What Type Of Merch Should Your Band Bring On Tour? Part Two

MMerch can be the money-maker for a new band trying to break into new markets by touring new areas – they tend to pay less for unknown commodities such as bands who are new to their town – and of course are the hot commodity for any big act, from Justin Bieber to Metallica. If it’s going to be a long run, it might be worth arranging ahead of time for some merch to be shipped to one of your tour destinations while you’re on the road, as it will then be waiting for you when you arrive; you won’t have to carry it the whole way across the country/planet, and you might help your cashflow by ordering your merch to be made in lots rather than all at once and having to pay for it in one go.

    Image credit: alittlenuclear-bomb on Tumblr

  • CD’s – Having CDs at your shows is very important if you want to sell your music. Modern music fans will typically get their music online – legally or illegally – but at a live event like your show, they want something they can take home with them, a piece of the concert they just witnessed, a part of the experience they just had – a piece of you, and what better way to get that than with a CD. It’s an especially good idea to have a cover design that allows for lots of room in the booklet or boardstock CD packaging (which is lighter and easier to transport around on tour) for your band to autograph, should the fan desire it. You could also have a poster as one side of the CD insert where each band member can sign their name right by their picture. Doing this has been known to help boost sales in indie bands. You might also want to consider bringing DVD’s – all albums and EPs, ‘mixtapes’ and other CD/DVD products that your band has for sale, just for the diehard fan who has – and wants – everything. You can also sell download codes to buy your music, but those are of course, not as fun to sign or show off to friends for the fans. Great memento merchandise is found in a CD’s packaging, but while it’s a lot bigger, more fragile and harder to lug around, if your band has vinyl out you might want to consider taking some on tour with you – though you’re probably more likely to sell more CDs than anything else.
  • Posters – If you want to sign and give away posters to fans that come to your merch booth or buy other items, and you don’t already have a poster inside your CD booklet as discussed above, finding a sponsor such as an energy drink company, alcohol company (if appropriate), or another outside-the-box sponsor who will print your posters with their logos on them, you can give them away free and get them into the hands of as many fans as possible. If you don’t want to give them away, can’t find a sponsor or want to do both, then choose a photo from your latest band photoshoot – be sure you have the photographer’s permission to use it as a poster and get a bulk amount printed to make the cost per poster extraordinarily cheap. Decide on your mark up – if you can get them cheap enough you may even be able to price them as low as $1-2 potentially resulting in many, many sales, or price them higher at $5-10 or more if you think your fans will buy them for that.
  • Cups, shot glasses and the rest – Getting cups and shot glasses and other similar items printed with your logo is an idea that could work for your band, so long as you think your fans will buy such commodities. However, if you’re selling them at a show, consider this: would you want to buy something you have to carry around all night, like a mug with a band’s name printed on it? With a shirt it’s easy – you just slip it on to replace the sweaty one you wore to the show, or drape it over your shoulder; with a CD, you can probably slip it in your back pocket, or even fit it in a purse, but a big glass or ceramic item? Not as much. Should you want to go the printed cup route, these items make for good ‘order online’ merch items that you can ship out directly to fans’ homes. Shot glasses, however, assuming they are the durable plastic breed and more likely to be picked up than the aforementioned items, and if you’re lucky you might even find yourself a sponsor – such as Jagermeister (if appropriate) – who will make them for you, with the added bonus of the sponsor’s brand thrown in for free.
  • Image credit: keepitloose on Tumblr

  • Stickers and buttons – stickers are an almost must-have item in your tour itinerary. They’re pretty cheap to make, meaning they’re pretty cheap for the fan to buy. Coupled with their portability – both for you and the fan – stickers can be stuck anywon schoolbooks, on walls, on bathroom mirrors, on laptops, on windows, on cars, on bodyparts, on guitars: on just about anything. Buttons or badges are also great little items to have available, but think about your audience before you have them made, are they really going to wear buttons? If your band is punk rock or thrash metal, you’re probably going to see a lot more people at your shows wearing buttons as opposed to if you’re in say a hip hop genre, but it’s really up to what you think your fans will like. But if it’s stickers vs buttons, definitely go with the stickers first.
  • Novelty items – does your band have a certain theme or style or mascot of some kind that can be used as inspiration for a piece of merch that is unique to your band and will be loved by your fans? You don’t have to go all out Gene Simmons style and have everything from dolls to who knows what made with your faces on them, but you could take a cue from Kiss and think about creating a novelty item that represents your band and have a few made to try out on a test market, such as your next show. Keep the old faithful merch as well – t-shirts, CDs and the rest, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and develop something novel and new, and all about you.

This is a guest post by Pandie Suicide of Mixonic, a CD duplication service based in San Francisco. Click to like Mixonic on Facebook.