Still from Run DMC's "Walk This Way" video showing their Adidas.

Listen to What You Wear

“We make a mean team, my Adidas and me”—Darryl McDaniels, Joseph Simmons, Rick Rubin

One of the things that got a big buying boost during the lock-down portion of the pandemic was all manner of leisure wear, including the sort of things that were on offer by companies including Adidas. This was a function of people looking for casual comfort, but rather than picking up something from the Scoop or Free Assembly brands from their local Walmart, which would allow them to “Save Money. Live Better,” there was a propensity, in many instances, to opt for something from the Adidas offerings from Yeezy or IVY PARK.

The former, of course, was the line that Adidas created in collaboration with the performer known as Ye. Adidas ended that relationship last October after he made several anti-Semitic remarks. At the time, the athletic apparel brand released an announcement that said, in part, “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.” Two years earlier, his then-wife had come out to defend her then-husband’s bizarre rants, noting that he, according to her, suffers from bipolar disorder. But Adidas was making some serious returns on its investment with the man whose music has gone Platinum and with whom it had been working since November 2013, so until last fall the status remained quo.

How significant is the split for the Adidas?

Last week the German company announced that it is likely to lose some $1.3-billion in revenues and $533-million in operating product.

Apparently Adidas was bringing in some 10% of its total annual revenues—some $2-billion—in selling Yeezy stuff.

My Adidas, indeed.

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Presently there are millions people who are experiencing some serious consternation as they hope to be given the opportunity to buy tickets for the Beyonce Renaissance Tour. Ticketmaster had thought that demand for Taylor Swift tickets was big. Bey’s demand is much bigger.

Meanwhile, over in Herzogenaurach, Germany, there are millions of another nature being counted.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the IVY PARK brand, a collaboration between Beyonce and, yes, Adidas, had sales of $93-million in 2021 and it had been thought that by the company that for 2022 the sales would reach $250 million.

The number came in at $40 million.

It had been thought it would be $335-million in 2023, which has been adjusted to $65-million. After the $210-million miss, that’s not surprising.

On the one hand, Beyonce’s massive tour this year should help drive up interest in all things associated with her personal brand. On the other hand, those who are shelling out big money to secure tickets are probably in a place where their credit card makes a screeching noise every time they now insert it in the reader at a register.

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Merchandise of all types have long been associated with musicians, from lunchboxes to posters, from T-shirts to teapots. (There is a rather charming Sgt. Peppers teapot on what is claimed to the “The Beatles Official Store,” something that no one can think was ever deployed by a member of the band, yet which evidently carries with it some sort of aura associated with the music and the men behind it thereby making it more valuable than a plain pot.)

People want to be associated with the people who create the music they love, and so there are mechanisms that have been created to fulfill those desires.

In a story from last fall that appears on American Songwriter, the writer Jacob Uitti asks a rhetorical question then provides an answer:

“So, how do most bands make money?

“Two ways, really: live performance and merchandise sales (read: t-shirts, buttons, hats, and the like).”

He goes on to note that venues are often taking 20% of those sales.

The argument that is made by the venues for taking what they maintain is their cut is that they are providing the stage and the stage allows the setting up of that table in the lobby, so without the former there is no latter.

Uitti quotes a tweet from musician Julia Shapiro: “if the venue is taking merch cuts, bands should be able to take cuts from the bar.”

Turnabout may be fair play, but it is unlikely that those who play the music people are there to hear are likely to get their fair share of the take at the bar.

According to Zip Recruiter, “As of Feb 4, 2023, the average annual pay for a Touring Musician in the United States is $49,110.”

To put that into perspective, the same source has it: “As of Feb 4, 2023, the average annual pay for a Walmart Employee in the United States is $51,563 a year.”

I look at those numbers and then the figures related to Adidas and musicians.

And I think that there is something desperately wrong here.

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