Tell us a bit more about your band and how you incorporate merch into your whole artist brand?
We’ve always wanted our merch to stand out and look appealing to not just fans of the band but all consumers within the alternative scene in general. A lot of bands these days will sell merch with nothing but their logo on it and it’s a saturated and uninteresting way to go. It limits your market to only people who know who you are, which is fine if you’re Metallica but not if you’re just starting out. We like to base our merch on our songs, picking stand out lines to embed in an eye catching design. An example would be the C(iV)NT beanies and snapbacks that we stock. At face value it looks like a rude word on a hat which is attractive to a young audience. With the iV logo embedded into the word, it acts as a great advert for the brand. If you see your mate rock up with a hat that looks like it says ‘CUNT’ across the front, you’re probably going to ask about it. At which point the band’s name is mentioned and brand exposure is heightened.
What trends are you seeing in merchandising which you are pumped about?
I think there have been a lot of bands at a local and more established level that have churned out the same old ‘logo tee’ design (we are no exception), usually consisting of a single colour product with the band’s emblem on the breast. You can’t blame people for running with this as this is the type of ‘designer’ tee you’d see slapped with a huge price tag in high street shops. So I’m excited to see more interesting, colourful and eye-catching designs start to come through. This type of design used to the go-to for metal bands and it’s good to see its popularity start to rise again.
Why do you think it is important for artists to focus more on their merchandise?
In the music industry in particular, becoming a self-sustaining artist is crucial. Unless you are blessed with a great personal financial situation, it is unreasonable to keep yourself afloat through personal investments for a lengthy period of time. Merch is probably the best way for an artist to make money to invest back into their cause. In recent years we have seen that live shows and record sales contribute to a much smaller percentage of an artist’s income than people outside this industry might believe. Whereas merch has the potential to be one of the most profitable investments you can make, provided you get it right.
How do you approach selling your merch? Do you have a merch table/ sell online?
We sell our merch at shows and through our online store at InVisionsOfficial.com. At shows we try to dress up our merch spot like a shop window, everything in that merch spot has to look appealing. We tend to use lighting to try and stand out from other bands’ merch areas and also like to have members of the band hang out there to encourage people to go over and browse the products. Shout out to our merch guy, Adam, who does a great job shifting those units! The online store is a great way to make merch available to fans all over the world and have your brand represented on a global scale. It can sometimes be a lot easier to close sales online with the use of competitions and discount codes.
Any tips for new bands looking into making merch?
Contact Pins & Knuckles!! Seriously though, don’t ever cut corners for the sake of saving a few quid. Obviously you have to take into account the financial investment for production versus your potential return, as the whole point of selling merch is to turn a profit. But quality must remain paramount. You have to be aware that every other band at your show is going to be selling a black t-shirt. So you need to make sure that potential customers are drawn to your black t-shirt instead of theirs. Originality in design is key to this as well as the overall quality of your product. Work with the best designers and merch providers that your budget will allow.
What type of merch do you find are the best sellers?
For us, I don’t think there has necessarily been a ‘type’ of merch which has sold best. The most successful products tend to be those which are branded as limited edition or a type of garment that we have not previously stocked and introduced for the first time. An example of this would be the hoodies that we started pushing in winter 2017. Another would be the C(iV)NT beanies and snapbacks mentioned previously.
Where do you reckon merch is going in the future?
I think with the healthy competition between bands to get ahead of the game with their merch products, we’ll see a rise in the quality of garments available to offer. The gap between the high street market and the merchandise market may begin to close as people are getting the exact same (or better) quality goods from their favourite band as they get from big name online or high street retailers.
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