Music has a language of its own, transcending borders and touching souls. However, for emerging artists striving to carve out their niche, music often needs to be supplemented with a well-rounded brand experience. An integral part of this experience is music tour merchandise. From T-shirts embossed with album art to bespoke band-themed accessories, music tour merchandise has been a staple amongst established artists for years. However, for emerging artists, it’s more than just an add-on; it’s a potent tool for branding, income diversification, and fan engagement. This article aims to delve into the importance of music tour merchandise for emerging artists, offering insights, and practical advice.
Understanding Music Tour Merchandise
Music tour merchandise encompasses a variety of items sold by artists as a part of their tours, concerts, or online platforms. Traditionally, merchandise included items such as T-shirts, posters, caps, and pins. Today, however, the spectrum of merchandise has broadened, including anything from vinyl records and cassette tapes to band-themed phone cases and home decor.
The genesis of music tour merchandise dates back to the Beatles’ era when they pioneered the trend of selling custom band merchandise. It acted as an additional income stream for the artists while allowing fans to physically express their love and allegiance. Today, successful artists like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber have harnessed merchandise to extend their brand, creating a unique universe for their fans to inhabit.
For example, the wildly successful hip-hop group BTS has diversified their merchandise to include dolls, video games, and even a line of skincare products. This array of merchandise doesn’t just cater to their fan’s desire for memorabilia; it crafts a complete experience around the BTS brand.
Branding and Identity: The Art of Selling More Than Music
When it comes to merchandise, emerging artists aren’t just selling products; they’re selling a piece of their identity. Each piece of merchandise is an opportunity to express the artist’s brand, story, and values. When fans wear or use an artist’s merchandise, they become walking advertisements for the artist, contributing to a broader visibility and recognition.
From a psychological perspective, fans are drawn to merchandise because it offers them a tangible connection to the artist or the concert experience. Owning and showcasing merchandise can provide fans with a sense of belonging and identity.
Emerging artists have been leveraging this aspect brilliantly. Take, for instance, the case of Billie Eilish, who rose to stardom in the late 2010s. Her unique, oversized clothing line reflects her distinctive style and values, providing a deeper connection between Eilish and her fans. Similarly, the indie band Tame Impala uses their psychedelic-themed merchandise to reinforce their music genre and ethos. These examples highlight how merchandise can serve as a critical tool for emerging artists to communicate their brand identity, ultimately helping them to stand out in a saturated market.
Income Diversification: The Financial Impact of Tour Merchandise
In today’s digital era where streaming platforms dominate the music industry, the revenue from physical album sales has drastically dwindled. This has led artists to seek diversified income streams, and tour merchandise has proven to be a reliable and significant one.
Merchandise sales can represent a substantial portion of an artist’s revenue. A study by Nielsen Music showed that fans in the US alone spent an estimated $2.1 billion on music merchandise in 2018. For emerging artists, these additional funds can make a meaningful difference, supporting everything from touring expenses to production costs.
Consider the case of Chance the Rapper, who remained an independent artist throughout his early career. He notably turned down record deals and instead chose to give away his music for free, earning significant revenue through merchandise sales and concerts. This example underlines the potential of music merchandise as a financial pillar, especially for emerging artists navigating the competitive music industry.
Fan Engagement and Loyalty: Creating a Community
Merchandise isn’t just about making a statement or supplementing income – it also plays a pivotal role in fostering fan engagement and loyalty. When fans purchase merchandise, they are buying into an experience and becoming part of a community. It’s a way for fans to show their support and feel connected to the artist’s journey.
Furthermore, merchandise can often become a conversation starter, allowing fans to connect with others who share their musical tastes. In this way, merchandise acts as a catalyst in fostering a community of dedicated fans.
Emerging artists such as Doja Cat have effectively utilized merchandise to engage with their fans. By introducing limited-edition merchandise with each new album release, they encourage fans to stay updated with their latest works and incentivize engagement, thereby fostering a dedicated fan base.
Best Practices for Designing and Selling Merchandise
A successful merchandise strategy begins with attention to design. Merchandise needs to be both aesthetically pleasing and of high quality, ensuring that fans will want to wear or use the products. It’s crucial to create designs that are unique and reflective of the artist’s brand.
