If there’s one thing I really hate, it’s a boring merch table. There’s just no excuse for it. Beyond the routine options of buttons, t-shirts, and stickers, if you don’t have anything standing out, I’m moving on.
It’s not that I don’t have love for your band, it’s just that I have high standards for merch. There are so many ways to get creative and stand out from the crowd, that I don’t have the time (or money) for bands who aren’t up for a little creative merchandising. When it comes to something you’re trying to sell, uniqueness is key, and you can’t afford to be boring. So what’s a band to do when they’re stumped for ideas? Check out these five tips, and get those creative juices flowing.
This is easily my favorite idea for merch, and one I have yet to see a band use. When I was a kid, I used to love going to the dollar store and buying one of those brown paper bags filled with toys. The sky was the limit with those bags, and my wondrous little mind could only imagine what treats lived inside there. As an adult, I still love the idea of a grab bag full of surprise goodies from my favorite band. Each bag could contain things like buttons, stickers, band pens (why isn’t that a thing?), postcards, a download card for one free song, etc. It doesn’t have to be a ton of different merch, and they don’t all have to be exactly the same. Different bags can hold different items, including a few with high value items such as a t-shirt, tote bag, signed album, guest pass to a show of their choice for them and a friend, etc. Nostalgia + a plethora of merch + surprise=a recipe for success.
This is another favorite of mine, and one I’d like to see bands do more often. It’s not exactly merch, but it is a little something extra that your fans can buy to support their favorite musician (you). I’m talking about a full on VIP experience.
Are you a party band? Rent out a bus, and have VIP ticket holders hop on board for an hour long after party with the band. Having a show around Halloween? I want to go through a haunted house that takes me straight to your show, and you better believe I’ll pay extra for it (not to mention, tell everyone I know about it). Get creative, and make it work for your band’s message/audience. But whatever you do, be clever.
I know, throwing candy on here seems a little silly, but I recently attended the album release show of Jeff Michaels, and as soon as I saw this a light went off. While I wouldn’t recommend selling these, I do think it’s a really fun, unique thing to have at your merch table. Personalize with your band name, genre, song names, and of course your album name. You can even choose colors that best represent your band and really have fun with it. Stick them in a cute bag (personalization optional), and you’ve got yourself an awesome, unforgettable piece of memorabilia for anyone who comes to your show.
I recently did a business card exchange with a company, but instead of just handing over their card, they also handed me a guitar pick with their company name etched in. After looking into it for my own business, I couldn’t believe how cost effective they were. Which begs the question, why aren’t more bands doing this? You could sell them for super cheap, offer them up with the purchase of other merch, or even leave them strewn across your merch table for fans to take. Sometimes, giving away smaller pieces of merch in the hope that fans become a walking billboard is a much smarter long term investment than trying to sell a 50 cent item.
I absolutely love the idea of wearing a band’s symbol around my neck, wrist, and ears. This is another piece of merch that may be a bit more costly, but depending on your band’s message and target demographic, creating a custom pair of earrings, necklace, or bracelets that hold your band’s logo would be something I’d not only never forget, but probably stock up on and give as gifts. You know what you’re all getting for Christmas this year? That’s right. Favorite Band’s necklaces for everyone!
Get clever with your message
Beyond all these ideas, make sure you’re staying true to your own personal message and mission, and that alone should give you some pretty cool merch ideas. For instance, I once met a band that had the word “hotel” in their band name. So for their album release, they had USB sticks that held the full album, and attached those to a skeleton key that was reminiscent of the old hotel room keys. Was it a bit pricier than download cards? Perhaps. But it was something that was 100% unique to them, and that their fans remembered. And in case you’re wondering, that band had no problem selling their album that way—the fans ate it up.
Article by Angela Mastrogiacomo. Angela Mastrogiacomo is the owner of Muddy Paw Public Relations, and the free weekly music industry meet up, Balanced Breakfast, which meets Saturdays from 12-2pm in Toronto. Muddy Paw specializes in working with up and coming artists on personalized campaigns designed to bring their careers to the next level. To date, we’ve secured placements on sites such as AbsolutePunk, Substream, Property Of Zack, PureVolume, Anti-Music, and many more. You can find us at www.MuddyPawPR.com