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GOJIRA Fans Complaining About Merch Prices Are Misinformed And It's Something We Should Discuss

There's a lot going on in the industry that isn't helping.

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As you may know, Gojira have recently found themselves in the hot seat when a bitter UK concert attendee took a photo of their merch list, and blasted the band over the prices. Since then, many metalheads followed suit, voicing their opinions on the matter and dragging the band down with words like "disgusting," "greedy," and "pompous." But here's the thing – I feel these folks are not only misinformed, but reckless to drag a band's good name down for something that's only a portion of a much bigger conversation we should be having. 

I love Gojira and have been watching them live on every tour since they first set foot in the US back in 2006. So in an effort to be an understanding fan, I'll do my best to explain my position by breaking this down. This is of course my opinion, based on my years of experience in this industry, but take it as you will. 

The Band Members Aren't Responsible For The Pricing

In what world do you actually believe Joe Duplantier is sitting backstage wondering what he feels like charging you each night? Every experience I've ever had with the man would lead me to believe he'd prefer to give it to his fans for free if it was a viable way of sustaining The Gojira Company. Which probably employs close to a hundred people on any given night, by the way. The truth is, there are a dozen variables and agencies that go into determining pricing based on costs, including labels, management, venues, crew,, promoters, production, and so much more. I assure you the band members are not to blame, and using their band name as an umbrella term for your ailment is a bogus thing to do. 

Merch Cuts Are Still A Thing, And Higher Than Ever

If you're not aware, venues are infamous for taking merch cuts from every band that performs on their stage. I'm not entirely sure when this precedence took place, but it's ongoing and remains a constant complaint among touring bands. If a band is lucky, they will lose only 20% of their merch sales going toward the venue, but this year we are seeing more bands complain about the hike in cuts – some going as extreme as 47%. This naturally has a severe impact on the bands (in the brand/company sense) and they have no choice but to raise their merch prices to offset the costs of shipping, printing, the venue fees, and shirt manufacturing. Let's not forget that merch sales are effectively the only way for bands to break even these days. 

Inflation Is World Wide And Everyone Is Still Taking A Cut

You already know this, and we all feel it. Although your paycheck may remain the same post-quarantine, the prices on nearly everything from housing, flights and cars to simple manufactured goods have gone up. This includes nearly everything a touring band requires to stay on the road including fuel, and a world wide tour bus shortage that has caused prices to soar beyond means. It's the new reason many tours are forced into cancellation, and something not enough people are discussing a solution for. Bands who are lucky enough to find a bus, are paying premium prices these days just to make it to work. Imagine your commute to work suddenly went up 500%, that would change things a bit for you, I'm sure. 

Gojira's Merch Prices Aren't That Bad

I know it's taboo for a metal head to venture outside of the genre. I personally don't do it much myself, but I am all about life experiences. I've personally been to a good chunk of non-metal shows because I like to dip in and see how things work in the world, even if I don't like them or understand them. That said, I could tell you first hand £40 for a shirt from one of your favorite metal bands is not "disgustingly expensive" but an actual bargain when you compare it to the bigger artists of other genres. I have even witnessed rock bands charge twice as much at venues like MSG, pre-pandemic. Food for thought. 

Gojira Prints On Organic Eco-Friendly Shirts

In case you haven't noticed, Gojira are men of action, especially when it comes to the environment. Joe Duplantier is a proud vegan, animal rights activist, an Amazonia conservationist, among many other acts of altruism he's displayed over the years. Naturally, this has found  its way to the quality of merch they supply to their fanbase. The band has been known to print on Organic Eco-friendly shirts that are better for your health, the environment, biodiversity, and water conservation. Naturally, this premium quality comes at a price that is much higher than your standard T shirt. In fact, GOTS-certified organic cotton products are generally 20-30% more expensive than conventional cotton which affects what brands are able to sell their merchandise for. 

Conclusion

Simply put, bands are currently faced with the biggest challenges we've seen in touring history. If artists aren't able to support their team or even themselves, they may be forced to stop. Then we all suffer. I'm not saying everyone must buy merch, but it certainly helps the artists stay on the road during the most trying times of their career. 

At the very least, no one should be shaming a band for their merch prices, but instead applaud their resilience to continue. After all, if you can't afford it, that's completely understandable. But don't blame the band for doing what they need to do in order to perform for you. 

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