The Extremely Profitable State of Music Merch in 2016

Kanye West is not the only star killing it.

Kanye West sold $780,000 worth of merch during his Saint Pablo tour’s stop at Madison Square Garden on Monday. That’s almost a quarter million more than the $540,000 in sales Pope Francis generated when he held mass at the arena in 2015.

Now take that and consider how Kanye’s latest LP, The Life of Pablo, has yet to go platinum (or even gold)—a feat achieved by every single one of Yeezy’s prior albums. It’s clear that record sales are increasingly irrelevant in the face of merch. These days, fans are buying into the brand more than they’re buying music.

Outside of selling merch at his concerts, Kanye also hosts pop-up stores for Saint Pablo merch. Each pop-up is a major event with long lines, drawing a gathering of hypebeasts and fans eager to get their hands on Ye’s merch.

Pablo merch is lyrics from The Life of Pablo printed in gothic font on Gildan apparel with the prices jacked way up. And Kanye’s fan base can’t get enough.

But Kanye isn’t the only one making a killing off merch sales right now. In 2016, merch is the name of the game. A few more superstars are cashing too.

Beyoncé

Lemonade took the world by storm and the Queen B is capitalizing on the moment to the fullest. Clothing and accessories sold on her website immortalize the most memorable lyrics from the album. Naturally, the BeyHive is swarming.

Drake

OVO is more than just Drizzy’s rap crew. He’s turned the October’s Very Own brand into a merch powerhouse. Whether through OVO’s website or at merch stands on his Summer Sixteen tour, Drake moves serious amounts of product.

Justin Bieber

JB hosted a pop-up shop with VFILES back in May. It was there that he debuted his Purpose Tour merch, many of the pieces designed to look like the merch of a metal band. Beliebers came out in droves to support their idol.

Rihanna

RiRi hasn’t gone as all in on merch as some of her peers, but she still has several pieces available for sale on her website. There’s no doubt that most of her energy goes towards her enormously successful collection with PUMA. However, ANTI merch is a nice alternative considering how quickly her PUMA drops sell out.

We tried on key pieces from Beyoncé’s Ivy Park line when it dropped back in April. Check out our haul video here.