Music Production and Promotion Tips

Music Merchandising

Posted on | March 24, 2012 | No Comments

Merchandise or “merch” plays a big part in the music industry these days. The option to set up and run a shop is easier than ever for musicians, and selling merchandise has become important to a lot of bands not making enough out of sales of their tunes. Merchandising is also a career choice, though a difficult one, it is possible to make your money producing and selling merchandise for artists and bands. Here are our tips on doing so.

First of all, you need to know people. If you’re looking to produce merchandise on behalf of bands and artists, you need to talk to them and broker deals, get in touch with local bands, strike up a partnership and I’m sure they’ll be happy to let you handle their merch and give them time to focus on their music.

Deals are a big part of merchandising, you’ll need a royalty deal with the band, first. If you’re outsourcing the production of the merchandise, you’ll need to agree on a fee with the producer, and you’ll need to agree a deal with a designer.

Now design and printing aren’t necessarily things you’ll want to outsource – if you’re considering this as a career you’ll probably already be equipped with some of the skills needed. If you’re a designer with a bunch of awesome ideas ready for t shirts and the like, then this will be the easy part for you. If you know how to screen print then perhaps all you’ll need is to find a designer, if you know both then to start with you’ll have a big advantage. Partner up soon, though, especially if you start to grow, the workload will become huge if you’re doing it all yourself.

Once your designs have been produced and you have a load of beautiful merch ready to sell, you need to think about how you’re going to go about it. There are many options for this, and this section of the process is where you’ll really need a business brain. Distribution is one option, and if the artist you’re representing is big enough then it may well be your best option. Getting a distributor on board will mean you provide loads of shopping outlets, online and off, with your product to sell, but be warned, they’ll want paying and this will dig into your profits. As things stand, it is easier than ever to sell things yourself online, and you can utilise services like shopify to sell via the internet, and if the artist has a big fanbase already they can send them the way of their shop. You can of course start a shop if you represent multiple bands too, and the benefits of this include a larger profit share and data collection, you’ll be able to grab email addresses and postal addresses for anyone who buys. Bonus. If you’re going to go down the route of selling at shows, be prepared to pay fees to go to festivals, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on the road going to gigs with the band, but they can be very lucrative. Think about it, £14/$20 a tee shirt, 2000 potential customers there every night. Done right, the money’s there.

Merchandise is one of the areas of the industry which is healthy and growing. That said, you need to be original, and you need to stand out, a good piece of merchandise can become iconic, but lots of it just gets lost in the ether, destined to be the t shirt people sleep in for years to come. Make sure you do it right.

To work in music merchandising, you’ll need business skills, good contacts, and access to strong design skills as well as fashion consciousness. It can be done, and can be a hugely rewarding career choice.


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