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Great article and I couldn't agree more with Dave Kusek.

Kara Aubrey

Thanks for writing...this is very helpful, encouraging, and exciting info!


Lets hope people recognize this opportunity before 3d printing gains mass appeal.

Suzanne Lainson

Glad to see this topic addressed here. I, too, have written about this in the past.

People act as if music merchandising is separate from similar forms of sales in other industries. There's a ton of experience among direct sales specialists and among those in the collectibles market. The music industry doesn't need to reinvent the wheel. There's a lot that can be learned by researching what others have done selling products direct to fans in other markets.

If, for example, bands want to sell t-shirts, then start studying companies that sell t-shirts. See what they are doing.

If you want to create an online catalog of band-branded products, look at other online catalogs of branded products.

If you want to put out limited edition products, study companies that sell limited edition products and also look at what is being done to market to collectors (e.g., conventions; secondary markets which maintain prices and encourage people to buy what you put out as soon as you put it out).

If you want to improve your merch table, read up on pop-up stores and how to create temporary displays that lure people in.


Suzanne - great comment. There is so much more that can be done with bundling, special offers, physical and digital bundles, custom products, personalized products, limited editions, etc.


Fantastic article. The person following the band in a van full of what hasn't sold yet is no way to run a business. Sadly, each digital innovation in the past hasn't been the most positive for artists. Let's move forward on disrupting the old model to the benefit of the artist.

Jayme Haitsuka

What a great article--well said and I couldn't agree more. When you consider the massive amounts of creativity and innovation that keeps the music industry moving forward and adapting, it does seem strange that merch is still "analog."

It's time for artists to look at merch in a brand new way and offer something MORE than just shirts and hoodies. Instead, artists should offer something that gives fans a chance to get to know them beyond their music. The closer fans feel to their favorite artists, the more dedicated they become.

And yes, it is time to optimize the way things are sold. To echo Kusek, fans should be able to buy show-related gear RIGHT NEXT to ticket links. Additionally, studies have found that fans expect to be notified about upcoming shows...so why not tell them about merch at the same time? Tools to optimize the sales process in this exact way DO exist, it's just up to the artists to adopt them.

The gang here at Bandsintown, a free app that helps artists promote their shows and sell tickets, recently launched a direct-to-fan platform called Specials. It was created to give artists a way to make money while on tour, and while reading this I realized that it addresses many of the points Kusek raised. Good to know we're on the right track!

Creativity and innovation are what makes the music industry so inspiring, and I'm confident artists will apply that same mindset to what they sell and how they sell it.


I found this to be very insightful. Thank you! I’ve also been getting a lot out of drummer Brian Doherty’s website as well. He has some interesting views on music and the music industry at briandoherty.net


This is a great blog, I have been working on some great merch ideas....watch out for us www.sleepingbabys.com.au...thanks for the info, your on the $$

Joshua Lundorff

Thanks for the great article. As you mentioned in the article, one of the problems with the band merch business is the fragmentation of the manufacturers that supply the merch (especially for large bands). Until there is consolidation of who is making the merch, this going to be a hard problem to solve.

We work as wholesale distributors of band merchandise from the larger manufacturers here in the U.S. (Bravado Entertainment, Cinderblock, Liquid Blue, Live Nation Merch, FEA Merch etc). The problem with this model is that, although a few of the big companies will ship orders placed on the band's official webstore (also run by the manufacturer) directly to retail customers, these manufacturers do not want to ship out single-item retail orders. After working with these companies for a number of years, it is obvious to me that they are true wholesale suppliers. They make their money (and the band makes their revenues) on volume. Shipping single orders (compared to wholesale distribution) is much more labor intensive (even for the most technologically advanced warehouse) than shipping wholesale. In addition, more technology is needed for this type of business (real time inventory, real time catalog info, payment api???). Lastly, these larger manufacturers are notoriously bad at retail customer service. Read some online reviews about customers experiences buying from official band web stores run by the large manufacturers and this becomes painfully obvious.

In addition to our wholesale and retail sales, my company works as a "dropshipper" of licensed band merchandise. We consolidate wholesale quantities of licensed band merchandise in our warehouse and ship single items directly to the retail clients of bands that are using certain software companies to build their band stores. Using the example of Pink Floyd. If they were a client, they have merch manufactured by multiple manufacturers. We consolidate that merchandise so they can offer it all on their webstore (not run by a major manufacturer). We also dropship for direct online retail companies featuring band merchandise "superstores". It seems to me that this is the closest we will be to "consolidation" of the merch industry. Just my 2 cents...

Josh Lundorff - President - Rockline Enterprises LLC

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