Category: Music Merchandise

Ordering Band Merch: CD Packaging Options

Choosing the Right Packaging for Your Band’s CD

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Disc Packaging Options

When you go out to eat, you expect the food you order to be good. But if it shows up in front of you looking sloppy, with sauce dripping off the edge or a fingerprint in the roll, you’ll probably suspect that the quality of the food is on par with the poor presentation.

The same can be said for your music. If you’ve spent long, meticulous hours perfecting your newest album only to throw it on a poorly packaged CD, those who see it won’t anticipate a quality product inside. Make sure you put the same amount of care into creating your CD packaging as you have the music itself. To do that, it’s important to know what your options are.

Jewel Cases

Jewel Case

Ten years ago, jewel cases were the go-to option. Nearly every music CD was sold in them, and for good reason. Their clear cases let the artwork shine, there was room for multi-page inserts, and the structure of the hard plastic case protected the CD itself. If you’re like us, you have stacks of CDs in jewel cases lying around somewhere.

But, unless you already have artwork designed for this format and find it difficult to change, you probably don’t want to order this package for your music project. Think back to those stacks of CDs in jewel cases… how many of them have cracks on one side, are scratched, or are missing one (or both) of the hinge tabs that keeps the front attached? How much space do they take up, for how few CDs? Is that what you want to lug around from one gig to another, not to mention pay shipping on? What is the fan experience like if their jewel case is broken or all scratched up? Don’t stacks of CDs in jewel cases send you right back to 1989?

Jewel cases might have been the standard; while they still sell surprisingly well, they’re bulky, fragile, and a little outdated… maybe they aren’t the best choice for your project.

CD Sleeves

CD Sleeves

This envelope-style packaging is a very simple and basic way to protect the CD. They get the job done and are very cost-efficient, but they’re not super special. With only the front, back, and disc face, there is little room for extra artwork or information.

If you’re wanting to engage and connect with your fans, sleeves could work, but they’re not the best option. If you’re super concerned about saving space (like, you’re flying out for an overseas tour and can only take one bag and your instrument), then they might be a good choice. CD sleeves are also a solid choice for sending demo CDs to promoters or venues, since your press kit will have other material about your band.


CD Wallets

A step up from sleeves, wallets are another all-cardstock packaging option for CDs. However, they offer artists a lot more flexibility with design and the amount of information that can be included than sleeves do, since they commonly come in four, six, and eight-panel options with one, two, three, or four pockets and up to four discs. They also take up very little space (slightly more than a sleeve does).

If you’re worried about space and durability but want to offer your fans more than the very-basic sleeve, wallets might be your answer.


Digipaks are the ideal combination of practical materials, flexible design choices, and that little touch of special that your fans want. These factors help explain their surge in popularity over the last few years.

Digipaks for CDs

Unlike jewel cases, digipaks are made of cardstock, meaning they won’t break nearly as easily as the plastic jewel cases. This also makes them a bit more eco-friendly, if that’s your thing. (If so, note this: Digihubs, which replace the plastic tray with a rubber hub, take the green thing a little farther.) Depending on the size of your digipak, they also take up roughly half the space that jewel cases do—a bonus if you’ve got a van full of bandmates, instruments, snacks, and merch.

Where digipaks really shine is their flexibility in design. You can order them in four, six, or eight panels and they can hold up to seven discs. If you add a slit or pocket, you could even add a standard insert or booklet on top of that. Think of all the lyrics, liner notes, credits, and stories you could share with your fans in that space, of the extra band photographs and graphics you could include. No more deciding between thanking your wife or your grannie for supporting your passion; thank them both. In fact, thank everyone. And tell that story about that one gig and your drummer. You know the story.

Not only do digipaks allow more room for artwork, photographs, and text than jewel cases or sleeves, but they allow room for more media. You can include multiple CDs or turn your merch into a CD/DVD combo, with a recording of a live show or “behind the scenes” video of the recording process. This upgrades your item from a standard, run-of-the-mill CD to a keepsake.

What About Cost?

We get it. You’ve spent money on instruments, maybe some lessons, band promotions, your website, the recording studio, touring, and so on. Being in a band can be expensive, and buying CDs can involve parting with a big chunk of change. So, let’s look at the costs*. Really.

Jewel Cases: For 1000 replicated discs with the most basic two-panel, full color jewel case available (with over wrap), the cost is $878, or $0.878 per CD.

