How is the price of tour merch determined?
I guess this is mostly a question for people who have worked on tours or have any knowledge of the touring business in any way, or even people who are in bands who have played shows and sold merch themselves. But any information is appreciated.
This is a question I never thought of too much until recently, and it was triggered again at last night's Black Dahlia Murder show, where all the bands were selling shirts for $15. I think this is only the second show i've been to where shirts were that low (the other, perhaps to no one's surprise, being a Skeletonwitch headliner back in June, who were also on this tour).
In the past I always (perhaps incorrectly) assumed it was a simple as "the bigger the band, the more expensive the shirt/hat/sweater/poster/thong/whatever." And for the most part that was kind of showing to be true, with the big arena bands usually charging something like $40 where the smaller club bands charging $30 at the most in most cases. But lately i've noticed that it's inconsistent, as there are some bands that are bigger than others and charge the same amount or sometimes less than smaller bands. I've also noticed that some bands charge more at certain shows, usually support shows or festivals, then they do on their own headlining runs. e.g. Gojira and Killswitch Engage both charged 35 or 40 shirts at Heavy TO last year but only $25 on their respective headlining club runs later that year. KsE also is charging more on the Lamb of God tour than they did on that run where they played Alive or Just Breathing in its entirety. Shadows Fall charged less on the Hatebreed tour than on that same KsE Alive or Just breathing run, even though they were billed in the same slot and were playing the same sized venues.
So basically, what goes into it? Do bands have to price match against the headlining bands? Do venues/promoters take a cut causing prices to go up when the venues are bigger? Is it really as simple as "bigger the band, higher the cost"? Do bands just say "fuck it, we'll charge this much" with no real thought so long as the make a profit? Combination of some or all of those? none?
Basically a longwinded way to ask a simple question, but yeah, i've always been curious and thought i'd lay out how I got to wondering it.
TL;DR: What factors go into a band's merch prices on tour.
12/27 - Protest the Hero
02/05 - Machine Head