Sony Music UK has bought its own music products company

Although people often use record sales to measure the success of a band or artist, everyone knows that touring and merchandise sales are what really make the money. It’s such an essential part of the job, and knowing that it’s the most direct way to financially support the artists you love is usually enough to ignore the high prices of T-shirts at gigs.

(As I write this, I’m wearing an overpriced Vampire Weekend shirt that I received last night. The show was awesome, thanks for asking!)

Sony Music UK’s latest financial venture, however, could blur the path between your wallet and your favorite artist’s bank account, after buying merchandising company Kontraband.

According to Billboard, Kontraband will work with Sony’s stable of artists as well as its US subsidiary, The Thread Shop.

“We are constantly looking for ways to diversify our business, and the acquisition of Kontraband allows us to help our artists enhance their brand and provide exciting new business opportunities,” said Nicola Tuer, COO of Sony Music UK and Ireland.

It’s kind of a two-stage acquisition (just kidding in the UK), as last month The Thread Shop acquired music merchandise department The Araca Group, a New York-based theater production company .

The whole operation is part of Sony’s efforts to “significantly [expand] its presence” in the space of musical merchandise.

Music and entertainment products have become really confusing recently. In some ways, these artists are cutting out the middleman by creating ways for fans to purchase merchandise directly, sometimes even without traveling to shows at all. Then you have labels, like Sony, getting into bed with the merchandise companies to make sure that when you support the artist by getting a T-shirt or a hat, you’re actually supporting the label just as much as the artist, if not possibly more.

It’s a smart move by Sony, especially at a time when streaming continues to drive down album sales. Merchandise isn’t going anywhere, and Sony knows it. Now the label can get a bigger slice of the pie.