Unquestionably the last decade has seen a dramatic shift in music consumption. Since the turn of the century, the physicality of music has decayed in the preference of digitals ease and artists have been left treading water, struggling to make ends meet.
Now that the internet has intrinsically changed an individual’s interactions with music there is no need to wait outside the record store door all night simply to get your hands on the latest album from your favourite artists. This ritualistic act has been replaced with a simple click of a button from the safety of bed.
While we all should know by now that Spotify and its competitor’s payment algorithms strangles an artists income, there are little alternatives for popular musical distribution. In 2018 CD sales plummeted by 23% and the vinyl revolutions failed to breach commercial restrictions for most artists, as whilst vinyl sales did grow 66% of such were classic albums over 3 years old (according to BuzzAngle). As physical has fallen, alongside downloads, streaming has flourished. Taking another plunge into the past, previously if someone fell in love with a support act at a gig the only way to guarantee hearing their sweet melodies again would be to buy a physical copy of their music. Yet snap back to today’s reality, and oh there goes gravity, as the comparable artist only receives a dismal $0.00473 per Spotify stream from their new fan.
It is unsurprising therefore that merchandise has too had to expand. T-Shirts are all well and good, but a £25 piece of fast fashion more expensive than the gig itself still largely lacks widescale allure and an ethical label. Six years ago now Lucy Rose started stirring a mug of innovative merchandise and released her own blend of tea. An instant success selling out almost immediately, numerous batches of tea have since been sold within a metal tin branded with Lucy Rose’s third album cover. As a unique reminder of the show, Rose tuned into the climate where fans don’t need to buy an album to enjoy its content.
Recently this has been expanded into the world of coffee, for what does any good indie kid love as much as music? In the words of the banjo-wielding alt-folk duo Stables, “What’s your favourite time of day?” For me, it’s when I can sit down with strong coffee and contemplate life as I wait for my brain kicks into gear. It seems like Stables heard my manifestations, creating three blends of beans to mirror their daily life as touring musicians; named Roast On The Road, The Backstage Belter, and Studi-Oh So Tasty. Balancing their time between picking strings and roasting beans, the coffee is all sustainably made by their own hands in a London micro-roastery. After selling a hundred unit within its first day of sale, Stables’ coffee has already proved itself as an ingenious way to combine their two passions to maintain economic stability outside of the mainstream pop pool of money.
Although there are still problems in relation to the exportation of such merchandise when performing abroad and the immediate start-up costs, this is one step in what I’m sure will be a larger movement on the part of artists to creatively reclaim their income and to continue their career in an industry that is becoming exponentially more economically restrictive.
Header Image Credit: Press