Choosing your merchandise
Deciding on a new piece of merch for your band/brand is so exciting! The possibilities are nearly endless and creativity is definitely king. While this may fill some with excitement, endless possibilities could also lead to option paralysis. Therefore I decided to put together a couple of pointers to help set you up for success with your next merchandise endeavor!
What have you done before?
This is an important place to start since planning for your first piece of merchandise will obviously be different than planning an addition to an existing collection. So let’s start there, if you don’t have any existing merch available, make sure that the first thing you introduce is easily identifiable and will help spread your name. There’s no use in having an obscure piece of merch that someone who doesn’t already know you won’t recognize as yours, no matter how beautiful it might be. If you have a strong logo that would be your best place to start.
If you’ve already got a bunch of items available, branching out into some different kinds of merch might be the best way forward. We already have a Garment Review section that can help show you some different options. Already have a bunch of shirts and hoodies out? Consider making some hats, pants, shorts, underwear, or socks even! The important part is using your imagination, sometimes it’s the really strange one-off pieces of merch that fans appreciate the most.
What does your fanbase actually wear?
This is quite possibly the most important question to ask yourself when making decisions about merch. There’s no use in making the best possible design and putting a ton of work into something that your fans won’t actually wear, even if they buy it! So pay attention to the little things, doing proper research here will go a super long way. For example, if you don’t see your fans or your target market wearing band shirts, then maybe going for something like a beanie or a pin/patch could be a better bet. You can even simply post a couple of options of what you could make to your socials and see what feedback you get, easy as that!
What’s everyone else doing?
The most popular place to start when planning merch, however, is it the best? I’d argue that it isn’t. We make music to express thoughts and feelings in a way that other people can relate to and understand, and while different artists do influence each other, the successful ones don’t copy each other.
Merch can be approached in a similar way. Basically, it’s good to know what others are doing, but don’t let that dictate what you do. Going against the grain could sometimes be the breath of fresh air that your scene needs! So don’t be worried if your ideas don’t fit the mold of what’s going on around you. As long as you’re putting out stuff that truly represents what you are, your fans will appreciate it.
What can we do?
This used to be a much more difficult question to answer, and a lot of decisions regarding merchandise in the past were governed by feasibility. However, with the growth of e-commerce, advances in technology, and better access to different kinds of products, these feasibility concerns are slowly disappearing. To put it simply, you can make pretty much anything you can think of! This means that the question of ‘What can we do?’ is turning into a question of ‘What do we want to do?’.
Remember, there really aren’t any hard rules when it comes to merchandise, these questions/pointers are intended to help get your creative juices flowing. Merchandise should be a reflection of your band/brand at the end of the day. So don’t be afraid to make it your own! The important thing is to be proactive and put something out there that both you, and the people that buy it, will be proud of. Remember, merch matters!