Digipaks: For 1000 replicated discs in Six-panel digipaks (with over wrap), the cost is $1,036, or $1.036 per CD.

Look at the cost per package. For the same quantity and method of production, the price between the different packages varies by about $.16, just a little more than a dime.  A dime. Think about your fan. What would they rather have: a two-panel jewel case or a six-panel digipak? You have a great opportunity to make the best first impression possible by giving your fan the superior digipak packaging. They will appreciate your extra effort, and you have the opportunity to use the design space on the six-panel digipak to tell more of your band’s story. Everyone wins.

Remember, you’ll probably be selling your CD for at least $10. If you include extras (like a second CD or a DVD and a booklet or insert) and use top-of-the-line materials, you can bump that price up a little more. Even at $10 each, one CD sale covers your cost of almost 10 CDs, even if you choose nicer packaging like the six-panel digipak. Another way to think of it – you make 85% to 90% profit on every disc you sell. Nothing else on your merch table generates this kind of profit.

Picking the Right Packaging for Your Band

As far as packaging goes, really consider your options. Again, think about your immediate needs. Are you traveling and short on space? Is the CD going in a press kit? Or is this going out to fans? Then think about the difference that $.16 can make in the product you offer your fans, and the difference it can make in how those fans view your product and your band. Is it going to cause frustration for you with toting it to gigs, or for fans as it breaks and takes up shelf space? Is it going to strengthen your fans’ connection to your band and become something they treasure?

After all the time and money you’ve invested in creating the perfect sound, it would be a shame for that work to be overshadowed by sloppy or even just average presentation. Because when it comes to selling merchandise, presentation really does matter.

* All prices are taken from our parent site, Prices do not include shipping.

See also: Ordering Merchandise: CD Duplication vs. Replication, How Many CDs Should I Purchase for a First Release?

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Selling and Streaming Your Music with iTunes and iTunes Radio

iTunes and iTunes Radio: Selling and Streaming Your Music

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Making your band’s music available for purchase online—either in digital or physical form, through your website or on one of your various profiles—is an important step to take if you want to continue your music career.

If a fan really digs your sound, they will do whatever it takes to get your music—even if it means going to some odd site they’ve never heard of to access your music. However, casual listeners are another story; if they don’t find your music available on their preferred channels (like iTunes), they might not buy it at all. Being available on those preferred platforms can mean the difference between making a sale and losing a potential fan.

About iTunes

In case you haven’t heard of it (ha!), iTunes is the largest digital music store online. It set the standard for digital music distribution and is so far ahead of its competitors that “competitor” might be an overstatement. As iTunes is the most commonly looked-to place to purchase music, it should not be dismissed or regarded lightly.

In addition to music sales, iTunes also offers streaming music with iTunes Radio. We do not recommend listing all of your music on iTunes Radio, there are several issues with streaming music that make it difficult for indie musicians to succeed with these services. A sampling of your music might be a good idea. Check out our article on streaming music for more information. Users can create stations based on music they like or have downloaded, and iTunes fine tunes the stations based on future listening and download patterns. iTunes Radio also offers featured stations. Users can listen to iTunes Radio on their mobile device, computer, tablet, or Apple TV for free.

Putting Your Music on iTunes

There are two routes you can take to get your music listed on iTunes: you can work with an aggregator, or you can apply to list it yourself. A list of approved aggregators can be found here; there are pros about working with an aggregator, but there are also drawbacks (see below). If you want to avoid aggregators, you can apply to work directly with iTunes. The criteria, such as encoding houses and content requirements, are specific, so be sure you have everything lined up and ready to go before applying.


In terms of earning money from music sales, iTunes operates similar to other sites. For each song sold, you receive a percentage of the sale price. In theory, you should be making some profit from the streamed content; however, those details are not easily found on the iTunes website. You can make more money by selling your music on your own website, but iTunes offers a good place to go for fans who may not know where your site is, so do not ignore it. (For more information, see this article about iTunes on our site.)


There is no cost for listing your music on iTunes, although there may be fees assessed by the aggregator you choose. Instead, you pay iTunes by receiving a reduced portion of the sales price. When a song is sold, iTunes takes its percentage (usually around 25-30 percent). Then, the aggregator takes its percentage, and you get what’s left.

Ease of Use

While the math and forms and requirements for signing up yourself seem daunting, with a bit of research and reading they are very doable. Other than that, it takes patience; the process is not guaranteed to be quick.

