As a source of revenue, and as a way to build up and advertise your brand, music merchandise has always been important to aspiring bands and artists. Music is closely tied-in to an individual’s identity, and hoodies and t-shirts allow your fans to align themselves to part of a greater subculture and identify each other as fans.
Now more than ever, merchandise is an essential way for your band to make money, especially with the age of digital piracy. Music has become, for many independent artists, an automatic loss that’s ‘given away’ to promote gigs, tours, festivals, and yes, merchandise.
How to decide what to sell?
From the classic and universal t-shirt to more imaginative items, merchandise ranges will and should vary between bands and artists. If you’re unsure what your fans would buy, why not:
- Ask them: Social media is a great way to interact with your fan base and add to your following. By asking for their input, you’ll engage with them more and know where to invest. By offering a free piece of merch to a random respondent, you’ll give them an incentive to interact with you.
- Do your research. Have a look at what similar bands and artists are offering for their merchandise. Different music scenes will favour different types of merchandise. For example, metal fans will always buy the classic black t-shirt with provocative designs, whereas dubstep fans tend to look for minimum runs and colour limitations.
Cost is always going to be a factor when deciding what to get made for your merch stall. There are three main factors you’ll need to consider before ordering merchandise:
- The cost of overall production- As well as selling them, you can honestly give away badges as they cost so little to make. On the other hand, if your hoodies don’t sell as well as you thought they would, you can end up seriously out of pocket.
- Minimum runs- There is a minimum quantity for all items that you’re allowed to order. Some types of merch will have a higher minimum order than others.
- Complexity of design- In the example of screen printing (the most common t-shirt technique) you will almost always be charged a set-up cost for each colour in your design. This means if you have a complex design with four colours, you’ll spend a lot more producing t-shirts than you would with a simple one colour print.
If your fans are drawn to your social media pages, you’re missing a golden opportunity if you’re not offering them the chance to buy merchandise. There are various ways you can allow fans to pay for merchandise online, you’ll just have to keep a track of orders and put a band member in charge of packaging and shipping.
Fans of some music genres, particularly metal, rock and EDM love having the opportunity to buy rare and limited pieces of merchandise.