Wilco's $448 Axe, Korn Coffee, and the Changing Landscape of Band Merch
Axes are having a weird moment right now. Yes, of course it's Halloween time, but I'm not talking about spooky axes. I'm talking about your run-of-the-mill, lumberjacky axes. They're design elements in boutique stores selling things I can't afford, gentrifying neighborhoods are suddenly full of axe-throwing venues, and it seems like every groomsman is getting a personalized axe as a gift.
Wilco, keeping the bespoke indie spirit alive, is selling a branded axe on the Best Made Company shop for a whopping $448. So if you feel like being that early 2000s rustic indie royalty that so many Bon Iver fans aspired to be, it's gonna cost you.
— Treble (@treblezine) October 17, 2018
In the true spirit of indie superiority, there are only 15 of the axes in existence, too. So if you do end up getting one, you can bask in that sweet, sweet exclusivity. Wilco is also selling a fancy box set with all of their albums, which comes with a flag and two bandanas. That costs $1,198.
Band merchandise has come a long way since the days of tour T-shirts and posters only. The internet is definitely a factor in that growth, as people can buy artist merchandise just about anywhere (instead of just at concerts), and people want to decorate their homes and dorm rooms to show off their tastes.
Speaking of tastes, bands have been branching out into the food and drink market, too. Namely coffee.
Korn, yes, the dreadlocked nu metal-ers who blast out more gibberish than Dr. Seuss, have released a line of coffee called Korn Koffee with J Gursey Coffee.
We are excited to announce Korn Koffee. Korn has collaborated with @jgurseycoffee to bring you a unique blend of beans worthy of the most die-hard coffee fans. Available Now: https://t.co/E1JQCApXRh pic.twitter.com/OuaLmxDVl0
— Korn (@Korn) September 28, 2018
The bag of coffee is $14.99, but if fans cough up an extra $10, they'll get a KoRn-branded coffee mug for the most extreme mornings.
If you're thinking, "Brendan, Korn coffee sounds very strange, and I don't know how I feel about it," you're not the only one!
Mashable's Adam Rosenberg writes:
I still have fond memories of driving down to New York City from SUNY Albany in 1996 to catch Korn at the Roseland Ballroom (R.I.P.) during the "Life Is Peachy" tour. It was a rough mosh pit that night, so I mostly stuck to the outskirts of the crowd and took in the music.
Those are hazy days in my memories, but I'm completely certain I never once thought, "I hope this amazing band one day goes on to sell me coffee." I'll bet that thought never occurred to anyone at the Roseland that night either.
So, for bands, and people in charge of marketing for bands and artists, the merchandise game has changed. Sure, T-shirts will always sell, and they will always be the cornerstone of the music merch world. But, it pays to branch out. If people will spend almost 500 bucks on an axe with a band's name on it in tiny letters, who knows what else they'll buy?