Using an aggregator may or may not make the process easier.


You can email Apple for help, and they have an extensive FAQ section. However, their phone tree is very complicated, and connecting with a person is difficult. Aggregators may or may not be easier to work with.

A Final Word

Choosing to put your music on iTunes is a big decision; it should not be made lightly or without thorough consideration. For additional information, please read our related article, Rethinking iTunes.

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Selling Your Music: MondoTunes

Selling Your Music: MondoTunes

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

If you’re new to online music distribution, you’ll sooner or later face the daunting task of having to choose the right music distributor. Because you have enough on your plate, here’s a basic rundown of one your options: MondoTunes.

What MondoTunes Offers

With claims of distribution to over 750 online stores, it’s certainly an impressive option. Their global distribution service uses Universal Music Group, the same company used by Rihanna, Lady Gaga, U2, and others. Additionally, MondoTunes has associations with Interscope Records, which helps major labels scout new talent. MondoTunes is the only distributor that provides an exclusive online marketing campaign for its artists. Licensing is also available.

Making Money From MondoTunes

As for profits, artists can expect to retain somewhere around 63 percent of sales. MondoTunes doesn’t take a dime, but their partners do. Nevertheless, that royalty rate still beats the ones offered by major labels.

Payments are issued monthly as long as net royalties are $50 or more. If royalties do not hit the $50 threshold, the amount is carried over to the following month. If these profit and payment policies seem a bit strict, it’s important to realize that the site is highly competitive.

How Much Does MondoTunes Cost?

There are no monthly or annual fees and no “per-store” listing fees. At $7.99 per single, $24.99 per EP, and $37.99 per album, Mondo’s pricing is pretty competitive.

Signing Up for MondoTunes

The site is fairly easy to navigate. On the home page, click the red “Join Us” button. Fill in a basic registration form (name, number, email, password) and prove you’re not a robot. You’ve created your account! The next step is uploading your final audio and artwork files. Under the option Distribution, click “Get Started”; select the services you want and how you want to get paid, then upload your artwork, song information, and content.

Getting Help with MondoTunes

MondoTunes’ customer support is also impressive. The company offers same-day email support as well as phone support, which is something of a rarity these days.

Music distribution shouldn’t be about choosing the lesser of two (or more) evils. It should be about finding a company that understands and meets your band’s needs. The fact that MondoTunes was put together by musicians can only help its case.

Have you worked with MondoTunes? How was your experience?

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CDs: Selling Your Music

Selling Your Music: CDs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

When you first began playing music, you might not have spent much time focusing on selling merchandise. You were finding your niche, writing new songs, creating your set list, booking every show you could, building your fan base, and dreaming of recording. While those are all crucial elements to developing your band, at some point you need to consider merchandise.

Yes, you need to sell product, meaning both your music and other merchandise. Aside from trust funds, your day job, or crowdfunding, money from gigs and music/merchandise sales is what allows your band to move forward.

The question of what you should sell is a bit trickier to answer. Many bands today focus solely on digital distribution and downloads. While this might seem fine and dandy, it leaves out whole segments of your fans. You need a physical option, too.

Are CDs Still A Viable Option?

Despite changing technologies, CD sales are still a big thing. According to Nielsen Soundscan, sales of compact discs actually toppled the sale of downloaded albums in 2012. Musicians, especially small or local acts, consistently offer CDs for sale alongside shirts and pins. Perhaps CDs aren’t as dead as you thought.

Where To Sell Your CDs

One of your most profitable and immediate opportunities to sell CDs is at your live shows. Fans at shows are a captive audience; if they like what they just heard, they’re probably willing to support you. Selling CDs at gigs is the best way to hook new fans, cement longer-term fans, and keep people interested in what you’re doing.

You can also sell CDs online, either directly from your website or from a plethora of online distributors.

How To Market Your CDs

If you’re selling CDs at shows, think of your CDs as souvenirs: physical reminders of a wonderful experience.  Announce the product from the stage, and work the merch table yourself. Mingle with the fans, asking (humbly) if they have your CDs yet. Offer to sign the product. Bundle it with other merch, like t-shirts, to boost sales.

