How to create and sell music band merchandise — 2021 guide

Band t-shirts and other music merch have been around since the invention of rock ‘n’ roll. But it looks like its popularity is booming lately.

Here’s why:

It’s no secret that streaming royalties pay artists far less than traditional album sales. For example, if you’re streaming music on Spotify, you can expect to make between $3-$5 per 1000 streams (how much you get depends on the total amount of streams per month). 

Now:

Imagine that you start selling t-shirts with your logo for $25 apiece. Profit from just one t-shirt would be equivalent to 5000 streams on Spotify.

Unfortunately, it’s simply not enough to stream your music to make a living. So, selling band merchandise is the most direct way for your fans to support you as a musicianall the profit goes directly into your pocket instead of record labels, distributors, or streaming services.

In this guide, I’ll show you 4 easy steps to create and start selling your own band merch:

  1. Find inspiration and come up with a concept
  2. Design your band merch
  3. Sell your band merch online

But before we start

The times when you had to order band merch in bulk, then figure out where to store it, and end up with a closet full of unsold leftovers are in the past. 

That’s why in this guide I’m going to talk about selling band merch with print on demand (POD for short)a fulfillment model that helps create and sell custom merchandise without keeping inventory or handling shipping. But we’ll get to that later on in the article.

Pro tip: When choosing a merch supplier, pay attention to whether the company offers print on demand, or if you need to place a bulk order.

Step #1: Find inspiration and come up with a concept

Band merch is something you can (and should!) use to drive revenue and spread awareness about your music. But you’ll only be able to sell products that your fans are ready to buy from you, and, in the best-case scenario, show off to their friends and social media followers. 

So, before you jump into brainstorming band merch ideas, you must answer one question:

What items should you include in the merch selection?

Popular band merch example: Red Hot Chili Peppers created merch for their fans.

In general, there are three types of band merch that have proven to be absolute champions. Let’s go through all of them and look at some great examples.

1. Wearables (t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, etc.)

Who doesn’t like a nice t-shirt or a cozy hoodie? 

Statista reports that the most popular online shopping category is clothing.

That said, out of all the custom clothing items, band t-shirts and other wearables are something your fans will expect to see on your merch shelf. Plus, wearable merch doesn’t only drive income from sales but also serves as a walking billboard for your band.

Many of you think that when you start selling merch you have to go all-in with the designs. The truth is that if you’re just starting, having one or two products that you can offer to your fans is perfectly okay!

Designing something as simple as a band t-shirt is much easier than you think. Sometimes, all it takes is simply slapping your logo or album artwork on a shirt and you’re good to go.

Look at the Rolling Stones, Nirvana, or Pink Floyd—so simple, yet it screams instant brand recognition! If you can create a solid brand such as this for your music, your fans will be able to fully identify your merchandise.

Image Source

2. Accessories and small relics

In case selling wearable merch seems a bit too heavy, you should consider smaller items.

For example:

  • Posters
  • Hats
  • Bandanas
  • Patches
  • Guitar picks
  • Tote bags
  • Lyric books
  • Custom mugs
  • Phone cases
  • Stickers

Such items are much cheaper than t-shirts or hoodies, which automatically makes them a great option for fans who might be tight on cash but want to support you. It’s a win-win situation.

Here’s what you can do:

If you already have some kind of visual representation of your music, you could use it as artwork for band posters and stickers. For example, your band’s logo or name can work perfectly well for something as simple as a hat or a tote bag. If not, you could try engaging your fans in the process by holding a poster design contest. Ask your friends and fans to submit their sketches or fully rendered concepts for a chance to be chosen as the band’s official design (it also works for t-shirts and other wearables). 

Speaking of minimalistic design,  DJ Carlo Atendido has a great example of how to create a stylish merch collection with just a logo. His designs are so simple, yet elegant all of the items are only featured in black and white, with his logo neatly placed on them. The smaller merch items like mugs, stickers, and tote bags specifically stand out among others.

DJ Carlo’s merch store on Sellfy

3. Digital merch

For some reason, people don’t always consider digital merch as an option. In reality, the lack of physical production or shipping expenses can actually bring in the most sales because everything you earn goes straight to your pocket.

What exactly is digital merch? Long story short, it’s any digital product that can be associated with you or your music. For example:

  • Downloadable sheet music or guitar tabs, so that your fans can learn how to play your songs. 
  • A nicely formatted eBook with your lyrics.
  • Additional album materials, like poetry or lyrics that weren’t included.
  • An audio companion to your album that explains the meaning, or inspiration behind each song. 
  • A mini-documentary that takes your fans behind the scenes.

