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The beginner’s guide to band merch

So, you’re in a band.

Good effort, you! If you’ve managed to find a crew of great girls and guys who can not only not murder each other when stuck in the same room for an extended period of time but can also make some sweet music together, so the hard part is done.

Except, actually, it’s not. Sorry.

Because, now you’ve got to try and make a go of this thing and make it a successful and make some cash along the way too (it helps, right?)

Because you asked so nicely, we’ve put together the beginner’s guide to band merch, so you’ll be selling your way to that main stage in no time.


What kind of merch should you start with?

Start simple and start small. Stick with classics that are sure-fire sellers. You might just pick two or three items to start with - say, stickers, screen-printed t-shirts and caps. If you stick to a one-colour print, you’ll be keeping the costs down but remember not to skimp on good design - it’ll make all the difference to the finished product.

The best thing about the three items above is that not only will they make you cash, but they’ll also help promote your band and get the word out about your general amazingness.

How do you get started without wasting heaps of cash?

Stick to small print runs, stick to simple designs without heaps of colours to save on the print costs, and really think about your fans and what they like to wear and buy before you get started. It’s no use bulk-buying Marrickville’s finest screen printed tees if they’re hot pink and you’re a goth band. If t-shirts are where you’re at, a low-cost option like gildan soft style is a great entry-level product that’ll keep your fans happy and you can afford to play around a bit with a few different looks and styles to make sure you’re getting a product your fans are going to come back for.

Should you give stuff away for free?

Why yes, but they have to give you something in return, like their promise of eternal adoration. Or, even an email address? Getting them on your mailing list in return for a sticker will pay dividends down the track, when you use that same list to get them along to your next show or to buy more merch from you.

How do you find a good designer and manufacturer?

It’s often tricky to sort through all the operators out there and work out who’s providing decent band merch printed here in Australia and who’s just going to run you off a dodgy product that’ll fall apart during its first wash and end up pissing your fans off. Quality is important - and don’t forget that the more wears a fan can get out of your custom band tees, the better for you. Exposure, exposure, exposure (it is too a saying).

What can you do if you’re a few shows in and no one's buying?

You could try threatening to lock the venue doors and play cheese-tastic 90s chart toppers until their ears bleed (Aqua, anyone?), but there may be an easier way to do it. The most important thing is to stick with it - sometimes greatness takes a while. Try looking at how you’re promoting your merch on social media, for a start. If you’re not plugging it in a way that makes it look amazing, now’s the time to start. You might also need to look at your merch stand and the way it’s displayed and lit - if you’ve tucked it in a dark corner near the toilets, you may have a problem. Paying attention to who is on the merch stand and how they interact with your fans is also important - you’re definitely going to sell more if the seller is open and friendly.

Try looking at your merch stock, if you find you’re not selling much…


So that’s all there is to it! Mastering merch isn’t rocket science - make products your fans want, make sure they know what’s available and make sure you make it easy for them to get their hands on all your amazing goods.

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