Promo History Lesson: A Look Back at the Most Important Moments in Music Merchandise
Were you planning on a history lesson today? Doesn't matter. You're getting one. It's time for another iteration of our irregular Promo History Lesson series!
We're piggybacking off some stellar work that High Snobiety did by laying out an exhaustive timeline of important music merchandise over the years. The whole thing is a great read, but we're going to pick out a few of our favorite events and add some context for our promo people.
1956: Elvis sells more than $20 million in merchandise
At this point in time, no one was more popular than Elvis. That was proven when the Wall Street Journal reported that he grossed $22 million in merchandise sales. It was enough to send shockwaves throughout the manufacturing, wholesale and retail markets in the U.S. Pretty wild that one guy can spur economic growth, right?
1982: Menudo Starts the Pop-up Shop Trend
You guys remember Menudo? You at least know Ricky Martin, who was part of the Puerto Rican boy band in the '80s. Right before Martin joined the group, New York photographer Bolivar Arrelano opened a Menudo store in Manhattan.
1985: The Licensing Industry Merchandiser's Association is formed
Otherwise known as LIMA, the organization oversees the $80 billion licensing industry, representing more than 1,000 companies. According to Wikipedia, it started with just 12. At that time, High Snobiety reports, North America was responsible for 70 percent of licensing revenue in the world.
1997: The Spice Girls happen
Just like Menudo and Elvis before them, the Spice Girls took the world by storm and sold an absurd amount of merchandise. They were everywhere. If you didn't listen to them, your sister did. In 1997, a year after the release of "Wannabe" (which is stuck in my head now), the group made more than $385 million worldwide.
1999: We got online
Ah, the internet. The connection of wires that allows you to read this article and buy band T-shirts without going to a concert. In 1999, even major legacy acts like Fleetwood Mac, U2, KISS and Madonna saw their merchandise sales increase after getting in on the ground floor of e-commerce.
2016: Kanye claims he sold $1 million in merchandise in a weekend
Just like Menudo before him, Kanye opened a three-day pop-up in New York at the height of his merchandise trend. He claims that he sold $1 million in merchandise, but with all things Kanye, it's probably best to take it with a grain of salt.
2019: Slayer calls it quits with one last sale (I mean tour)
Legendary metal band Slayer is going into retirement after one last tour, but is setting up its retirement fund nicely by selling more than $10 million in merchandise. They're not even done yet! As we reported before, the band is transitioning its brand from an active band to a "legacy" brand, like Nirvana, Grateful Dead and more.