Tackling Your Merchandise

As an independent artist, your merchandise is more important than it’s ever been. Not only is it a way to advertise your band, but it can also be a good revenue stream in an age where music piracy is prevalent and often fans can access music for free. Your merchandise can help connect you to your fans and also help fans identify each other.  

When approaching your merchandise, here are some important questions to ask.

What should I consider when creating and branding my merchandise?

What are examples of physical and digital merchandise?

How do I successfully sell my merchandise at a live show and online?

What are companies I can work with to produce and sell my merchandise?

Preparation is key.

                    Branding

A brand is more than a logo. A brand that’s effective will have a strategy behind it and make you stand out. When approaching how you brand your band (and so your merchandise) ask yourself who your fan base is and how you want to be perceived by your fans?

Mix reality with creativity

Investigate the current merchandise market. Research what other bands are successfully selling, be aware of this, but don’t fully conform. Creativity is essential in-order-to stand out.  

 Keep your Merch inventory simple and not overwhelming. Too many options can make purchasing merchandise confusing.   

Personalized and Signed items

Personally crafted one of a kind items and signed items have proven to be very successful. They show the fan that they’re receiving something unique.

Understanding that these items maybe harder to reproduce, they also can be sold at a higher price point to a fan.  You can offer different items for different levels of fans: this could be based on their dedication and interaction.   

For example, you can create something unique for that concert and sell it signed at the end of the night. A set list or a handwritten lyric page are good examples of this.

       Inventory and sales

Make sure you track how much you sell of each item. This way you’ll be able to calculate what works and what needs to change.  

Suggested Markup

You don’t want to price your merchandise so inexpensively that you got no return, but you don’t want to overcharge either. A simple exercise of asking yourself what you would pay for the item can go a long way.

Standard retail market is 100%. For example, if you made a T-shirt for five dollars you would sell it for $10. You need to consider the design, and quality of the product your offering.  

Do your research and pay attention 

Each Merch Company will have different colors, wearable designs, size specs and ordering and restocking time. As an independent artist, customer service is important to keep a loyal fan base. Double check your Merch company’s timeline to make sure you have enough time to receive your products before a show or event.   

It would be wise to order a few examples beforehand to be confident in what you’re selling.

  Physical merchandise

Current top selling Physical Merchandise items are:  

CDs

Vinyl (note that these are more expensive to produce, it would be good to make sure they are in demand before producing too many)

Wearables – Such as Buttons, shirts, hoodies, hats and patches

Signed items

Personally crafted items

Your merchandise stand at a live performance 

Statistically, artists make more money selling their Physical merchandise during or after a live performance than they do from their website. The performance is fresh in the fan’s mind and so they are more likely to invest into purchasing your music or promoting you with buying a T-shirt.  

Here are some other tips to having a successful merch table.   

– Take the opportunity during your performance to announce to your fans where your merch table is located

– Contact fans/friends ahead of time and tell them to come dressed in your merch items  

–  Give venue employees free merch items to wear  

– Make sure you have someone with good customer service manning your merch table at all times.  

– After your show is finished, invite the crowd to meet you at your merch table

– After making a sale, use the opportunity to get the fan’s email address or contact details   

 - Attach a unique card or tag to each product and make it clear that they know how to contact you

– Why not affiliate your band with a charity of your choice. It’s a win-win situation. When you announce that there are CDs and merchandise available at your live performance, explain what percent of proceeds go to this charity and why you chose it.  

So where can you find a good Physical Merchandise company?

Each merchandise distribution company has unique strengths.  To look at few merchandise companies our artists have recommended, with a few details of what they offer, keep your eyes open for our upcoming post. 

Sage Audio – Wise. Sound. Mastering.