion.”


Elsewhere in the merch world, livestream platform LiveXLive Media expanded into the merch business in October by agreeing to acquire 100% of Addison, IL-based Custom Personalization Solutions in a deal valued up to $6 million.

Meanwhile, also in October, Universal Music Group’s merchandising and brand management division Bravado partnered with Alibaba Group to bring artists’ merchandise and exclusive collaborations to Chinese consumers.

Mat Vlasic, the CEO of Bravado, exited the company in October, four years after he joined from rival Sony Music.

Universal Music Group is the only major music co to break out the performance of merchandise in its financials. Merchandise sales at Universal across the first nine months of 2020 were down 42.6% YoY.


In 2019, Universal Music Group swooped for Los Angeles-based merch maker Epic Rights – a deal which itself arrived three months after Warner acquired German merch and e-commerce company EMP for $180m.Music Business Worldwide

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