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5 Band Merch Items That Were So Crazy, They Actually Worked

Photo by Thomas Springer via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 1.0

It's New Year's Eve and you've been standing in line for hours waiting to get into the [insert corporate name here] arena. It's been eight long months since you've bought the $500 ticket to see your favorite rock outfit, Justin Bieber and the Looney Tunes. Finally, the doors open. You, your best friend, and that one person who always tags along rush through the doors to get into yet another line, but this one is important. This line is for the merchandise.

When seeing a big-name act such as this, merchandise is overpriced, but an essential part of the experience. It's a rite of passage. It's proof that you were at this monumental event. You'll likely wear the T-shirt from this concert for years until it becomes a tattered shred of its former self. Then, it will be tossed away with minimal thought.

To the average person, merchandise may just be a souvenir of sorts. Even for big-name acts, merchandise is nothing more than a convenient way to promote their brand. For the local musician, however, merchandise means much more.

The Musician's Essential Guide to Merch: What to Get, How Much to Charge, and Where to Buy

Image by Roberta via flickr.com; used under Creative Commons

Merch is something any musician can (and should!) use to drive revenue and spread awareness for their music. But there are definitely a lot of merch options, and it can be totally confusing and overwhelming to figure out which is best. To help you out, I’m going to go through them all and give you some tips and pricing ideas.

How to Overcome the Awkwardness of Selling Your Own Band Merch

Image by Anna Hanks via flickr.com; used under Creative Commons

Let’s face it: for most musicians, selling merch is awkward, and as a result, most avoid their merch table like the plague. It's much easier to just pay a friend to take care of it while you focus on your awesome performance. But if you’re not at the merch table after the show, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Of course, you want to make sure you set up your booth correctly and let your fans know that you have merch available from the stage. But simply being present at your merch table is the most effective thing you can do to move the needle in terms of sales. And as an added bonus, it’s a great way to develop a relationship with your fans!

To help you get over the awkwardness, let’s go through four things to remember when manning the merch table.

The Simplest Approach to Selling Band Merch Internationally

The Manhead Merchandise team with Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. (Image courtesy of the author)

Merchandise solidifies a powerful connection between artists and their fans, and it's now a primary revenue stream for bands of all sizes. With the actual music being practically free, bands rely on merch income to keep themselves going.

Traveling throughout America is one thing, but as your music gains traction, translating the merchandise process overseas becomes a different ball game. Since founding Manhead Merchandise in 2007, we've experienced every situation imaginable when it comes to printing and shipping merchandise internationally. It gets very complex.

Are You Ready to Start Selling Band Merch?

Image via musicodiy.com

At what point is it appropriate to begin dressing your fans? That's basically what you're doing when you sell them T-shirts emblazoned with your band name, after all. In all seriousness, though, selling merch is an important part of your DIY operation. When executed masterfully, it's marketing that pays for itself – and then some.

Merch can work to spread the good word about your awesome band, and income generation can fund future endeavors, like recording or pressing vinyl. But it's an investment: Even if you design and print on your own, you've still gotta pay for the T-shirts. There are ways to lower costs on all kinds of items, of course, but there are also other important boxes to tick before bankrolling a bulk order of buttons. To be sure you're ready to start selling merch, see if your band meets the five criteria below.