It’s no secret that monetizing music on its own can be a real challenge. Luckily, selling merchandise continues to serve as a viable way for musicians to earn a living while connecting on a deeper level with fans.
But where do you get started? And how do you sell merchandise if you haven’t done so in the past? We’ll share the importance of artist merch, explain the various merch models, and showcase strategies for selling your line as a musician below.
Why Is It Important To Sell Merch?
Merchandise is a key pillar of growing your fan culture and building streams of income as an artist. Here are some key reasons why you should sell some form of merchandise, regardless of how large your audience is an artist:
- Visibility: Great merchandise starts a conversation. It’s an excellent way to connect your like-minded fans and showcase your music to new audiences by way of mouth.
- Fan Engagement: Providing access to merchandise will help you identify your most engaged fans and help foster a culture around your music.
- Brand Health: Merch gives musicians a new way to express themselves and continue the experience of your music. It builds your brand and gives your fans a physical product to align with their musical tastes.
- Monetization: Merchandise is a stream of income for musicians that should not be overlooked. With several merch making models, you can feasibly craft merchandise at any stage in your career.
Merchandise Making Models: Which One Is Right For You?
There are several different models of crafting merchandise depending on where you currently stand in your career. We’ll break down some of the most popular methods are share what types of artists can benefit the most from each respective model.
1. Print To Order
How Does It Work? Print to Order sites create, fulfill, and ship out orders as they come in. You submit a design, which is then printed on a set of selected products. These sites (like Spring and Redbubble) take a cut out of the profits as fulfillment costs which varies from one site to the next.
Good for: These sites are great for artists that don’t have a lot of money or support to manage an inventory and fulfillment.
What Can I Sell? You can sell most standard merchandise items like T-shirts and stickers.
Where Can I Sell? You’ll be given a link from your site of choice to facilitate transactions.
2. Bulk Orders
How Does It Work? You order a bulk quantity of merchandise from a printing site (like Spreadshirt) usually in bundles of at least 50 to 100. These bulk merch items usually come with a price break for ordering a large quantity of items. From there, you are responsible for selling items directly to your customers.
Good for: This is great for artists who are going on tour or commonly playing out.
What Can I Sell? You’ll be able to sell most standard merchandise items, pending your budget allowance for acquiring stock up front.
Where Can I Sell? For this option, you would need to set up a digital storefront. You can do this directly in your link in bio with Sell Physical Products.
3. Customized Creations
How Does It Work? Artists with an interest in fashion can upcycle clothes or craft their own collections through the help of a partnering brand.
Good for: Great for artists who have time, financial resources, and a dedicated fanbase. This is also a great pick for musicians who also have a love of fashion.
What Can I Sell? Just about anything! You could sell clothes, stickers, perfume, gently used performance outfits – the sky’s the limit!
Where Can I Sell? You’ll need to create your own storefront. You can sell directly from your link in bio utilizing Sell Physical Products and build a space within your website.
4. Digital Mech
How Does It Work? You provide digital assets like phone backgrounds and sell them directly to your audience.
Good for: Anyone – Most digital assets don’t require many start up costs and run themselves once set up.
What Can I Sell? You can sell phone backgrounds, themed avatars/icons, NFTs, or any other digital good that extends the artist experience to your fans.
Where Can I Sell?
How To Successfully Sell Merchandise
Are you ready to start selling merch or looking to start a print-on-demand business? Here are some key business practices that will help you get your merch into the hands of fans:
Build Your Online Storefront
Your online storefront is just as important as your IRL merch table. Make sure your link in bio is customized according to your brand and clearly features your stock via Sell Physical Products or Shopify Storefront. Remember to direct fans to your link in bio and invest time in building your online presence, which will in turn help you convert to more sales.
Make Your Merch Table Standout On Tour
Don’t forget that presentation matters just about anywhere, even on your merch table. Make sure your stock is well lit and continues the visual experience of your music. It’s also a good idea to mention your merch table at some point during your set. Small freebies like branded stickers can also help you earn more sales.
Offer Limited Runs
If you have the bandwidth, it might be beneficial to have several lines of merchandise to appeal to different releases or themes in your art. Having a limited run can create the allure of exclusivity, and help you move more volume. You can giveaway special perks to fans who have collected a piece from all collections and build a deeper connection with your most engaged fans.
Earn more sales by offering price bundles and incentives for your fans. This could manifest as conducting flash sales or selling products in a bundle at a price break. Find ways to reward your supporters who invest in you and your art.
Link Out To Your Merchandise In Your Newsletter
Every time you send out a newsletter, you have an opportunity to convert to a merch sale. Collect emails in your link in bio utilizing Laylo and Email Collection. Email lists can be surprisingly effective for musicians and can help you foster an intimate space for you and your most dedicated fans.
Learn From Your Audience
Take notice of your numbers. If a particular merch run is pulling more numbers, analyze your promotional strategy and the designs themselves. You can even use mini apps like You Choose to allow your fans to pick out your next merch line.