Music Merchandising: It’s Never Too Early to Start

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Everyone knows that merchandising is vital to the survival of musical artists. Merchandise comes in all shapes and sizes, such as: CDs, posters, T shirts, mugs, cups, school bags, tote bags, toothbrushes and caps. I remember when I received my first Dora The Explorer tote bag; Its lurid pinkness was a statement in itself. Music merchandising extends even further into:  toiletry bags, tooth paste, lunchboxes, lollies, snacks, chips, figurines, stuffed toys, makeup, hair dryers, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, clothing brands, perfume brands and even toy letterboxes.

At the highest level artists such as: Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are not necessarily making their money from the merchandise itself but from the commercial affect of all the publicity generated by the visibility of all that merchandising.  It is all about the marketing for these artists and pop bands. Every time a young person walks down an aisle of a K Mart or Wal-Mart they see images of these popstars on products. This promotes their core business; which is concert and CD sales. According to 2011 figures provided by the Future of Music Organization, music merchandising only accounts for around 6% of a pop band’s income.

Music Merchandising: It’s Never Too Early to Start

It’s stating the obvious that visual merchandising in particular targets a young audience to start with, as children like to develop ownership relationships with their celebrity heroes. Merchandising sales are greater in the holidays, especially during: Christmas, Halloween, and the school holidays. Pester power, when kids relentlessly nag their parents for toys and/or cool gadgets, is a big part of this type of marketing. The branded doll or item of clothing is usually more expensive and a ‘must have’ for the child or teenager.  Youngish pop stars are invariably chaperoned into merchandising their image by managers and publicists. The King and Queen of Pop are always ripe for consumer exploitation. Prince was one of the few superstars to avoid the commercial hoopla accompanying stardom.

Music merchandising runs from the sublime to the ridiculous, with examples such as; metal punk band Gwar’s BQ sauce; the aptly named Metallica ice pack; One Direction tooth brush and toothpaste; The Flaming Lip’s silver fetus Christmas ornament; and Deadmau5 headphones for cats. Music merchandising knows no bounds; and we will be seeing many more bizarre examples cropping up throughout the twenty first century, I am sure. It is no longer just a matter of buying a t shirt with your favorite band’s image on it; marketing and branding will make sure of that.