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Releasing new merch at every opportunity isn't necessary — especially when existing ones are a mess

Asst. C&C Editor Stella Powers has had several bad experiences when it comes to buying merch from her favorite artists – this is her copy of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” with a misplaced sticker.
Asst. C&C Editor Stella Powers has had several bad experiences when it comes to buying merch from her favorite artists – this is her copy of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” with a misplaced sticker.

When it comes to music, I tend to be a bit of a fangirl. Every time an artist I like releases a new shirt or variant of a record, I immediately purchase it without a second thought — watching the number in my bank account dwindle with every new merch line.

With the upcoming release of Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department,” two variants of the album have already been put out, each with its own unique bonus track. These are advertised as limited edition, so naturally I’ve already ordered both. Swift is a marketing genius.

Olivia Rodrigo took a similar approach with the release of her album “Guts.” The four standard variants of the vinyl each had an exclusive track, none of which are currently available on streaming. She then released a “Record Store Day” exclusive vinyl with the four bonus songs on it, but it was extremely limited and hard to get.

These limited variants are cool, but they’re incredibly annoying and a waste of money.

Similar to these exclusive pressings, artists also frequently release new clothing items and accessories — almost too often, especially when the existing merch lines are a complete disaster.

When Rodrigo first dropped her debut album “Sour,” she released a large, unique and fun merch line. However, when fans began receiving the merch (which took forever to arrive), the quality was terrible. Shirts came missing track names, colors were off and bucket hats arrived far too small for most fans to wear.

Her team later sent out refunds for items like the bucket hat, but these are issues that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

When Swift released “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” I ordered the violet variant of the record. This was a limited release, and I was excited to receive it. However, not only did it get stuck in Michigan for weeks prior to arrival, it also came damaged. The sticker was misplaced on one of the sides, covering the grooves of the vinyl and making it impossible to play.

I reached out to Swift’s team, but they couldn’t replace the product due to a lack of stock. I was told that I could either get a refund or replace it with an item of equal or lesser value, and despite my frustration regarding not receiving my item, I took the refund.

Not only have I had a significant amount of items come damaged, I have also had items not arrive at all.

In July 2023, I ordered a baby tee from Sabrina Carpenter’s website. I don’t own much of her merch, so I was excited to see a shirt that I liked. But it never came.

The email arguments with her team were extensive. After a month of no shirt, I sent a follow up email. I was met with the team saying it was working on it. Another month passed. And another. And another. I sent more emails, being met with similar responses to the first one.

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After a few months passed, I emailed the team asking for a refund. Finally, in February, I received a notification that my refund had been processed. It took six months to get a refund for a shirt that never came.

A similar thing happened with a record I ordered from Rodrigo’s website. She released her single for “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” titled “Can’t Catch Me Now,” as an etched seven-inch vinyl, so naturally, I ordered it.

It never came. Again.

Her team was reasonable when I reached out, immediately giving me a refund, even though it  was unfortunately unable to replace the item due to it being out of stock. Despite my disappointment, Rodrigo’s team was helpful at the least.

Even with all of the errors in quality and shipment, these artists still continue to release new merch lines instead of addressing the existing problems. It’s annoying and a disservice to fans.

As much as I love the new merch, I would rather the artists fix the current problems before they release another new collection.