Merchandise is an important piece of an artist’s identity. Not only is it a key source of revenue, but, once purchased by a fan, also stands as a permanent way of representing the artist/band. With the high value of merchandise today, it’s worth rethinking its purpose, and realizing the larger opportunity presented. Below are a few characteristics that I believe make up a perfect merch item.
Is it worth remembering? Would someone tell a friend about it? People telling their friends about something is the way almost anything truly spreads, and, with your merchandise being a direct extension of you as an artist, it’s important that it helps retain the initial attention you receive.
If your merch can become some sort of badge people wear to identify your fan community, you’re golden. When you go to a friends house and see a Pulp Fiction movie poster on their wall, you immediately feel connected to that person, as if you’re both very subtly on the same page and in the same community. And when you see boy scouts proudly wearing multiple badges, those badges serve as a symbol of identity and community. If your merch can do the same for your fans, it would be huge.
3. BRAND AMPLIFICATION
If you are a metal band, you wouldn’t have custom lipstick created. But, on a less extreme note, having a t-shirt or sticker created might not be the right match for your brand/image either.
Obviously the price can’t be outrageous. It needs to be affordable enough that someone else can purchase it, you can profit from the sale, and that you can afford to have more made in the future if/when you sell out of the item.
If you can keep these big-picture concepts in mind, and then use your merchandise as a vehicle to deliver and execute these concepts, you will be putting yourself in a position to succeed far more than a band who simply has t-shirts made because that’s what’s common.