BAND MERCH: Official vs Bootleg

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30 Sep. 2016
North Bay Area, California
Does finding official band merch seem to be getting more difficult? In these times where bands have seen physical album sales plummet, they're relying more on touring and also tour merch to make their cash. Here in the US, it's common for a lot of venues to charge bands an upfront fee to sell merch at their venues. So that shirt that would cost $20 online now just went up to $45 to buy it from the booth at the show.

Another thing popping up more frequently are bootleggers who can produce merch at wholesale, then turn it around and sell it for a huge profit. T-shirts & patches primarily, but also long out of print albums, too. After all, if a band has been broken up for 10-20+ years, the bootlegger has very little fear of getting a "Cease & Desist" order or a Copyright Infringement lawsuit.

I guess the question is, how does a band protect their "brand" without looking like total sell outs? One way would be having the option of buying merch, especially tour merch, directly from the band's website.

Figured this would be a good topic for the board, so anyway... Band merch: official vs bootleg?


(extra points if you post pics of laughably bad quality bootleg merch)


W:O:A Metalhead
12 Aug. 2016
Washington DC, USA
I have been on both sides (as Band member selling merch).. and as consumer buying legit.. and bootleg gear... I have never seen really good bootleg gear.. but just ok stuff... As I get older, I want to support the musicians that are out and about for me to see, so I see it almost as a "duty" to support them more directly by buying their merch (Also in the US, so I know how hard some of the cooler European bands/Anyplace Other than here) have touring and surviving even a small US trip.

Protecting your brand.. that is a really hard one.. I had a fan of my lil band come to a show with a homemade shirt (that honestly.. looked bad ass). I talked to the kid and he just didn't have the money for a $15 shirt (what I was selling for).. but spent that on the ticket for the show(s) we were playing................ That.. is a shit situation.. lol.........

For the vultures just trying to make a buck.. there is not a lot you can do. If you have the legal resources to actually go after these people.. yea.. you might take a pr hit.. but.. that hit will be small compared to all the $$ you might have (that you could go after.. cause that is not cheap)..

On the sly.. (NOT that I would support that).. but.. most bands on travel, if you have a... "friend".. and.. has a more.. ease of morals towards violence and theft........ can always troll the parking lot(s) and "TCB" as they see fit... again.. NOT supporting that.. but ... I have seen it... (They grow some BIG mother fuckers in the Netherlands sometimes!!).. lol

oh.. for me personally.. for the kid from the story above... I traded him 2 of my band shirts, for the intellectual rights to the design he made..... but.. never got around to putting that design in play.. but it made his day.. so.. I still call it a win..

and yea.. to your point on patches.... if a band is gone...... but you wanna show your love on the jacket... what is the right play???