The difference between having a moderately well known local band, and a bona fide, national, popular band can often boil down to how the band advertises itself. This isn’t to downplay the value of having tight, well crafted music, but without a component of self-marketing, a band can toil in obscurity for much longer than is necessary. To avoid that, start taking band merchandising more seriously – learn how to ideate, create and sell merchandise that will create an opportunity for your fans to spread the word. Here’s how it’s done.
Creating A Logo
What you need to begin with is an intriguing logo, something that fits the mood and sound of your band and visually represents your “brand” (it’s an icky word, but there is no better way to describe it). If you have a band with more of an indie sound, take a look at what other artists are doing, and use that as a jumping off point. If you are in a metal band, you already have a rich array of precedents to work with. For funkier, more “throwback” sounds, sift through old designs and see what you can learn. The bottom line: make it visually arresting.
Creating Custom Apparel
One you have your logo decided on, the next step is taking it to good quality t shirt printing services to get a bulk order of screen printed shirts. Go for good quality here – you don’t want t-shirts that are faded, cracking, bleeding colours, or otherwise looking sloppy. Go with a reputable t-shirt printer, one with whom you can form an ongoing relationship (you will need to periodically reorder, especially if your band gets popular).
What Colour T-Shirts Should You Order
This is a question that gets brought up frequently in forums and in conversation among musicians, and the general consensus seems to be this: unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, go with either a black or white t-shirt. If your sound is heavy, go black; if your sound is mellower, go with white.
What Size T-Shirts Should You Order
This Quora article does a good job breaking down which sizes to order. Basically, go with a majority of mediums and larges, with about half the amount of smalls and extra larges, and a quarter the amount of 2XLs. You will probably still sell out of one size before the rest, but this at least works as a dependable rule of thumb.
Aside from t-shirts, you obviously want to stock your merch table with any recordings you have done, any tapes, mixtapes, vinyl pressings, CDs, DVDs… whatever. Other than that, buttons, posters and stickers are all pretty popular: anything that your fans can visibly display to show their appreciation of their music.
Selling merchandise, such as custom t-shirts, at your shows is not only a great added revenue stream (for some bands, it’s the only revenue stream), but it also helps spread the word about your music. And at the end of the day, the more ears you can reach, the better.