A Brief Analysis of Merch:
Merchandising can be tricky using an online store. Most of my favorite bands and labels have online merch catalogs through Go Merch, Kings Road, or Big Cartel. These are all great services (and aesthetically pleasing) but they all present 1 major problem for indie artists — they’re too profound. All of these websites split the products into categories like Apparel, CDs, Vinyl, Accessories, or Miscellaneous which can be great if you’re Taylor Swift and you have hundreds of products including sheet music, clothing for men/women/children, towels, blankets, posters, christmas ornaments, hair ties, gift bags and 7 different types of perfume. But if you’re a smaller rock band like Manchester Orchestra, it can look a bit tacky and it makes navigation a bit tricky.
Regardless of my hate for stupid websites, I do like the selection that Manchester Orchestra has to offer. There are only 20 items and most of them are the usual T-shirt, hoodie, cd/vinyl, etc. But they do have really cool box sets with exclusive artwork and fun quirky things like album lyrics printed on newsprint. The vinyl box set for their latest album also includes the acoustic version of the record and the first 100 sold include custom embroidered patches from frontman Andy Hull’s wife. In addition they promise “extra goodies” in random boxes. This type of thing is great for super-fans because it shows that they really run the show instead of letting a third party step in for merchandising. If you follow the band’s Youtube channel you will also find that they have an office in their house/studio/practice space where they store, manage and ship all the items directly.
Manchester Orchestra doesn’t have a gargantuan merch catalog and I would argue that they would be a lot better off with a different website, but every item really feels like it was directly from the band and they catered to what their fans would actually want. Unfortunately I’ve never seen what their merch table looks like at shows but I’d bet it includes the same great options plus a few more exclusive and more personal items.
Check out their merch website here.