In recent years, artists have broken the mold of the traditional process in album sales. Extensive advertising, surprise releases, and many other promotional campaigns have all been in rotation since the rise of rap music. Of all these campaigns, however, one most certainly has been far more effective than the rest: Album/Merchandise Bundling.
The bundling of merchandise with a new album has become increasingly prominent in the mainstream music culture, as big-name artists hop on the trend for a variety of reasons. These reasons include boosting album sales, simple publicity/name-awareness, and even filling the income gap that’s a result of the modern method of streaming.
It’s a well-known fact that artists themselves earn significantly less from a stream of their music compared to when their album is purchased in its entirety, whether it be a physical or digital copy. When a fan purchases the advertised “bundle” of merchandise and the album, the artist sees more money coming towards them over a check from any streaming service.
Last year, DJ Khaled took issue with Billboard’s policy on bundling, as his latest album, Father of Asahd, came up No.2 to Tyler, The Creator’s IGOR. Khaled bundled his album with a new energy drink, while Tyler, The Creator advertised bundles with CD, vinyl, and limited edition vinyl copies with “IGOR” posters and stickers. Billboard claimed that Khaled’s bundle didn’t sell a piece of merchandise that advertised the album, whereas Tyler’s did. After these recent debates regarding what should count for a bundle, Billboard updated its rules on bundling.
After updating their policy, it states that artists must now include a piece of merchandise that directly relates to the artist or their album and must be priced at least $3.49 greater than the piece of the merchandise alone, as they designate that the album is worth $3.49 in the bundle. It’s an extremely efficient process, as custom t-shirts and sweatshirts cost a mere $3-$10 each when ordered in bulk. These bundles can be sold anywhere between $15-$40. If done correctly, there’s a gold mine worth of money that can be made.
Yet another positive aspect to implementing bundles is the extra included, both of the new album as well as within the artist’s fan community. If the album is combined with a piece of clothing such as a t-shirt or hoodie, it allows the fan to advertise on the artist’s behalf in public. When they show the artist off, others are bound to ask who they are or what music would be recommended from them, therefore putting on a new fan to support the artist.
While it may not make the artist insanely rich quickly, combining merchandise can be great for extra publicity. Bundling should be done with great care, as the album must be bundled with merchandise the fan would be interested in purchasing that’s also in their price range. It’s just another way that artists can promote themselves to the public, as well as earn a profit, as they rise to fame.