How COVID-19 Is Impacting Music Merchandise Businesses
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the March cancellation of South by Southwest, we understandably were bummed over many elements of the decision, notably its effect on the music merchandise sales that assist the festival portion of the Texas gathering. Now, more than a month-and-a-half since that move, individuals in the music merchandise space have further seen their livelihoods jeopardized because of canceled or postponed tours. That has forced many to rely upon online merch sales to offset lost sales, though that alone may not be enough.
Bands and performers hit the road any time they wish, but spring and summer yield increased enthusiasm and participation among the public. With concerts on hold, then, music merchandise has undergone a vast change with respect to its connection to fans, with a number of musicians engaging in altruistic efforts to help staffers and the general population. But what about companies that depend on tour dates to keep the wolf from the door? How are they faring, and where can they turn for help during the crisis?
— Meg & Dia (@megdia) April 21, 2020
In an in-depth look at the situation, Rolling Stone made plain that there are degrees of comfort and confusion among music merchandise movers, and one could argue that the blend of feelings dovetails with the positive-one-day, fearful-the-next mindset that the news cycle has bred in many of us as of late. Much like retail locations that also cannot conduct in-person transactions, entrepreneurs are going the e-commerce route, but, with all due respect to their efforts, it would seem a pretty daunting task to think they could come anywhere close to making as much money online as they do at shows. Still, as the pandemic that has so far left 30 million Americans unemployed has reminded us, people will fight hard to stay afloat, and, as everyone knows, having a penny to one’s name is a better fate than envying someone else’s.
Because of that (and since fans might grow increasingly restless as their spring and summer music plans end up dashed or pushed to the fall), such e-commerce-centric sales could come to take off. As a source from Rolling Stone notes, however, music merchandise entities need the touring business to remain viable, and we would add that the promo and apparel worlds need its return, too. We have an abundance of haves in the music world and far more want-to-haves who do whatever they can to bolster their presence in the field. Minus merch, everyone will take a hit, and while any losses that the bigwigs incur are certainly sad, those that fledgling artists and sellers are dealing with are far more worrisome. As with everything else that COVID-19 has brought about, we will have to wait and see while fostering a hopeful attitude that, to borrow a music term, we will have a rousing encore.