[Updated 21st September 2016)
Music merchandise (or merch) has proved to be more profitable for some bands than any other revenue stream, simply because their brand is as solid as a brick. Capitalising on this can be difficult, but we have some advice to help you get the most from your merchandise.
What is merchandising?
Merchandise isn’t simply limited to the t-shirt or poster anymore. This all changed because of the success of the Rolling Stones’ brand with the lips and mouth. You can currently buy a Rolling Stones, The Ramones and a Guns ‘n’ Roses shirt in a clothing outlet for almost nothing £15 today, which just shows how global and powerful these brands have become. It’s a vital step in your merchandising adventure to see your band as a brand, not just a creative project. It can be a way of creating a steady income stream at a time when people get a kick out of torrenting their music instead of buying it. While this bit of the industry has changed, merchandising has remained just as popular as it was when The Rolling Stones got the ball (or should I say, stone) rolling.
What can I do?
Once you realise merchandise is more than t-shirts and posters, your options are endless. Bands are always developing original and inventive ways to capitalise on merchandising in order to appeal to their target audience. For example, punk band Milk Teeth recently brought out a set of branded yo-yo’s, which sold out straightaway. Understanding your audience is key to merchandising. Something like a branded jet black knuckle duster won’t do your indie/folk band any favours, but a branded festival wristband could definitely sell well. Funny merchandise has always sold well too, but it’s important to keep the integrity of your brand and image in tact and to have a wide range of serious and silly products in place to give your consumers the option.
Creating niche products that appeal to your audience is really all it takes to produce a steady income stream, and merchandise is a great way to fund your recordings too.