Popstar merchandise: a rip-off or worth every penny? MP! Investigates

From signed canvases, to glow in the dark wristbands, via flashing Katy Perry head bands – the range of items that pop stars are desperate to stick their names on is greater than ever. For many MP!ers, owning pop star merchandise is almost as important as downloading the music, seeing the live show and planting a big wet one on Siva’s cheek. But are the scary men at the record labels exploiting your desire to be a band’s biggest and most dedicated fan by ripping you off?

Here at MP! we decided it was time to investigate – what are the best deals, how can you get the best bargains and is pop merchandise really overpriced? The answers to all these questions and more are below…


Pop merch is ridiculously overpriced – there’s just no way of getting around it. You spend all weekend washing your dad’s car to earn those extra pennies, and the big men in charge of acts like Olly Murs and The Saturdays can’t wait to prise it from your grubby little mits. From grossly overpricing items that cost little to make, to catching you out with extreme postage costs, these guys will try every trick in the book until you’ve been forced to empty the contents of your piggy banks.


The Saturdays – Shelling out £45 for an official hoodie from the 5 piece? Well did you know it only costs them £11.80 to make each one? That means that even without adding postage, they’re already charging you about three times more! Shameful.

Olly Murs – Those glow in the dark wristbands look snazzy, right? You’d better sit down for this one – it’s usually about 37p per band for a run of 500, but order one of Olly Murs’ official bands and you’ll be paying £2.99, PLUS £1.50 for shipping, adding up to a grand total of £4.49.

The Wanted – They might seem unobtainable, but the official printed canvases are actually realistic in price. Most places will charge you between £40 – £50 to print your own 20 x 16 canvas, with £20 for postage. However, if you order one of the *signed* canvases, the price suddenly shoots up to £100! Seems odd to us that fans who are already handing over their life savings should have to raise an extra £50 just to get an intern the boys to scrawl their names on the picture.


1Twenty Twenty’s merch is very reasonably priced. Our favourite deal? £1.00 for three stickers. Bargain.

2Katy Perry’s official store is overflowing with unique items that are worth the extra pennies (like LED headbands and candy purses), rather than cheap merch with logos simply printed on. Did we mention there’s currently 50% off t-shirts and hoodies as part of a Valentine’s Day offer? Sweet!

3We expected to find all kinds of outrageous and innovative merchandise in the official Lady Gaga online store, but in fact the most adventurous item is probably this pair of sunglasses for a respectable £24.99. The downsides? They’re probably very cheap, they only come in one unidentifiable size and they’re pretty ugly.

The worst merch stores are the ones that don’t let you get a good look at the item before you buy. For example, an official, “one size fits all” JLS dog tag will set you back a tenner, but apparently they’re so good they can’t be seen by human eyes and you’ll have to judge them using a computer generated image instead – don’t all enter your card details at once.

5Some acts know that their prices might be a little on the steep side, so offer other products as an extra incentive. Right now, if you spend over £35 on The Wanted’s merch, they’ll chuck in a free calendar. Sounds good – until you realise that ordering only ONE hoodie would almost instantly put you over that price range.


We asked three pop fans whether they felt they’re getting ripped off or if their Zayn Malik doll is worth every penny. Here’s what they had to say:

Alice Conroy: “I think that it’s worst when you go to concerts. Like, on the X Factor tour, they were charging crazy prices for t-shirts and hoodies. When I went to see One Direction in Glasgow, they wanted £40 for a hoodie. And I couldn’t afford that so I bought a wristband for £5 which I was willing to pay. I think if you love an artist, you’re often inclined to pay a little bit more but you can’t always afford it. I’ll get my Mrs Niall Horan hoodie one day…”

Rachel Parker-Turner: “Twenty Twenty merchandise is really cheap, I got myself a t-shirt for £10 and a baller/wristband for £3 at a Big Time Rush gig. The Wanted had a fab letterman jacket at the tour but it was like £50/£60! Completely mental. Band merch is far too expensive and the quality of the materials is totally not worth the cost at all.”

Valerie Van Avermaet: “Merch is definitely too expensive! I usually just get a programme and then some small things like a keychain, poster or photoset or something, because they’re ‘cheap’. It’s nice if you can pick up some nice merch but IMO the most important thing is the show, and programmes are always a nice memory too I think.”

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Written by Maximum Pop!

No dull pop stars allowed.

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