The pandemic may have put live shows on hold for podcasters, but many are finding other ways to monetize their shows beyond advertising. A growing number are selling podcast-themed merchandise – items that radio stations have long given away as free promotional swag. The Wall Street Journal says some shows are piling on the revenue by selling t-shirts for $30, hoodies for $60, earrings for $18 and soap for $10.
Stitcher Head of Merchandising Marisa Morales told the Journal that they expect sales of show-related items to double once again this year. Stitcher has even created the dedicated Podswag website to act as a one-stop shopping site for all the branded merchandise its podcasts are offering listeners. It includes apparel, drinkware, books, and even stickers and posters. Morales said the passion that listeners have for podcasts means that The Office Ladies podcast can sell hundreds of coffee mugs in just a few hours.
Some podcasts are also releasing co-branded merchandise. The Journal says the fashion series Throwing Fits partnered with the Italian shoe brand Diemme to sell $300 co-branded suede boots and the American brand Blackstock & Weber to pitch $295 loafers. Each design reportedly sold hundreds of pairs. And the podcast How Long Gone has teamed up with the coffee manufacturer Tinker to release a canned cold-brew coffee called Mudd.
The love affair with podcast swag is also leading some companies to make multimillion dollar investments. LiveXLive, the parent of PodcastOne, struck a $6 million all-stock deal to buy Custom Personalization Solutions in October.
Robert Ellin, CEO and Chairman of LiveXLive, said the deal was attractive since the global licensed merchandise market is expected to reach $400 billion by 2023. "By integrating social commerce into our live and original content, we intend to fulfill superfans’ dreams with personalized merchandise from their favorite artists and shows, directly to the consumer,” he said.