Generally speaking, though, you should market your CDs like collector items. Think about how some fans prize their record collections. Give your fans a similar experience. There’s a tangible element to CDs that downloaded albums fail to provide; your fans can hold it in their hand, read the liner notes, and stare at the pictures. They can keep it forever and needn’t worry about losing it to viruses or hard drive failures. Use this to your advantage by investing in great graphics, luxury packaging, and professionally created CDs. To drive up demand, you might release a limited or first edition that’s a higher quality or has a bonus track. Even with upgraded materials, CDs are relatively affordable to buy, and they offer a solid profit margin, too.

For the foreseeable future, selling CDs will continue to be a part of the music equation, and it’s a great way to help your band move forward. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Does your band still offer its music on CD? What marketing strategies have you found to help increase sales?

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Selling Your Music with Bandcamp

Selling Your Music: Bandcamp

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Coming up next on “Painfully Obvious Observations”: the digital age has transformed the music industry… It’s true, though. And, as the industry continues to transform, more and more artists are turning toward selling music online. One major destination for those artists is Bandcamp.

What Bandcamp Offers

Bandcamp makes it possible for artists to sell their music and other merchandise online. You’re able to control the pricing, sell digital and physical music, report sales to SoundScan, offer discount codes, sell on Facebook, gather fan/customer data, and much more.

Making Money From Bandcamp

Bandcamp is based around the philosophy that money should flow toward the artist. You set the prices on all of your merchandise, and the money goes directly to you (not third parties).

“Great,” we hear you say, “but how on earth do they stay in business?” The answer to that question is that Bandcamp takes a small share of your sales: 15% on music, 10% on merchandise. It’s a pretty good deal, compared to the 75 percent (or more, if you’re not Usher) that you’d have to hand over to a major label. To sweeten the deal, Bandcamp will drop their revenue share to 10 percent once you reach $5,000 in sales.

What Does Bandcamp Cost?

If it’s sounding pretty good so far, it stays that way. Basic artist accounts are free. If you want to upgrade to the pro account (which lets you use a custom domain name, upload in batches, and so on), that’s only $10 a month. Not a bad deal.

As far as paying royalties, the Bandcamp method is a little different than other sites. Instead of subtracting their percentage from each sale, Bandcamp sends the profits directly to your PayPal account and keeps a running balance of what you owe them. When the amount owed is equal to or greater than a sale, they will absorb the sale and deduct that amount from your balance. For example, say you’re selling CDs at $10 each and Bandcamp is taking a 10% cut. The first sale goes all to you, and your balance is $1. The second sale goes all to you, and your balance is $2. The cycle continues. With the tenth sale, your balance is $10, which is the same amount as the sale. Instead of this sale going to your account, Bandcamp collects the money and reduces your balance.

Create a Bandcamp Account

Opening an account as easy as it gets. On the homepage, select “Artist Signup” at the top; on the next page, click the big green button that says “Sign Up Now.” Enter your email address and a password, choose your genre from a dropdown box, and create a few genre tags help people discover you. You’ll be assigned your very own URL and you’re off and running, with complete freedom to sell your music and whatever merchandise you can slap your logo on.

Getting Help With Bandcamp

The help section on the site is chock-full of in-depth tutorials that should keep you informed and answer your questions. On the off chance that it doesn’t, there is an email form on the site for contacting support. Customer support is not reachable by phone.

Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a good place to call your home for online music sales, Bandcamp pretty much does everything but write the songs. Hey, we never said it was perfect.

Have you tried Bandcamp? What did you like about the site? If you used another site, what made you choose that over Bandcamp?

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Ordering Merchandise: CD Replication vs. CD Duplication

Ordering Merchandise: CD Duplication vs. Replication

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

When you first look into distributing your music, you’re going to encounter some unfamiliar terms. Two terms musicians regularly encounter are CD duplication and CD replication. What do these two terms mean? Is one process better than the other? Which should your band use?

Duplication vs. Replication

CD Duplication

If you’ve “burned” a CD or playlist on your home computer, you have duplicated a CD. The duplication process involves a laser creating a chemical pattern in the internal layer of an existing compact disc. The pattern is later read by disc players and translated back into data. CD duplication requires a less-complicated production process than replication. This means that it’s usually a more cost-effective choice for small orders, and turnaround time is shorter, making it a great choice when time matters. CD duplication also lets you choose almost any quantity of discs to manufacture, allowing you to fit your needs exactly. Please note that not all CDs and CD burners are of equal quality; to ensure a high quality result, most companies that perform CD duplication as a service will use industrial-grade equipment to duplicate the CD as well as superior quality CD media. Of course, this is not always the case, so it would be a good idea to verify the details of the process with the company of your choice.

