One of the most rewarding moments a musician can experience is the first time they see someone who they don’t know wearing their band t-shirt. Not only does it say that someone is listening to the music, but that they love the music enough to don a shirt with the band’s logo. Every musician wants to get to the point where they know that people are making a connection to the music. Even more, every musician would love to make enough money from their music to support themselves, and selling merchandise is a piece of that. Fans want to support their favorite artists, in whatever form that takes: buying music or merchandise or funding Kickstarter style projects for new albums, videos, and tours.
What Kind of Merchandise Should a Band Have?
There are the merchandise must haves, and then there are more unique ideas. Some essentials for band merch include:
– CDs, Downloads of Digital Tracks and Albums, or USB Drives with the Music
Personalized Stickers
– T-Shirts
– Pins
Those are good places to start, but bands can also look into making mugs, hats, wrist bands or bracelets, toys, and a lot more. Show posters are also great souvenirs to sell and sign. Commissioning a talented designer to create a poster won’t only help promote the show (and support an artist), but also add to the supply of merchandise. Fans also love personalized merchandise based on specific songs and albums. There really is no limit to the kind of merchandise a band can sell, besides their own creativity.
Getting the Merchandise to the Fans
So once a band invests in their merchandise, they need to get their fans to buy it. It’s good to just start out with a few simple pieces of merchandise, CDs and on shirt design for example, before stocking up on merchandise that may or may not sell. There are a few ways to get merchandise into the hands of fans and money into the wallets of the band:
– Selling at Shows
Before and after shows it’s likely that bands will have a merch table set up at the venue. On the table could be shirts and CDs and copies of the show poster. Bands should find volunteers that are familiar with the music to work at the merchandise table, reimbursing them with free admittance to the show and any other perks the band can come up with. After the show, fans love to meet the band and take pictures, and at that time they can get the merch they bought signed by the performers.
– Selling Online
Although selling merchandise at shows is traditional, a lot of bands make the majority of their merchandise profits from selling things online. This includes posting music to sites like Bandcamp where they can control how much each track and album costs. Through these sites they can sell digital tracks and physical CDs (or even vinyl records). It’s also important to think about which songs could be given away as free downloads. With name-your-price options, fans can pay what they want to for the music, so they can get it for free or donate to support the band. At first most people think that everyone would just download the music for free, but they would be surprised how often people pay a little, full price, or even more for music they enjoy. There are also many other services for selling merchandise which can be embedded or linked to the band’s main website.