Merchandising for Artists

4 Ways to Make More Money from Your Music Merchandise

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Making money in the music industry these days is growing in complexity. Younger generations expect to have music at their fingertips, and will often choose taking something for free over paying for it. Downloads quickly rose to fame, just to immediately be replaced by streaming services. More and more musicians are turning to new and creative avenues to seek profit, and merchandise is one of the big revenue generators. If you want financial success as a musician, it's important to put effort into selling merchandise, and think carefully about how and what you're going to sell. In this article we're going to discuss 4 methods to maximize your merch income.

1. Selling Your Music Online

Print on Demand Vs. Bulk Orders

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It's important to take advantage of the internet to its full extent. If you're using it correctly, you won't just have fans that are local enough to see you live, you'll have fans everywhere. If you're not selling merch at shows yet, start doing so now. And if you already are, consider opening up other channels online as well.

Online sales can take one of two forms:

  1. Bulk Order Sales
  2. Print On Demand

Bulk order selling requires purchasing large quantities of product at a lower price per unit, to sell individually at a higher price per unit to make a profit. Print On Demand selling requires you to work with a product supplier, to sell and customize each one with your brand, on a per-order basis.

There are thousands of ways to set up an online shop and embed it in your website or social media pages. For example, you can build a shop-front with Shopify to sell existing merchandise, or use its sister-site Merchify to print on demand.

2. Free Digital Downloads

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Believe it or not, giving your work away for free can be a positive thing. Many artists choose to make at least a couple of their tracks available for free streaming or download. When you offer free downloads with purchases of your t-shirts or other products it gives your fans the opportunity to own something unique, that they can't easily get otherwise. An exclusive track that's only available to them will make your fans feel appreciated and have them coming back for more.

And it doesn't need to be an online sale, physical purchases can be accompanied by a card with a download code. You can also use a service like Dropcards or CD Baby. For more information on distribution services, checkout our article breaking down CD Baby vs Distrokid.

3. Be Unique

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Let's face it, your fans probably have a hundred t-shirts, hoodies and buttons. Giving them yet another single color black t-shirt will just get lost in the shuffle. Try to offer them something unique and you're bound to pique their interest. Handmade items in particular are enjoyed by dedicated fans, especially if they're custom made by you.

Think outside the box and sell something different. Some real-world examples include folk-singer Feist's music boxes of her own song, Radiohead branded water bottles, and Paramore guitar picks.

4. Modernize Your Merch Stand

Merch Stand

Almost everything is done electronically now and many people don't carry cash any more. Having the option to pay by card at your merch stand could bring in more sales. You can use your cellphone to accept payments using services such as PayPal Here or Square. Some banks also provide apps to help with this. 

Another way to modernize your merch selling at shows is to use an app like Vicci Mobile Merchandise. This app lets fans place an order from the show to be delivered to them later. Use Vicci or a similar app and you can choose not to bring any merch with you at all, saving you space and energy.

When you've chosen how and what to sell, remember to put effort into promoting your merch. Don't just let your online shop sit there, or expect people to be drawn to your stand at shows. Mention your merch in your newsletter and on your website, and make sure fans coming to your shows know it will be available to buy in advance. Revenue from merchandise can become a significant part of a musician's income, but you need to put thought and effort into it like you do your music.

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