Guest Post by Chris Cornell of Manhead Merchandise
I think that music fans have always loved buying a t-shirt or other trinket from their favorite artists. Over the last 20 years, for bands big and small, it seems clear that merchandise has gone from being an appreciated, but adjunct revenue stream to a critical component of their earnings.
Luckily, I also think that the last 20 years have also seen the quality of merchandise dramatically improve, with more product choices than ever before. Plus, as with most things today, the barriers to entry to sell product have decreased significantly thanks to technology.
With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to provide three simple tips that musicians can use to increase their merchandise sales, which they can scale as their career grows:
- Know your audience. As someone who has worked with countless bands, I’ve often witnessed my clients designing for themselves, rather than for the fans. Though you should express your creativity through your merchandise, I recommend designing first for your core fans, and giving them what they want.
- This may seem counterintuitive to my first point, but don’t be afraid to try new things. People tell me all the time what products they see “working.” Every music scene and genre always has a few styles that are trending. Know what they are, and figure out a way to incorporate them into your product assortment.
- We live in an age when technology has disrupted business more than any time since the Industrial Revolution. This includes music merchandising. There are great plug-and-play ecommerce platforms available today, as well as various print-on-demand services that let you manufacture countless products at lower quantities than in the past.
For example, Sidestep is a mobile app that lets concert goers bypass long lines, and buy concert merchandise ahead of time, for either at-show pickup or direct delivery.
In my opinion, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on creating an attractive webstore that is stocked with tons of cool stuff. Experiment, create an addicting online experience for your current and future fans, and then tie it all together with your social media marketing efforts.
Truthfully, these tips are not much different than what we use at Manhead Merchandise on clients ranging from Fall Out Boy to Train, Yes and Gavin DeGraw. In fact, they are existing qualities that we look for when evaluating potential new clients. You can easily implement these tips into your merchandise strategy today, and then (hopefully) watch the sales pour in.