Forget what you think you know about setting up a music merchandise line for your music, creating a merch for your music brand does not have to be expensive, risky or complicated.
In this article we run through everything you need to know about how to create, manufacture, sell merch to your fans, all on a shoe-string budget.
Step-by-Step Guide To Setting Up Artist Merchandise (Index):
Designing your music merchandise.
The first step to setting up your music merch line is to create some designs. If you already have a artist logo or some imagery that could be adapted into merch this will help but even if you don’t this part is simple.
If you have the creative flare yourself, there are many great online design tools which can help you bring your ideas to life.
Check out just some of the free online tools and resources below:
– Photopea (like Photoshop but free and in your web browser)
– Canva (Simple, free online design tool with plently of built in templates for inspiration)
– Printful merch designer (more on this later!)
If design isn’t your thing, don’t panic!
There are thousands of brilliant freelance designers online willing to help you create your dream designs. Starting from just $5/design you can work with amazing talented designers to turn your vision into print-ready designs. Check out just some of the brilliant freelance merch dfesigners on Fiverr below:
Once you have some designs that you are happy with and you think they would look great on t-shirts, hoodies or anything else you can think of it’s time to think about manufacturing and fufilment.
In the past, to make this cost-effective and profitable you would need to take a risk and print large runs of garments, thankfully times have changed and there is a much better solution…
Music Merch Manufacturing and fulfillment
So, you have some designs ready and want to see how they would look on a t-shirt?
This is where Printful comes in.
Printful is a print-on-demand and fulfillment service. You can use Printful to digitally test your designs on all sorts of different garments (and to create mock-ups for your online store, promotions etc). Once you have created some products on Printful, you can order samples for yourself or process orders for your fans.
Here’s how it works:
- Create a Printful account (here!)
- Use their free online tool to create some designs or add the designs you already have to different products.
- Generate some photo-realstic mock-ups of your designs (free).
- Order some samples to check your happy with the quality and design. (this can be done at a discounted ‘sample’ rate.)
- Set your prices and select the options you want to offer (sizing, colours etc)
- Sell some merch (more on this soon)
- After a sale comes in you will pay for the customer order and Printful will print and ship the order directly to your customer, your logo will appear on everything and the customer never knows it came from Printful.
- As long as you get your pricing right (and remember to add shipping fees) you will make a small profit on every order.
Set up your printful account
We have used Printful for many high-profile artists over the years and they have always been super reliable and great quality, this is a strong recommendation.
In the next section, we will talk about setting up your online store and linking it to Printful so everything is automated and you don’t need to do a thing. Your merch store can be on auto-pilot, always ready whenever your fans want to buy something.
Setting up your store.
For this part we recommend you create an online shop with Shopify.
Shopify makes it incredibly simple to create a beautiful online shop, you can even embed your music from Soundplate Clicks into the store to keep everything in one place!
Once you have setup a Shopify account you will need to install the Printful app.
The app will automatically import all the products you created on Printful to your new shop, with all the options and pricing you set up in the previous step.
Once your products have been imported, your fans will be able to order your products, when an order comes in it will be automatically sent to Printful for fulfillment.
Keep in mind, you will be charged by Printful as soon as the order comes in but there might be a few days before you get paid from Shopify so you will need to be ready to cover the cost of the first orders that come in.
Once your merch store is up and running, it’s time to think about promotion and marketing..
Promoting your music merchandise online
So, you have designed some dope merch, created your store, set-up Printful to handle the print and shipping.. Now it’s time to get some sales!
Just like promoting your music online, getting your fans to see and buy yoiur merchdise can be tricky but we have a few tips and tricks:
Link your Shopify store to Spotify and sell directly to your Spotify listeners.
For more information on to do this check out this article by Spotify For Artists.
Add your merch link to your music smart links
Whenever you have a new song, you should create a music smart link. This is the ‘hub’ for your marketing efforts and allows your fans to choose where they listen while giving you all sorts of helpful data.
With Soundplate Clicks you can include your merch store on every smart link you create, simply add the link to your store in the ‘more links’ section and then select ‘Merchadise’ or ‘Official Store’ as a custom link choice.
Use your socials and email list
This sounds obvious, but once you have your merch store setup you need to shout about it to all your fans.
Use social media adverts to promote your merch to people who are already fans of your pages. You know these people like your music so they are the most likely to buy.
If your struggling for content, use the mock-ups you can create for free with Printful to share your merch designs online.
‘Drops’ and limited editions
Limited editions and timed drops are a powerful promotion tactic. One of the brilliant things about using Printful is that you can make as many designs or variations of designs as you like without extra costs.
This means you can offer limited edition colors, designs or products for whatever time period you like.
Time-windowed drops create a sense of urgency and can make people want to buy now instead of putting off a purchase. Many top artists and youtubers use this technique to great effect.
Sell at shows
This one requires a bit of up-front capital and is slightly more risky. If you buy a bulk order of your own merch you can set up your merch stand and sell directly to your fans. This is traditionally one of the best ways to make sales but does mean you will have to predict sales and pay up front.
Funding Your Music Merchandise Line
We all know promotion and marketing can get expensive and that puts a lot of artists off. Hopefully this article has shown you how to do this on a smaller budget but if you do require some extra capital for your music and merchandise marketing you could consider taking a advance on your music streaming royalties.
If you have more than 15k monthly listeners on Spotify you could be eligible for an advance of up to 8 x your annual streaming income. You can use this advance for anything you like but most artists find it’s particularly helpful for marketing and touring expenses.
Get an advance for your music.
Having a merchandise store was once reserved for the very biggest artists signed to the major labels, not any more.
Follow the steps in this article and you can have you own, profitable merch line for a very small budget.
We hope you have found this article interesting and have included a list of the resources mentioned in this article below.
Tools & Resources for setting up a music merchandise line:
Print-on Demand, manufacturing and fufilment:
Setting up your store:
– Soundplate Clicks – Music Smart Links