10 Merch Ideas Fans Will Love | Let Fans Pay You
When local shows don’t pay enough. When Spotify streams only bring in pennies, you end up spending a lot of your own money to produce your music. You need another additional way to bring in some dollars through the music. You need a collectible that stands out to give fans to remember you by. You need merch! Make your music pay for itself and then pay you.
Problem: "I’m Not Famous Yet So Streaming Doesn’t Pay"
Streams are nice. But merch pays more. Phones are the most common device for streaming music. People carry their phones everywhere so they can stream you everywhere. Streaming is the most popular form of music distribution, like merch it will make you money. After uploading to a main distributor platform, you simply tell your fans your name and song title, then they can search you and a nice picture u in seconds, save the song to their library and pull up again whenever they desire.
The major problem is as an income source, compared to other forms of music income, this takes quite a while to pay off being that it takes about 500 streams to make $1 dollar. And even if you’re active in your town, it’s pretty hard to get 250 people to play your song twice, let alone 500, even if the song is good. Spotify’s ease of access has a double edged sword effect because it also makes it easy for several other artist to fill the search results. Any musician is literally competing with over a million other similar artists that show up in custom tailored suggestions just for every listener to pull the listener away from who they originally came to listen to. It’s also easy to find a song, click like and forget about it in an ever growing personal library of thousands of likes.
Then, being that the app is primarily a mobile experience, people will also be receiving, text, phone calls, and social media alerts while listening to your music. Today’s listeners are inundated with constant distractions, as well as streaming ads interrupting the listening experience and the chance to get to know you through your music. For these reasons and for additional cashflow, after streams, successful artist turn to merch.
People love custom lighters. Buy a pack of reliable bics and wrap your stickers around them. When it comes to music, plenty people love lighters either for smoking or lighting incense. People hold on to custom lighters forever, especially if the lighter holds its flame. For one, it’s precious memorabilia, but two, it’s actually always useful. The usefulness makes people unlikely to throw your lighter away. Some lighters even double as bottle openers. Fans will come across your lighter either daily or every once in a while and remember to check out your music. Either that or they lose it to someone with sticky fingers in a smoke session and end up sharing your name with one of their friends, hopefully while listening to your music.
QR Codes are not necessarily merch, but they are a great addition to your merch. They link people to you online with just a quick camera scan. Put QR codes on stickers with cool designs and sticker bomb your downtown are so people scan and discover you on their city strolls. QR codes can also go on your business cards or even T-shirts. Go crazy. These codes are cool because they lead straight to your website or an individual page you can set up just for your first time fans, your mailing list, or a current product you have a big push going for. You can modify your QR page to show or link to whatever. It’s as easy as taking a picture and people find it exciting because it’s relatively new technology to most of the public as they’re not super frequently used all over yet. These can also link to music downloads, Spotify pages, and or YouTube videos.
Now a lot of people see custom USB “Gig-Sticks” as the genius new way to promote physical music being that CD’s & Vinyl are outdated. USB is a common everyday thing, it’s real small, easy to carry, pocket sized, and it’s little unique as merch. The biggest and most unique benefit is you can add extra content. Videos, lyrics, presentations, whatever else you can imagine.
The problem is fans being plugged into a computer with a flash drive just to listen to music isn’t necessarily the most likely or high quality listening circumstance. However, they could plug in headphones or an auxiliary speaker. But people often listen to music in the car and not every car stereo comes with a USB reader. Another challenge is that the space for artwork is pretty limited to a thin rectangle, so proper album covers are kind of out of the question with customized USB flash drives.
Tiny Tapes are the best of many worlds. Label them with album art & Spotify or QR codes. People are often excited by this tiny product they’ve never seen that plays such loud music. Tiny Tapes have the nostalgic appeal of vinyl in an ultra-portable, pocket sized form along with tactile buttons for play, stop, skip, pause, etc. You can easily carry 50 of these in your bag and sell them for $20 or more at every show.
Unlike record and CD players, Tiny Tapes don’t need batteries or a power outlet. They’re rechargeable. They’re not expensive like vinyl and record players. They’re not delicate like CD’s and no player is needed, just plug-in head phones after you charging and listen on repeat for hours. The unique appearance of Tiny Tapes creates a strong first impression. Fans can be reminded of you each time they look at your physical merch. For many, Tiny Tapes will be their first or only physical piece of music. It’s proven an item in hand makes a customer much more likely to become a buyer. And fans can show your tape to friends who may also be impressed.
