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Getting started with band merch

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So, you’re in a band….

You’ve got the guitar as a Christmas present. You’ve learnt every chord known to man. You’ve jumped about in front of the mirror. You’ve booked your first gig. You’re supporting your favourite band in London. You’re going on tour. You need to pay for the van and your drummer needs another Domino’s at 2 a.m. You’re gonna need band merch!

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It can be a little bit daunting as where to start with band merch. What do your fans want? Merch now plays such a critical role when it comes to a band being successful. Obviously good tunes are the main thing… but good merch = your fans walking around as beautiful band adverts for you, plus you also make some money to record your next hit record! We reckon that it boils down into four main categories of band merch….

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1) The must have merch….

Band tees are the holy grail of merch & the most common place to start the process. Pick up 50 band tees (size split depends on your fans – but think from Adult S – XL to start) and maybe even start with a one colour design to keep the costs down!

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2) Accessorise

You’ve got the tees and they’re selling like hotcakes. Time to add some freebies to the mix to promote the band…. all you need are a whole bunch of stickers (paper ones are a good place to begin) and your standard 25 mm band badges and you’ve got yourself a whole load of instant giveaways or a merch table full of future cash.

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3) The next level….

Your fans have bought the T-shirt, decorated the lamp posts with your stickers and stuck the badges on their jean jackets… they’re thirsty for more. We’d recommend things like tote bags, screen printed patches, sweaters, hoods and beanies which will take you onto the next level on the radical band merch ladder.

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4) The zany best seller….

Every band is looking for the next big thing and trying to out-do each other when it comes to merch… it’s super cool to have something niche on your stall / online shop that your fan can take home and cherish. Whether that’s something we can make like beer koozies, temporary tattoos, mugs or phone cases or something totally crazy like your own BBQ sauce or even a Snuggie (see below video).

5) The really useful merch….

Band merch doesn’t have to be sold – it can be useful for your rock concert! A custom bass drum skin, custom drum sticks and  guitar plectrums make you look super pro and you can even sell the last two on your merch desk. We love multi-use merch!

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What to go for and how to start up…

Start small, start sensible. Go with the tees, stickers and badges. Maybe just one of the three?
See what sizes sell, see what kind of designs your fans like.
Sell them at shows and sell them online (Bandcamp / Big Cartel are super easy to set up).
Offer pre-orders, offer free stickers with orders or other incentives.
Run merch giveaways on the internet. This will help with promoting your store.
Use Social Media to ask your fans what they want next.
Make sure you pay for good design. Good design is a must!!

imgKamikaze Girls

The end result….

Next stop you’ll be on the main stage at a festival and someone will be selling your merch for you! Good luck, have fun with it and if you have any Qs – tweet @AwesomeMerch for an answer.

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Sean Mort, Awesome Merch, Northern Craft, print, printmaking, This is my office
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