In 2016, global sales of music merchandise reached $3.1 billion, representing a 9.4% increase on the year before, according to the international Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association’s (LIMA) annual survey.
“Music is part of the culture and people shopping for [music merchandise] are not limited to the music fans per se,” Marty Brochstein, senior vice-president, LIMA, said. “Brick and mortar is taking the category much more seriously.”
In other words, the sale of t-shirts and posters at gigs is now just one part of the picture. Artists are also moving into established retail spaces. For example, in March this year, Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber ran pop-up shops in Sneakerboy stores in both Sydney and Melbourne during his Purpose tour.
In February, French electronic music duo Daft Punk held a pop-up in Los Angeles, where t-shirts sold for $US120 and neon signs bearing the act’s logo for $US12,000-30,000.
In addition, merchandise has diversified. Several Australian bands have teamed up with independent breweries to produce signature craft beers. For example, Brisbane-based alternative rock group Violent Soho worked with Stone and Wood Brewing Company, Byron Bay, to create “East Coast Crusher”, an experimental, limited edition beer that was launched at a series of parties in September 2016. Dune Rats, also from Brisbane, followed suit in February 2017, when they worked with Young Henry’s, Newtown, to produce “Dunie’s Lager”.
Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Nick Cave released an official skateboard in 2015, Canberra-based electronic music duo Peking Duk added a festival-friendly bum bag to the merch catalogue in 2014 and Australian alt-country quartet All Our Exes Live in Texas announced a set of teaspoons bearing their photographs last year.
However, music merchandise hasn’t always been so popular. “In the ’70s, it was not cool selling merchandise, so we had to be careful. Groups would say, ‘OK, you can sell, but don’t embarrass us. Stand in a corner,’” Dell Furano, who, in 1974, co-founded Winterland Productions, a groundbreaking music merchandising company, told Billboard last month.