The Business of Music: Zayn Malik Reinforces the Power of Tour Merch

Tour merch is not just a concert-specific staple anymore. It is a booming industry in its own right, as indicated by Kanye West’s million dollar tour apparel business, which his pricey and hard to come by garments, and the array of others that have followed, such as Justin Beiber, who tapped Fear of God designer, Jerry Lorenzo, to create his very Vetements-like wares and held a frenzied pop up shop in New York to sell it. Rihanna and Beyonce have also relied heavily on their own merch - with Beyonce suing to protect the exclusivity of hers

As recently noted by BoF columnist Robert Cordero, the merchandise aspect is gaining significant steam in connection with musicians' business models, which are suffering as more people stream (and/or illegally download music) as opposed to buying actual albums: "Amid dwindling album sales, driven by massive technological disruption, and the rising importance of live concerts, tour ‘merch’ (as it’s known in the business) has become a more significant part of the business models, setting off a race amongst top acts like Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Rihanna to elevate their offering."

The latest development in this industry trend comes by way of ex-One Direction member, Zayn Malik. In a testament to the selling power of the tour merchandise and the smart individuals, who are monetizing it more significantly than ever before, Malik, who is not actually on tour at the moment, has released a collection of tour merch. And like any good fashion figure(?), Malik sat down with Vogue to discuss the collection. Absent from the discussion, an excerpt from which is featured below, was, of course, any mention of a tour in connection with Malik’s “Mind of Mine” album, which was expected to be announced in March. This is nothing of not further proof that the merch is an integral part of the experience all on its own.

Of the collection, Malik told Vogue: The resulting 23-piece offering is available starting today on Zaynmalikstore.com and consists of everything from tees printed with Malik’s face to hoodies scrawled with Urdu script—a nod to the singer’s South Asian roots—with prices starting at $30. “My family is from Pakistan, so having artwork in Urdu has huge significance to me,” said Malik, of the shirts that read “Zayn” and “Mind” in the Hindustani language.