Your band is like a brand. You have a message that you want to sell to the rest of the world. There are numerous ways to gain traction for your band. We have already discussed the importance of social media, and have analysed press releases, however now it’s time to get the face of your band in the real world. Merchandise is one of the biggest revenue makers in the music industry. Not only is it a source of revenue, it also promotes your band for free. Look at bands like Parkway Drive for instance. At a music festival you’d be shocked if you didn't see at least a 100 people wearing one of their many t-shirts. This is exposure that your band needs to jump on quickly. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get to the drawing board and design your next run of merchandise!
It's All About The Design
If you fall into the ‘up-and-coming’ band category, then it is important that you have a design that will be popular amongst the general population, not just your fans. Why? It's simple, your fan base hasn’t been established yet. Therefore a person that has never heard of your band before will probably not want to buy a simple t-shirt with your name on it. You not only want to try and sell to your fan base, but also attract others too. Think of a witty design that relates to people. Pop culture designed tees are a great way to draw the eye of the public, and can increase your bands following. For instance, Melbourne lads The Bennies have a pro marijuana stance, and they don’t make any efforts to hide it. Their latest run of merchandise glorifies weed; even releasing a popular ‘Suicidal Tendencies’ design, instead with the slogan “420 tendencies”.In recent years, the crossover thrash band from the 80’s have had their Suicidal Tendencies logo reused to make it a pop culture reference in certain ways. The Bennies utilised that design to capture their audiences' eyes. This clever marketing campaign utulises popular interests, and successfully draws in new fans. Try thinking of cultural references that may have not been done before. A great idea can lead to success in merch sales and ultimatley people checking out your music! Check out local company Climate Headwear who printed The Bennies hat below and who also print a range of affordable head wear including beanies for bands like The Smith Street Band, Super Best Friends and Horror My Friend.
Print, Print, Print.
Screen-printing can be quite expensive, however if you are clever with your design you can turn over a big profit from selling t-shirts. When getting a quote, there are a number of factors that will determine the final cost of your order: how many shirts are being printed, how large the prints are, how many prints are on the one shirt and how many colours you use. Therefore, it is important to have a simple design if this is your bands first time selling merchandise. If your budget allows for it, then go crazy with the design, however, don't expect a big profit margin. Check out the t-shirts from local punk band Clowns with their print done at Too Far Gone Screenprinting in Melbourne. It's pretty well thought out with an awesome detailed design and using only two to three colours.
Getting merchandise printed can often be an expensive cost, and your band might not have accounted for a lot in the budget. Therefore, you need to look at all of your options before choosing firstly if you want to go through a trusted screen printer or try screen printing yourself. If screenprinting yourself, you will want to decide what t-shirt manufacture you will want to purchase from. For t-shirts, the obvious choice is Gildan. Pull out any band shirt you have, and there is a good chance it will be printed on Gildan. Why do so many bands print with on their shirts? Well you can order Gildan shirts at a cost effective price for one. Gildan also produce high quality garments that are 100% cotton. There are other choices in the market too. AS Colour in Melbourne is also a premium basics manufacturer with all of their garments being certified sweatshop free. The ideal with AS Colour is that they have a showroom in Brunswick, so you can go there and find the perfect shirt that you want to print on. Another benefit of stay local is that you can cut costs on shipping, and will also have less of a turnover if you are printing local also. The negative? Expect it to cost you a little extra.
Now finding a printing company right for the job can be tough, however in Australia we have plenty of options. As discussed, there are a number of factors that determine your final costs, so make sure you do your research before committing to a printing company. If you’re looking to have coloured printing, Too Far Gone Screen Printing as previously mentioned is a fantastic screen-printing company located in Northcote, Melbourne. They have quickly become industry leaders in their trade, providing a range of printing services at the highest quality. What makes them so highly valued is their ability to match almost any colour, plus Mongo their head designer is one of the best illustrators going around doing designs from everyone including Royal Headache, Cut Sick and Clowns (as previously pictured). Remember, always hunt for quotes, stick within your budget and ask questions, screen printers want it to look as good as you do.
Your band is not only limited to t-shirts. There are a number of new and innovative ways in which bands are looking to self promote, and making a profit doing so. We mentioned Parkway Drive’s insane shirt sales earlier, but they also have found new avenues to market to. They have produced custom skateboards, surfboards, beach towels and even thongs and beanies, much to their fans delight. Their marketing plan is smart because not only is it different, but it also represents the band’s culture and personality perfectly.
Then there are bands like Cancer Bats and Violent Soho who jumped on the Wayfarer sunglasses bandwagon and even Zippo lighters. Don’t just go for the obvious choice every time. Be creative. These options may not always bring in a huge profit (depending on where they are sourced of course), however it does generate new and exciting ways to promote your band.