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Merch Tips For Musicians

  • 14 November 2014, Friday
Different Colored T-shirts

It can take a while for an artist to start making merchandise to sell at shows. Many people focus more on the music at the beginning, when it seems like a challenge to even get a show! Merchandise was always associated with massive bands playing in big arenas, but the digital age has changed many things for musicians. Revenue sources have diversified greatly, and merchandise is now very useful to bands from the early days onwards. It is not only an extra source of income, it also helps you to professionalise your act, gather fan support and engagement in real terms, and generate superfans later on.

  1. Make merchandise. Don’t wait for a label or a manager. You can actually make merchandise at very low costs. The internet has become extremely useful for this sort of project. There are on demand printing services like spreadshirt and invent clothing which mean that you don’t even have to invest in printing out loads of shirts that might not sell any more. You can also test out different designs very easily, and see which ones are most popular with your fans. Better still, you can use merch to engage people as part of your social media activity, by asking fans what they think of the different designs and having a Facebook vote, for example. Your early fans will be proud to own the first limited editions of your merchandise, and it will help you make some more money to invest in future plans.
  2. Get involved in the design. Musicians these days have a lot on their plate, and you can’t necessarily do everything that is involved in the business. However, having a sense of aesthetics and visual design is important. Don’t go for something safe or boring. Make sure you think carefully about fonts (yes, I bet you never thought about them before) and images that really fit your band. If you’re designing t-shirts for example, there are images that might look good in your head but not actually printed on a t-shirt. Try to imagine the merch as an object that you would like to wear too. If it wouldn’t suit a t shirt, try using different images for different products. Which leads to…
  3. Offer your fans a variety of products. You can buy and sell basically anything online these days, so take advantage of this. Stickers have become very popular ways for bands to promote themselves. These look good stuck in the toilets of cool venues, on lamp posts, or on your fans possessions. They also work as free advertising! Tote bags and posters are also popular forms, but you can make anything really! Many bands collaborate with artists, using techniques like screen printing or more personalised designs to help ensure that their merch is really worth something, and special.  Exclusivity helps to make your merch valuable and desirable. It’s part of your history and archive, so don’t feel that you have to make too many copies of everything. A few well-selected and varied products help cultivate your band’s personality as well as earning you extra money.

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