Performing live is only one ingredient of the recipe for artist or band to make money. Merchandise (other terms include swag or merch) is a significant component in supplementing your income. It’s always been an important portion of the income of an artist, but until recently was considered just an ancillary revenue stream. Today it’s an essential part of most artist’s earnings.
Surprisingly, the top sales items have the highest profit margin and are also the least expensive to make – stickers and patches. A single color sticker typically costs around $0.20 and typically sells for $1.50, while a patch costs around $0.55 and typically sells for $4, which means both have a markup of over 700 percent! Sadly, most artists and bands overlook these simple and inexpensive merch pieces.
Here’s a list of the top 10 highest margin merch items and their profit margins, according to Jakprints:
Just about anything you can think of can now have your logo on it. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that just because you can make it available, it’s a good idea. It’s still best to narrow things down, since offering too many types of items can actually prevent willing customers from buying anything because they can’t make up their minds. Keep the number of types of items to a maximum of two at first, and be sure that they will sell before you add more options.
Another interesting idea is to offer a tour book of photos (available from blurb.com). Once again, it’s on-demand printing, and the company offers a number of professional templates to make the design easy.
Don’t forget that in the end, branded items such as T-shirts, hats, beach towels, and stickers are for marketing you as an artist, so be sure that the design looks professional. If you’re going to spend hard cash on your product, this is the place to do it. Find a pro or an advanced hobbyist to design it for you. Don’t forget that the true reason for selling merch is that if enough people see your intriguing logo on a T-shirt, coffee mug, or bumper sticker, some of them will be interested enough to check you out.
You can read more from my Music 4.1 Online Music Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.