Why self-made music merchandise is proving so popular
One of the key components to building a successful career in modern times, is without a doubt, merchandise sales. In recent times, dance music merchandise has skyrocketed in popularity. Artists like Don Diablo has been marking a huge importance on his entire ‘Hexagon’ brand through the image that is worn upon the backs or heads of his fans, via t-shirts, hats, and flags. But whilst many major labels and DJs/producers favour the traditional methods of using big merchandise e-stores, such as Axwell’s ‘Axtone Apparel‘, or Tiësto’s ‘Musical Freedom store‘, many artists and producers are now choosing to self-create their own merchandise. Here are some tips on how you can capitalise on the latest branding trend to sweep the industry.
Once you’ve nailed down your brand strategy, it’s time to decide what to sell. These products will represent your music and brand, so think carefully about your merchandise strategy from brand to products to distribution and profit. Keep it relevant. Do research to learn if there’s a market for your product. You can ask yourself ‘Does your audience want this?’ and ‘Is it unique to your brand?’ You’ll need to start slow. Test your audience’s appetite for your merchandise. Consider what kind of merchandise you want to offer and for how long you’ll want to offer it. Introduce one product/design at a time. Ask your audience what products they’re into, or what type of designs they want to see (maybe you can even hold a design competition). Not all products are easy or cost-efficient to find and make (and you’ll want to keep up with your audience’s requests) so make it extra special. Think about launching merch to celebrate hitting a million fans or other specific milestones.
If you want merchandising to become a core part of your business, make sure to have a good handle on the costs, processes and time commitments. When you’re first starting out, an important thing to consider is how much you want to invest. Set a clear budget by researching the costs associated with production and delivery. You’ll want to price your products based on your desired profit per item. You’ll need a way to track your inventory, so decide whether you want to make everything in-house or use an approved company to manage design and distribution. Check your demographics report to find out where your primary audience lives, so you can offer products that your audiences want and they can be sold or delivered to where your viewers are. Choose designs that can appeal to your target audience. Identify companies that can produce your merchandise at the quality, timing and quantity you need; it’s always smart to ask for recommendations from people you trust. Requesting samples from the vendor can help ensure that you’re getting what you expect.
To ensure a successful merchandise launch, make sure that your community is excited about the product and willing to pay for it. Many creators find it helps to include their audience in the design, production and distribution processes for their merchandise. Your community will feel more invested if you ask them for suggestions and incorporate their feedback. Talk about your merch while wearing or displaying it (try to get samples ahead of time). You can make regular videos or offer behind-the-scenes glimpses to build up anticipation about the design and production process. After your merchandise is available, reward your top contributors by featuring them modelling your merchandise.
Promote your product as much as possible and make sure that all of your fans know that it is available. Consider announcing the release with an original video that shows off your new products. Keep your audience involved and offer something special for your engaged fans, and make your merch easy for fans to find. Remember to add strong calls to action telling your audience where they can buy it. You can use cards, annotations and descriptions to link to sites that sell your merch. Images tend to get higher click-through rates so use lots of images, and maintain momentum by continuing to feature your product in videos well after launch. You can help your audience feel as though they’re a part of your accomplishments by celebrating important milestones, such as the first hundred (or thousand) sales.
“Merch is everything that’s not a digital download,” said Digital Marketing manager Nicot-Berenger. “CDs, vinyl, all that goes into merch… and most of the revenues that we see come from merch. When they’re first going out, we’ll probably find that the highest-quality ‘item’ that emerging artists will have is their music.”
Personalisation is key
Personalisation is a big factor. With print-on-demand, you can create your t-shirt without any cost: create designs specific for a gig in Manchester, in London. Fans start buying the pieces of merchandise they can connect with. Keeping it personal is something really, really important. You can put special items in there [when they order online] or a handwritten note saying thank you for buying this. Nowadays, with how the market is, when fans buy an item, they know they’re basically paying the label. They see merch as more of a direct way to support the artists.
In conclusion, the art of a successful merchandise brand is not one that comes easily – or with instant overnight impact – but by adding personal designs and touches to your range, you can bring an intimacy between yourself as a DJ/producer, and your fans, that will enhance your career endlessly.