Merch Sales: Helpful Tips for Increasing Them

Increase Your Merchandise Sales at Gigs

By NationWide Source
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

As any poor, aspiring musician knows, a great way to make money as an independent and unsigned artist is by selling your merchandise. It can be shirts, CDs, stickers, or anything you think you can sell, as long as you sell enough of it. Regardless of how talented or professional you are, you won’t make money if you don’t learn how to sell.

Shane Blay—guitarist for the band Oh, Sleeper—wrote a post (referenced here) a while ago regarding how important merch sales are. To put things bluntly, he said that if you’re in an actively-performing band, the little money you make comes from direct merchandise sales… not from the gig, or retail sales, or royalties. In an ideal world, your talent would be enough to earn you a living in music. Sadly, the business world, including the music industry, doesn’t usually work that way.

Selling merchandise goes beyond padding your pocket, though. It can help promote your band. If people wear your shirts or talk about your CDs, others will wonder about your music and, hopefully, give it a listen. If they like what they hear, there’s a new fan. Selling merch spreads your music.

Here are a few helpful tips for improving your band’s merch sales:

Bring Your Product With You.

Don’t show up empty-handed. It’s hard to sell what you don’t have, and it’s hard to sell after the fact. The fans at your gig are a captive and eager audience. Take advantage of that opportunity.

Bundle Your Product.

Offer a shirt and CD combo. Some people may buy a shirt simply because they like the design, while others might be after your CD. However, if you give them incentive to buy both, you have the potential to both make more money and spread your music.

Have Appealing, Professional Merchandise.

It really makes a difference. DIY or cheap merch can do in a pinch (such as while waiting on shipment) and might be better than nothing, but when it’s directly competing against quality product, your sales will probably suffer (we’re speaking from personal experience here). Don’t wait until the week of the gig to take stock of your inventory; plan ahead and give yourself time to restock if levels are low.

While no artist wants money to be the main focus of their music career, learning how to sell your merchandise is essential to supporting your art and continuing on your path.

How heavily do you rely on merchandise sales? What tips do you have for boosting merchandise sales?

See also: How Should I Price My Merchandise?


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