It’s been said that some acts make more from their merchandise than they do from selling tickets to the show. I have no statistics to wave at you on this front but given the price of CDs, t-shirts and hoodies at a show, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to assume that the merchandise table can contribute a respectable boost to the tour profits (or in, the case of smaller acts, the hope of breaking even).
Whilst we pace the living room, burning through our vinyl/tapes/CDs/Spotify playlists/favourite radio stations, waiting for gigs to come back (and all really is forgiven, so please do), have you taken a moment to ponder if your life has been enhanced or further eroded by the lack of face-to-face band merchandise retailing opportunities?
The inevitable natural high of an incredible show is powerful enough, but it often stands, rather delightedly, on the shoulders of a few speedily consumed pints, and that is a heady combination if you have a bank card or some cash* on you.
The merchandise table is always near to the door and it’s no coincidence. On the way into the gig you glance over and think, ‘hmm, interesting, but do I really need underpants with this band’s bass player’s face in glitter on the front?’. By the end of the gig you might have one in each size – whichever ones don’t fit now seem like sterling ideas for Christmas presents for all the family. That’s a bit extreme. But post-show brain filter is markedly different from pre-show brain filter.
Is your wardrobe breathing a sigh of relief? Or are you itching to be falling out of a venue on a chorus/beer high, clutching your latest band-branded item? Either way, a sober trip to your favourite band’s online store might bridge the gap and, crucially, support them in these challenging times.
*Cash: the bits of paper and metal we used to use for exchange purposes in society, also known as the Local Currency. Phased out when the virus hit and we needed to wave bits of sanitised plastic at machines at arms length whilst holding our breath. Under a mask and wearing gloves and behind a plastic wall and at least 1.5 metres from anything else alive. Even cacti. Just in case.
Photograph: A fairly grandiose version of the merchandise stall, from a festival in Hyde Park, London, in 2018. © Imelda Michalczyk