An important yet often overlooked factor to consider as part of your duplication purchase is the printing method. How will the artwork be printed on the disc face? There are a few acceptable methods for duplicated CDs, but other methods should be avoided:

  • You should avoid companies that apply labels of any kind to your disc face. The labels can come loose or wrinkle over time. This is particularly annoying if one of these labels comes loose inside of your CD player, potentially resulting in either unusable players or costly repairs.
  • Another method to avoid is water-soluble ink on the disc face. A very small amount of moisture on your fingers will cause the ink to smear, creating a mess.

Both of the above methods are typical of what you would see from a disc burned and printed at home. Duplication companies that employ these methods should be avoided. Preferred printing methods include:

  • UV ink (UV light cured), which bonds permanently to the disc surface and does not use a label of any kind. This is the most durable process and performs well with almost any kind of art on the disc face. UV ink is great for colorful artwork, full color images that include skin tones, or single color images with full flood coverage. The ink cannot be removed from the disc face without damaging the disc itself.
  • Dye sublimation (sometimes referred to as thermal printing), which applies a high quality image with a silicon film. It’s not quite as durable as UV ink, but it’s still a nice quality. The only real challenge to dye sublimation is the cost and time; it is expensive and slow to manufacture.

CD Replication

CD replication is a little bit different. Replication involves physically pressing the pattern into the internal layer of the disc as the disc is manufactured. This creates a copy of the master recording. Replication is not something you can do at home. The quality of replicated CDs is generally considered better than that of duplicated CDs. However, if you were to test the sound quality of the same music written to a duplicated disc against a replicated disc, it would be very difficult to tell the difference. The turnaround time is longer for replicated discs, and the costs are higher for smaller quantities. Replication pricing starts to compare favorably to duplication pricing at quantities of 300-500 or more.

Printing methods commonly used for replicated discs are a little different than those for duplicated discs. The preferred method is offset printing. Offset printing uses a printing press to print your artwork directly on the disc face, and the ink used is permanent, much like the UV ink used in the duplication process mentioned above. Offset printing is best for full color artwork and does an exceptional job with skin tones (images of people). Another method is screen printing. Screen printing is a great option if your artwork is not full color and you have no images of people in the art. For example, if you were doing a flood of black on your disc face with white letters, then screen printing would be the best choice. Screen printing does not compare favorably to offset printing for full color images, particularly images that have skin tones. Rely on your disc manufacturing company to guide you on which process would work best for your artwork.

Which Is Right For You?

If you are uncertain of demand and are ordering your band’s CDs in smaller batches, or if you need the order fulfilled quickly, CD duplication is probably the best option for you. The duplication process requires less turnaround time than replication. Additionally, the costs per CD are usually lower, and most manufacturers offer smaller quantities. Quite often a company that specializes in disc manufacturing can create your project for you with higher quality at a lower cost than you can do it for yourself, so shop around and ask questions about their process before deciding to do it yourself. In addition, they offer great options for packaging your discs (digipaks, wallets, sleeves, etc) that you cannot produce at home. Fans love packaging, and packaging gives you a chance to tell your story. CD duplication is growing at a very rapid pace as the process of choice for many bands because of the combined flexibility and quality it offers.

On the other hand, CD replication might be the right answer if you’re fulfilling a large order (several hundred or thousands of CDs) and have a little extra time, or if you have a devoted fan base and are setting out on a sold-out tour and need a large quantity of discs. Some companies also offer significant discounts on reorders of replicated CD projects. This flexibility gives you an opportunity to purchase a smaller quantity up front (avoid buying 1,000 CDs just to end up with 500 that did not sell), but still have the option of ordering more replicated CDs at a large discount if your release takes off. You could also market replicated CDs to your fans as a limited or first edition version, driving up the demand and price a little. Imagine what a first printing of “The Rolling Stones” would be worth today. Or “Please, Please Me.”

In the end, the right option for your band will be determined by your band, what stage it’s at, and where it’s headed. Either way, choosing professionally replicated or duplicated CDs tells both yourself and the rest of the world that your music is worth investing in.

What type of CDs do you order for your band—duplicated or replicated? Why do you choose that option?

