While I understand the idea behind price matching, $40 for a simple t-shirt is just silly. At what point do bands go from ‘anything to make it and get the word out’ to we think ‘$40 for a t-shirt is a fair price for our fans to pay’. I know it as fact that more t-shirts will be sold when they’re $10 – $15. Sure the profit margin is lower, but I’d rather 5 people have my t-shirt than 2. – Anthony Caroto
Recently, 3OH!3’s Nathaniel Motte penned a thoughtful, lengthy blog on his band’s website decrying the practice of “price matching.” The blog was spawned from a specific instance at a holiday radio show in Sacramento, California, where 3OH!3 were required to price their shirts at a equivalent cost to the headliner’s merch—an amount Motte and bandmate Sean Foreman deemed too expensive for their fans. The incident, which Motte describes in detail in his post, is indicative of a larger issue, one that affects bands and music fans across the board. Motte’s post raises a slew of intriguing questions: What is price matching? Why is it done? Who does it benefit and who does it harm? And, most importantly, what is and what should be the purpose of selling merch?
In simple terms, price matching is a practice in which the headlining band on a tour set the merch prices. If that band sell their T-shirts for $40, every other band on the bill must comply with that price. David Galea of The Agency Group, who books Paramore, Dredg, Relient K and Four Year Strong, explains that price matching is just one element the headliner controls in the business of touring. “The headliner dictates everything from production to amount of merch items, to number of comps the support gets, to how long they play,” he says. “It is common practice for support acts to fall in line with what the headliner is dictating on any and all things—from clubs to arenas.”
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Article submitted by Derek Miller