(Amazon’s publicly-posted anti-counterfeit policy)
If you’ve purchased a band t-shirt on Amazon, there’s a good chance it’s fake. According to research conducted by Andy Young of merch-focused startup Tunipop, more than half of the band t-shirts floating around on Amazon are complete knock-offs. Young surveyed 100 of the top US artists, and discovered the following:
- 51 artists had merchandise available on Amazon.
- Out of those, 47% had products that were only available as counterfeits.
- The other 53% had a mix of authentic and ‘questionable’ items available.
“Frankly, the list of artists doesn’t matter. Just pick one,” Young told Digital Music News. “The problem is almost across the board inside Amazon.”
“So, where is the outrage from the industry? How can artists, suppliers and management be so quiet when millions of dollars are at stake?”
Part of the answer, according to Young, is that most merchandise (including t-shirts) are sold on the road. Young estimates that 80% is sold at venues, in usually controlled environments (ie, at a stand at the gig). The remaining 20% is sold online, so it’s harder to dedicate resources to policing it.
Maybe that makes sense, though it’s similar to what the recording industry thought about MP3s in the 90s. But physical piracy is becoming easier and cheaper, especially with inexpensive raw materials and screening technologies now available. Enter more sophisticated 3D printing and technologies, and this will become a growing headache for bands across all merchandising items.
Wall Street Journal, May 11th: Do You Know What’s Going in Your Amazon Shopping Cart?
Actually, this is already a headache for everyone, not just artists. A number of Amazon sellers and buyers are growing frustrated with fakes, a potential by-product of Amazon’s ‘co-mingling’ shipping system that combines Amazon’s mainline service with third-party suppliers.
But when it comes to bands, the problem could be awareness and policing: either bands don’t know about it, or if they do, they don’t have the resources to do anything about it.