I’ll admit it, I’m uncool: I think vinyl is too much work. When I want to experience music, I want to sit back and let it wash over me. I just don’t look forward to breaking reverie so I can flip the record. Phil Lomac and Andy Angelos have come up with a plan to popularize a different sort of music experience. They want you to enjoy a spot of tea while you hear their music.
“The idea behind Tea for Tyrants is that we really wanted to provide a unique listening experience around music by pairing it with something that people are willing to buy in their normal lives,” said Angelos. The concept isn’t much more than that, ultimately. The duo pairs types of tea with indie music, then send both to the paying customer: the tea physically, the music digitally. The consumer then sips the tea while listening to the tunes, creating a measured, thoughtful experience. It works because Angelos knows a tea farmer in Japan, and both men know independent musicians whose music is conducive to tea-sipping (including themselves).
It’s an absolutely great idea. But great bands break up all the time. What’s to stop this one from sputtering out because of a bad manager or a failed website or any other number of things? The answer: Angelos and Lomac have worked in multiple technology start-up companies. Each have first-hand experience with how a business scales up from an idea to a reality to an enterprise. With business experience and music experience, Tea for Tyrants has a leg up on many music companies. They haven’t lost sight of a greater goal in the midst of dollars and cents. The hope is that Tea for Tyrants can become a large enough company to create an alternate stream of income for bands who are right on the cusp of supporting themselves through music.
“We’d like to help artists pick up the financial gap between touring so even when they are not working through touring, the tea product, paired with their music, will bring in income to help sustain their career as a music artist,” Lomac said. The number of bands that they’d like to partner with is undetermined: citing supply and demand, they’ll provide the number of products that the consumers want on the time schedule that they want them.
“You have to be open to [change]. You can’t be too set or defined at the beginning, because you might miss an opportunity. You have to learn from your customers what they want,” said Angelos. The company is open for business now: you can find 50 grams of Gyokuro Karigane green tea paired with Her Vanished Grace for $15; 100 grams of Houjicha Bancha goes for only $16.50 (with the Marc Higgins Band accompanying). For music and tea, these are great prices; the two-for-one grab is what makes the deal attractive. For the price of a vinyl (or less!) you can get something for three senses (taste, smell, hearing) instead of just one. I am totally down with that.
Tea for Tyrants’ goal isn’t domination of the music market, as the name might imply. Instead, the venture is focused on the bottom line: helping musicians get where they want to go.
“I still believe that someday I’m going to wake up and have music be my primary vocation,” Angelos said. “Working on a project like this gets us closer to that goal.”