Machine Head’s Robb Flynn Candidly Reveals His “Killers & Kings” Clothing Line is Tanking
No one else in today’s metal scene keeps it as real as Machine Head’s Robb Flynn. It all started back in 2013 when Flynn revealed he was a big fan of Spotify — at a time when other high profile artists were afraid to say so — and that he’d “never buy another physical CD again.” Since then it’s been a string of real-keeping exposés: candid (and often unflattering) looks into his songwriting process, calling Phil Labonte out on his constant bullshit, and his now infamous calling-out of Phil Anselmo for his on-stage “white power” gesture and the years and years of suspect behavior before it that everyone else was afraid to talk about. Lately he’s even gotten political, re-posting a quote on Instagram by liberal talk show host Trevor Noah about gun laws in America, .
In short: nothing is taboo for this man. Where other high-profile artists are afraid to speak their mind for fear of reprisal — either in the form of fan backlash or business backlash (i.e. it’s now a certainty Machine Head won’t get offered tours from Phil Anselmo or any of his associates) — Flynn throws caution to the wind and says, “Fuck it, speaking the truth is more important.”
And few things are more taboo in this business — any business, really — than saying “my business is failing.” Always project success! Never admit defeat.
But that’s exactly what Robb Flynn just did in his latest General Journals email newsletter, admitting that his Killers & Kings clothing line — launched in summer 2015 — is losing money, and that he plans to shut it down by the end of the year. Flynn goes as far as to detail some of the numbers behind the scenes, and yeah, they’re pretty bad. Here’s an excerpt:
This is the part where I’m supposed to be unusually upbeat and say how great were doing, and how excited I am about everything related to K&K, but I’ll spare you all that because… well shit… it just ain’t true!
The new summer line has been a dud, and when I say dud, I mean D-U-D!!
It should actually be spelled DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD!!! Because it BOMBED! HARD!
If this were the old Ice Cube movie “Friday’s”, this would be the scene where Smokey looks at me as I slowly peel my eyes open and screams, “YOU GOT KNOCKED THA FUCK OUT!!”
I’m literally selling like 1 shirt a day, and that’s only if I’m spending $30 dollars a day on Facebook to promote, because Facebook filters all business accounts so heavily that if I don’t pay, my posts only reach 50 out of the 2,700 followers. AGH!!
So basically it’s costing me $2 bucks a day to sell a shirt. OY VEY!!
I’ve sold 10 girls shirts since this season’s May 17th release, 103 t-shirts, and 16 shorts.
I have yet to make my initial investment back for this new line, and at the rate I’m going, it ain’t happening for a while. I’ve also got another 15K in start-up fees from my initial launch (which snow-balled wildly) that I still owe to people, so as you can see, it was fun, and it was cool, but I can’t sustain this.
I’m not exactly sure why the new line didn’t do well, though I have vowed never to release anything on Friday The 13th ever again!!!! Fuck me, if that ain’t a jinxed day!!
Selling apparel is a tough business. I’m not sure all the reasons why Killers & Kings didn’t succeed, but at first glance the prices seem high to me; $28 is very expensive for a t-shirt, compared to most of the shirts for the hundreds of metal bands at IndieMerchStore.com, where prices average between $15 and $20. And $60 is absolutely BONKERS for a hoodie, no one is going to pay that, should be half the price. If Flynn’s costs of printing are forcing his prices to be that high, I’d suggest he look for another printer, or consider downgrading the t-shirt brand and/or quality (the aforementioned $15 shirts on IndieMerchStore.com are usually Gildan or Hanes — totally fine). Further, creating his own webstore might not have been the best move; better to sell amongst his peers such as Indie Merch, MerchNow, Merch Connect, etc, to capitalize on casual shoppers passing through.
In any case, Flynn says he’s got two designs that’ve already been printed and will be posted in the store soon, after which he’ll be closing down the operation, likely sometime in the fall. No one can fault the guy for trying a new business venture, and I certainly offer all the praise for how open and honest he’s been here about the struggles he’s faced with it. Sorry it didn’t work out, dude!
Check out the Killers & Kings store, too — there’s actually some really cool shit in there.