Set Yourself Apart: Unique Band MerchandiseBy -
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Selling merchandise is one of the best ways to turn your fan base into a cult following and earn money. While staple items like t-shirts and bumper stickers are great (they are staples for a reason, right?), you might want to branch out and distinguish yourself from the other bands. Some bands have taken the creative merchandise concept to extremes (such as the KISS Koffin). While you don’t have to go that far, stepping outside the box can really pay off.
Here’s some advice for setting your band’s merchandise apart:
If your first album is titled Hot Nights, consider merch like matches, lighters, or oven mitts. Sure, you might get some groans, but you might also get some sales.
Know Your Audience
If your fans are largely vegans, don’t try to sell them steak sauce, even if it somehow ties in to your act. Know who they are, what they like, and what they could actually use. If female 20-somethings make up your fan base, consider adding iPhone cases or tote bags to your merch table. If your fans frequent bars, consider pint glasses or coozies. If you regularly play in coffee shops, offer coffee mugs. If your fans are regularly snowed-in, consider custom snuggies, thermoses, or ice scrapers.
Use Your Artwork and Images
Your merchandise doesn’t always have to feature your band name. If you or your graphic designer came up with killer artwork for your newest album, run with it. Offer some limited-edition lithographs, coasters, phone cases, or even throw pillows. If you have an abundance of band photos that didn’t make the album artwork cut, offer calendars featuring a previously-unreleased photo each month. Note: if someone outside the band created the images or artwork, be sure you have their permission to use the work in these manners.
Use Your Words
You’ve seen the countless images on Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr with a short quote overlaying a pretty background, right? Your song lyrics can be great on merchandise, from those tote bags, to posters, to mugs, to t-shirts. For fans, it’s a quick way to recognize and feel kinship with other fans, and it’s a great conversation starter with the uninitiated.
You don’t have to bring tons of this merch to your gigs, either; bring a few to sell, and be sure to keep one as a sample. If your fans want more, take orders at the event and ship the product to them. Having an online sales platform can make this process easy.
If you’re still out of ideas, you can always ask your fans what merch they want to see.
What merchandise do you offer? Is there product you offer online that you don’t bring to gigs, or vice versa? What’s the best unusual merchandise that you’ve seen a band offer?