Selecting the right products to sell is equally important. While T-shirts and caps are classic choices, artists shouldn’t shy away from exploring unique options that resonate with their brand, whether that’s vinyl records, eco-friendly products, or even artist-themed video games.
Pricing is another crucial aspect to consider. Emerging artists should aim to price their merchandise affordably to encourage purchases while ensuring they cover costs and make a profit.
Partnerships with reliable manufacturers and vendors are key to ensure that products are produced and shipped efficiently. Artists should also consider both online and offline sales channels. While selling merchandise at concerts is traditional, an online store ensures that fans worldwide can access the merchandise.
Marketing is another critical aspect of a successful merchandise strategy. Artists should leverage their social media platforms to promote their merchandise, showcasing products in creative ways and even involving fans in the process.
Finally, it’s crucial to remember that a good merchandise strategy is always evolving. Artists should continually gather feedback, track sales, and adapt their approach based on what works best for them and their fans.
Future Trends in Music Tour Merchandise
The realm of music tour merchandise is continually evolving, reflecting the changing tastes and values of music fans worldwide. As we look towards the future, several trends are emerging that artists should consider incorporating into their merchandise strategies.
Firstly, there’s an increasing focus on sustainability. As environmental consciousness grows among consumers, demand is rising for merchandise made from eco-friendly materials. Artists like Coldplay and Billie Eilish have already released sustainable merchandise lines, featuring items made from organic and recycled materials. This not only helps reduce the environmental footprint but also aligns the artist with a socially responsible image.
Another trend is the integration of technology into merchandise. QR codes, augmented reality (AR), and NFC chips are being embedded into products, offering fans exclusive content, virtual experiences, or access to online communities. For example, artists like Kid Cudi and J Balvin have released merchandise with AR capabilities, offering fans an interactive and immersive experience.
Additionally, the line between merchandise and mainstream fashion is blurring. More artists are collaborating with fashion designers and brands to create high-quality, stylish merchandise that fans can incorporate into their everyday wardrobes. This trend not only elevates the perception of merchandise but also opens up additional avenues for revenue and exposure.
Some FAQ’s Answered For The Relevant Topic
What are the best types of merchandise for an emerging artist to sell?
While classic options like T-shirts and posters are always popular, the best type of merchandise depends on the artist’s brand and fan base. Unique and relevant merchandise that reflects the artist’s identity can often resonate more with fans.
How should I price my merchandise?
Pricing should be determined based on production costs, market standards, and what your fan base is willing to pay. It’s important to strike a balance between affordability for fans and profitability for the artist.
How can I promote my merchandise?
Artists can leverage their social media platforms, email newsletters, and concerts to showcase their merchandise. Involving fans in the process, such as through contests or user-generated content, can also be effective.
What should I look for in a merchandise manufacturing partner?
Look for a partner that offers high-quality production, reliable shipping, and good customer service. It’s also beneficial to choose a partner that aligns with your values, such as supporting local businesses or prioritizing sustainability.
How can I make my merchandise more unique or special?
Consider incorporating elements of your personal style or music into the design. Limited edition items or merchandise that unlocks exclusive content can also make your products feel more special.
Music tour merchandise is much more than a souvenir or an additional income stream. It serves as an artistic extension of the musician, a tangible connection between fans and artists, and a means to solidify a community around the artist’s journey. From small bands to independent solo artists, well-crafted merchandise can significantly contribute to an artist’s brand, financial health, and fan engagement.
The world of merchandise is evolving rapidly, offering opportunities for creativity, innovation, and growth. By understanding these trends, implementing best practices, and aligning their merchandise strategy with their brand and values, emerging artists can create a unique and memorable experience for their fans. In a world where music is increasingly consumed in digital formats, merchandise offers something refreshingly tangible – a touchpoint that keeps fans engaged and connected even when the music stops playing.
Eric Dalius is The Executive Chairman of MuzicSwipe, a music and content discovery platform designed to maximize artist discovery and optimize fan relationships. Eric is also the host of weekly podcast “FULLSPEED” which is a podcast that features interviews with groundbreaking entrepreneurs from a variety of industries.Eric is also the founder of “Eric Dalius Foundation” where he has created 4 scholarships for US based students. Follow Eric on Twitter,Facebook,LinkedIn,Instagram & also on Entrepreneur.com