I recently committed myself to figuring out the best ways to create really cool merchandise for a self-released album – without spending a dime.
Why? Well, for starters I’m releasing a new album soon, and with that I have been spending a lot of time looking at merchandise options, andÂ exploring the different ways that people value music. What I’ve learned is that there’s a big difference between music that we just listen to, and music that weÂ want to support.
Using myself as the prime example, if I want to put something on or discover something new, I’ll *gasp* go toÂ Spotify, or iTunes, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, eMusic, YouTube or one of theÂ hundreds of other websites that make it easy to discover and hear new music. Most of it is free, and it’s right at my finger tips.
However, when I want to support a band, I buy something.Â I’ve spent years touring with bands andÂ I know that merchandise is crucial. I’ll even go so far as to buy stuff just to buy it; I recently bought a friend’s new CD at a gig, and I don’t even own a legit CD player anymore. Lot’s of peopleÂ have no problem paying slightly higher prices for stuff when it’s all about the support, or when they get cool merch in exchange. $20 for a CD? Sure. $45 for a hoodie? Ok. $25 for a t-shirt? Hell yeah! It’s a great way to rep the band, helps them with gas money to the next show, and you can never have too many t-shirts. In stark contrast – I would never pay $25 for a basic t-shirt in a store… but if it’s wrinkled and coming out of a stinky box that’s been in the back of a van for several weeks? Sold. I might take 2.
If you’re in a band and you tour – you gotta have merch. That’s not changing, and it’s still in your best interest to find the cheapest manufacturing and order bulk items that you know will sell toÂ maximize profits.
But what about the bands that don’t tour or play live? Are those projects limited to giving their album away on Bandcamp? Or what about specialized items for album releases? It’s so boring to only have CDs. There’s gotta be another way right? Well, yeah there is. It costs a little more, but there’s ways to get around that, which I’ll explain below.
Again, this whole exploration started because ofÂ my album. It’sÂ a solo recording project, there’s no performances, and there’s no tours. I have an awesome fan base, but it’s small enough that it certainly doesn’t make any financial sense to spend money on merchandise that is going to take up closet space and eventuallyÂ be given away for free.Â However, I stillÂ want to make some really cool stuff and sell it.