Bands used to leverage CDs, cassette tapes, and records to connect with their audience. In 2019, however, we have adapted to consuming music differently using streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and SoundCloud — cutting down the opportunity to tangibility interact with a band or musical artist.
In light of this shift, many music artists are reaching their fans in new ways such as opening pop-up stores and selling branded merchandise. This article will discuss the advantages of both.
How bands are using pop-up stores to engage their fans
Pop-up stores are a short-term retail experience that millennials love. They consist of exciting unknown locations and creative store designs. They create social hype and urgency for fans. Pop-up stores give artists the opportunity to create an experience for their fans — allowing them to step into their creative mind.
Pop-up shops are now replacing the experience of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store because they provide a fully-immersive experience in an exclusive and intimate way.
Offering limited unique promotional products within a pop-up store — that are hand-curated by a musical icon — not only can amplify that pop-up experience and generate the band more revenue but also offer fans promotional products that they will actually want to buy and cherish.
For example, Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” pop-up shop helped promote a new album. The shop didn’t just pop-up in one location, but in 21 different cities, making a staggering $1 million in 21 days. This pop-up shop is an example of success with the tactic from the location choices, launch roll-out, and role and selection of curated branded merchandise.
Why branded merchandise is about more than a quick buck for artists
“It’s about extending an artist’s brand through a global program of different consumer products,” says Max Vlasic CEO of Bravado, a music merchandising company that has worked with artists like Prince and Katy Perry. “It's important to learn from other industries where they have tapped ideas around merchandising being a prominent marketing vehicle and being able to help build your brand.”
We believe the details truly make a design. Tactfully choosing the nuances that go into the final design such as the textures, fabrics, production methods, and colors all represent the ethos of the artist and their brand — sending a specific message to their audience — while allowing them to connect with the brand on a different level.
Examples of how artists and bands are using custom merchandise
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper has won three Grammys, one of which was Best Rap Album for Coloring Book; the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy Award. People were surprised that music that good was free and available all at the click of a button.
After dropping his second mixtape, Chance the Rapper released a branded full fabric hat that fans could purchase. Not only is the hat a nod to the success of his recent album, but he also created a new opportunity for his fans to show their support.
Custom cut-and-sew pieces with unique decorations were designed specifically for Greensky Bluegrass’s 2018 fall tour.
Creative and trendy designs were utilized in order for Greensky Bluegrass to reach a millennial demographic. Playing off the locations of their tour stops, the Michigan-based bluegrass band partnered with us at Anthem Branding to create the custom designs.
Custom pieces from their branded merchandise collection have unique styles, colors, and designs that help them to reach their objective of appealing to a younger crowd.
Branded merchandise creates more opportunity for artists to connect with their fans
Band apparel and merchandise are not new concepts. As we’ve said throughout this piece, they can organically foster an emotional connection with artists and their fans, and is often more impactful than a sponsored Instagram post or a large billboard.
With thoughtful and high-quality merchandise, bands can be everywhere with their fans — even connecting them with another fan on the subway or in a coffee shop.