The Merchandise Era in Music

What’s the issue?

Artist in recent years have had a difficult time on profiting solely on their music sales. “In 2017, artists captured just 12% of music revenue” – Citi Global Perspectives and Solution (GPS) states in a report.

Source: Citi GPS: Global Perspectives and Solutions

Sometimes, we tend to forget that a lot of these people who make music rely on it for income. Whether it’s an up and coming artist, or a well-known artist, they want to want to get paid for what they create.

They also rely on those sales to have their album or song reach that number one spot to increase future sales. With the introduction of streaming services and the decline of consumers buying music, artist have had to find different ways to bring in income, and they heavily rely on merchandise as a way to sell and promote their music.

Being on the Billboard Top 100 is definitely a boost for an artist or bands career, and a break into the mainstream. How does an artist land on the Top 100? There are three factors that determine where an album or song lands on the charts. They look at the sales, Airplay or Radio Play, and Streams.

Are Bundles the way to go?

Artist have started to sell their album in conjunction with merchandise to increase their album sales. There has been controversy between artists such as Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott due to bundling albums and merchandise together.


Travis Scott took the opportunity during a nine-day period that he was unveiling 28 new merch items, which also came with a redeemable copy of his album according to an article by The Fader. Nicki Minaj’s album was set to release the exact same day Scott released his last bundle of merch. She tweeted about the whole thing claiming that Travis’ album was doing so well just because he was including the album with exclusive merch. After this happened it has brought up the question if it is fair for artist to do this?

Merchandise has always been something available for artist to make some extra cash. With Napster, LimeWire, piracy sites and streaming sites coming into play, it affected artist music sales overall. Merchandise started to become a bigger player in increasing album sales.

Selling merchandise has become a way for an artist to create a brand for themselves. People who buy merch are usually buying a T-Shirt, Hats, or something else with a logo of a particular artist or band. It’s typically being looked at by many people and getting exposure in hindsight generating future sales.

Getting creative with Merchandise.

Other artists are definitely following this marketing tactic of selling their albums with exclusive merch as a bundle. Twenty One Pilots, Billie Eilish, and many other artists announced their albums for pre-order with exclusive merch.

Bayonne also has a bundle with his album, t-shirts, and his own hot sauce. Qveen Herby also just announced her EP.5 which she’s promoting it through a make-up pallet released from her Qveen Cosmetics Line.

Having something that pops out and is unique from what the standard is always gains attention.

Some artist have even bundled concert tickets with their albums to get those sales. According to a Billboard article, Nielsen Music calculated that Pink sold 256,000 albums out of 384,000, which were sold with concert tickets. Niall Horan and Harry Styles have also included their albums tied to a purchase of a concert ticket. Yet, bundling tickets could have consequences in the future which would be increasing prices.

The Future of Merchandise

“It’s about creating a community and monetizing this.” – Kevin Brown CEO and Founder of GigRev in Citi GPS Report.

It’s interesting to see how artist are navigating the always evolving music business. Merchandise sales have been so successful in helping artist bring income because they have created a strong community of fans that follow them. They have a following and they can definitely benefit off of that.

Merchandise bundles are definitely a chart and sales booster for artist. Despite the controversy of this merchandise bundles and fears of higher ticket prices, I don’t see this marketing technique dying down anytime soon.

What are your thoughts on artist bundling merchandise with an album/song? Comment down below!


I am a student at UIC studying Communications and Music. Started singing and playing instruments when I was in high school and fell in love. I love going to concerts and talking to people about music.

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One Comment

  1. I find this topic very interesting, I feel that my biggest concern would be on the lesser known artists because I see this as a bigger divide between them and mainstream artist. But, seeing these artists combat that by combining unique things like hot sauce is the thing that I believe is going to keep these bundles fresh and continue to happen.

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