Promo Close-Up - Pump Up the Volume

Promo Items Boost Music Sales

DiploThe biggest names in music – from Katy Perry to Kanye West to Elton John – have all been hit by falling album sales in recent years. The reality is this: with the rise of digital downloads and streaming services, selling a physical CD can be challenging even for top artists. So how are promoters enticing fans to buy albums? By providing a gift with purchase, which in many cases is a collectible promotional product.

“A band will bring us a design and we’re able to look at what the art is and come up with something more specific to them,” says Burton Parker, owner of distributor Merchtable, whose main client base is musical performers. “We have some artists that have an iconic character, and we’ll take that and incorporate it onto an item.”

For singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, Merchtable designed lapel pins with a twist. Working off Ritter’s album art, which features a vintage aesthetic, the company created silver and bronze pins with an antique feel. Some of the most popular types of items now being provided by Merchtable are beanies and snapback hats. Just a few other recent products that went over well: customized scarves, bandanas, rolling papers and iPhone stickers.

Last winter, some major music acts started giving out custom greeting cards to those who placed an album order around the holidays. DJ/rapper Diplo offered fans custom T-shirts and pennants for buying his album. Meanwhile, hip-hop group Three Loco incented its audience to purchase music through special stickers and apparel. “Lots of bands give out stickers or buttons for free with the purchase of an album,” says Mandy Kilinskis, content and social team manager for Quality Logo Products, Inc. (QLP) (asi/302967). “That’s a great incentive to have fans purchase higher-ticket items.”

The same holds true for concerts and music festivals – promotional products can help to enhance them and attract more people to the event. “A tour T-shirt or tote bag is a great memento,” says Kilinskis. “For diehard fans, branded merchandise turns into collectibles.”

In fact, Kilinskis believes promotional items like can wraps, sunglasses, water bottles and lighters will continue to be highly sought after by live event marketers. “They’re another way to get attendees involved with the event,” she says. “They can hold up a branded lighter during a power ballad or toss around beach balls.”

Tours can also benefit from memorable promotional freebies. Quality Logo Products got to be part of Rihanna’s 777 Tour – the pop star’s seven-country, seven-day tour in a 777 jet. The 150 journalists and guests on the plane each got a promo bag packed with goodies from Skull Candy headphones to No Label watches to Rihanna’s own Nude perfume. The tote bag itself – which featured the tour’s logo, reading “7 countries 7 days 7 shows” – was designed by QLP. “Representatives from Rihanna’s label contacted a member of our sales team directly,” says Kilinskis. “They chose those bags because of their style and capacity.”

The tour received mixed responses from the journalists onboard, with reporters from Rolling Stone to New York Magazine complaining about lack of access to the singer and flight delays. The bags, however, got only rave reviews, with a number of journalists photographing and publishing QLP’s work.