Music has always been a multi-source revenue building venture. Short of Mozart and his mysterious and generous benefactors, bands and artists have for a long time relied on their side hustles to keep the bills paid and the music flowing. Merch is one of the main things that keeps new music alive. It's also one of the few things that a band is able to take essentially all of the profit from, without labels and distributors taking a cut.
So, if bands are selling merch, what are they selling? This post will go over a few of the tried and tested merch ideas, as well as some new staples, that will inspire you when it comes to having custom merch and will make your fans lose their collective minds.
Not only will these items supplement the money you can make from sales, tickets, licensing, streaming, and so-on, but it provides a connection with your fans.
So here's some ideas (for the fans, of course):
The black band tee. The most popular item of band merch in all of recorded history (and maybe before, I've never seen an ancient grecian merch table). But did you know, they don't have to be black?
Every band should be selling t-shirts. If they're not, they're missing out on probably the coolest and most accessible merch item there is. Every body has owned a band tee, and if they say they haven't, they're either lying or covering up some embarrassing photos that survived from the MySpace era.
With a cool design and a comfortable, light, fashion-fitted shirt, the t-shirt is bound to be a popular item with your fans. And, yes, while black is the coolest, they do come in many colours.
People who wear hats, wear hats. And by that I mean, people who do wear hats wear them all. The. Damn. Time. Hats and beanies are an often overlooked merch idea, and they really shouldn't be. While not as customisable as shirts and some other items, something as simple as slapping your band logo on a hat can be a massive hit with those hat people.
Keep it simple, keep it small, put it on a trucker cap, or a six panel loose fit dad hat. It's gonna be a durable and classic piece of merch that will be worn for years.
Stay with me here, but stickers are one of the funnest and coolest bits of promotion that you should probably give away. Fans will talk about how cool it was of you to send a couple of free stickers in along with their latest merch purchase. They will tell their friends and stick them all over the fridge in their share house, possibly driving their flat mate to associate a band or artist with late night cheese eating - but at least they're thinking of them!
Getting stickers printed in bulk turns out pretty cheap too, often getting the individual price of a sticker down to just a fraction of a dollar. Not a bad deal to get your fans to love you just that little bit more.
Known elsewhere as a koozie (what-ever), stubby coolers are one of the most functional promotional products around. They keep your beer cold. If that's not a selling point for the fans, I don't know what is. (They also keep other drinks cold, I don't want to gatekeep for the non-drinkers here. You are valid.)
They have the added benefit of covering up the label of whatever it is your fan happens to be drinking, and replacing it with a convenient advert for your music. A cold hard thirst needs a big earful of banging tracks.
Everybody needs to carry things, even people with excellent taste in music. Plus, with plastic bags continuing their slow dying out phase, a reusable bag is primed to be a big staple item. It's the right thing to do for the evironment, and the right thing to do for your fans.
Get your band's name walking through the isle of the supermarket to really freak out the late night cheese eater from the sticker section when they inevitably leave the house to go and buy more cheese.
While streaming has replaced album sales for the most part, at the end of the day many fans still like a physical product they can take home. CDs might be going the way of the cassette, and it'll be many years before they become retro cool again like vinyls have, but with so many people being glued to their computers for hours a day USB albums might be able to fill the small gap in physical music item sales.
The best part about them is that with larger scale USB drives becoming smaller in size, but bigger in volume, the spare data that isn't being filled with music, videos and extras can be used by them to easily transport their own data around. It's a two-fer! Practical and cool.
Unfotunately, coronavirus has taken a lot from the music community. There's not as many shows, if any, and fans are feeling left out, looking for new ways to support bands and artists while we wait for it to pass. Face masks represent a new hot merch item that not only allows them to support their favourite bands during the pandemic, but also works to help slow down the spread and get us back to live music as fast as we can.
So many people are doing their part and wearing masks at the moment, it'd be a missed opportunity to not slap your name on one and let them do it in style.
Use your imagination when it comes to merch. Almost everything can be customised at some level these days, and Merchworx has the tools to do it.
We can help you with everything from the design that's going on the merch, the printing, right up to the finished product. We are specialists in this field, and we will work with you every step of the way to ensure you get the best merch around.