Millie! Tell us about yourself, your band and how you got started out.
I was solo to start with, concentrating on my songwriting and touring as an acoustic act. It took me a couple of years to cultivate my sound and find musicians I really wanted to work with. The Shutup first formed in 2014 but that name didn’t come about until 2016.
How has merch changed from when you started out in the industry?
Merchandise plays such a major role now. Musicians survive on their merch sales alone a lot of the time – especially those just starting to tour where they may only be able to claim expenses from shows. That’s what keeps them on the road.
Merch has also become far more diverse. People are becoming more inventive with their ideas and really tapping in to what their specific fanbase is looking for, which is awesome.
Where do you think it is going in the 10 years? How are you planning to keep up?
Who knows? I think we’ll see more and more bespoke merchandise and communication from fanbases influencing what bands look to design for them. I don’t think it’s necessarily about keeping up with the changes, more always being open to new ideas, listening to your fans and being creative with what you put out.
What are you thinking UK artists are doing right with their merch?
That’s a hard question. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong way of doing merch other than making sure it’s in line with who you are as a band – logo/album/image etc and making sure you have sizes available. Things I like to see is stuff that isn’t “the norm”. Scroobius Pip is probably one of my favourite artists for merch. Ahead of the vcurve, seasonal, and always on brand.
Why do you think it is important for artists to focus more on their merchandise?
Speaking strictly business here, in a world where royalties through streaming are limited, saturation makes being heard difficult and touring is a tough game that doesn’t yield income until you’re in the upper echelons of successes it is so important to engage with your fanbase and get your image out there and think about your revenue streams if you want to survive. Merchandise is a necessary revenue stream, simply put.
How do you approach selling your merch? Do you have a merch table/sell online?
We have both a website and a “store” at our shows. I love coming up with new merch concepts and chatting to people after a show at the merch desk is actually one of my favourite parts of touring. We also do exclusives through things like Kickstarter when we look to release new music.
Any tips for bands looking into making merch?
Just have some. Make sure your branding (logo or name) is clear and that it is something you would want to wear. If it’s your first run, just have one t shirt and a CD. But next time you go to that town, try to have something new for those fans who already have your stuff.
What type of merch do you find are the best sellers?
The simple t shirt is always going to be the top seller. We generally find the black t shirt is best – everyone loves a black t! Followed closely by the humble white. We have had some really good success with some other lines, but generally speaking I think the black t will always reign supreme.
Where can our readers check out more of your music and buy your merch?
Oooooooh a bazillion places!
Spotify/Google Play/Apple Music under Millie Manders and The Shutup (band) or Millie Manders (solo)
And you can track us on bands in town/ songkick/ music glue too!