Freddie goes with merchandising - 'Go Freddie Go' support tour to span four months
Reggae legend Freddie McGregor did his first tour of the United States almost 30 years ago. That first outing was in 1989 with Dennis Brown and Lt Stitchie. With their tour manager being Copeland Forbes, the itinerary covered the four corners of the United States, hitting about 30 cities on both sides of the Mississippi.
As McGregor gets ready to hit the road for another major North American tour, he is looking to maximise tour earnings. One area that has commanded his attention is merchandising, where artistes have direct access to sell products like caps, T-shirts, pens, books, bandanas, posters, and other commemorative items to enthusiastic fans at concert venues.
"Merchandising is an important cash cow in the music industry", McGregor told The Gleaner. "As a group, artistes already get ripped off and exploited in so many ways as monies they have earned end up in other people's pocket. Merchandising is a revenue stream that all artistes can develop with little interference from outside pirates, so artistes must stop throwing away merchandising dollars in the garbage,"
McGregor admits that although he has been selling merchandise for years, he didn't immediately grasp the full potential of the income it can generate. He started out doing just shirts but later added pens and buttons. "If Kingston-based artistes are doing shows in Montego Bay or Negril, there is an earning potential right there as long as fans are gathered who are prepared to buy products with the likeness or the logo of the artiste branded on those products," he pointed out. To take full advantage of the massive earning potential of his 2018 tour, he has hired a merchandising specialist to create, promote, and sell the products.
IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INCOME
As the purchasing of reggae music has moved away from vinyl and CDs into the digital realm, the role of merchandising has become even more important. "In the absence of the album cover and the CD sleeves that sometimes come with lyrics and liner notes, fans want something that they can physically hold on to, something they can keep and cherish. So merchandising is here to stay, and I would love to see more artistes take advantage of this source of income," McGregor said. He added: "Any artiste who has fans has merchandising income - which is everybody. And remember that merchandising memories don't leave like people do, they always stay with you."
McGregor's upcoming North American tour is scheduled to kick off in late June and will run until September. The tour is to promote his new single Go Freddie Go, which has just been released on the VP Records label. The tour will include stops in Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, New York, Vancouver in Canada, and Hawaii.