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The highs and lows of band merch

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Merch can be a tough learning curve for any band or label. Get it right, and you’ll be scrambling to place a reorder as fast as you can, get it wrong and you’ll be left with an inventory full of merch you just can’t shift.

 

To help give you an insight into what’s worked, we spoke to some of the awesome bands and records labels we work with to help give an insight into their top sellers, as well as their biggest merch flops.

The Cribs 

The Cribs

What’s your most successful piece of merch?

 

Probably our white and red ringer shirt. It’s kinda become our official shirt in some ways and is always kept in stock both online and on every tour since we introduced it. We’ve sold them all over the world which is crazy – UK/Euro, USA, South America, Australia…it’s been particularly popular in Asia – when we toured Japan and China recently we sold through all our shirts every night. I think it’s because it’s just a really simple, clean concept. Just good looking and classic.

Other things that have been popular are our “Cribsmas” sweaters – originally these were just a goofy idea we came up with for our two night Christmas stand at Leeds Academy in 2014, but they have been so popular we reissued them every year.

Our “official fan club” enamel badges have been very popular worldwide too. So much so that we have introduced country-specific “international edition” versions. The idea for these came from a concept we had on our second album campaign – we made prefect badges with the band name on them. We sold tons of these – the idea was that we felt that the kids who came to our shows probably felt like us – misfits and outcasts, not the popular kids likely to become prefects etc. So we wanted something to make us all feel like part of an inclusive club. They got banned in a bunch of high schools apparently, which we thought was pretty awesome.

What’s been your biggest merch flop?

 

Biggest flop was probably a t-shirt that Gary designed on the first album tour. It was a really lo-fi image of Chachi from happy days with his arm around Joanie – but we cut Joanies head off and put the head of Snowboy from “Nightmare Vacation 3: Teenage Wasteland” on there instead. It was a rad shirt but too niche probably.

What’s the best piece of band merch you’ve ever bought?

 

Favourite piece of merch that we have bought was from the time we went to see Queen at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2011. We all got specially minted Brian May silver sixpences.

We Were Promised jetpacks

We Were Promised Jetpacks

 

What’s been your most successful piece of merch?

 

Beanies were great. We went through all the hoodies as well. I think the beanies and the hoodies did well due to the season of the year the tour took place. Those items were also fairly unisex, even though the bands fan base over-indexes on men. Those items are also very in line with the band (and their fans) aesthetic.

 

What’s been your biggest merch flop?

 

The yellow unravelling shirts would have to take the award for the biggest flop.

I think the yellow shirts didn’t do very well due to the colour, honestly. It wasn’t really in line with the bands typical aesthetic.

Blood and Biscuits


What’s your most successful piece of merch?

Easily the Original Three Trapped Tigers T-shirt, which we’ve reprinted in every colour under the sun. I think it’s mainly down to the band being great but also the design is very simple and striking. The fact we’ve reproduced it loads in different colours means it’s been consistent but varied over a decade.

 

Variations on a theme if you will.

 

What was your biggest merch flop?

 

Probably band t-shirts for bands who don’t tour enough. So it’s their fault, not yours or mine 🙂

 

What is the best piece of band merch you’ve ever bought?

I didn’t buy it, but I got a patch for free when I bought the LP of an album called ‘Are You Alone?’ By Majical Cloudz.

 

I’ve never sewn or ironed it onto my jacket, but I’ve had it in my pocket since the day I bought that album 3.5 years ago.

Big Scary Monsters

What’s your most successful piece of merch?


Our most successful merch was probably a set of cat and dog sweatshirts we printed a few years back. Both featured memes of the animals chilling out and we sold loads of them. I feel like it almost became a battle between cat and dog lovers to prove which is best! There was nothing particularly outstanding about them, I think they just resonated with our fan base, looked cool and were super comfy (by the way, dogs are best).


What was your biggest merch flop?


One of our biggest flops eventually went on to be a pretty successful product. We printed sunglasses for a festival a few years back and it rained all weekend so obviously nobody wanted them. However, two years later at the very same festival, it was incredibly sunny and word spread around the site we had cheap glasses. They sold out on day one and had people coming over to ask for them all weekend!


What is the best piece of band merch you’ve ever bought?


I’m a sucker for a good band beer! A couple of ours like Delta Sleep and Tiny Moving Parts have made their own before and they looked so good with the cans all branded up to fit their records. They tasted pretty good too!

MewithoutYou

What’s your most successful piece of merch?

 

The [Untitled] EP/Album Collector’s Edition (including a bundle option with t-shirt, patch, badges and art print) is far and away the most successful in terms of sales and I believe when the product is finished and shipped it will be the most beautiful, unexpected, and successful thing mewithoutYou will have ever made.

But since that hasn’t shipped yet, we would have to say that Ten Stories Deluxe Edition was the most successful piece of merch. While it wasn’t the most robust in terms of content for a deluxe and a little underdeveloped in terms of its presentation, the reception to it was totally unexpected and blew us away. We’ve since refined, expanded, and matured a lot in how we handle those special edition vinyls but the first one had no precedent and I think was really special for the band and the fans.

 

What was your biggest merch flop?

 

There is no doubt it was the “Rose Patch Hoodie.” For years fans were clamouring for a hoodie and so a couple of years ago we released one online during Christmas time. We had released winter products like pullovers around this time of year and they had always blown out. The hoodie itself though was a zip-up made of heavy cotton blend. It was like a light winter jacket. It had a hand-sewn patch on the front with beautiful screen-printed design by Charlie Wagers. We put it up on the website and our socials and people just did not care. What made matters worse is that they were expensive to produce and we had to order hundreds made. They took over a year to sell down.

Orchards

 

What’s your most successful piece of merch?

 

We got some long sleeves printed and we only ordered 20 because we were worried that they were going to just not sell at their higher price. They sold out in the first 2 shows…

 

What was your biggest merch flop?

 

We had some bottle openers made when the band first started. Still finding them in my drawers today… 7 years later.

 

What is the best piece of band merch you’ve ever bought?

 

I bought a limited edition screen print from Gallows when they toured Orchestra Of Wolves, they had a different design for each day of the tour. First time I’d seen a screen print before and it blew my mind.

Happy Accidents

Happy Accidents

What’s your most successful piece of merch?

 

One of our first pieces of merch was a skeleton on a scooter print tote bag designed by Jono Ganz and that sold pretty fast. I think it was a combination of the design and being the season for tote bags!

 

What was your biggest merch flop?

 

How dare you suggest we’ve ever had a merch flop. To be fair we haven’t 100% followed through on our promise of VHS tapes with our extended music video documentary thing on. They look great but there’s nothing on the actual tapes at the moment but we still want to do it! Watch this space/our merch table.

 

What is the best piece of band merch you’ve ever bought?

 

We all own a Doe t-shirt so probably that as a joint great band merch purchase.

Looking for band or label merch inspo? Check out our ideas for pages now! 

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