As music streaming increasingly edges out traditional physical sales, pushing them further and further to the margins, artists are becoming increasingly reliant on merch sales - once a supplementary revenue stream - as a main source of income.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
With streaming music replacing physical media sales more and more, artists are increasingly dependant on merch sales to stay afloat.
It is no secret that streaming royalties pay artists far less than traditional album sales. The top-paying music services give artists about $0.006 per song stream. Spotify, which is the most popular subscription service, pays roughly half that amount.
Last week, UK metalcore group While She Sleeps made headlines around the world by releasing merchandise that explicitly aired their frustrations with streaming royalties. The shirt in question reads, “One t-shirt is the equivalent to 5000 streams on Spotify. 76% of all music in 2019 is streamed and not bought physically or digitally. Band merchandise is the most direct way of supporting an artist.”
While She Sleeps is not wrong. In today’s music business, merchandise sales matter more than ever. An artist who is capable of moving huge volumes of merch can turn industry heads faster than an artist with a viral single because executives know merchandise sales are where the most money is being made in 2019.
But how does an artist sell merchandise? There is more competition than ever for listeners’ attention, which means there is increased competition for their financial support. There are also no shortcuts to selling large amounts of merchandise. That said, there are ways artists can position themselves for success, which is what we’re going to discuss today.
In this episode of Music Biz 101, host James Shotwell details the increasing importance of merchandising in artists’ careers. He also offers advice for creating merch your fans will want to buy, complete with examples from artists with immensely dedicated followers.
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James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.