In addition, with Tiny Tapes, you won’t have to compete with other streaming artists. Offer fans an uninterrupted listening experience that you can mail for cheap. It doesn’t matter whether fans have Tidal, Apple, or Spotify. Anyone can listen with headphones. And Tiny Tapes make great gifts. They can be used for custom mixtapes & playlists with scannable Spotify codes. Take it a step further and offer fans the ability to remove and plug in the inner SD card on their computers to wow fans with your lyrics, your videos, your interviews, your photos, your concert footage, or even mini video games, all in one place.
T - shirts
As merch, shirts are common and recognizable. Often times they kind of create a mob appeal. If all your band mates wear the team tee and you’ve managed to sell them to at least ten of your fans, when all ten show up to one show, you look famous or like a mob. They create a vibe of exclusivity. People like to rep what they’re into, and if they’re really into you, they’ll wear your T-Shirt. If they’re not really into you, then your T-Shirt better look amazing.
Also T-Shirts are kind of like personal billboards. If your T-Shirt is not just plain black with your band name in plain font, then your fans may actually wear the shirt outside the house like a walking advertisement for your music. However, designing a shirt that fits within the fashion sense of all your fans can often prove challenging. So it’s important to also consider, if there’s anything that bring your fans together that matches the brand of your band. For instance, a shirt that has your band name on the back, but the statement “I heart music” on the front.
The challenges are that it may be hard to design something people actually want to wear outside the house. T-Shirts are not very unique. They can only undergo so many washes. And the shirt isn’t listenable, lol.
Vinyl records are classy and bourgeoise in a good way. Their vintage comeback has shown a rise in sales in the past few years. They’re a collector’s, decorative kind of item for the refined music fan and can be sold a little pricier because of who they attract. The cheapest record players are about $50. So anyone who spends that much on their music player will spend money on your vinyl.
The cons are vinyls are a little niche and may not be for your fan base or not for too many people in your fan base. Most people don’t have record players as they’re hip but also really old school. The next challenge is records are large, often almost a foot wide. So if you want to print 50 of these and sell them at your shows, you’re going to have a huge, heavy crate to carry back and forth to all your shows. Then like CD’s, you’ve got to keep them covered from scratches.
Download links actually work depending on your fan base. The problem is they probably only work once someone is already a dedicated fan. It may be a little harder to move download links with people you’ve just met right after a show. People often rush a merch table looking to quickly leave with something in hand to remember the artist by. Download links are a little harder to exchange unless you have someone’s phone number to text directly to them, which is a little more personal but a possible strategy.
It’s one thing to tell someone to type in your Instagram and follow it to your site, to follow it to a particular link
(a three step process), vs just taking money and handing back some physical merch with your info on it. Also, physical merch may look like it’s worth more than a link and thus allow for higher mark up and profit margin. And worst case scenario your file may be a little more easily shared with other people who will skip the pay step and download all your music for free.
Pins are smaller than shirts but have the same effect because your fans can wear them everywhere and coincidentally advertise for you. They’re easier to pack for shows and cheaper to produce than shirts. The best part is people can stick them anywhere and don’t have to wash or fade them to wear them. If your fan really likes the pin, they’ll probably never take it off their hats or jackets.
Like Pins and shirts, stickers make walking billboards of people. Fans can stick them all over. They’ll often end up on the backs of phone cases, guitar cases, and laptops. Either that, or in a dingy hipster bathroom for people to look at while they urinate.
If you are a guitarist, these are pretty cool because guitarists flock together and everybody has a pick that they keep around for when they lose their finger callouses. Or even better, your fans may give your custom guitar pick to someone else, incidentally spreading your name. Your guitar pick could potentially strum hundreds of guitars in its life time.
CD’s are super cheap and easy to produce at home or with a local print companies but they’re so obsolete. Nowadays people don’t carry portable CD player’s, which need batteries. Cars no longer come with CD players. Most people have laptops rather than desktops at home. Laptops are getting thinner and no longer come with CD drives either. Listeners would have to use a PlayStation or something to listen to your music through a television, which would def alienate a lot of women who are not as often gamers, but who probably would’ve been your biggest evangelists and fans.
To make matters worse. CD’s scratch so easily & they often come in plastic jewel cases which are prone to cracking.
And once the CD’s scratched, it’s liable to skip and play your music incorrectly, or not play at all.
The bottom line is, it almost doesn’t matter what you manufacture. Those who support you just want to take something of yours home with them and will pay you for it as well as your music. So get creative, make some merch & make some money.