See also: How Should I Price My Merchandise?, Make Money Selling Your Music, Choosing the Right Packaging for Your Band’s CD, How Many CDs Should I Purchase for a First Release?

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Music Merch: Websites for T-Shirts

Music Merchandise: Websites for Band T-Shirts

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

One of the biggest challenges for bands is making money. The obvious way to make money is to play gigs and sell your albums and songs. Another way to increase your income is to create and sell custom merchandise, especially t-shirts.

If your band is just getting started and doesn’t have any merchandise yet, or if you’re looking to find a new merch supplier, here are some places to consider:

Bands On A Budget

Since its staff is made up of musicians, this site is aware of your needs, from merchandise selections to quick turnaround times, design services to budget friendly options. Bands on a Budget makes it easy and affordable for your band to create and sell the custom t-shirts, apparel, stickers, print products, indie cards, vinyl banners, and other promotional material your loyal followers want. The site provides instructions for submitting your artwork, or you can use their design team.

Merch Kitchen Screenprinting

Another great spot for DIY printing is Merch Kitchen Screenprinting. This small outfit, based out of Nashville, Tennessee, does a number of things to make ordering merchandise easier for your band, including not requiring minimum orders and bundling products into packages for you. For example, for the month of January, they waived shipping on t-shirt orders over $200. Like the above site, they offer design services for a fee or allow you to upload your existing design.

We Need Merch

We Need Merch has good deals for bands who are hoping to begin selling merchandise at their shows and need bulk orders. Right now, they are offering one hundred t-shirts for just $400. If you sell the shirts for $10 or $20 each, that’s a pretty hefty profit for your band. The site allows you to upload your design or use their design team.

My Custom Band Merch

Another supplier for your band’s merchandise is My Custom Band Merch. This site specializes in t-shirts and other wearable merchandise. The website’s built-in design tools make creating your products simple and fun; if, on the other hand, you have a design ready, you can use that instead.

Of course, there are great suppliers popping up all the time that can provide your band with the merchandise it needs. Look around online and find those that best meet your needs.

Does your band offer merchandise at shows? Do you use any of the above suppliers? If not, what suppliers do you recommend?

See also: Set Yourself Apart: Unique Band Merchandise

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Set Yourself Apart: Unique Band Merch

Set Yourself Apart: Unique Band Merchandise

By NationWide Source 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:

Be Pun-ny

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?

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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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Sell Your Music

Make Money Selling Your Music

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The music industry is changing quickly and unpredictably, which leaves musicians in a familiar situation: living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, in the age of the internet, there are many ways to make money from your music. Follow these tips to get started:

Book Live Performances

Although there’s no such thing as a steady income for a musician, getting a regular gig is the next best thing. Finding a bar, club, restaurant, or other venue that regularly advertises live music is a reliable and surprisingly-easy way to earn money and gain new fans. Develop a press kit and email it or, better yet, hand deliver it to different venues around town. Most venue owners are primarily looking for reliable musical talent that draws a crowd. Generally, the better you are at bringing and entertaining a crowd, the better you will be paid.

Go Online

Digital services like iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (among hundreds of others) are the new-age record stores. iTunes alone has sold over 25 billion songs. These sites are where the ever-growing computer-savvy masses browse and purchase music. Submitting your music to the dozens of online music sales platforms individually can be time consuming, but distributors can help streamline the process. Also, selling music directly from your website usually results in a higher profit margin for you.

Sidenote: listing your music on these sites doesn’t guarantee sales; you still have to get fans there.

CDs Are Still Cool

Despite the increase in streaming and digital sales, people are still buying physical CDs. They, along with other merchandise (t-shirts, posters, CDs, vinyl records) sales, are popular souvenirs for concert-goers. So, take care of business onstage, then man the merch table after the show to network with fans and sell your music.

Music Licensing

Could you imagine your original song in a video game soundtrack? Do you have a piece that would fit into a film score or television commercial? You might consider licensing, then. Nearly every industry uses music, most frequently for marketing purposes. If you have specific uses in mind, find the “music supervisor” of the show or outlet and contact them directly. Or, reach out to local advertising firms or independent filmmakers. Have a stellar 30 seconds of your selected song ready to win them over.

Keep finding places to perform your music, and keep your online presence strong on sites like Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. If your music is impressive enough, the money will follow.

The most effective method for making music will vary for each musician. Which method works best for you?

See also: How Should I Price My Merchandise?, Finding Music Distributors

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