Moreover, you don’t have to stop at selling digital merch. Any kind of digital product is an excellent way for an independent musician to earn some extra cash or create passive income. 

Here are some examples of what you can sell along with your music and merch:

  • Guitar Presets 
  • Musical samples
  • Sound effects
  • Backing tracks
  • Beats
  • Scratch tracks
  • Music lessons

Plus, with digital products, you can offer freebies that will help you build an email list, monthly paid subscriptions with access to exclusive digital content, or licenses for using your digital products.

In fact, it’s a very common practice in the music industry. Thomas McRocklin is a talented guitarist who has played with some of the greatest guitar players in the world. As a successful musician, he also runs an online business selling digital and physical products, as well as merch on his Sellfy storefront.

Thomas’ store on Sellfy

Step #2: Design your band merch

Once you’ve chosen the products to sell and have a concept for your merchandise, it’s time for the most creative part—design! 

Luckily for you, we’ve created a thorough guide on how to design merch that stands out and sells well.

In essence, you have just two options: create the design yourself or hire a freelance designer. 

Of course, you could also take a ready-made design from royalty-free graphic resources like Vexels, Shutterstock, and Flaticon. However, it can be tricky as you must make sure there’s no copyright infringement. 

But don’t worrythere are much better ways to bring your ideas to life, whether you have any design background or not. 

Here’s a shortlist of top resources (paid and free) that can help you create designs for your merch, or find a designer to do this job for you:

Best free design tools for amateurs: 

  1. Canva
  2. Desygner
  3. PIXLR 

Best software for those with a design background: 

While Adobe Illustrator is one of the most commonly used programs amongst graphic designers, there are plenty of free Photoshop alternatives:

  1. Photopea
  2. Inkspace
  3. Gimp

Hiring a freelance designer:

Even though there’s no need to look for a designer to throw together a simple logo or a graphic, more complex designs may probably require a search for some help. 

So, here are the top websites for finding a freelance designer:

  1. UpWork 
  2. Fiverr 
  3. 99designs

Step #3: Sell your band merch online

Sellfy is is an easy-to-use eCommerce platform that helps you create and sell print-on-demand merchandise, digital and physical products, as well as subscriptions—all from one place. 

With Sellfy’s print on demand, you won’t have to worry about keeping an inventory, bulk orders, and unsold leftovers, which makes it the. Fully automated production, fulfillment, and shipping make Sellfy the best service for creating and selling merch

Here’s how to start:

1. Set up your band merch store with Sellfy

All you need to start using Sellfy is a valid email address. 

Just choose a subscription plan or start with a 14-day free trial and see if it’s a fit for you. The best part is that you won’t have to pay extra for Sellfy’s print on demand as it’s available on all plans.

2. Create your band merch

Once you have your account set up, you can start adding products. 

Sellfy’s POD has an easy-to-use product editor that’ll help you bring your design ideas to life. 

All you have to do is:

  • Choose product color
  • Upload your logo or custom graphics
  • Edit and position your graphics on the product
  • Preview your products on high-quality images

Important note about the image quality: Please follow our print-on-demand tips and best practices to prepare the perfect design file. This is crucial for achieving great print quality.

Once you’ve added your products they will instantly appear on your store page.

3. Customize your band merch store

When you create an online store for band merch, it’s crucial to make it look the way you want it to.

Sellfy’s advanced store editor has everything for customizing just about every aspect of your store. You can choose the store layout, add product pages, customize page modules, change text and graphic alignment, as well as typography, and so much more.

Sellfy’s store editor

4. Market your music band products

For starters, let your audience know about your online store! Add links to your store on your social media, streaming platforms, YouTube channel, or any other platform where you can reach your target audience. 

Apart from that, Sellfy has some great marketing tools that will help you maximize sales. For example:

  • Discounts and coupon codes with a possibility to set start/end time, add a countdown timer for your offer and customize SALE badges.
  • Freebies that can give a taste of your product and help you build an email list.
  • Pay-what-you-want feature to increase customer engagement and maximize your revenue.
  • Email marketing with a possibility to run email campaigns, sending product updates and “thank you” letters.
  • Upselling and cross-selling feature to offer an additional (discounted) product to the buyer as soon as they add one of your products to the cart.

And so much more.

Sellfy’s upselling feature

Over to you

In today’s music industry, merch sales make up to 35% of artists’ revenue. So, if you’re an independent musician in 2021, you need to start selling some merch to increase your revenue. Sellfy is the best solution for independent artists, bands, beatmakers, DJs, and other creators because there are zero risks. Start selling today!

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