On March 11, 2020, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the cancellation of NBA games across the league and eventually the suspension of the rest of the season after a brief “bubble experiment” in Walt Disney World. Other professional sports followed suit, with the NHL pausing its season and MLB postponing its regular season. While each organization continued in some format, it wasn’t business as usual. Rather, empty seats were filled with cardboard cutout fans—not exactly the promos distributors were used to selling.
Live music didn’t fare much better. Large festivals like Bonnaroo and, well, basically all concerts were pushed back or completely scrapped. But thanks to widespread vaccine distribution, sports and entertainment are now showing signs of life. My social media feeds are once again filled with friends attending Phillies games with the same vitriol they’ve always had for the Yankees. And speaking of New York, on June 12, stand-up comedian John Mulaney and U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined The Strokes onstage at Irving Plaza for a full fundraising concert in support of mayoral candidate Maya Wiley. All attendees were required to provide a negative coronavirus test to be permitted entry.
Even though the pandemic isn’t over, the long-awaited recovery of lagging verticals is a beautiful thing. It’s also good news for our industry. For many, sales were nonexistent last year. But as our editor-in-chief of custom publishing, Amanda L. Cole, pointed out in her recent coverage of the sports and music entertainment markets, there are increasing opportunities to sell to local youth and amateur sports groups or the coveted pro team client for those ready for the big leagues. In addition, distributors are seeing renewed interest in the usual mix of hats, bags, bracelets and lapel pins among artists who have begun sourcing product for both in-person and web merch collections, Cole reported.
It’s all about knowing where to look. (Here’s a hint … check out Amanda's feature from Print+Promo Marketing’s June issue.) One thing is certain: On Sept. 25, 2022, you will find this editor at the Mann in Philadelphia for New Order’s twice-rescheduled show. Please sell me all the T-shirts!