How to market, sell your new music merch

The power of merchandise is two-fold, in that it not only provides a strong source of revenue, but also also helps promote your band and music simply by being out in the world. For this reason, it’s important to develop merch ideas that will jive specifically with your fanbase.

Guest post by Carla Malrowe from the Bandzoogle Blog

If you are creating music that is unique, inspired, and impressive, your merchandise should be exactly that as well. Band merchandise can serve as a strong revenue stream and at the same time, a sustainable means to promote your band. Therefore, it needs to be carefully considered. 

Pins, keyrings, and coasters are so last decade! Let’s look at how you can come up with fresh merch ideas that will resonate with your fans.

Fresh ideas that are fan-centered

Define your fans’ preferences first. Audience research is made so much easier in the age of social media. Social media channel insights and social listening tools will help you to get to know your fans a little bit better. 

You can also see right away who is tagging you in their posts and what specifically they are sharing about you. This way, you’ll get to know what your fans like in general, and what they like about you. It might take some time, but in-depth research on the interests of your fan base is crucial if you want to successfully sell outside-the-box merch. 

Here are some ideas:

  • If your music appeals to gamers, sell fancy mouse pads.
  • If your fans largely consist of surfers, sell beautifully branded beach towels.
  • If your fans tend to be environmentalists, sell branded canvas shopping bags and water bottles.
  • If your fans largely consist of teenage girls, sell cute branded bobby socks.

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Branding your merch

Branding can stretch far beyond your band logo. Depending on the size of your actual items, band photographs, album cover art, or your lyrics can become the design you use to brand your merch so it traces clearly back to you. 

In other words, think past the obvious. Fans are often more interested in deeper-level merch anyway.

If there are specific lyrics that the crowd always sings along to at concerts, then those are the lyrics to use. The band photographs that received the most engagements on your social channels will be the photos to use. Ask followers to choose between a few designs on Instagram or run a poll on Facebook. Hone in. 

Merch that tells the story

Books containing stories about the band (hardcopy or digital), allow fans to get an in-depth look at your journey and to get closer to the music. The origin story of the band, the process of creating the album, a deep dive into the lyrics, memorable moments from tours; these are all possible topics you could explore in a book. A book of promotional art like tour posters and flyers, album artwork, and behind-the-scenes photography are other options.

Both hardcopy and digital publications have their perks. A large beautiful coffee table book can serve as a cool feature piece, whereas with digital, multimedia content can be incorporated—such as demo versions of songs and video clips of interviews.

Novelty merch for super-fans only

Completely unique, high-quality items that resonate with your band culture are very valuable to a fan, especially if there are only a limited few of them available. Super-fans find this kind of exclusivity to-die-for

As long as it resonates with your band’s aesthetic, it can be anything that is a little bit unusual. To generate some ideas, think about which of your other skills you could put to work to come up with something unique. Better yet, collaborate with another artist, and bring a wholly fresh perspective into the works to see what ideas they might have. 

A music box ringing the tune of your hit single could be a very special gift for a super fan. How about homemade soaps or candles with scents named after your songs? What about a deck of playing cards, or a coloring book, or a pillow case? If your fans will buy it, do it.

Selling your merch online

A great way to sell your merch online is through your band website which should include the features and functionalities of a smooth-running eCommerce store. It should be easy to browse across users’ devices, and feature beautiful photos of your merch items as well as detailed descriptions, options for sizes and colors, etc. The checkout process should be seamless; fans should experience the buying journey as a breeze. 

But, your website is not the only online platform on which you should sell and promote your merch (of course!) Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram allow fans to shop straight from your band page, without even having to leave the site, so make use of this with every integration available to you. 

In addition, consider adding your products to online marketplaces that accommodate vendor accounts like Amazon and eBay—these are trusted shopping channels for many people.

Physical merch sales

Physical sales remain important. A fan that buys something from your merch table at a concert or festival stall is not only buying a product; they’re investing in a piece of memorabilia. Buying merch then and there, right after they’ve seen your band, makes the item more valuable.

The merch stand should always be super professional. Avoid just having a bunch of stuff awkwardly packed on a dirty trestle table. Invest in racks and shelves and stands to showcase your items. Have professionally printed price tags. Make sure you are sufficiently stocked. 

Additionally, try a band merch pop-up store. Temporary shops that sell band merch exclusively are becoming more popular. Approach a few other bands and collaboratively invest in a pop-up store that runs for a few days in a bustling area. If a pop-up store isn’t on the cards, what about a band merch market (even a digital one)? 

Impress for success

Almost any product can be branded. For that reason, you really have a myriad of options available when it comes to selecting your band merch items. However, before you make final decisions about what to sell, make sure it fits the following criteria as discussed above: 

  • Is it unique and original?
  • Is it already in demand in your community?
  • Does it speak for your band?
  • Does it appeal to your biggest fans, or is it supposed to attract new fans?

Offer your fans usable, wearable, or adorable items covered in your signature designs. Make it easy for them to access, browse, and purchase. Give them stunning pieces of memorabilia to brag about. Not only will you be keeping your fans impressed, but you will also be sustaining a profitable music career. 

So think fresh, and set the merch benchmark high and exciting.

Carla Malrowe is an avid alternative songwriter and vocalist from South Africa. Her electro-industrial project, Psycoco, just released their new single “Stay Awake.” Malrowe’s music is a haunting juxtaposition of electronic and analogue sounds with lyrics that explore a post-apocalyptic conflict between love and loss. Her solo album, Missing Circus Freak, will be released in May 2021.

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