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10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online
June 20, 2023
Merch is such a vital part of a musician's money making strategy. In our years in the industry, we’ve seen countless tiny bands play a gig for less money than it took to fill their van with petrol. And then absolutely kill it on the merch table, taking 10 times more cash than their fee.

If you do it right, merch can massively increase the available cash in your band as a business and help you make way more money from your music.

But before we dive into our list of cool merch ideas for your band, check out some of our expert tips on some things you might not have considered

How to sell merch to your fans

Understand your margins

Do whatever it takes to understand how much money you need to charge for each item in order to make a reasonable profit. Download a profit and loss template spreadsheet and fill it in. It’s surprisingly good fun. Honest.

Have you factored in the cost of your time to organise and sell it? It’s absolutely fine to break-even, or even make a loss, on a product if there is a good reason behind it that you’ve thought through. But there’s nothing worse than not doing your sums and realising you’ve worked hard for no reason at all.

Think about your audience

What do they want? What products best suit them? We know from our stats at Dizzyjam that goth bands sell way more black t-shirts than trance artists. We know that American audiences order more XXLs than Japan.

Advertise your merch

If selling merch at a gig, make sure it looks good and people know where they can get it. Mention it from the stage (but don’t overdo it - people hate being heavily sold to). Consider buying a display board to show off your merch behind the table, and write your prices in clear large lettering visible from across the other side of the merch table. Make it easy for your fans.

TIP: If you’re lucky enough to be touring internationally, educate yourself on different country sales taxes and implications.

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online

10 Band Merch Ideas Your Fans Will Love

1. T-shirts

The grandaddy of merch. Highly visible, easy to get hold of, and the thing that everyone wants to wear. You can go down two main routes:

Bulk screenprinted: This is where you buy up-front, and deal with all the sales and fulfilment yourself. You can get decent quality t-shirts printed for less than £3 each if you you are smart, so there’s good money to be made. But don’t be fooled - it can be hard work shifting all your stock if you don’t judge the size distribution etc correctly.

On-demand digital printing: This is a completely risk-free way of selling t-shirts. You create a preview of your product online, and then when someone buys it, it’s digitally printed and dispatched directly to them, with you receiving a cut of the profits. There are countless print-on-demand platforms that will help you do this for free, but only one that truly specialises in the music industry. And yeah, it’s us - Dizzyjam.

2. Your Music

The next thing you need to have on sale is music. ALWAYS have your music available for sale. For CDs, think about cardboard sleeves instead of plastic cases to save space while touring or posting. If you’re selling physical formats, consider adding a download code to sell your music online or at least a link to where they can stream it. People love a memento from a great gig but a download code works even if they don’t have a record / CD player.

3. Mugs

Perhaps something a bit different that you can also get everyday use out of?There are loads of companies that can print a Spotify code or SoundCloud track code onto mugs. They’ll go down a treat with the audiophile fans!

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online - Spotify code on a mug

4. Autographed anything.

If you can sign it, you should. It personalises your products for your fans, and gives them something that will - hopefully - become massively collectable in years to come.

DMA's recently released a handful of signed cassettes to celebrate the launch of their latest album, directing users to their store page to snap up one of the limited edition tapes.

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online - DMAs signed cassette

5. Get crafty

Crafting is all the rage these days, so there’s nothing to stop you heading down to your local arts and crafts store and stocking up. Buy some good quality white t-shirts, some fabric inks, some sequins, and go to town. Or even just a simple adornment of the existing screen printed t-shirts or hoodies that you’ve bought.

6. Make merch while they wait

Do you have any special skills? Is your drummer a good caricaturist? Is your bassist an origami god?

Inhaler sold unique and location-specific merch products throughout their 2022 USA tour including hand-drawn images on drum heads. Perfect gifts to mark each event.

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online - Inhaler signed drum head

7. What would your fans want?

Iron Maiden brewed beer. Wavves produced grinders. Deadmau5 manufactured cat headphones (yeah, headphones for cats). Alice Cooper sold branded eyeliner. Daft Punk released “Get Lucky” condoms. Think about something that is unique to you, or a track/album of yours. Not just good merch. Good PR, too.

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online - personalised beer bottles

8. Marshmallows.

Yeah, you heard us. Marshmallows. Check out Boomf.com for some out-of-the-box thinking. To be honest, you can get pretty much anything printed on these days. Keyrings, marshmallows, plates, calendars, towels. But think about your audience first and foremost. A beach towel isn’t going to suit a sun-fearing goth fan….

9. Private performances

The big artists have been charging mega-bucks for this kind of thing for years, so why shouldn’t you? J-Lo, Beyonce, and Mariah all charge well in excess of $1m for a one-hour private performance. You may have to set your sights a little lower than that, but your biggest fans would love the opportunity to get an acoustic serenade in your dressing room or, even better, in their home!

10. Think beyond the sale

Will other people see your merch? Will it get talked about by the new owner? Will it spark conversation? Sometimes it’s worth thinking about selling stuff at cost, or even a loss, if you know that it will help spread the word about you. So consider something cheap like guitar picks or wristbands. If ordered in the right quantities they can be bought for as little as 10p each. So you can definitely afford to sell them for that little, or even give them away, and you’ll no doubt get people talking about you!

Just remember - your goal with all of these is one or more of the below (but hopefully all):

- Make your fans happy

- Earn cash

- Be talked about

You can always contact Dizzyjam.com any time to say hello, or to get our advice. Just drop us a line on info@dizzyjam.com, or say hello via our site.

10 Cool Band Merch Ideas To Sell at Gigs & Online

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